Business receipts

5 Surprising Bookkeeping Tips to Organise your Business Receipts

Does the thought of collating business receipts shrivel your soul? If those little scraps of paper are getting the better of you, and you ever tell yourself one or two going missing won’t matter, here are five handy tips to make the job less demanding. Continue reading

Guardians of English Fashion Heritage: David Nieper

Everybody is well versed in the line that comes out of the fashion world. It’s too expensive to keep the manufacturing base in Britain. Bangladesh has been viewed as simply too cheap not to use. And yet, perhaps partly as a result of the awful tragedy in 2013 that saw over 1,000 people lose their lives in Bangladesh’s worst industrial accident which involved the collapse of a garment factory, the terrible conditions that often prevail in factories in Bangladesh has been brought into focus and led to a shift in perspective.

Britain has been shown to be a viable base for making clothes once again, shown through success stories in the high end through companies like Drake’s London.

However, there is one guardian of the English clothing design and manufacturing sectors in key industrial city Derby. Trading under the name David Nieper, thanks to its owner, it is a company that prides itself on keeping every phase from design through to manufacture, in England.

David Nieper

David Nieper

This fascinating insight into goings on in the Alfreton, Derbyshire workroom showcases some of the quality dressmaking of the David Nieper seamstresses, many of whom have been with the company since its formation in 1961 and as you can see they are incredible at what they do.

There’s no substitute for such experience (over 50 years) and married with an intimate knowledge of the principles to which the owner has stuck throughout his illustrious career, keeping things in house and more importantly in England.

The David Nieper attention to detail is the stuff of textile legend. Each garment features  invisible seams where possible and laces are specially softened after being dyed to be kind to sensitive skin and feel simply luxurious.

Keeping things local has allowed David’s vision of luxury womenswear without compromise, to consistently deliver amazing quality and is immensely proud that all of the company’s own label lingerie, nightwear, knitwear and women’s clothing wear’s the tag ‘Made in England’.

How else can you imagine such a sublime personal touch being added to your garments as this? The seamstress who has played the most prominent role in the completion of each garment signs the label! What a lovely touch, I’m sure you’ll agree and in an era where you worry about who’s made your clothes and under what conditions, this is a great thing indeed. Furthermore, every English-made garment is hand finished and triple-checked to ensure total  satisfaction.


Of course, geographical conditions dictate that if you want quality you must search far and wide for some of the best materials on the market and so sourcing textiles is the one area in which the company do step outside of the country from time to time (Italian satin and New Zealand merino anyone?), although some of the cottons are sourced from British mills and where the lamb’s wool that is used is spun by a Yorkshire mill that has been going for centuries.

spring flowers

6 ways to brighten up your garden this Spring

Perhaps during the colder weather you’ve curated a jungle of house plants in your living room and neglected your actually outdoor garden space. Or maybe you’ve just been itching to get outside since the colder weather started to dissipate – either way here are six ways to brighten up your garden this spring ready for the summer months of lazy BBQs and deck chairs.

1. Pick up some spring bulbs

With spring comes a multitude of new and exciting bulbs to feature in your garden. Daffodils are a must when it comes to brightening up an outdoor space for spring – their cheery yellow heads are the perfect additions for raised bed borders and even in hanging baskets.

spring flowers

Brightly coloured Spring flowers – photo by Shutterstock

Daffodils are best planted in September but you can pick up plants ready to go and pop in your own garden. Pansies are a garden staple and quickly add vibrancy to any garden and come in a variety of colours. Hyacinths, with their pretty clustered purple flowers, are a good choice too.

2. Switch your pots up

One of the easiest ways of brightening up your garden is to swap those old terracotta pots for brightly coloured ones. Alternatively, instead of transferring plants between holders, grab some paint and simply spruce up your planters that way.


Stone paint works best for traditional pots but glazed and plastic versions might benefit better from textured spray paint such as Rustoleum – just be sure to protect your plants while you get crafty!

3. Choose bold colours for furniture

If your garden furniture is looking a little tired, consider swapping it for some new models in vibrant colours. A bold blue dining set and a yellow bench will instantly brighten up the space and can be easily picked up from the local DIY store or, like the pots, you could transform furniture you already own with a lick of paint.

4. Paint the shed or the wall

There’s nothing paint can’t do when it comes to brightening up your garden. Take a pot of fuschia or sunset orange paint and apply this to your lonely looking garden shed in the corner or even on the brick wall that runs alongside your garden. It’s a simple way of instantly adding some colour and if you don’t like it next year you can just paint over it!


5. Get creative with gravel

Many of us fill spaces of our garden with gravel and usually end up purchasing dull stones that don’t really do much for the space. Choose purple or blue slate instead or green granite gravel and instantly brighten up those areas around the lawn.

6. Bring out the textiles

Cushions can even do the job for you, pick up some vibrant covers and use these when dining outside once the warmer weather arrives – Ikea’s Nästön range are a great option. Bench covers, parasols, swing love seat shades; these can all be enhanced with bold colour fabrics – either choose colours that match and fit a certain scheme or be brave and choose shades that clash.


When it comes to brightening up your garden for spring, the little changes make all the difference. Try some of these this year and enjoy a pleasant, vibrant outdoor space.


5 top tips for Planning a Business while on Maternity Leave

Today’s guest post is from Lindsey Fish of Little Fish Event management, who attends our East Hertfordshire networking group.

Lindsey started thinking about working for herself while she was on maternity leave, and so here she is sharing her story and also sharing her top tips for setting up a new business

So here are Lindsey’s Top tips for starting a business while on maternity leave

Continue reading


Everything your startup needs to know about recruitment

You’ve got the studio space and a sense of who is interested in becoming a client. Now it’s time to recruit the team to bring your idea to life. But who you choose to take on – and just as  importantly, who chooses to come and work with you – will have a huge bearing on your startup’s future. In short, your recruitment and subsequent HR decisions can make or break your business. Continue reading

Customer comments

How To Use Customer Comments To Improve Your Business

Customer comments are great for your business: they’ll let you know what needs fixing (if anything), and how urgently. Feedback comes in a variety of forms, such as reviews, the results of online surveys, blogs, social media posts and email campaigns, which means  there are plenty of opportunities to get your hands on some.

But how can they help you to improve your business? Continue reading

Top Jobs in Engineering for Women

Is your daughter starting to make choices about her career path? If you were to mention the word ‘engineer’ would she imagine a man wearing a helmet and high vis jacket working on a building site or by a railway line? Continue reading

How to Set Your Short and Long Term Business Goals

You’ve probably heard the old adage many times before: “He who doesn’t plan, plans to fail”. For any business to succeed, you need to have very specific plans and goals that you want to achieve. They can and will be revised over time as things change, but you need to start somewhere. In addition, your goals need to contain a few different elements to be effective and you need several types of goals that are SMART.

What’s a SMART goal?

A truly effective goal meets the SMART criteria, as follows:


Make sure you are very specific about what you want to achieve in your goal. Saying you want to create more infoproducts is vague. Instead, you might set the goal of writing 3 new infoproducts, including 1 ebook and 2 ecourses with video.


How will you know whether you have achieved your goal? Say you want to grow your email list. One way of measuring it is to look at the number of subscribers you have and specify that you want to grow that number by 50%. If you want to increase your conversion rate of prospects to customers, make sure you can track each part of your sales process so you know exactly when and where the prospect becomes a customer.


Your goals need to be something you can attach specific actions to. Can you create a step-by-step plan for achieving the goals? Is it something under your control? For example, setting a goal of moving up to the first page of search results in Google is highly desirable. However, there are no actions involved and it’s not under your direct control. Instead, you could say that you will implement 3 new SEO tactics over the course of the next 3 months to move up in the search engines. Then list out the detailed goals for each tactic, such as submitting 1 article per day to 5 article directories. You’ll be able to measure the results and then determine your next actions.


Don’t set yourself up for failure by setting goals that are unrealistic or impossible to achieve. For example, if you are a complete newbie in internet marketing, it’s probably unrealistic to think that you can build a network of 100 minisites in the space of 3 months. People in internet marketing often think they can achieve a promised £10,000 in 3 days. That’s just not realistic. Also, make sure you have access to the resources you need to achieve your goals in the first place.


As with any of your plans, put a timeframe around your goals. You could set a goal of doubling your traffic in the next 6 months, or writing 1 infoproduct per month for the next year. You will then be able to set up specific tasks to make sure this happens, and you’ll be able to measure the results.

Types of goals to set

  • Long term goals: It’s easiest to start with your biggest goals and work backwards to figure out what you will need. Long-term could mean a 10 year goal and you should definitely dream big. Maybe you want to be a millionaire, or live and work in New Zealand. Now is the time to put that dream down on paper as a real goal, not just a vague dream. You can also break this down into 5 year goals.
  • Short term goals: Create goals that are 1 year out, 6 months out, and monthly. Your 1 year goals should be based on your ultimate 5 and 10 year ones. The monthly ones will then be based on what it will take to achieve your 1 year goal. For example, you might know you want to be able to live and work from anywhere in the world in 5 years, when your kids are out of college. What does that mean you need to be able to do by the end of 3 years, 1 year, 6 months? How much will you need to earn and what will you need to have learned? Break it down as much as possible.
  • Immediate goals: These are the goals that you set for yourself every week and every day. You can have a goal that is the same each week, such as posting to your blog 3 times per week. Then you will also need to sit down once per week to set goals for every day of that week to come. These will likely change from week to week based on what else is going on, but it will ensure that you make progress towards your longer term success.


Your goals are your roadmap to your online success. Every successful business person, online or offline, sits down and goes through the process of defining their goals not only yearly, but monthly and weekly as well. Setting and meeting goals will show you just how much you are achieving and will keep you motivated along your path to success.

hand washing

Child Hygiene – The Importance of Hand washing

When we are younger and finding our way in the world we tend to explore with two things, our hands and our mouths. Children have a wonderful and fearless way with the world, insects aren’t scary, mud isn’t dirty, and hand washing isn’t considered important. Some of our most fond childhood memories can be from exploring unknown lands and swinging from trees, or digging up the ground and making mud pies.

hand washing

Unfortunately, through their active nature children do tend to pick up a lot of germs and  bacteria, which they can then spread not only around the house, but in to their own bodies. It really is essential to relay the importance of hand washing to our children to prevent them from getting sick and prevent the spread of germs.

The problem with germs is they’re very easily and unknowingly spread. Eating, using the toilet, or even touching the eyes, nose or mouth can allow germs to enter the body and cause us to become sick. Just playing outside will cause children to come into contact with hundreds of different bacteria, and although we can’t wrap them in cotton wool, we can help them to prevent themselves from getting sick.

Good hand washing is our first line of defence against germs and illness

Good hand washing is our first line of defence against this. Illnesses can vary from the common cold; which is said to be responsible for 22 million missed school days a year, to more serious infections such as diarrhea, meningitis, the flu and hepatitis.

Make hand washing fun!

As children tend to learn through their senses at a young age, it can be advised to teach them to wash their hands through various play activities. Try making catchy songs to sing whilst handwashing, drawing pictures of how germs can spread, or reading stories about washing and germs. This will help to reinforce the importance and make it seem more of a fun activity than a chore.

Hand washing together can be fun - by Shutterstock

Hand washing together can be fun – by Shutterstock

Also, join them. Wash your hands together and supervise them to make sure they’re getting it right.

These helpful hints and tips have come from CNM Online, a leading provider of washroom and heating equipment for nurseries and schools.


Start them Early – Teach your Children Entrepreneurship

People think that entrepreneurship is innate and can’t be taught. To an extent this is true, not everyone wants to go into business, but many young children have entrepreneurial skills that aren’t developed further, leading to missed opportunities. No-one’s suggesting that your son has to become Manchester’s next Mr Reuben Singh, but an entrepreneur’s mindset is invaluable, so here’s how you create one. Continue reading