What's thought leadership and why should you care?Have you heard the term ‘thought leadership’? Have you wondered what it means and why you should take thought leadership seriously? It sounds a bit weird, but in essence it’s very very simple, and it’s something that you can use your blog to help you with.

What does thought leadership mean?

When I talk about thought leadership with my clients, I usually then mention blogging… maybe even vlogging, but blogging is the first point I talk about. In whatever profession you’re in, if you’re looking to attract clients, becoming seen as an expert in your field is a very very good strategy. This does, however, rely on you being good at what you do and actually being an expert, but that’s a whole different blog. Even if you’re an expert in your niche only, that’s fine. You don’t need to know everything about everything. You need to be able to inspire, be honest and genuine, and share your thoughts and your style online. Thought leadership allows you to share your thoughts, ideas and expert advice in a way that people will see you as a leader – as an authority. This authority will make people think about you when they have an issue or a question about something that’s well within your field of expertise. And that’s why it matters…

And what if you don’t want to be seen as an expert?

Well, exploring the idea of thought leadership might not be for you. But then you might also need to think about what this is projecting to your potential customer. If you are looking for help and advice in an area, who do you look for? The chances are that you’ll look for someone who is an expert, well known, etc. in that area. It would be a bit weird to work with someone who wasn’t, wouldn’t it?

There are many ways that you can find people to work with. Word of mouth, social media, asking for recommendations, etc. But having a point online, such as your blog, where people can come and read your genuine and honest thoughts and ideas is a great idea. It’s another reason why blogging should form a key part of your marketing strategy.

Does it work?

Yes. I can honestly tell you that I have had people reach out to me because of something that they have read that I have written. However, there’s one way that it really won’t work. I write about stuff that I know about, that I’m confident about, that I have read about and learnt about and that I’ve tried and tested and experienced. I will never stop learning. In many ways the term expert does feel a bit like an itchy jumper for me, but I do know my stuff and I know that the theories I apply and the knowledge I share works, and works well, when applied. But this has been achieved through failures, trying and testing things.

I really enjoy sharing my knowledge. I love helping and supporting people. And I feel humbled and honoured when people email or message me to tell me that something they read on here changed the way they viewed things, allowed them to try new things or helped them learn something… or even explain something they haven’t really understood previously. I like that. I like it a lot.

The Business Barn

Hannah Moule (left), Rosie Hopkins – Business Manager (right)

This week’s ‘a few minutes with…’ is special for a few reasons. Not only are we speaking to Hannah Moule, founder of The Business Barn, but I am also delighted to announce that I am working with the company as their digital marketing partner. This means that I will be providing them with content in this area to help support the users of the service. And I am very excited to be involved. It was a huge honour to be asked and I’m very excited to see The Business Barn grow and develop. So, without further ado, over to Hannah…

Who are you?

Hannah Moule

What’s your business called?

The Business Barn

When did it start?

We launched the concept of The Business Barn at the 2017 Farm Business Innovation Show. However, we have officially launched the business this January (2018)

If you could sum your business up in one sentence, what would it be?

An online resource providing inspiration and business advice for diversifying farmers and rural business owners.

Tell us a bit more about your business – what makes you different and what was the idea behind it?

The Business Barn is a website dedicated to providing inspiration and business advice for those looking to diversify their farming enterprise or start a rural business. My background is in rural surveying and I was frequently being asked  where to find specific resources and advice. There is lots of information out there, but there was not one central place to find rural specific information; hence the reason for The Business Barn.

What is your favourite part of the website?

The opportunities section, which is designed to be a platform for the industry to share business opportunities to the benefit of the agricultural and rural sectors.

Who designed your logo? 

In the initial stages, a freelance graphic designer

One thing we might not know about you?

I used to be an auctioneer and have a pet farm tortoise

Favourite podcast?

Rock ‘n’ Roll Farming Podcast

Best business book?

The John Nix Pocketbook

Best advice you’ve ever been given? 

‘Do the job well and the rewards will come.’

Favourite quote

“It’s nice to be important but important to be nice.”

Business Brands you love 

Innocent branding

Who do you admire? 

Beatrix Potter for her determination to buy land and farms with the wealth she built herself

Richard Branson for genuine entrepreneurship

Quick fire questions…..

Dogs or cats? Dogs

Blogs or vlogs? Blogs

Favourite blog/vlog? Deliciously Ella

Tea of coffee? Tea

Sweet or savoury?  Savoury

Where can we find you online? 

Facebook The Business Barn

Twitter @businessbarn_uk

The Business BarnWebsite www.thebusinessbarn.co.uk

are you a blogger or an influencer?Are you a blogger or an influencer? They’re the same, aren’t they? Well no, no they’re not. You can be an influencer and a blogger, just a blogger, or just an influencer… here I hope to explain the difference. Not only is this blog for you if you’re not quite sure which category you fall into, but for brands too.

This blog was inspired by Haynet’s podcast, episode eight, which was hosted by the lovely Sam Hobden, owner and founder of Haynet. Listen to her ‘what makes a blogger an influencer’ podcast.

Are you a blogger or an influencer?

If you’re a blogger in the purest sense, you write a blog, which is an online written ‘log’. The term ‘blog’ came from the phrase weblog if that makes the word make a bit more sense. A blog can take many forms but blogs are generally informal and chatty in style. Blogs vary hugely in content, depending on the writer or objective.

Now, many influencers have a blog, but that’s not necessarily what earns them their title as influencer. An influencer is essentially someone who has influencer over others. Not in a weird or bad way, let’s just be clear. When people put a lot of time and effort into their social media, their audience (usually) grows, and this audience is usually engaged with the influencer. Let’s call the influencer Charlotte. So let’s imagine that Charlotte has grown an audience of 11k on Instagram. She takes pics of beautiful countryside things and gets lots of engagement on her feed. People ask her where they can buy what she’s wearing, or what she thinks about x’s new range, or the best place to visit in a certain county for country things. Charlotte is an influencer. She might have a blog. Her influence could be limited to a specific platform (like Instagram) or more widespread. She could have a blog too and use that to help support her influencer status. If she wants to. But she doesn’t have to.

How do you know if you’re an influencer or a blogger?

In simple terms, if your following engage with you and ask you for advice, ideas, buy things that you’re talking about or wearing, you’re an influencer. Because something you have done or said has influenced them. Or even they see you as such an authority that people reach out to you and ask you your opinion. If that’s you, you’re an influencer.

If you write beautiful blogs about your adventures as a creative outlet, just for you, you’re a blogger.

Or you can be both, if you write blogs about products, services, looks, etc that people read and absorb… and then take action on.

Don’t forget to have a listen to Haynet’s podcast about bloggers and influencers for more infroamtion.

is the tide turning on influencers?If you spend any time on social media, you might have seen the story about social media influencer Elle Darby. In case you haven’t, I’ll give you a very brief recap. Elle has an impressive following on Youtube and on different social media platforms. She uses this in various ways and part of this is working with brands to review/collaborate with them. You can read all about Elle and the issue here. She contacted a hotel about a collaboration (which involved her staying at the hotel for free in exchange for exposure). The hotel didn’t take it well and published the email and a rather ‘spirited’ reply explaining why the answer was no.

The whole story is very interesting, and the comments from people supporting both sides are also very interesting. From accusations of bullying to freeloading and everything else in between, the story of Elle Darby and the hotel could signal something else. Is the tide turning on influencers?

Is the tide turning on influencers?

As you may know, I do work with influencers with a number of the brands I work with. Some influencers are worth their weight in gold, go over and above, and the investment made in them in terms of product is repaid over and over. Some don’t. I have worked with influencers who fall into the don’t category and it’s not good. You feel like your client has been ripped off and badly treated and it’s horrible. The client is left with a very bitter taste. And then the client distances themselves from that influencer (or waits for them to do as they are meant to) and it’s a horrible, uncomfortable process. And then, if you’re lucky, the influencer has a bit of a strop when you know full well they haven’t done what was promised AND they’re eyeing up a competitor’s brand. Luckily the latter are in the minority if you put a lot of effort in to finding the right people, but it’s out there.

For a while now, I’ve seen the tide turning on influencers. Not the good ones I hasten to add. There will always be a place for good, genuine people to work with brands they love. Always. But for those who don’t deliver, I think it’s going to be a very interesting year. Brands are realising that, actually, they have the power. And that in many cases their followings far exceed that of the influencer. Of course, the size of a following isn’t the only reason a brand would choose to work with an influencer. It is, however one metric in a range I look at when I assess someone. There is huge value in a lot of aspects of what an influencer can offer and what value they bring to the brand… but that’s a different blog!

So do I agree with what happened to Elle?

Nope. I do feel that she was called out and publicly humiliated and that wasn’t nice or necessary. I didn’t think the email was horrific, but it wasn’t the best. It was actually a lot better than some of the ones my clients get barraged with each day. Of course, pitching it differently could have resulted in a different outcome, much like the tsunami of requests for free ‘stuff’ my clients receive. I continue to be blown away by the nerve of some people, but that is a whole different blog.

In Elle’s defence, she does have a good following. I haven’t spent a huge amount of time watching her content or looking at her following as I don’t think we share that many similar interests, but that’s not a criticism. And in the hotel’s defence, the email was impersonal, didn’t really show an affinity or connection with the hotel, no research had been done and she’d possibly underestimated the size of their own social media following. Also, it could have been the 20th ‘begging’ email that hotel had had that day. But calling someone out on social media like that is never good. And the barrage of hateful comments that have been directed at her are not necessary either.

Is it because people don’t understand the power of an influencer?

Maybe. To someone not involved in the world of social media and influencers, it does look like someone has asked for something for free. End of. But that isn’t the case. Influencers can be big for a brand. If Zoella uses your product on one of her videos, your brand will get a LOT of exposure. That has a lot of value. Look at the stats related to magazines and their circulation, and even website visits… and now look at the size of Zoella’s audience. And now you’ll see what I mean. Of course, Zoella is queen of the influencers, but I’m using her to push the point. The right influencer can do big things for a brand. But unfortunately there are a number of people who sport the ‘influencer’ or ‘brand ambassador’ badge, and they don’t deliver, so they really are just asking for free stuff.

So is the tide turning on influencers?

I think yes, actually, the tide is turning on influencers. I think brands are seeing the true value of influencers, good and bad. I think that this will help the good influencers rise and do much better, but I think that the people who are falling short are in for a tough time. And I do also think that influencers will also start to see the value in the fact that brands are now also influencers in their own right, with bigger followings and better connections. I think we’re in for an interesting time.

Marta Kotonska and Alan Davies with ValegroToday we’re hanging out for a few minutes with the incredible Marta Kotonska from Eqclusive. I feel like I know Marta although we have never met face to face. Not only does she sponsor one of my incredible clients, Karen McConnell aka KA Equestrian, but her products are ALWAYS on my social media feeds. And what’s more, Marta has embraced social media and then some. Her videos are brilliant and she posts regularly – she connects with her customers all over the world… and it’s paid dividends. Have a look at the kind of engagement she gets and the following she has on her social media platforms. All the links are at the bottom. But I’ll leave you in peace now – enjoy spending a few minutes with Marta…

A few minutes with Marta Kotonska

Who are you? Marta Kotonska
What’s your business called? Eqclusive
When did it start? April 2015
If you could sum your business up in one sentence, what would it be? Eqclusive is all about grooming, I found this company on commitment to keep horses beautiful.
Tell us a bit more about your business – what makes you different and what was the idea behind it? I invented Eqclusive Packs, which help anybody, on an every day basis, to keep their horse’s coat clean, shiny and most importantly healthy. Grooming is an essential part of any horse’s well-being and I strongly believe that you can achieve communication, trust and then connection with your horse through grooming.
Your favourite product? Alan Davies Pack
Who designed your logo? Myself! New Year resolution – be proud of yourself!
Which product launched the business? SleekEZ deshedding brush initially, my packs were still with lawyers.
One thing we might not know about you: I used to go to musical school!
Marta KotonskaBest business book: The E-myth
Best advice you’ve ever been given: Never stop trusting your gut instinct
Favourite quote: “I believe that everything happens for a reason. People change so that you can learn to let go, things go wrong so that you appreciate them when they’re right, you believe lies so you eventually learn to trust no one but yourself, and sometimes good things fall apart so better things can fall together.” by Marilyn Monroe – she was a very clever women!
Brands you love: Busse! Love this brand and my horse and I wear everything from it! For non horsey brand, check Exclusive Look! You will notice I have everything from this website!
Who do you admire? Tony Robbins, and a few Polish people

Quick fire questions…..
Dogs or cats? Dogs (even though I only have a cat!)
Blogs or vlogs? vlogs
Tea of coffee? Both
Sweet or savoury? Savoury

eqclusive Where can we find you online?
Facebook Marta Kotonska or Eqclusive (I’m more there than on my Marta one!)
Twitter eqclusive
Instagram eqclusive
Youtube eqclusive
Website www.eqclusive.com

social media and marketing trends for 2018For my last Haynet podcast of 2017, Sam asked me about social media and marketing trends for 2018 for equestrian and rural business. This was a fun one to do as it gave me a very good excuse to dig around the internet, to see if other bloggers and experts agreed with my thoughts. And it was very nice to read that they did. Of course, it’s hardly surprising. My personal thoughts and predictions are based on what I’ve seen over the last 12 months. And really that’s all we can do. We don’t know what amazing update Facebook might have planned. Or what Instagram might be plotting. Of course, we can look at the path the platforms have taken and the trends that we’ve seen and make educated guesses based on this. And is that enough? Well yes, I think it is. You see, we can’t predict the future, all we can do is plan the best we can using the information we have. And I hope the social media and marketing trends podcast will do that. For those who have listened and were keen to have my thoughts in written form, here they are. I would LOVE to hear your thoughts too – what do you think we’re going to see more of in the next 12 months? What marketing, social media and PR developments do you think we’ll see? I’d love to know…

Social media and marketing trends for 2018 for equestrian and rural business

The Haynet podcast is aimed at equestrian and rural businesses, and while all of the points below most definitely apply to equestrian and country businesses, I think they’re more generic in nature. Even though our businesses in this sector are niche, the big platforms aren’t. And that’s fine. Actually, it’s more than fine, it’s exciting. When looking at social media, these global platforms allow us to hook up with our niches in different countries and continents. But anyway, my thoughts on social media and marketing trends for 2018 for equestrian and rural business…

  • Digital is going to continue to grow. This is not really a crazy prediction based on everything we’ve seen over the years!
  • There will always be a place for quality magazines, but due to the online competition, only the best will rise. I think we’ll also see more of the great magazines increasing their digital and online reach.
  • Instagram will continue to grow – especially with innovations like Instagram stories, insights for business accounts, ads linked to Facebook, etc.
  • Facebook will continue to evolve, change, improve, annoy people and dominate.
  • Influencer marketing will continue to grow, but I also believe that influencers will become more professional and take their roles more seriously. And I think that those who don’t will have a much more challenging time working with brands.
  • Live Streaming is going to continue to grow. The platforms that support it love it. It’s great for engagement and connection and brings people from all corners of the globe together in one place.
  • Virtual reality and augmented reality. I think we’re going to see this become bigger too, but I don’t think it’ll be mainstream this year…
  • Video. Yep – video is big and exciting now, and I think it’s going to continue to grow. There are so amazing predictions relating to how much video content we are due to consume in the next few years.
  • Silent videos. With the increase in video, we also need to be aware that a lot of videos are enjoyed in silence, so it needs to wow in this way. And this will be more important than ever as video becomes more present on our social media feeds.
  • Shoppable social media. To make it easier for people to buy what they’re seeing.
  • Messenger platforms are going to become more commercial. 
  • Quality content will continue to win. ‘Engagement bait’ is being clamped down on, so real, quality content is the way forward.

However, let’s be honest, would you have predicted that Twitter would have doubled its character limitto 280? I wouldn’t because, to me, Twitter’s concise nature was in its DNA. So what I’m trying to say is that we’re in for an exciting year one way or another. Are you ready?!

Don’t forget to check out the Haynet Podcast where you can listen to the social media and marketing trends for 2018 podcast and a lot more besides.

Facebook scaremongering Have you heard that Facebook is changing the way that posts for businesses are being displayed in the News Feed? And have you seen all the posts that explain how Facebook is screwing us over? It’s the end of the platform? They’ll leave Facebook? How it’s all a scam? How you should pay them money to beat the new changes? How many did you tick? Now, I for one am SICK of all the posts that get published of this nature. Facebook scaremongering I call it. There is no need to be scared. Or feel all is lost. And I’ll also explain why I hate the Facebook scaremongers.

So what’s a Facebook scaremonger? And why are people Facebook scaremongering?

I’m just going to clear this up now, before we hang out together for the next few moments. There are the ones who pretend they can see the future of Facebook and it’s bleak (you know, because they’ve read something). These people use a lot of different wording but most revolve around the ‘I told you so’ and ‘you’re screwed unless you pay me money to help you’ idea. Let’s just take a breath here. I’ll explain my take on this and any other tweak in the algorithm and how we’re going to deal with it. Like rational humans. OK?

If Facebook loses its audience its of no use to anyone.

Most of the changes that Facebook make involve protecting their community. The 2 billion plus people who use the platform. They need to protect these people because the people make the platform. Facebook with no people is a billy-no-mates convention. If the community gets fatigued and detached from the News Feed and what they’re doing, they’ll come back less often. The news from Facebook states that: ‘we will also prioritize posts that spark conversations and meaningful interactions between people’. And let’s just think about this phrase in relation to what Facebook is all about. Connecting people. If they’re not chatting and having meaningful interactions, it’s not working. It’s not a community.

Now, let’s pretend Facebook didn’t protect its community. Our feeds would be filled with engagement bait and general rubbish and it would become a whole heap less interesting. And when people get bored they don’t keep coming back. And if the audience goes, what use is that to anyone?

Your reach might suffer

Yep. The news item states that too. Depending on the content you create and promote, it could hurt. A lot. But you don’t need to lose your mind here. You need to innovate. You need to read what the news item says. The one on Facebook, and look at what it’s saying. There are themes that we’ve all known have generated better engagement for a while, and these will probably help us to get the exposure. The content you put out on social should be good. It should aim to engage people and spark conversation. Because you can post every minute of every day, it really doesn’t mean you should. You should look to put out your best work, your most useful content, the posts you think people are actually going to care about.

So, why are we not panicking?

Because Facebook is continually tweaking what it does. We’ve all noticed changes on our pages and profiles, different functionality, new things, different things, etc. And we adapt. If a post doesn’t work the way it should, you learn and try something else. And if you’re not doing that then you’ve been doing social media wrong! Social media is all about engagement. The clue is in the name. So if your posts haven’t been getting engagement, you need to change what you’re doing anyway. And if you haven’t been, this is your wake up call. Crack on.

So, Facebook is screwing us over?

Nope. Facebook is a FREE platform that was developed to help PEOPLE connect with PEOPLE. We, as small business owners, are beyond lucky to have the chance to engage with customers and potential customers for free. Yep. Zero cost. Zilch. And if we want to increase a post’s reach, or target different people, we can throw £1 at it and that happens. £1. I mean, I’d suggest you spend more than £1 if you’re serious about it, but you get my point. Can you do that in a magazine? Can you attend an event for that? Do a leaflet drop? Reach someone on a different continent who has similar interests to your audience? Nope. Facebook isn’t screwing us over. It gives us amazing opportunities each and every day, and we need to respect it and that. And if we have to ‘pay to play’ and up our content game, then so be it. Facebook is a business at the end of the day. It needs to protect itself and the asset it has (people’s attention and engagement) which it converts in money through advertising. I’m good with that.

What if you rely on Facebook for your whole business?

It blows my mind that some people rely on a platform that they do not own to support their entire income stream. If you’re in this boat, you need to get on the other social platforms, get yourself a website and OWN your own brand NOW. That isn’t Facebook’s fault, it’s something you can thank Facebook for as it’s given you warning. If my sole income relied on something that could literally vanish tomorrow, I wouldn’t sleep at night. Seriously. Take control of your own destiny. And part of that is having your own owned platform that you can promote yourself from.

I hope you’re feeling a bit calmer?! This is something that I will be chatting to my coaching clients about in the coming weeks and months, but that is NO DIFFERENT TO NORMAL. We are always reassessing what’s working and what isn’t and building on it. 

royal agricultural universityI was incredibly honoured to be asked to give guest lectures at the Royal Agricultural University in November, not once, but twice. As a country and equestrian PR and marketing consultant and business coach, my skillset fitted the needs of two of the courses running. I have to say that I genuinely love teaching and working with people (hence the sidestep from straight equestrian PR and marketing to a mix of this and business coaching over a year ago). The one to one equestrian and small business coaching I do helps me with this enormously, but there’s something about being face to face with a room full of people and chattering away to them.

What was the lecture about?

Both of the lectures at the Royal Agricultural University were about PR, marketing and social media. The second one focused more around where I do most of my work, so I’ll focus on this. This lecture, which was a mix of a group lecture and then working with the individual groups, was all about PR, marketing and social media. In essence, how you get the world to know about your product or service. So right up my street. It’s amazing to see how much things have moved on since I started doing this job actually, and speaking to the students really does confirm this. It’s also amazing to look at what additional opportunities are available now, because of how digital and social the world is. But that’s another story.

Not only did we look at some of the amazing stats surrounding the world of social media (and when you start talking about BILLIONS of users of anything, I think that’s pretty incredible to be honest!), but also at how some of the business ideas have a more mainstream angle too. I think that’s a really important point. A lot of my clients are predominately equestrian or country or canine, but so many have a mainstream connection too. If you’re making accessories for dogs, looking slightly outside true canine is a very good plan, because of the sheer number of homes that have dogs. A piece of jewellery, even if designed with equestrians in mind, can have a much more mainstream place in the hearts of people too. And all of this while maintaining the brand’s core values. Just because you could promote what you do in another area doesn’t necessarily mean you should. And sometimes you should, but it’s part of the long term plan.

What happened in the individual groups?

Getting under the skin of businesses really makes me tick as I start to see exactly what’s going on, the USPs and what opportunities are there. This might mean exploring the story behind why a brand or product was created and how we can translate that into column/web page inches/social media campaigns. It could be where a product is sourced. Or its design. Or where the profits go. It could be the ‘scratch’ the product is trying to ‘itch’. What problem is it solving? What thinking is it tapping into? And how can we make sure that, as a business, we are letting people know about this information? You really don’t score any points for keeping products secret (well, not if they’re ready for sale and you actually want to sell them!). I LOVE this side of things. And speaking to the groups was SO interesting. There was a real mix of business ideas coming through and some superb marketing and promotional ideas. As with all clients, I never dictate. I listen to ideas and learn a huge amount (hopefully adding information and ideas to refine and improve!) as well as throw new ideas in the mix, so it was a really exciting session. Lots of brainstorming, lots of ideas, lots of note taking.

So what happens now?

The last class of students I had the pleasure of working with are creating business plans and presentations for a ‘Dragons’ Day’ later this month, as part of their final year’s studies. I’ve been part of this event for, gosh, I think the last four years, and I absolutely love it. I work with two or three other experts in their field and the students have their business plans and ideas critiqued. There’s always a numbers wizard (accountant!) last year’s was Ed Jenner, and I have sat next to Phil Duff (Phil’s quite impressive… not that I tell him that!) on each panel too. Phil is best known for the Ariat brand in the UK, but he has many more strings to his bow. I’m honoured and excited to be part of this year’s panel too. And I’ll make sure I let you know how it goes after the event.

To find out about last year’s Dragons’ Day, you can have a catch up here!



Paula Bryan - Blades ServicesAh- a few minutes with IS BACK, and what a great one to kick off 2018! Today, we are spending a few minutes with the lovely Paula Bryan from Blades Services. Paula is a legend and what she doesn’t know about clipping and trimming (for horses and dogs) probably isn’t worth knowing! She’s an innovator, a real leader in this area of her industry and a thoroughly nice person too. So, without further ado, I give you Paula Bryan from Blades Services…

A few minutes with Paula Bryan from Blades Services Ltd…

Who are you? Paula Bryan

What’s your business called? Blades Services Ltd

When did it start? 2015

If you could sum your business up in one sentence, what would it be? Blades Services specialises in the repair and service of clippers, clipper blades and scissors. We are highly experienced in creating new innovative products for our audience to include professional dog groomers, horse owners and vets.

Tell us a bit more about your business – what makes you different and what was the idea behind it?  I have 35 years’ experience within the canine and equine industries. I know how my customer thinks and what products they require to run their business or interest. We try to meet all their expectations with our fast turnaround service and product offering. We work to educate our clients through educational papers and our increasing YouTube channel. One creation that I devised while sitting on the beach is The Clipit Suit. This all in one garment protects those who come into contact with animal hair, and if you clip your horse you will only know what it’s like to be uncomfortable.

Your favourite product? The Clipit Suit

Paula Bryan - Blades ServicesWho designed your logo? My designer, Brett

Which product launched the business? I purchased the sharpening and servicing side of the business from my parents, who ran it as a hobby business in their shed!

One thing we might not know about you: I have in the past ridden for England at Dressage.

Best business book: Selling the Invisible by Harry Beckwith

Best advice you’ve ever been given: Believe in yourself and take a risk

Favourite quote:  Don’t underestimate me. I know more than I say, think more than I speak and notice more than you realise.

Brands you love: Horse Health

Who do you admire? Richard Branson


Quick fire questions…..

Dogs or cats? Cats

Blogs or vlogs? Vlogs

Tea of coffee? Coffee

Sweet or savoury? Sweet


Where can we find you online?

Facebook @bladesservicesltd

Twitter @blades_services

Instagram @blades_services

Youtube: Search Blades Services

Website www.blades-services.com

every day is a school dayToday’s Wisdom Wednesday post (well, that’s why it was written but you can read it at any time you fancy!) is all about learning. Hence the ‘Every day is a school day’ title. Because it really, really is.

Every day is a school day

Have you heard this phrase before? There are many like it, but in essence ‘every day is a school day’ means that you learn something new every day. And with the speed that technology is advancing and digital opportunities are opening up, I think this phrase is the most relevant it’s ever been. If you ever hear a true guru/expert speak, or watch how they operate, self development is a huge part of their week. And that can take many forms. It might be working with a coach, attending lectures and seminars or taking part in courses. It might be reading and listening to podcasts. Investing in learning doesn’t need to cost a fortune. Far from it. In the amazing digital world that we live in, we have so much access to good, free knowledge, it can cost zero. But what it can deliver. Well, that can be priceless.

Should you invest in your own learning?

Yes. I could end this paragraph here but that would be a bit of a rubbish one, wouldn’t it? Taking time to learn new things and to try and test them is essential if you want to move your business on. I’m not saying you should throw your life savings at it. In all honestly, you don’t need to. Your investment could be time and zero funds if they’re not available to you. Yes, you do have to look a bit harder and up your ‘crap’ filter settings in your head (I can’t be the only one that has this?!), but you can learn and improve what you do for zero cost. Yes. Zero. There’s a wealth of FREE material out there for whatever business you’re in and whatever skill you’re trying to hone. You will need to put in the legwork and find good sources of information. This can be a bit vexing. Because it’s so easy to get yourself a platform online, it means anyone can. And while there are many (many, many) sources of great information online, there are some people I wouldn’t trust to sit on the toilet the right way around. You need to look out for those. But just keep your spider senses on and listen to what they’re telling you and you should be fine.

I’m not saying you shouldn’t pay to learn either – far from it. As someone who takes part in paid for courses, works with a coach and reads a lot of purchased books, I believe in paying to ‘play’ or at least supplementing your free learning with paid for. I also believe that paid for advice and knowledge (when it is from the right person) is usually better because it’s been pre-filtered, tried and tested… but that’s a whole different blog!

How do you learn?

Well, this depends on you. Some people are visual learners, some learn best through listening to things, it’s completely up to you. You need to find the style that suits you and how you learn. And also, make it fit with your life. A friend of mine embraced podcasts and audiobooks in a big way as the time she spent on the road increased, so she could make the best use of this ‘dead’ time. Personally, I often have a podcast on in the background when I’m working on something a little less creative, and I went through a phase of listening to audiobooks when I walked the dog (something I need to start again!). I also LOVE reading, and proper books at that, so I indulge in a little Amazon based retail therapy more than I would like to admit. And video is a big one too, depending on the skill you’re trying to learn. Have a play around and see what works for you.