Thursday, March 13, 2014

J Is For Job Losses In Phokeng

Central Phokeng, around 5kms from where I live
One of the reasons I'm such a strong advocate for running your own business is that no one can retrench you.

A client can fire you. A long term contract that provides the backbone of your business can expire.But hopefully, if such a thing happens, you made sure you have other clients who can take up the slack and you know where to go look for more work to replace the client you lost.

Monday, March 10, 2014

J Is For Juggling Roles

The weekend was rough. We had electricity problems and were unconnected for more than 24 hours. It was not a loadshedding issue ( loadhshedding was not implemented in my area anyway). It was just a technical problem that was complicated by a techie who told the utility company that everything was fine on their end when they did in fact have a problem and it was affecting us.

So I had to back-and-forth with the utility for a while to get proper help. Meanwhile, our house  just felt dark and dank. We have a gas stove, lamps, heaters etc, so we could do the basics. But it's shocking how the lack of power affected our morale.

I also had to throw away perishables we didn't eat immediately. I was not going to risk our health eating food that could be off. I'm contacting our home insurance company today to see if I can claim money for that. We'll see.

Meanwhile, let's talk about juggling. As small business owners, we juggle many roles in any given day. You are the company's CEO, marketing manager, receptionist, social media person, spokesperson, probably even cleaner. 

Thursday, March 06, 2014

I is for Ideal Working Conditions

Night flowers I'm planning to watch unfold
Sometimes you have to work hours or in locations that are less than your ideal, and your work has to fit around your life issues.Today is one of those days for me.

In general, I do better, am happier when I have a routine. I know, I know. Dull, isn't it?

But I've come to terms with the fact that I write/work better when there is no drama except the kind that is in my head; when I wake up each day and do the same thing over and over again.

For me, ideal working conditions are when I'm home with all my familiar working tools around me. I could work in my office, in my bedroom or even in the garden, but whereever I am, I should be comfortable/feel at home there. Unfortunately, ideal working conditions are not always possible.

Right now I'm writing this post sitting next to a clinic bed, where Mma is lying down attached to an antibiotics drip for treatment. We will go home after the treatment, but meanwhile, I have a couple of hours to kill while I wait for the medical professionals to  do their thing.Focussing on the work helps me to not go impatient while I wait. It also helps to focus my mind on intellectual issues, rather than my day to day challenges. It also helps me feel productive.

And when I get home and I've settled Mma, I'm going to make myself a big mug of tea, go sit in my garden, watch my night flowers unfold and just take a deep breath.

P.S. She's OK. There were just a few minor issues -what was initially diagnosed as dermatitis  was actually a fungal infection over the body. Apparently people who have diabetes have a tendency to get it,  and  the treatment, meds and creams will take care of it.

What are your  ideal working conditions?

Tuesday, March 04, 2014

I Is For Insurance/Income Protector

One of the issues we need to consider as business owners is how to bring in money when we are sick and incapacitated in some way.

In South Africa, many employers provide insurance that allows you to be paid your salary/a portion of it while you're on medical leave. We also have an unemployment fund, from which one can claim during the time that they are incapacitated.

However, as small business owners, we don't have the luxury of an employer ensuring that you have benefits that include your medical aid (what we call health insurance) or your income protector, which makes out a regular payment to you for the duration of your illness.

We also have to consider how to ensure that we have a decent income if we become disabled, even if we manage to find a new way of working after a life-changing illness.

This is something that you need to do for yourself. The big question is, have you? If you were sick for two months or more, is your income going to be affected? Before you run off, this is not a sponsored post and I'm not trying to sell you anything:-)

It's just that several things have gotten me thinking about the issue:

Sunday, March 02, 2014

A Wet Lazy Sunday

I'm  having one of those slow, wet, lazy Sundays that you wish could go on forever. It's midday as I write this post, and I'm sitting on my bed with pillows balancing my back, a laptop in front of me and curtains wide open so I can watch the slow gentle rain outside.

I had a massive cook-out yesterday, preparing various dishes to freeze for days when I don't want to cook. The house is clean and tidy, the garden planted up and soaking up the rain water and this morning I quickly baked some scones.

It's lovely... this feeling that nothing is urgent or stressful today... that I can sit here and write to my heart's content and there is  nothing else calling to me to do.

Tomorrow will be different I know: there are deadlines to meet, errands to run,  maybe even a visit to the doctor for Mma (the dermatitis is back, and I'm halfway convinced it's an allergy to something). But for today, Mma is nice and warm, watching TV a few feet from me and I can just sit here and listen to my characters tell their stories.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

3 Things I Liked About Contraband By J.L Campbell

Congratulations to Michelle Gibson, Roche Rivera and Student Mommy (Jen) for winning prizes in my  A-Z Blogging Challenge Give-Away.

Your copies of How To Get Quoted In The Media and Amazon gift cards have been emailed to you. I hope you find both useful for you and/your businesses.

Monday, February 24, 2014

H Is For Home Office

My new home office (Black blob on the floor is my bag:-)
One of the most difficult lessons I've had to learn since I moved to Phokeng is that the space where you work matters and it's difficult to focus on the work at hand when your work station is unsettled.

Initially I worked where I could, when I could. I had a big table with my computers, printer and laptop in  my bedroom, but it didn't feel like a proper place to work. So I roamed about in the house, telling myself it was nice to be so mobile. And it sounds very nicely creative. However, the situation was not working as it should.

Here are some of the benefits of having a home office, whether it's an outside cottage, a room separate from the rest of your house or a corner in one of the family rooms:

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Ubuntu: We Are Who We Are Because Of The People In Our Lives

The post is part of Michelle's Ubuntu blog hop, to celebrate her blog's third anniversary. Happy bloganniversary, Michelle!

Anyhoo, one of the lessons I learnt growing up was that Motho ke motho ka batho ba bangwe [A human is human because of other people]

This meant that I was part of a community and that I would do better in the world when supported by my family and my community. Without them, I was nothing, even if on the surface I seem succesful.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

G is For Give-Aways

I hope that today's post will spark your creative juices and you'll be able to apply some of the ideas generated from this post to add some sparkle to your own blog.

You may also win yourself some lovely prizes including:

1st Prize: a copy of my ebook, How to get quoted in the media and a $15 Amazon gift card.
2nd Prize: a copy of How to get quoted in the media and $10 Amazon gift card
3rd Prize: a copy of How to get quoted in the media and a $5 Amazon gift card

How to enter the competition

Entering this give-away is easy. All you have to do is leave a comment at the end of this post, something that you were already planning to do.

You comment can be about:

  • How give-aways could benefit your blog
  • How to choose give-away prizes
  • Give-aways your blog visitors might find useful/enjoy 
  • How to get valuable stuff to give away on your blog
  • The post itself - just say you were here and want to be entered for the give-away
Entry rules

  • The competition starts today, on the morning of the 18 February. Entries will be accepted until the evening of Sunday23rd February.  This ensures that people in most time zones are able to enter the competition and those who are swamped with work and blogging have the weekend to enter the competition.
  • Winners will be announced on this blog on Monday 24th. I will then email them their  prizes.
  • Please note that the judges' decision is final and we will enter into no correspondence regarding the competition.

How the winner will be chosen

  • The winner will be chosen in as random a manner as I can manage. Basically, I'm going to print the comments page and cut each comment out into a small piece. 
  • The pieces go into a bowl, and my mother, who has never read a blog in her life, will pick out the winner. She doesn't  know any one of my blog readers, so there will be no favouritism involved.
Well, that's it, and good luck!

Edited to add: The winners are:

1st prize - Michelle Gibson
2nd Prize- Rochefel Rivera
3rd Prize - Student Mommy

Thank you all for participating. I'll be in touch with all the winners.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Books I'm Reading & The Writing Life In General

This post is going to be an update of what I've been up to lately, so I'll do a list so it's all put in some order:

1. Book Issues

I bought two books by Alice Fowler- The Edible Garden - How To Grow Your Garden and Eat It and The Thrifty Gardener. 

I bought both in ebook/Kindle format, because the shipping costs from Amazon were considerably more than the cost of the two books put together.

I'd rather use the shipping money to buy more books, thanks. Go ebooks!

I'm also reading J.L Campbell's action/adventure/romance, Contraband.

Joy is a fellow writer/blogger and I met her while doing a blog challenge and to be honest, if I hadn't "met" her, I would never have thought of reading her books because they were outside my comfort zone.

I have mentioned before that I'm predictable when it comes to my reading selections, right? I even "stalk" an author online for months, read as many freebies I can get, before I decide  to spend my hard-earned cash.

Money is tight around here, and I prefer to use what cents I have to support whose  works I like, whether they are famous or not.

As a writer, I know each sale makes a difference. But there are also some badly written/edited books out there, so I have to be very careful that I get good value for my money or soon, I'll be so disillusioned I'll end up what's easier/tried/tested. But I digress.. I'm still reading Contraband, and so far, it's going very well. The review will follow soon.