Equestrian business

Equestrian business is a subject very, very close to my heart. Having run my own equestrian PR and marketing agency for the last 10 years, I’ve been lucky enough to support equestrian businesses of all sizes. I’ve run huge advertising campaigns, created website copy, crafted press releases, launched products (and businesses), worked with large teams, directed photoshoots, set up and managed social media platforms, managed influencers. The list goes on. I’m a bit of a bore on this subject!

I’ve worked with start ups to businesses turning over many many millions a year, sole traders through to companies employing 100 people. I’ve work with clothing designers and horsewear manufacturers through to instructors and jewellery designers. And a lot in between.

In this part of the blog, I share some of my tips for equestrian business with you, and get to showcase some of the real gems I have found in my travels too.

hihoandco group shot
Image by Matt Sweeting Photography

Unless you’ve been in a hole for the last few weeks (and that’s fine, we all need to go to ground occasionally!), you’ll know all about #hihoandco. This event was put on at Blackdown Shepherd Huts in Somerset, by Hiho, on Monday 11th Feb. As you’ll know if you know me at all, I work with Hiho (and have done for a while!), and I was also part of the organising team for the event. Hiho & Co was, quite simple, amazing, and I loved every moment. I lost my voice for three days afterwards but gained huge amounts of amazing memories and good vibes… so I’m fine with that!

I could write a very long blog about the Hiho & Co day, but I thought it would try and find the top five things about the day… it’s taken some thinking about, but here goes…

Five things I loved about #hihoandco

  1. The venue. Oh my. This was something else. I work with Blackdown Shepherd Huts and was absolutely blown away the first time I visited. The huts are like nothing I have ever seen before and are so beautifully designed. Not only was I amazed by the huts, but the workshop. I have this thing about workshops and warehouses – I kind of love them. I see them as the heart of the business and am always amazed by the degree of organisation in them. The Blackdown workshop was next level with specially designed bit for each thing – like the special sinking floor, for example. More than the beauty of the venue alone – the Blackdown team. Will, who owns Blackdown, along with the rest of the team, allowed us to completely take over their premises for two days… seriously- how many people would let you do that?! They also let us use another hut (the selfie hut) and take over their tearoom. I loved them all before but I love them even more now.
  2. Capture By Lucy. I’ve been a fan of Lucy and her amazing backdrops for quite some time. I think she’s incredibly talented and I love what she creates and the story behind her brand. But in person? She’s absolutely lovely! Not only did she handle the level of madness that follows me around, but she delivered the most amazing talk to the Hiho & Co guests. I’m going to treat myself to a backdrop too – I just need to decide which one!
  3. The brands. We were very, very lucky to have the most amazing support from some incredible brands in the equestrian and country industry, as well as those beyond. Mackenzie & George are heavily involved with Hiho & Co as Melanie (co-founder) is also part of the organising group. We had Fairfax & Favor, Albion Saddlemakers, Joules, Cupsmith, Hullabaloo Drinks involved with the goody bags. In addition we had additional props loaned from The Tartan Blanket Co and Albion Lifestyle. It was great having such an incredible range of products to use in our workshops and for dressing areas.
  4. The team. I have to talk about the team, don’t I? Whenever we embark on one of these events, I’m reminded how incredible the people I work with are. At the head of the Hiho & Co idea is Emma Warren – who’s also MD of Hiho Silver. This lady is so hardworking, kind and welcoming – words can’t express it. She’s also a sandwich short of a picnic. But no one who wasn’t would suggest these big things… and pull them off to such a degree, would they? Next up, Melanie Clarihew. Melanie, and her husband Chris, founded Mackenzie & George, and are some of the kindest, hardest working and most talented people I know. I’m regularly found laughing about something random with Melanie, but I am always in awe of what they create. The new luggage tags that they made and personalised for each goody bag were a great example of this. They’re amazing. Ruth Chappell- my little roomie and organisation whizz kid. Ruth is the lady behind Dressage Anywhere and I’m so impressed with how she runs, manages and promotes that. But at Hiho and Co, she keeps us organised. She sorts out so many behind the scenes things, and is a fixer. She makes me laugh a lot and has the kindest soul. I love Ruth a little bit. Then we have Rachel Bragg aka Sweet Images aka the flatlay queen. Rachel is also a very good friend and her gentle encouragement to everyone is incredible. She has no idea how good she when it comes to her teaching or photography, but she is next level. And shares this all so so willingly too. And last but not least is Sophie Callahan. The photography whizz kid. I have so much respect for Sophie – not just her skills but her whole demeanour. I adore Sophie and constantly learn from her attitude to life. She’s very laid back and takes the knocks in a way that she uses them to fuel her rather than lets them get her down. If you’ve read her baby blog you’ll understand exactly what I’m talking about. She’s stubborn as a mule too – and if I told her off once for trying to lift something heavy, I told her off 10 times… but I was the same when I was pregnant!
  5. The people. And this is a big one. The people who came to Hiho & Co were incredible. We had a lot of people come and see us for the second time (after coming to the first event held at The Fish in September) and it truly was like meeting up with a load of friends. How good is that? I feel that everyone who comes to one of these days is there for the right reasons. They get a huge amount of value from the workshops we run, but there’s also a lovely vibe, the chance to find new friends and so much more. Some of the people attending shared lifts – some even went out to dinner the night before – and this really did warm my heart…
hiho and co cupcakes

So there you have it – five things I loved about #hihoandco – but be in no doubt I could have written a book on the subject! If you want to see a little more of the magic, pop on over to Instagram and have a look at the #hihoandco hashtag. Equally, have a look at Hiho’s own blog and follow the links listed to the blogs created by some of our amazing guests.

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batch working and batch content with rachel bragg of sweet images photography

What do you think about batch working? Do you know what batch content is, or do you think I’m talking a different language? Don’t worry – batch working will change your world, whatever you do. In this podcast, Rachel Bragg from Sweet Images Photography tells us how she makes it work for her.

Batch working and batch content with Rachel Bragg

In this episode we talk about the value of producing batch content, batch working, tips for both and a whole lot more. In this episode of the Small & Supercharged Podcast with Rachel Bragg from Sweet Images Photography, you will hear…

  • How time consuming it can be to NOT batch your work together (and why looking at it differently can save you a lot of time).
  • The many different ways that small business owners are pulled, meaning that the time we have is quite short, and how that means we have to make it count.
  • How the idea of batching (and the practical application) became apparent to Rachel when working for a commercial client.
  • The way that batch content can actually help you to create your best work as you can create all the content when the conditions are optimal.
  • How the act of just planning the time to create the content can make you more productive as you can start to create a props list on the lead up to the event too. Preparation is so important.
  • When you’re batch working, you also need to make sure you have everything where you need it to be. This helps you use your time as well as possible.
  • How to create more than one image out of each shot you’ve set up. We talk about batch working with flatlays, and how the angles and the position you take the images from can make even more content from each flatlay you’ve set up.
  • Why it’s important to make sure you plan what you want to shoot, what you want to achieve, and know why you’re doing it. When you’ve done this, work out what you could also shoot at the same time. This should give you additional content for the future.
  • How important it is to be ruthless with your time and literally book out the time to create your content.
  • How DSLRs are good BUT, for the vast majority of us, a phone camera is more than adequate. In fact, sometimes the really modern phone cameras are better in some situations that DSLRs, especially if there’s a light issue.
  • The importance of props and how these can help with the story.
  • We talk through a few scenarios and the props that you can find that are easily to hand and can be used (that won’t cost you a penny and can really add to your images).
  • How you don’t need to have lots of posh, expensive props to make a flatlay work. You just need to make sure it’s relevant.
  • The idea of taking lots of shots when you have a session set up. It’s something I do (as a non-photographer… and I always like to try and stack the odds of getting a good shot in my favour!), and Rachel also talks about whether or not it’s the right thing to do!
  • How to edit the images on your phone, and how you can actually batch work really effectively on your phone.
  • The value of images. Why images are such a key part of your content, and the every day consumption of images. Why batch working is so, so important, to ensure you get the number of images you need.

Where you can find Rachel…

A massive thank you to Rachel for chatting about batch content and batch working on this week’s episode. To find Rachel online, you can find her…

Sweet Images Facebook Page

Sweet Images Instagram

Sweet Images Website

…and if you want to see Rachel’s work in action, have a look at Hiho Silver, Mackenzie & George and Smart Grooming’s Instagram feeds.

5 apps that help me run my business

How many apps do you have on your phone? I have quite a lot on mine. Some apps I use once in a blue moon (like Shazam… I use that as my musical memory!!), but some apps I use each day, and some apps help me run my business. These five apps are ones that you might not know about – or at least, don’t know loads about. So you won’t find Instagram, the Facebook apps, or Twitter in this list. I mean, they really do help me a lot, but I think everyone has those on their phone, don’t they? These are five apps that help me run my business that you might not know about… are you ready?

5 apps that help me run my business…

  1. Later – now, I don’t really use Later from the app but it’s very useful to have! If you don’t know about Later, it’s a social media scheduling tool that I first learnt about because of Instagram. It’s an Instagram approved app and allows autoposting. Until fairly recently, you couldn’t autopost on Instagram. This meant that scheduling apps would send you a tactful nudge to crack on and do it. They allowed you to copy and paste but, for me, it didn’t really help me. Autoposting does. I do all my scheduling from the laptop but I find the app really useful in case I’m out and about and something hasn’t autoposted or I need to tweak the schedule due to any number of factors. It’s really handy to have.
  2. Repost – I know there are a lot of apps that let you repost – and I’m not saying that this is the best out there because I honestly don’t know, but this is what I use. I like the simplicity of it. Quick sidenote, you should always ask permission to repost or share someone’s pic on Instagram too, but this means that if you want the image credited in this way, it does it for you. It’s free too!
  3. Dropbox – as with Later, I use the desktop version a lot more, but I do use the app version too. When I give seminars or anything that requires slides, I usually take them on a USB stick (usually as per the venue’s instructions), but I put them in Dropbox too, you know, just in case. Equally, I have a LOT of images in my Dropbox from different clients, so if I’m out I can quickly find something if needed.
  4. Quickbooks – this is the app that I invoice through. I kind of hate invoicing anyway, but this app makes it very easy and very quick to do. As with Repost, I know there are quite a few invoicing/accounting apps out there… I just use this one!
  5. iMovie – this is a little miracle worker. For all my ‘big’ videos, I get my husband to edit them. He has a Mac, uses Final Cut Pro, and can do a lot more than I can. But over Christmas when I was making a lot of short videos that didn’t need a lot of editing, I used this. I think for basic edits, the app is superb. It allowed me to add titles, music, trim clips and add different transitions really easily. It was a bit fiddly when I did a more complicated edit on one of the Dimpsey videos so it’s not something I would want to use routinely for more complex projects. That isn’t because of the capability of the app though, that was more screensize. I think when you have a few things at work, you need all the space!

So there are my top five apps that help me run my business. If you liked this, make sure you check out the Small & Supercharged Podcast all about apps I use to help run my business, there’s even more on there!

5 ways to use Instagram challenges

Did you take part in Sophie Callahan’s #jan19ruralbusiness challenge? I dipped in and out (sorry Sophie!), but I did do most of the days and really enjoyed in. At the end of December, I ran a short five day #5thingsimproudof Insta challenge too, so I have experience from both sides of the coin! With this in mind, I thought I would use the opportunity of two recent Instagram challenges to chat about their value and how you can use Instagram challenges for your own gain.

How to use Instagram challenges – five ways…

  1. They inspire you. If you’re feeling a bit ‘meh’ about Instagram, an Instagram challenge can really help. With specific prompts for as long as the challenge lasts, you can use the ideas listed to create your content. Saving you from having to worry about the idea behind the content.
  2. For blogs. Yep – you read that correctly. I launched my Instagram challenge with a blog about five things I was proud of. I did this as a way to explain the challenge. However, a number of people also wrote their own blogs around the theme, which was great. If you can use the prompts or ideas to create additional content, then get on that case!
  3. They can organise you. If you know you need to get images for your challenge, you can look ahead and see which images you have/source the props you need for when you get time to take the images. This can be really useful if you’re a busy bee.
  4. You can use it on other social media platforms too. You might be taking part in an Instagram challenge, but there’s nothing to say you can’t use the prompts on other platforms too.
  5. To connect. Most Instagram challenges are connected by a hashtag. Search that hashtag and you can find others who are also taking part. You might find new people to follow in your field, or new brands to love, And you might get found by these people too.
Rhea Freeman Newsletter
What rocks and sucks about running facebook groups

Do you run a Facebook group? Have you thought about it? I run the free Small & Supercharged Facebook group and the Small & Supercharged Mastermind group too. The free group started life a few years ago and, since it launched, I have been on a very steep learning curve when it comes to running Facebook groups. So in this episode of the Small & Supercharged Podcast, I talk about what rocks… and what sucks… enjoy!

What rocks and sucks about running Facebook groups?

Here are the show notes for the Small & Supercharged Podcast episode 20 – what rocks and sucks about running Facebook groups. In this episode you’ll hear…

  • Why I started the Small & Supercharged Facebook group and the kind of people you’ll find there (as in, people connected to the equestrian and rural industry).
  • The differences between Small & Supercharged and the Small & Supercharged Mastermind group.
  • What rocks- you get to know people really well when running Facebook groups. You get to see the people who support others and understand what makes people tick too.
  • What sucks – it is hard work. The vast majority of the Small & Supercharged group members are very good, follow the rules and work together. One thing that takes a lot of time is the questions and the requests – particularly when people don’t fill in the questions.
  • What rocks – the engagement. In a group you get much better engagement than on a page. This can work whether you’re the admin or if you’re an active member of the group.
  • What sucks – people breaking the rules. I have really simple rules for the Small & Supercharged group, but these do still get broken. If you are involved with running Facebook groups, rules are really important as they allows everyone to work in the same way. When rules get broken, it does make you feel like the bad guy when you delete posts. That’s not fun.
  • What rocks- groups can be real forces for good. I give a few examples of how Facebook groups can do great things together. Being able to achieve lovely things, as a group, is such a great feeling. Without groups it would a lot more fragmented.
  • What sucks – copycats. I know I’m not the first person to ever have a Facebook group, but copycats in the same area are a bit of a kick (often using very similar wording and sometimes even promoting their groups in yours).
  • What rocks- the support of a community. This can be so, so lovely when people are having a challenging time or having issues. A good group means that you have somewhere to go and share and get support as needed. It can help to break a cycle of frustration and sadness and allow people to kick on.
  • What sucks – not answering the questions. Even if you set questions for your Facebook group, be aware that a LOT of people won’t answer them. I have just under 200 requests at the moment from people who haven’t answered the three simple questions that allow me to make sure they’re a good fit for the group.
  • What rocks – collaborations. I know that because of the Small & Supercharged Facebook group, a lot of collaborations have happened. Without the Facebook group they may not have found each other. And being able to facilitate this is so, so lovely.
  • What sucks- things can escalate really quickly. It can be a little stressful if something gets out of hand and it can get out of hand very quickly.
  • What rocks – people have got to know me. I really like the fact that people have got to know me better. It means that when I meet people at events and shows, we don’t have to go through the awkward first stages of a connection and friendship. It makes networking so much easier and it feels like I’m meeting up with friends at these gatherings, rather than strangers. I might not have met them in person all that much, if at all, but I know them.
  • what sucks – people not using the group properly. This is more disappointing I guess. It’s all about give and take, and some people tend to take a lot and give very little. This isn’t so much against the rules but it doesn’t feel great.
  • What rocks – it allows real life activities to happen. Things like the Small & Supercharged meet ups at Badminton. It’s nice to see people in real life, of course it is, but without the group I wouldn’t necessarily know these people. With the Hiho & Co event, a lot of people from S&S are coming, and I think letting people make these connections before an event is a real biggy.

So, that’s my what rocks and sucks about running Facebook groups podcast. I hope it shed a bit of light on the subject of groups for you, whether you want to run one or just want to get the most out of the ones you’re in!

If you’d like to join the Small & Supercharged Facebook group, you’d be very welcome – just join the Facebook group here.

Are you Small & Supercharged (find out more about the Facebook group)

Behind the Small & Supercharged group

5 ways to use testimonials

Do you ask your customers for testimonials? If you don’t, now’s the time to start! You might feel like you’re asking people to stroke your ego, but you’re actually providing a service to potential customers. How? Well, think about testimonials. Do they normally share the same kind of information that you share? Mine don’t – have a look at some of my testimonials here and you’ll see. Would I say any of these things about myself? No. I wouldn’t. But more than that, these words show what it’s like to work WITH you, which is something I can’t really do. So you might be wondering what you can do when you have these amazing testimonials. So I’m here to help with five ways to use testimonials…

  1. On your website. I have a testimonials section on my website and I also feature a section on the homepage with a testimonials in a slider. This means that if someone wants to come to my website and find out what it’s like to work with me. They can. The side benefit of this area is that people get to see who I have worked/do work with too.
  2. On your social media. Add your testimonial (or a bit of it!) to a nice graphic (something you can do on Canva) and use it on your social media. Again, don’t feel icky about this. You really are providing a service to your potential customers about what it’s like to work with you.
  3. On your email signature. Signatures can be dead space. I know mine has my contact details and a disclaimer, but I have seen some people add testimonials here and they can look really good, and also link to your website too.
  4. In a blog. Yes, you can use a testimonial as the foundation of a blog all about your amazing client who shared the testimonial with you. It’s a great way to talk about their business, what they do, how good they are and so on. Add your testimonial at the bottom and thank them too.
  5. On printed material. Yes. Business cards, flyers and brochures can benefit from well placed testimonials alongside specific services and products. You don’t want to overdo it, but it can work really well!

As a tip, always make sure you have proper permission to use testimonials from clients. An email saying you’re amazing isn’t permission. Be really clear how you are planning to use their words and make sure they’re happy you do this. Also, it goes without saying that fabricated endorsements are a big fat no too… they have zero value if they’re not real!

Rhea Freeman Newsletter
Sponsored riders, managing riders, and how it can help equestrian businesses - with Pippa Hawksfield & Jess Crofts from Stride Management

In this week’s podcast I speak to Pippa Hawksfield and Jess Crofts from Stride Management. This business was set up by two best friends to address the issue of rider management, sponsored riders, and how brands can work with both more effectively. This is a subject I’m really passionate about. I work with a number of brands and many of these work with riders. I’ve seen amazing relationships with riders that have really blossomed into exciting things. And I’ve seen ones that have generated nothing. But that’s enough from me, over to the ladies at Stride Management to share their tips and thoughts. It’s a good one.

Sponsored riders, managing riders, and how it can help equestrian businesses

Here are the show notes from the Small & Supercharged Podcast- Episode 19, all about sponsored riders, managing riders and how this can help equestrian businesses. We also have a delve into Stride Management and how the business works, the support it offers, and why it started life.

  • How the idea for Stride Management developed from conversations with brands saying they really struggled with riders, and seeing how some riders go above and beyond.
  • Why some riders don’t approach brands, even if they could do a really good job for them.
  • The disconnect between some riders who are very skilled at what they do (and very nice people too!), and delivering to brands who they want support from.
  • How some brands expect riders to do things for them with no information. As all brands are different, we speak about the value of two way communication.
  • The importance of coming up with ideas for brands.
  • Why it’s important for riders to speak to brands they really do like, not just from the brand’s point of view, but also from the rider’s personal brand point of view too.
  • We talk about good approaches and not so good ones… and the difference between the two.
  • What Stride Management do day to day for the riders they manage.
  • How brands can also work with rider management companies to get the most out of them too.
  • The difference between supporting the riders and brands, and being the gatekeeper.
  • How working with management companies can be good for riders, to help them serve current sponsors better, get new sponsors, and ease the workload too.
  • The importance of really good, strong imagery and how that’s something to consider.
  • For riders – we talk about top tips, such as what to do if a rider likes a brand and how that ‘journey’ should progress, and why riders shouldn’t give up too easily – a no might not be a no forever, it might just be a no for now. We run through a good few additional top tips too.
  • For brands – we talk about when you’re looking at riders, thinking about the support team around them and how they’re going to deliver on what they promise to you. We talk about engagement as well as following on social media, and a few other top tips too.
  • We discuss the value of people with engaged followings on social media, rather than riders who compete at the top of their game.
  • And we talk about brand ambassadors, sponsored riders, financial gain and products being gifted too.

To find out more about Stride Management, find them here…

Stride Management Website

Stride Management Instagram

Stride Management Facebook

And for a little further reading…

If you fancy a little further reading about this subject, I have written a few blogs around the subject here…

Should you sponsor someone?

What should you look for in a brand ambassador?

Can you be an ambassador for too many brands?

Hiho & Co Instameet

What are you doing on Monday 11th February? If the answer is ‘nothing’ or ‘nothing that can’t be changed’ – read on – I have the perfect way to spend the day. The Hiho & Co Instameet. Well, I call it an Instameet because I think that’s a term that everyone gets, but it’s SO much more than that. A bit like saying a Lindt ball is a chocolate. It does it no justice at all.

So what’s Hiho & Co?

You may remember that last September, Hiho ran an event called ‘Style, Skills & Silver’ at The Fish Hotel in Broadway. This was the very first of its kind in our industry and brought together bloggers, vloggers and small businesses with some of the best brands in our space, and various experts too. There were two workshops- one about style and one about skills, and a group of the most amazing people learnt lots and got hands on in both workshops. I ran part of the skills side with Sophie Callahan, Ruth Chappell and Rachel Bragg, and I had the most amazing time. As soon as the first one was finished, we all agreed we wanted to do it again. We’d had the best fun, met lots of amazing new friends, and learnt lots too. It was great. So then we started plotting. And that’s where Hiho & Co came from.

Why not Style, Skills & Silver?

As I mentioned, the first event was called Style, Skills & Silver, but this one has had a name change. Emma Warren (Queen Bee of Hiho Silver) felt that Hiho & Co was a true reflection of the collaborative nature of the event. Not only the brand ambassadors and experts, but also the people attending. Because without exception everyone worked together. And not only that, but created some mind blowing content and further collabs long after the event ended. I like the new name a lot!

So what’s happening at Hiho & Co?

We’re building on the very firm foundations of the first event, but with a few changes. We’ve moved location to Hiho’s home county and are able to hold the event at Blackdown Shepherd Huts. These huts contain the most Instagrammable interiors and details I’ve ever seen, and with the workshops we have planned, are going to work so well. Their exteriors are pretty extraordinary too, with the craftsmanship shining through at every opportunity, providing the perfect backdrop to our plans.

At this event, you’ll still have the chance to work with Sophie Callahan, Rachel Bragg, Ruth Chappell, Melanie Clarihew, me, and the Hiho team, but you’ll also be treated to a workshop run by the very talented Capture By Lucy. I promise you, it is going to be superb.

You’ll also be treated to a delicious lunch, cakes, a goody bag, plenty of opportunities to chat to people to help your business flourish… and you’ll make some new friends too. Probably people you feel you already know through Instagram. But in real life.

The bad news is that, at time of writing this, there are just FOUR spaces left. So if you want one, get in quick! You can book your ticket to Hiho & Co here!

goal setting for your small business

Today it’s all about goals – well, more precisely goal setting for your small business. It might be a few days since the bells welcomed the New Year, but the good thing is that goals are a bit different to resolutions. Resolutions generally kick in on 1st January and, for many, don’t last all that long. In more recent years, I’ve ditched resolutions. I tend to feel that resolutions are about taking something way. Maybe you want to eat less chocolate? Drink less alcohol? Do you see what I mean? The problem is that when you have a cube of Dairy Milk you can feel like a failure and that can knock you off course. Goals, well, to me, are different. Goals are what I like to focus on.

Goal setting for your small business

The good thing about goals is that they sit well in personal and professional life. It would feel a bit odd to have a resolution for your business, wouldn’t it? But a goal? That makes perfect sense.

The thing with goals is that there’s a bit of a knack to setting them. Well, maybe not a knack as such, but a way to increase your chances of success. Which is the whole reason we’re setting goals- to succeed in areas of our lives- isn’t t? So here are five tips on goal setting that I’ve gathered…

Goal setting for your small business…

Write it down. So flipping simple. But SO effective. I don’t know if you’re like me, but I have this crazy idea that I can remember everything. And I really, really cant. I can remember an impressive amount of things – not where my car keys are, or to order birthday cards on time: I can’t remember everything. And goals are something that get forgotten. But it’s not just for those who have a lot on their plate, there’s been a lot of research done that supports the theory that writing a goal down makes there a much greater chance you’ll achieve it. Simple, hey.

Be specific. If you want to grow your Instagram following – what’s the number you’re aiming at? Want to grow sales? By how much? Want to stock new brands in your tack shop? Which ones? See what I mean? If you have a specific goal, you can measure your success against it. Don’t use it as a thing to beat yourself around the head with. If you say, for example ‘grow my Facebook page’ and you grow it by one, you’ve technically achieved your goal, haven’t you? But I would imagine that’s not quite what you were thinking… so how do you know you’ve achieved what you wanted to achieve if you don’t know what it is?

Break it down. Have achievable steps. Set big, brave goals- by all means – but then break it down into small steps with mini goals, and create the plan around it. So if you want to make HUGE sales as part of a three year plan, break it down into yearly, monthly, weekly if you like, and they create a plan to get there.

Put a time limit in there. Connected to being specific, you want to also add a time in there. If you have a goal to do something by some undefined point in the future, you might find that your goal never really comes true.

Accept that you might not know how to get to your end goal. But you do know how to take the first step. I know this is hardly the SMART goal setting method, but this bit is really, really important. I do love a grand plan, but grand plans are kind of pointless if you don’t actually get on with them at some point. Even if you feel overwhelmed by the goal you’ve set, just start. Do something small. You know how to get this started. Want to improve your videos on social media? Watch a YouTube video about it. Want to grow your mailing list? Google it to get some top tips from the professionals. And that, my friend, that potentially small, simple action, will help propel you forward to achieving what you want to.

I really hope that’s inspired you to give goal setting for your small business a go – I promise you it’s not difficult and it can be really, really effective.

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Fairfax and favor oxblood reginasToday’s Monday Must is kit based, and it’s all about the Oxblood Reginas from Fairfax & Favor. I really do love them…

Before we go any further, these were gifted to me. I know the team at Fairfax & Favor very well, work with them on other projects (like competitions with other brands, etc), and they felt that these boots, in MY colour (other people are also allowed to use burgundy, but you know what I mean!), would become my new favourite, and they have. However, I’d like it noted that I wasn’t asked to write this, or photograph them, or talk about them on social media. They were sent to me as a thank you. And I just really, really want to share.

A bit about Fairfax & Favor

If you’ve followed me on social media at all, you’ll know how much I love this brand. I wear and use their products whenever I can and they always make me feel special. I know that Fairfax & Favor products aren’t cheap. I also know that when I took the plunge and bought my first item (my Windsor Bag), I had a flutter of ‘should I?!’. And I did. And I’ve been hooked ever since.

In addition, I also had the joy of interviewing Felix Favor Parker (one half of Fairfax & Favor) for a behind the brand interview. And I did a podcast with Lucy, who works on the marketing team, about the pink tassel Breast Cancer Care Campaign. With my Hiho hat on, we also worked with Fairfax & Favor on the Style, Skills & Silver event and Ben (aka Staggy Stag who is the tradestand manager) came in person too. I also tend to gravitate towards the stand at shows and events. I get to see all the lovely products, treat myself, have a drink… and I’m always assured of a warm welcome. But not just because they know me, everyone receives a warm welcome at Fairfax & Favor. That’s one of the great things about the brand.

But now, let’s talk about these boots…

The Oxblood Reginas from Fairfax & Favor

I have a pair of tan Reginas. I’ve had them for quite a few years now and I love them. I wear them whenever it’s appropriate to, so days out, at events, going to meet clients, etc. I love them. A lot. They actually live in my office rather than my house as if my children get within five metres of them I get a real sweat on and turn into a dragon.

So when Lucy told me that they were bringing out an Oxblood collection (including Oxblood Reginas) I was excited. I have a bit of a thing about burgundy. Not only do I use burgundy in my branding, but I’ve also realised that quite a lot of my clothes are this shade too. I’m wearing a burgundy gilet as I type this. So it kind of felt like I was going to have to own at least one item from the Oxblood Collection. It would be rude not to, wouldn’t it?

When the Oxblood Reginas came out, they looked lovely on all the pictures I saw, but a bit brighter than I imagined they would be. Despite being a burgundy fan, I’m not that into red. I like the colour red but it’s not a colour I wear. But then they arrived. And they are beautiful.

The Oxblood is a deep, rich shade of burgundy and is very, very close to the burgundy I use whenever I can! The actual boot has changed a little since I got my tan version and they definitely feel a lot more luxurious now. I should say I still think the original are very, very special, but these have lots of extras. There are three areas that I think have been upgraded since my tan ones were made: the sole, the lining and the insole.

Which areas have been upgraded?

The outer sole now has rubber elements for improved grip, whereas the original was just leather. I’ve only ever had one issue with the leather only sole… but that was more to do with me looking in one direction and walking in another… while stepping on an escalator. I do think that the rubber makes a very welcome addition though!

The inner sole is a lot more cushioned than my tan ones. A bit of website reading revealed that these boots have a memory foam comfort insole. So that’s that mystery solved! I can wear my tan ones all day without any sore foot issues, so the insole hasn’t ever caused me an problem… but the extra cushioning in these ones is rather lovely!

And the lining. Again, this is something that makes the boots feel really luxurious, but I didn’t have any issues with the unlined ones! The lining does tend to give the boot more structure and I imagine it will help them keep them shape for longer.

Styling the Oxblood Reginas

I wore these for the first time at the Farm Business Innovation Show were I was giving a seminar and then chairing the PR and Marketing Live Panel. For some reason, it didn’t enter my head that wearing new shoes to run around the NEC and stand up most of the day could be a bad idea. It dawned on me when I stepped off the bus entering the NEC and thought ‘oh… what have you done?!’. I’m very pleased to report that they were incredibly comfortable and were much admired. More than this, I felt really smart wearing them.

As for what to wear them with, I went for more conservative tones. I felt that having knee high burgundy boots was making quite a statement and I didn’t need to wear anything else that competed with that. And I think that was a good call. I wore skinny jeans, a burgundy long sleeved top, and a grey knitted poncho over the top. Accessorised with Hiho Silver jewellery (who am I kidding, I’m ALWAYS wearing Hiho jewellery) and my Windsor Bag, I think everything worked really well together. I have a pretty busy month lined up so I know this outfit will be getting another outing very soon!

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