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How we worked together to build our business from the ground up!
Nadine and I have worked as partners for over 5 years now, running a successful niche travel company – www.eShores.co.uk – based out of Manchester, UK. We met and developed our ideas from nothing into a small business that has grown substantially in spite of recession and a troubled economy.
Gavin: I’ve always been business minded, and most members of my family have careers built around businesses too. This definitely influenced me to look for ways I could get into business, and as I worked for other companies and helped them grow I realised more than ever that I wanted to run my own. I have a real passion for travel, and decided to try and make something of myself in this industry. I was introduced to Nadine by mutual friends who recommended we get together to discuss ideas; Nadine had over 15 years of experience in the travel industry and was a BDM when we met, so I knew her experience would be valuable.
Nadine: I was brought up around business from a young age, with my father owning a successful business, but I hadn’t given much thought to running my own until later in life. I was working as a business development manager for a travel company when I started to realise I could be doing the same work for myself, and decided I wanted to run my own business. Gavin approached me and explained his interest in working within the travel industry, and I knew that with my industry knowledge and Gavin’s marketing experience, this was too good an opportunity for us to pass up.
Gavin: We made the decision to build a travel business after seeing a gap in the market for specialised, high quality customer service coupled with the ease and availability of phone and online booking. Many online travel companies are all about turnover or budget package holidays, and neglect their customer service – we knew if we could offer luxury holidays and tailored experiences at competitive prices, that we could provide something different and unique to the market at that time.
We launched eShores in 2007. Nadine and I worked from her spare room for 12 hours a day, 7 days a week. Within 4 months we had built the business up enough to move into a small serviced office and take on 2 members of staff; that’s when we knew eShores had begun!
Nadine: Of course we both struggled to maintain a good work/life balance in the beginning; this is something that I have learnt to deal with and adjust to over time. Being in Travel I am always working – friends and family want advice and tips constantly, but my kids don’t understand the industry so when they’re around the work-talk is put on hold until they go to bed!
Gavin: It will always be difficult to maintain a good balance, but I think I’ve learnt the importance of taking days off and holidays as we’ve grown. When we first started we worked far too many hours and you simply burn yourself out, but now I ensure I get at least one day off a week to relax!
Nadine: We’ve gone from strength to strength since we started out; as we were a fairly new company when the recession hit we simply learnt to work with economic environment as it was back then and remained sensible with our growth and spending. Our target market was customers who could previously afford to take 2-3 holidays a year, so the recession simply meant they were taking 1-2 instead; this meant that we didn’t lose our business altogether, instead just adjusting to a smaller budget. Now the economy is better we realise how bad the recession was, as we have seen large increases in bookings over the last few years! Growing the business at a slow pace and keeping a tight hold on expenditure definitely got us through those years.
Women generally aren’t encouraged to go into business like I did, but I was confident in my knowledge of the growing luxury market and of my knowledge of the travel industry. Teamed up with Gavin’s knowledge of sales and marketing, I knew we had an excellent shot at making this work. My husband and father of course were big influences, both owning their own businesses, and my experience as a BDM pushed me to build my own business.
It is important to be confident in what you know, be realistic at what is achievable within time frames, and have the guts to give it a go!
Gavin: If we could give advice to those just starting out now it would be to choose your market and build it around that; stay focused and don’t try to expand too quickly. Make sure you spend money in the right places and hire the right staff to support you and the business in the future.
Communication is very often the key to client/customer relationships, so it’s important to be punctual with replies to phone calls and emails, and also to be honest. Many people in business make the mistake for example of pretending to know answers to difficult questions they’re asked, which can seem like a good idea in a pitch or a meeting, when in actual fact it’s better to admit your shortcomings, and strive to find out the answer. Learn from the blind-spot in your knowledge and earn the trust of any potential business associates.
Tidy office, tidy mind…
If operating from an office, make sure that the area looks presentable. Potential clients will assume that laziness here is indicative of your attitude towards work in other areas. Little things like tidying thoroughly before meetings and cleaning carpets properly can make a big difference, and will often take up very little time or money. The office space you use doesn’t have to resemble the Google HQ, but even hiring a dedicated cleaner if necessary will be worth it.
It’s not just what you say
Body language is often cited as the most important way to make a good first impression, however it’s also important to remember that having a good mind-set and being prepared will naturally boost your confidence, ultimately reflecting in your body language. The video below, is focused on job interview, has a few tips to remember when meeting people for the first time:
Keep it up
After using some of these tips and securing an order or client, it’s easy to forget about them and move on to the next acquisition, however don’t forget that the most effective marketing tool is still word of mouth, meaning that client retention is doubly important; clients that have been badly treated are unlikely to recommend you to anyone else, and may even pass on negative feedback. Ideally the same rules should apply to long-term clients and regular customers as well as potential ones
I don’t know if it was the same for you but when we were children the word ‘Please’ was drummed into us relentlessly when we asked for anything. It didn’t mean we would get it but without ‘the magic word’ we didn’t stand a chance.
My parents had been taught to always ask for anything by beginning their request with; “Please may I have…” Over the years the order of the words was lost and we found ourselves saying “Can I have xyz…please?” but long as that ‘Please’ was shoved in there somewhere we were covered
One Sunday morning about 20 years ago I shouted down the stairs to my husband would he change our daughter’s nappy please. I happened to look over the banister at the point to see my husband pulling an exasperated face. I immediately quizzed him as to “why the face?” while I started adding up in my head the number of nappies I had changed during the previous 4 years for her and her older brother. His gentle reply though left me speechless; “If you could have put the ‘Please’ at the beginning of that sentence it would have sounded a bit less like an order”. And he was so right. I had absolutely no defence.
At what stage had I stopped working alongside my Husband and Parenting Partner and become his Commanding Officer?
From then on ‘Please’ was always the word we tried to use first when asking anyone for something – especially our children. Even when their noise was too much or they had been talking for hours and we’d asked them repeatedly to go to sleep. It was always ‘Please could you be quieter?’ or ‘Please, will you stop talking and go to sleep?!’ Saying the please first somehow softened the tone, no matter how tired and worn out we were, and it usually got a good result – albeit it took a few goes!
Later, when the children were older and I returned to work outside the home I was surprised at the lack of ‘pleases’ in the workplace. I presumed in my ignorance that this was how things had changed in my 11 year absence and I should do the same but I knew I wasn’t comfortable with it. As I regained workplace confidence I had to revert to type and use ‘Please’ at the beginning of my sentences and also say ‘Thank You’ when I felt it appropriate. Colleagues noticed and seemed to appreciate this small courtesy, particularly those more Junior in the Company.
I then began to see the effectiveness of this small but significant word in conversations and emails with Clients, particularly when I used it in a difficult discussion or negotiation.
So now I am asking myself is it the use of the word ‘please’ itself or that by using it I am showing respect to the person I am addressing which achieves the result?
The American writer Maya Angelou once said “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did but people will never forget how you made them feel.” So, if using ‘Please’ and ‘Thank You’ in business makes us leave our clients feeling respected by us and positive towards us how useful could it be to revert to those childhood manners?
If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.
Wayne Dyer (1940-) Self-Help Advocate, teacher and author.
Human nature tells us to keep on pushing on; run faster, do more, never give up, keep going, push, and push some more. One day you wake up and realize that the more you push the worse it gets. The paradox is that the harder we push the more resistance we encounter. We all know the definition of insanity is “to keep on doing the same thing, expecting a different result.
If life overall or part of your life is not working, take the time to stop and assess if it is time to do something different. It is time to stop pretending, stop pushing, and stop trying to fit a round peg into a square hole. Once you stop and analyze the situation you will realize there are many options available to you and at least one of them is worth a try.
Either alone or with a partner, family member, friend or professional, write, discuss, and share what is no longer working. Following are some questions to talk about:
1. Identify what is no longer working for you (and your family or partner).
- What about your life is no longer working? Is it a part of your life or the whole package?
- What about your life is working well?
- What is it you want to stop doing/do more of/ less of/differently?
In our journey we soon came to the realization that being older parents of a newborn with two full-time professional all consuming careers and high expenses we had accumulated to make our life work, was leading to depression, unhappiness, and exhaustion.
What was working was our love for each other and sense of adventure. We felt a passion for doing something new and had the courage to take a risk.
2. Get clear on what you dream of doing differently
- What is missing in your life that you want to create?
- What are you fed-up or done with?
- How would you know you have achieved the dream you want? How would you measure success?
- Will the choice move you towards creating the life you want to live or keep you stuck in the past?
- Will the choice bring you long term gratification or just short term satisfaction?
- Is the dream something you should do and something that empowers you?
- What is calling you?
After a great deal of soul searching, we became clear that we wanted to take time of and live in a different culture, travel the world and experience a simpler life together as a family. Beyond that, we weren’t sure what we wanted to do.
3. Giving up fears, limiting beliefs and shoulds.
- What fears are you going to have to walk through to create what you want? Are you willing?
- What limiting beliefs are you going to have to change or manage to make a shift happen?
- What “shoulds” will you have to eliminate in your thinking? Are you willing to replace them with your dreams and desires?
Many fears popped up for one of us as we made plans; fear of not having money, not having work, and leaving what we knew. Every time they surfaced we dealt with them and put them in their place. They were simply fears that needed to be dealt with to move forward in life.
Learn about what it takes to make changes in your life.
Read books, listen to audio recordings and watch motivational programs that will inspire you on your journey. Surround yourself with supporters and eliminate the negative ones.
A couple of our favorite books and CDs are:
- Your Heart’s Desire, Using the laws of Manifestation to Create the Life you Really Want, by Sonia Choquette – a sixth sensory look at how to create what you want in life.
- Transitions, by William Bridges. A small classic on what happens as you go through a transition.
- Personal Power and Awakening the Giant by Tony Robbins. We have listened to the Personal Power CDs over and over again.
Suzanne Saxe-Roux, Ed.D.
Building leaders and profitable businesses while living balanced lives. Certified Executive Coach, Author and Speaker, Consultant, and Facilitator.
Just think, without affliction, we may not have ever had our current USA President, Mr. Obama. So moved by the distressed world conditions that it caused him to place his name on the presidential ballot. Because of injustices and afflictions amongst classes of people, Dr. Martin Luther Luther King Jr. was provoked to civil rights work to help bring about equality. Just think, without affliction the world may not ever have heard of a Helen Keller, nor would we have the diary of a young girl named Anne Frank.
Though unfortunate, it is at the expense of their affliction, pain, hurt, grief and distressing situations that caused great gains in varied ways on behalf of others. Without the afflictions and complexities surrounding the lives and circumstances of these individuals, chances are you may not be reading about them on this page today.
Additionally, scripture denotes another famous person who was a son of Jesse, named David, who drifted astray from the commands of his Heavenly Father. But because his Father loved him so much, he used trouble to draw him back, close to himself. Yes, he allowed affliction to come upon David, one in whom he loved so much. God had a great plan for his life. In other words, there was a “big-picture.”
Scripture further tells us that at one point David (the King) wrote, “before I was afflicted I went astray, but now have I kept thy word.” Then just four verses down he adds, “it was good for me that I was afflicted, that I might learn your ways.” Now I tell ya, the affects of trouble doesn’t get more beautiful than this.
Psalm 119:67, 71
Jeremiah 29:11 “…thoughts of peace and not evil, to give you an expected end.”
Genesis: 41 Joseph moves from imprisonment to the palace
Linda Johnson Belfrey has 14-years of radio experience working in faith-based broadcast ministry including, JFM LIVE, www.jfmlive.com. Additional media ministries include her cable market telecast, Reaching a People, by Any Means Necessary and A Word for You print news media inspirationals.
Email inquires to: Johnsonbelfrey@aol.com
This blogger is on Twitter: twitter.com/ljohnsonbelfrey
By Peter Murphy
2. Exude a magnetic charm that makes people want to help
you. In stores and restaurants staff will go out of their
way to serve the few customers who know how to make them
feel special. The same applies at home and at work.
3. Have the courage to ask for more. When you are working
hard without getting the rewards you deserve you need to
stand up and be noticed. Successful people know the power of
4. Laugh at rejection. When you no longer worry about people
saying no to you, everything changes. You can talk to any
individual in authority as an equal, and stand up for
yourself with confidence.
5. Talk with clarity. Do this and people will know exactly
what you want – and give it to you. No more beating around
6. Drop the need for approval. When you let go of the need
to be liked you are more likely to get it. This is one of
the great ironies of life.
7. Start conversations with confidence. This is a crucial
skill that opens doors socially and in business. When you do
this well you can expect greater success.
8. Become a great listener. As a result you will spot subtle
cues that tell you the key points in any negotiation. This
is valuable information that can help you drive a great
9. Never be intimidated by others. When all your
communication is grounded in solid strategies that work you
will have a pervasive inner confidence and strength. You
will come across as someone to be respected and listened to.
10. Quickly deal with people problems. You can develop great
flexibility when it comes to resolving disagreements and
differences of opinion. This will save you lots of time and
11. Stop feeling self-conscious. Get clear about what you
really want. When you focus on that in a special way, your
attention will be on the other person. It then becomes
impossible to freeze because of nerves.
12. Master small talk. This allows you to build rapport with
anyone you meet and even make people eager to help you.
Think of all the interesting and wonderful people you will
Exceptional people skills can be learned. Find a proven
formula and follow it. YOu will be amazed at how quickly you
Peter Murphy is a peak performance expert. He recently
produced a very popular free report: 10 Simple Steps to
Developing Communication Confidence. Apply now because it is
available for a limited time only at:
Once upon a time I attended a wedding in Denmark with a very dry & boring Danish ex-boyfriend.
The location was stunning, a castle complex deep in the Danish countryside, containing the accommodation, banqueting suite and chapel all on-site; however the day was stretched out for far too long, especially as no-one seemed to speak English apart from me!
I thought the obvious answer would be to knock back the champagne, however this backfired as the first reception started at 11.00am, we had drinks for an hour then through to the chapel for the ceremony. I suffered a dry mouth and blurred vision as I tried to comprehend the all Danish ceremony.
After the ceremony it was through to the courtyard to wait for the bride and groom to emerge from signing their lives away. More champagne was served here, then we were taken on a tour around the castle.
After the tour everyone went back to his or her suites to change for the second part of the day! What a palava, its stressful enough getting the Wedding guest look right once, but to have to style out 2 looks in 1 day nearly sent me over the edge!
Its now 4pm and time for pre-evening drinks! More drink and no food, no wonder the Danish are so slim and dull!
During these drinks I am informed by the delightful Jacob that it is customary for partners to sit apart and their new dinner dates are chosen at random.
WTF!!!! – I wanted to cry; Jacob was boring but he was a better option than a complete stranger who couldn’t even speak my language.
Anyway more champagne later I am fighting back tears as the emotion of drinking too much, and not eating enough was kicking in.
Jacob swanned off with an attractive brunette who was allocated to him and I stood like ‘Billy No Mates’ waiting for my surprise.
Then a large friendly-faced German man walked over to me, bowed his head, kissed my hand and led me to the table.
Fortunately he had fairly decent English so I was saved in one respect, but dismayed when I discovered I was sitting amongst several couples that had refused to give in to tradition and had stayed seated with their real partners.
That fact nearly sent me over the edge and I was cursing Jacob as he sat merrily chatting to his new date for the evening.
Bear in mind that I did not know one single person at this wedding apart from him, so my normally bouncy and sociable self was a little more subdued than usual.
Anyway, finally food arrived, all 25 courses of it; I guessed that was why they starved us all day long..
Far too many courses later I was suddenly overwhelmed by tiredness, too much alcohol, loads of food and emotional stress.
I excused myself, went to use the bathroom in my suite, and felt myself being magically drawn towards the bed, where I collapsed into a deep sleep.
I was woken by an angry Jacob, who had been alerted by my new fellow diners that I had been missing for about an hour!
I was then dragged back downstairs to continue the night as the day had started, rivers more champagne, polite chat, and I finally got my date back as dinner was over and we were re-united for the coffee and entertainment.
The moral of this story is; don’t go out with a Danish man!
Heart disease is the number 1 cause of death in North America. More people die from heart disease than all of the other causes combined. What can we do to prevent stroke and heart disease?
The first thing is to eliminate animal products from our diet. Animal products are high in saturated fat. There are many healthier food sources to get protein that your body needs. Cows grow very large and strong grazing grass. Humans can also find plenty of protein in vegetables, and a mixture of brown rice and beans.
The second way to better cardiovascular health is to drink plenty of water. Our body needs at least 1/2 our ideal body weight in fluid ounces each day. If you weight 120 pounds, you should drink 60 ounces of pure water each day. Keeping all of your organs hydrated will promote better health.
The third tip for health is to walk at least 30 minutes each day. If you can carry light weights with you, you will get some aerobic activity as well. The fresh air and exercise is very therapeutic. Your cardiovascular system will circulate blood through your veins and arteries.
To eliminate damage to your veins and arteries, you can supplement with the world’s best enzymes. Why do we need enzymes supplements? If you are cooking your food above 118 degrees Farenheit, your food’s enzymes are destroyed from the heat. What can we do to make sure our body has the right enzymes for our health? Peak Enzymes is a package of Digestive and Systemic Enzymes formulated by Troy Aupperle who is a world class athlete and the owner of Enzymology Research Company, Inc.
Troy has climbed all 7 of the world’s highest mountain peaks on all 7 continents. He also won the Rim to Rim competition in the Grand Canyon when he was age 40. He competed against men 20 years younger. The race requires going down one side of the canyon and then racing back up the other side.
Troy consulted with Dr. Ralph Halsworth when he formulated Peak Enzymes. Dr. Halsworth has written many articles in journals about Nattokinase and the enzymes effectiveness on cardiovascular health. Dr. Hiroyuki Sumi of Japan has stated in many medical journals and books that cancer, heart disease, and many other illnesses can be cured with an effective dose of enzymes.
Peak Enzymes has platinum nattokinase in its systemic enzyme. Peak Enzymes are totally transparent. He lists the amount of enzymes available per serving on our products. The testimonials are flooding in now:
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The Peak ‘With’ Enzymes product is an excellent digestive enzyme. Our body only has a certain amount of enzymes in it to last us throughout our life. Many people that follow the standard American diet have a pancreas that is 2 to 3 times its normal size. Peak ‘With’ enzymes will help digest your food and improve your body’s absorption of your food. Your gastrointestinal health will improve.
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“It is said that over 80% of small business start ups fail in the first year!”
I am thoroughly fed up with everyone using this same line.
It is said by whom? For the life of me I have not found where these people get their information from. Is this supposed to encourage people to start businesses? Don’t you feel sorry for the poor budding entrepreneur?
In America, most serious entrepreneurs have had one or two failed business in their past, they see them as steps in the right direction towards getting the big one.
Sadly, this entrepreneurial spirit is looked down upon in this country; we would see them as “too big a risk”, in reality, the experience that they’ll have gained will have taught them not to make the same mistakes again. I would call them a “better bet”!
I am a “glass half full character”; a believer in positive thinking and I say, “if you believe it will happen and if you can see yourself in that picture, then you will be successful”.
I have heard people say to me, “It didn’t work because I’m just unlucky!”
I say there is no such thing as luck! A successful business person is someone who’ll go that bit further than others by doing the things that others don’t like to do and to keep doing it until it becomes second nature to them. So if you want to sell those widgets get on that phone and “smile and dial”.
There is a restaurant in London called Hoxton Apprentice.
It is set in a fabulous old Victorian school house on Hoxton Square.
I was invited by the proprietor, Val Corbett, to attend a ladies lunch in aid of raising money to help their training program.
You see Hoxton Apprentice is no ordinary restaurant, they train and employ the young, long term un-employed.
You can read their full story on their website: http://www.hoxtonapprentice.com/
What a fantastic lady; it was a great lunch too!
A story about one lucky protege:
Suleyman was a refugee from Turkey who could not speak English when he came to the Hoxton Apprentice. Today he is a qualified chef – with good (sometimes spicy) English – who was head hunted by Raymond Blanc and worked in his restaurant. But as they spoke French he decided that was one step too far! So he came back and now works as one our two main chefs. From being a long-term unemployed on benefit he earns a good salary, has married and is a fully functioning member of society.