UK Lifestyle Blog

Home » Archives for Sam Charles

About Sam Charles

Sam started her UK lifestyle blog, Strawberry Squeeze in 2013. Often accompanied by her partner in crime, Petal (the mini lop), she is an digital influencer, blog coach and a GAIQ SEO consultant. Sam spends most her time booking spa getaways, sea kayaking or dining out with friends and family.

How To Make Sure You Recruit The Best (and Avoid the Worst!)

One of the most nerve-wracking, milestone moments for any small business owner has to be when they make the move from solo entrepreneur to the employer. I recently wrote about how one of the hardest lessons I learnt in business is hiring and outsourcing without recommendations. It’s not easy, and sometimes you need to cast your net far and wide to find the right person for the job.

Bringing other people on board is a time of mixed emotions – immense pride that you’ve built your business to the point where it needs and can sustain others, mixed with doubt over giving up sole control of everything and worry about finding the right person for the job. If you’ve never dealt with recruitment before this can be especially daunting. You know the basics you need to ask – their experience, qualifications, and why they want the job – but how do you assess their true qualities and get an idea of what they’ll really be like to work alongside?

How To Make Sure You Recruit The Best (and Avoid the Worst!) | UK Lifestyle Blog

It’s so important in a small business, as you’ll be spending a lot of time with that person. Someone can walk in their best suit, kitted out from tiesrus but that doesn’t mean they will be the best fit for the job and your company. These creative interview questions will get you started.

Ask What They Would Do Differently

Although giving up the sole influence on the direction and operations of your company is daunting, it’s also a chance to gain a valuable perspective outside of your own. See the interviews as a chance to find an original mind to challenge and complement your own thinking. This question determines if a candidate has a proper interest in your sector and company and if they’ve done their research. Don’t be intimidated to ask for their vision – a detailed response can help you identify a future leader who could grow with the company, and those are the types of people you need on board.

Check Their Metrics

Our businesses are run on data, and analytics have a lot to teach us when it comes to insight into human behavior as well. Using behavioral metrics can be an important part of a successful interview process. Take them in balance with other factors that demonstrate the attitude the candidate has, and alongside previous examples of quality work they can point to.

Evaluate Their Critical Thinking

Some people can perform well in tests, but not have as much capacity for independent thought, so look for a list of questions to evaluate critical thinking as well. Some of them can be quite left-field! The whole point is that there is no one correct answer – candidates are being given a chance to showcase their logical and creative thinking, as well as how persuasive and eloquent they can be – all factors well worth measuring, especially if the role is strategic.

In a job interview, it shouldn’t only be the candidates for the vacancy who are thinking ‘outside the box’ – employers too can do a lot more to find the right match by combining some new techniques to give themselves a multi-dimensional view of the person they hope to employ. Combining the classic STAR interview technique with a few analytics and some critical thinking curveballs will give a more rounded picture – and for small businesses, those first few hires can make or break the success of the company.

2018-06-20T11:54:27+00:00 June 19, 2018|Blogging Tips|

10 reasons to go travelling in a campervan

Traveling is the BEST, and we dedicate our energy to seeing new places as much as we possibly can. You’ve probably already read (because I keep writing about it…) but I recently bought a van conversion. We’ve got some big plans which we’re publishing on the blog pretty soon.

So far we’ve only done smaller trips but we’re completely in love with our van and cannot wait to do more. There’s something really special about traveling in a van. Here’s why we love it and we’re so excited…

1. Work from anywhere in the world

We are so lucky that we run our own company, and we can make money from wherever we are, as long as we have our laptops. This makes life so much easier for us because it means we’re not restricted when we travel or for how long. One of us can be driving, whilst the other is in the back working on our clients websites using our personal hotspots or portable wifi

People often think we’re an exceptions and that nobody else can do this but that couldn’t be further from the truth. In this modern era, there are so many different jobs you can do remotely from a computer, from being a virtual assistant to being a designer. There’s a wealth of information online about how to get started… If you want to read more essays about travel go to this site.

2. Unbounded freedom

During every trip, one of the most important aspects is accommodation. Hotels and hostels always bound you to the place where you are staying, and it becomes impossible to move far away for some sightseeing as you have to return for the night. We all know how much this sucks…

While traveling in a campervan, you can stay for a sleep anywhere and stop off at spot along the way to your destination. You can even park up in front of the sea or overlooking mountains (if parking permits!). The type of views you can get from a van blow hotels out the park. 

3. Value of space

Every vacation requires preparation of things that you are going to take with you. Usually, people bring with them a bunch of unnecessary stuff, and some of them are not even used once! When you’re traveling in a campevan, you’ll soon find out what’s really important to you.

Whether you’re going on a long trip or a short trip in your campervan, you should think twice. Only take only the most important and needed items as space is limited. That helps to reconsider the essential things for you. It really changes your perspective and there’s something liberating about minimal living. 

4. Revaluation of values

In the campervan, all resources such as food and water are limited, and you have to refill them from time to time. However, when the trip goes far from the civilisation, you start to think about different ways of shortening the consumption. What is the real value of the water and possibility to take a shower several times a day? 

We’ve had to consider this for when we’re traveling in the colder months because an outside shower isn’t so appealing. We’ve read so many inspiring posts, and the verdict is, at the end of such a trip you will look at the world differently. That’s a pretty exciting prospect. 

5. New people, new friends

While traveling in a van, you will ride through big cities to small villages, and you will definitely meet new people that will be very curious, where you are from. There is a chance that you will be invited for dinner.

This is something we’re really excited about, and it was one of my favourite things about traveling in Australia.

6. Nature around us

The magnificence of the Earth cannot be compared to anything else and you can come closer to nature. It is really wonderful to wake up in the morning with leaves rustling and birds singing. Here you will remain far away from the city noises 🍃 What could be better?

I love rolling the van door open in the morning, letting the dog out and feeling the sun rays on my face. Even just one night away in the van and in nature makes me feel so much better. Even if we’re on a slanted field and we’re not in a king size bed, somehow, I sleep better. Would you believe?!

7. Living is cheap

Traveling is not cheap and there is list of reasons why. When you’re traveling in a campervan, cost is significantly decreased! Everything you need is inside your moving home, and you do not have to book a hotel room, pay for meals out in restaurants, and you won’t need to worry about getting taxis or buses.

When you’re traveling, you’ll find that fuel is the most expensive thing, which is pretty unavoidable. That said, if you’re having a slow month making money, you can always park up and just enjoy whatever country you’re in. The second biggest expenses is food. 

8. The project aspect is fun

When I bought the van, the aim was so go traveling and take our dog with us. I didn’t give too much thought about the build of the van, and it kind of stressed me out. We bought a van that (luckily) had most the stuff done, such as electrics, plumbing and gas installation. This meant we didn’t have to fork out for expensive essentials.

BUT we’ve spent every hour of our weekends on making the van our own, you can see our pics on Instagram 📸 From painting the cupboards, through to hooking up fairy lights and putting in new curtains. These little changes make a huge difference, and it feels so good knowing that we did it ourselves (with some help from our family) and it’s all come together.

9. Rest whenever you want

When you’re traveling in a van, there’s no limitations on when you have to leave. This is perfect if you enjoy slow-living because you can take the time out to have a bit more relaxation, without missing out on your trip. I know this is going to work well with our busy schedules, and it’ll take the pressure off us, allowing us to truly enjoy our trip.

These are the main reasons why to go traveling in a campervan is really worth trying. There are always advantages and disadvantages in any kind of trips, and only you can choose the option, which suits you the most.

2018-06-19T14:07:30+00:00 June 19, 2018|Van Life|

3 Things I’ve Learned Since Starting my Own Business

Last month we celebrated Float Digital turning 2 years old. How the HECK did that happen!? When I first quit my job to launch my little digital marketing agency, I didn’t even dream things would go this well. I recently wrote a little piece on our company blog about what we’ve achieved in the last 12 months, and when I read it back, I honestly couldn’t believe we’d come this far.

People always ask me “What’s the biggest challenges you’ve faced running your own business?”. I’ve always felt a sense of guilt coupled with confusion, and responded every time with “I haven’t had any challenges”. I could honestly say I never found running a company difficult, and I certainly never had any hurdles.

3 Things I've Learned Since Starting my Own Business | UK Lifestyle Blog

I guess you could say I’ve been pretty lucky. We’ve been nominated for national awards, presented at some of the largest marketing conferences in Europe and whilst turning over a healthy profit that we can both live on (and pay for an awesome wedding and honeymoon!). We’ve been doing all of this whilst enjoying long weekends and trips away. Seriously, what more could we possibly ask for?

Alas! Three weeks ago, everything changed. It’s almost like my 2 year trial was up and now shit was getting real. Our exponential growth has caught up with us, we soon realised we were completely out of our depth, despite working our butts off all week 🍑 It’s okay, everything is under control; it’s actually been really good because it’s forced us to change the way we operate *silver linings*.

The only thing is, I’m kicking myself. I feel like most of these things could have been avoided if I just did a little bit more research. Like I said though, it’s given us that little push now to get everything right, and I guess we’re always going to be learning. So here’s some advice I wish I had:

Hire based on recommendations

You’re probably thinking “I’m not planning on hiring anybody”, well I have news for you – you will. Outsourcing and hiring experts to help you run your business is a no-brainer. Sometimes you need to hire people because you aren’t qualified to do it yourself, such as a lawyer or an accountant. Other times, it’s just to free up your time so you can spend it doing stuff that’s really important. Technically, I could write my own contracts but I wouldn’t feel confident that they’re good enough to hold up (more on that soon!).

I used to try and do my own finances but a) it was so time-consuming b) I found that my accountant could save me heaps of money, so she was worth her weight in gold. Last year my company officially incorporated and is now a limited company, which changes how we do things. Now, even if I wanted to, I can’t file my own tax returns because I’m not qualified to do so. We have a bookkeeper and an accountant that deal with everything and I have the peace of mind that it’s being dealt with properly, and all above board.

We have an amazing content writer called Lee-Anne, great SEO contractors, and a team of experts that deal with our social media platforms, which saves us hours every single day. The time that they save us in invaluable because it means we can dedicate time to our clients. My fiancée and I are always throwing ideas back and forth but it’s nice to have a team of people that have an input on the best things to do.

3 Things I've Learned Since Starting my Own Business | UK Lifestyle Blog

We’re lucky we have a team of people that we trust but it wasn’t easy to do. When I first began outsourcing I didn’t appreciate the importance of recommendations, I just welcomed people onboard that gave a good proposal. Turns out, this was a bad idea and almost ended up costing me a lot of money. I found out that the services I was receiving was actually going to do my business more harm than good, and I switched suppliers. At the time I wasn’t educated enough to understand this, but eventually you work out the who’s a pirate and who is a trusted supplier. I won’t go into it, but I’ll just leave it with this: Reviews matter.

You might not be ready to employ people but instead you might have started using websites, like AppPaye, as your business is growing. So, don’t forget, recommendations don’t just apply to people; they apply to products and services, too.

Be firm with your clients on deliverables

When we first started delivering retained packages for our clients our proposals were quite vague in what the client would receive. This opened us up to clients potentially being unhappy! Luckily, this didn’t happen to us and we’ve always had positive feedback, however, if our proposals were a little bit clearer it would have saved a lot of unnecessary phone calls and emails. We decided to make our bronze, silver and gold packages much clearer so clients knew exactly what they were going to receive. This was never really a problem with us, but I can see how it could be for other businesses that deliver a service, especially on an ongoing basis.

We have run into trouble based on clients not really understanding what we do, and expecting us to do all kind of random jobs for them that don’t relate to our 2 core services, SEO & PPC. If you don’t know what these services are, I don’t blame you, not everybody does! It’s essentially Search Engine Marketing; or ‘Getting People to the Top of Google’, is how I like to word it! This means increasing visibility in the normal results and by using ads.

Pretty straight forward, huh? Well, here’s what we’ve been asked to do:

  • Web development
  • Newsletter marketing
  • Web design
  • Project managing content
  • Calendar management
  • Javascript
  • Social media
  • Facebook Advertising
  • Bespoke CSS
  • Shop refunds
  • Transcript writing
  • Malware clean up

3 Things I've Learned Since Starting my Own Business | UK Lifestyle Blog

We’re pretty clued up on all of these services and we can deliver them. This is great for us, because as business owners we don’t need to outsource this stuff if we don’t want to. For example, we built our own website and if we ever want bespoke changes, we can just code them in ourselves, saving us heaps of money. But our clients often ask for these services; for a while we used to ‘umm’ and ‘ahhh’ about how we could help them. Why? We wanted to make their life easier, we knew we could help, and it was an easy way to make a bit of extra cash.

This soon turned into a problem when we realised we were spending more time on things we didn’t want to do, and we ended up running other people’s businesses for them based on ad hoc payment. We essentially turned into virtual assistants for a short period of time, and it got messy real quick. Stick to what you know because then you can be known if your industry for what you do best. Luckily, we didn’t entertain this idea for long but I already experienced the stress of offering all these services.

Your contracts must be water tight

We’ve got a pretty solid terms and conditions document, our proposals are very clear, and our investment packages clearly outline what we offer. Client have an onboarding process and we find out everything we need to know about them, they pay their invoice one month before we begin working and then we deliver the project. The process is pretty straight-forward and I feel like we covered all basis. Oh boy, was I wrong! Individual contracts for each scope of work with a clear Start date is so important.

We loved that we could offer a service with zero contracts, no minimum commitment and no cancellation fees. We’re real people, offering a service to make an honest wage. This is one of the things our clients love about us because there isn’t many other companies that are this flexible. We’re not trying to scam anybody out of any money, and so we don’t feel the need to tie our customers in. If they want our help, great! If they don’t, also fine. We’re so lucky that we have enough clients that we don’t have to lock people in, there’s always other clients that are on our waiting list, dying to get a slot in our calendars.

This was never a problem until a client decided they didn’t want to pay until the work was completed. We’re very understanding so we decided to deliver the project before payment was received. We began the work, after being told to go ahead. Two months later we’re left without payment. I only have myself to blame for being so laid back and not putting it into a contract. We learnt our lessons, and we’ll always stick to our contracts, and we’ll always require payment upfront. Make sure you don’t forget how important these contracts are!

I essentially need a backbone. What lessons have you learnt from running your own business? 🤔

2018-06-18T11:03:26+00:00 June 18, 2018|Blogging Tips|
Load More Posts
Click to see our most popular posts!