It’s tough being a woman especially when you have children. Working out how to make money and give quality time to your children is a challenge. I have tried most things such as full-time work, part-time jobs, freelancing and volunteering. I have often wondered about taking on a franchise so today I am looking at the advantages of taking on a franchise. You can find a lot of franchise resources online.

So much is already in place

With a franchise there is not the great risk of starting a business with a  new product or service. Someone has already put a lot of thought and work into the ideas, the marketing of the brand and its systems. You don’t have to be as creative when you take on a franchise. If the business is good it will already be recognised in the marketplace giving you a head start in terms of appealing to customers.

 

Funding

Funding an untested business can be challenging. If you approach an investor with a business that has already proven itself, you make their decision to plough finance into your business so much easier. So many businesses fail in  their early weeks or months because they do not have funding in place so unless you have funds to invest personally you might feel like a franchise  is your best option.

People

One of the other things that comes with a franchise is contacts with useful people. That might be people who supply the product or service you are promoting. You may already have access to distributors for the product or service via your franchise arrangement. Similarly, advertising contacts may already be in place whether via traditional or digital media outlets.

Training

People often want to enter business after a major life upheaval such as becoming a parent, divorcing, losing a job or relocating. Great franchises often come with a lot of training and support which is just what is in order when life feels a bit wobbly. Aspects of the business that might seem daunting such as managing accounts, selling and so on can be tackled with the back-up of a franchise.

What do you think about franchising?

 

 

 

 

 

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The stereotype of “women love shoes” is unfortunately far from dead, but that’s no reason to stop caring about your footwear. Your feet (and the things you wear on them) are just as important as the rest of you: with the summer heat still far from over, it’s a good idea to take a step back and think about footwear. Which is why I have teamed up with Donaghy’s to put together a guide for the best summer shoes for your family day out.

Simple sandals

A nice pair of sandals gives your feet a chance to breathe, whether you’re strolling through grass or waist-deep in water. That’s not to say they’re perfect, since there’s definitely times where sandals are more trouble than they’re worth, but a decent pair can be ideal for a lazy summer day.

Sandals get a bad rep for being a bit too casual, especially since there’s not really a way for them to work in a formal setting, but that doesn’t mean you’ve got to commit to using them. If you’ve got the bag space, consider slipping a pair inside for later. That way, if you get a chance to relax at the beach or take a long stroll, your sandals are only a quick show-swap away!

Short boots

On the other end of the spectrum, we have short boots, specifically the type you’ll have in brands like the Caprice boots line. These boots might seem like they’re meant for cold winters, but it’s important to remember that “summer” doesn’t mean “no bad weather”: if you’re caught outdoors in a surprise downpour, the toe-to-ankle protection makes them excellent for staying dry.

They’re definitely not perfect for summer, since your feet will probably get hot a lot faster than with regular shoes, but this is much less of a problem than it sounds. Most of these boots, no matter what brand they’re under, will have a zip on the side that can make it much easier to pull off your feet: and let’s be honest, trying to pull a tight-fitting shoe off a sweaty foot is an experience none of us would miss.

Trainers

Trainers are, in most people’s eyes, the first thing that comes to mind when the word “shoe” is mentioned. They’re light, simple and aren’t really limited to a certain type of weather: you can get them wet, leave them out in the sun or fill them with sand, and chances are they’ll be completely fine after an hour or two.

They’re best used when you’re wanting to stay active, though. A pair of breathable trainers mix the open feeling of sandals with the hard, springy base of a more practical shoe, so you’ll probably end up resorting to them for all kinds of days trips and outdoor activities.

Thankfully, trainers are freely available to people of all ages – anybody from a toddler to the eldest member of the family can find a pair that suits them, so you won’t have to look far to pick some up

Boat and deck shoes

They’re unfortunately overlooked by a lot of women and are usually seen as a men’s item, but boat shoes are surprisingly practical for day-to-day summer life. Since they were made for boating, they’re obviously great to have on family boat tours, but they can make excellent strolling shoes in the right conditions.

You’re supposed to wear them without socks like an enclosed sandal, but they’ll grip the ground much better regardless of whether you’re bone dry or soaking wet! Water won’t ruin them thanks to their mostly waterproof design, either, so they can make decent beach and pool shoes in a pinch.

 

 

PoCoLo

A couple of months ago I decided I was going to carry out a “What if?” experiment. It struck me that we can choose what stories we tell ourselves about our lives. If we choose a negative script we can feel so unhappy. Maybe it can be as easy as looking at things in different way. Even if we have it wrong does it really matter if we are thinking positively anyway?

This has the potential to be a mortifyingly embarrassing post. It’s another of those that I just going to write and see where it takes me.

Am I attractive to men? All my life I have told myself that I am not remotely of interest to blokes. I am the intelligent one, the non-sporty one, the non-stylish one, the boring one! That had been my script all my life. When I was a teenager, my late mum would point out blokes looking at me with appreciation. I thought she was mad and could never see it myself. I remember one was a fishmonger and one was a butcher – perhaps my mum was just after a discount!

At school, boys seemed to like the ones who went pubbing and clubbing. I was late to this really starting going out at almost 17 when it felt like everyone else had been doing it for year. I was scared to dance and just use to sit there always preferring to talk over most things. Not exactly a young man’s dream.

I went to a male-dominated college where women were very much in the minority. Not only were the other women there super-bright but also incredibly pretty. And then there was me always thinking I was fat and ugly. I look back now of course and see a very obese size 8-10 that I would love to go back to! I had a lovely skin and wavy hair but just did not rate myself on the attractiveness front.

There were no boyfriends for me at college. There were no boyfriends for a long time. I was the forever virgin. I wore it heavily not because I wanted to leap into bed with anyone particularly but because back then it seemed like the worst label you could have.

So let’s change the script for a giggle if nowt else.

What if my mum was right all along? Imagine all the free meat and fish! As I have got older myself, I see things that I did not when I was younger. I see how teens are already looking with interest at my daughter. She has no idea of it at all and would respond as I used to if I mentioned it. Now seeing as everyone says she looks just like me, that can only mean I was attractive too. Also I see women who I think are beautiful denigrating their looks all the time. Perhaps we really do not see ourselves as others do.

If I flick a switch  in my brain, I can convince myself that I must have broken a heart or two in my time at college where I was so standoffish with men. After all with so few women around, I must have been considered as potential girlfriend material at least once. I did have male friends. They invited me to events. I found myself in their rooms at their invitation and they called around. So at the very least I had male friends and perhaps some of them were looking for more. Before you shout me down, remember this is just a fun exercise of the what if variety.

When I was in my early twenties, I met a writer who invited me to dinner. I thought this was to discuss writing of course and just panicked when he came in for a kiss. I was always convinced that if a bloke made a move, his mates would be just around the corner and it would be some set-up to make me look like an idiot. As I say,  doing the what if exercise at least means I can imagine that hearts were swooning at my very presence lol.

I think my lack of confidence with  men led me to getting involved with older and perhaps not entirely the best men in terms of values and so on. I was always too grateful for what I thought was their pity. I think older men are just that much more savvy and know how to break down barriers. I have lived with two men both of whom I think have treated me poorly although they will have their own stories.

Anyway, I find myself in my dotage questioning whether a certain person is interested in me. It’s a bit like being a teenager again as I analyse whatever signs I can come up with both for and against the theory he has a romantic interest in me. A friend told me at the very least I can enjoy the positive attention and I think there is wisdom in that and perhaps this time due to the what if exercise  with more belief that I am attractive and the Prince may be just around the corner not that I need him of course as a strong independent woman but hey a little of what you fancy does you good.

Lucy At Home UK parenting blogger

My Random Musings

Cuddle Fairy

As my regular readers know, I am adopted. I know that although adoption does not define me, it does have a huge impact on my life and my ways of seeing things. Today, I am delighted to share a guest post from Cat who is taking a musical approach to adoption.

Adopting

“Hello! I’m Cat – a mum of two children with Special Needs, who is fast approaching the big 4-0, though I’m trying to put off actually becoming a grown up for as long as possible.

I’ve always had trouble deciding whether I wanted to be a musician or a psychologist, and seeing as I’m running out of time to decide, over the last few years I’ve pretty much hopped between the two. My husband and I adopted our son nearly three years ago, and true to form, I became really interested in how I could use music to support his development, help him manage everyday situations, and to build our relationship.

Tickle (that’s what I call him on the internet) is a very anxious little boy, and music can really help to calm and regulate him. At home we use songs to help him navigate difficult points in the day, such as changing activities, tidying up, getting dressed, and travelling in the car. To help strengthen my bond with Tickle I use a lot of play songs that involve us being close together or touching – like Jelly on a Plate, Horsey Horsey, and Jack in the Box. We also play a game where Tickle makes noises and I copy him, trying to match the pitch, rhythm, and vocal tone as closely as I can. Tickle absolutely loves this game; my vocalisations are a strong signal to him that I am totally focussed on him in that moment and that I have heard and acknowledged him. It’s a silly, fun game, but it’s building important connections in his brain.

Recently I’ve been reading about how we communicate with babies, and how there are musical elements to our early interactions that are consistent across different people, and across different cultures. It seems crazy, but there are specific melodic, rhythmic, and tonal patterns that humans instinctively seem to use with young babies, no matter where in the world they live, and what sort of music they listen to. These musical experiences are really important in building the pathways for social interaction, communication, and relating to others as the child grows, and it saddens me to think that Tickle, and children like him, will likely have missed out.

As adopters we are taught to fill in the developmental gaps, to give our children experiences that they have missed out on – but Tickle is nearly nine, so I don’t really want to do endless baby talk with him. Sure, he enjoys a bit of regression as much as anyone else(!) but I wondered whether there was another way that I could help him experience some of these early communication building blocks. Then I started to think; if psychologists have precisely identified some of these musical features of early communication, what if I were able to take them and incorporate them in to a series of new songs?

In my project, ‘Adopting a Musical Approach’ I am hoping to do exactly that. I want to write an album of songs that incorporate the musical features of early communication, as well as being fun and engaging. I want this to be relevant to other families as well, so I’d like to hear from you – how do you use music at home? Do you listen to CDs, sing around the house, or do you play interactive musical games? What sort of topics would you like me to address? Maybe talking about emotions, transitions, belonging and being loved, school, or self-esteem? (It’s worth noting that although my project is aimed at adoptive families, all children will be able to enjoy and benefit from the songs.)

I am hoping to fund the majority of this project via arts grants (and am grateful to have received some early funding from the Folk Camps Society) but I have also set up a Kickstarter project where people can get involved right from the off – from pre-ordering your copy of the CD, to opportunities to sing on it or appear in a music video!

Adopting

I really need to spread the word to as many people as possible, so if you are interested please share this blog or the Kickstarter project page with your friends and family, and get in touch to let me know what you think! You can email me on cat@catmcgill.uk or find me on social media @folkycat

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/folkycat/adopting-a-musical-approach

 

Twin Mummy and Daddy

When someone decides to set up a business there is so much to think about. Firstly you need some self-belief and an idea. You then need to come up with a great product or service. You may need funding to help get your business of the ground. You may have to deal with family and friends who think your idea is crazy. One thing you do need to do quickly it to get yourself a web presence. In a digital age, you cannot afford to be invisible on the Internet.

Credibility

It’s great that we have so much awareness around scams these days. One knock-on result for business owners is that potential customers will be checking you out via the Internet. Just having a website gives you some credibility especially if it lists your contact details clearly. When we buy as consumers we like to think the brands we are dealing with are modern and know what they are doing. This is another reason why getting a web presence should be at the top of your things to do list on setting up a business.

Shop front

The old way of showing your wares was to open a shop or office. These days we are busy so when we are looking for a specific product or service, we are likely to do a Google search. You cannot come up on Google search results without a web presence so you are drawing your blinds down on that shop front. People need to be able to find you on the Internet and see what it is that you offer.

Taking things further

So you have created your first website and are getting enquiries, Now you need to forge a relationship with your customers and potential customers. You can do this by incorporating a blog on your website. If your blog is authentic it helps build up trust with your audience. We buy from people we trust, know and like. A blog can be such a powerful tool in this regard. It goes without saying I hope that you need to be active on social media channels including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Share stories, share images and perhaps show who you are as an individual too depending on the product or service you offer.

Affordability

A web presence tends to be a much more affordable type of advertising than printed materials. Your website is available 24 hours per day 7 days a week which again makes it very flexible to the needs of busy consumers. Updates can be done quickly which makes a website very different to a leaflet or a poster.

Sales tool

A business needs to make sales in order to succeed. Although it is understood that small businesses may initially make a loss, it is best to get into profit as soon as possible. A web presence informs the public. Done well, a website engages consumers bringing them back time and again for more. As trust becomes established, those consumers are converted into customers for your business. Ideally you can sell online cutting the need for expensive salespeople and increasing profits as a result.

My belief is that a web presence is essential in today’s marketplace. I would love to know if you agree so please do leave a comment.