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When is a Tee not a tee?

In a world where you can be cancelled for your views, where we seem to be more polarised than ever before, the slogan Tee seems to be a way of speaking up without speaking out. Or is it?

I will never forget watching the Tuscan Grand prix in 2020 and questioning “What does it say on Lewis’s Tee?”

One of the greatest racing drivers of all time, Lewis Hamilton wore a T shirt that clearly read “ARREST THE COPS WHO KILLED BREONNA TAYLOR” and on the back it showed her face and said, “Say her name”. Instantly millions like me, searched out who was Breonna Taylor?

Formula 1 react to Lewis Hamilton's Breonna Taylor T-shirt message with new  set of rules - Eurosport
Lewis Hamilton, 2020 Tuscan Grand Prix.

Now her, like others have become a name synonymous with wanting justice in a developed country that still makes these awful mistakes that cost lives and leave millions in fear for their own safety.

Would a middle-class white woman like myself know about Breonna without Lewis speaking up for her?

I doubt it, and I aim to be worldly and get my knowledge from many sources, but I think this may have passed me by since it had already been 6 months and nothing had happened to the 3 police officers in question in this case.

Lewis Hamilton instantly received a back lash and the official body for Formula one racing said at the time that while they wouldn’t punish his behaviour (You know, wearing a t shirt), they would have stricter guidelines.

In the workplace wearing a tee that shows your views can be a great way of reminding people about our changing mindsets and attitudes – and ever increasing need to appreciate, honour and learn about other people, but it could just as easily get you into trouble if it is deemed offensive or not in keeping with the companies culture and brand.

But what if you want to speak up but aren’t sure how?

I am someone who will speak up for those that are fearful to do so. I wrote a book about the 12 biggest fears that impact on success and to this day the biggest is still our fear of what other people will think of us and how that will reflect on us and our results in life. (This then impacts on our actions and thus our results in our personal and professional life, thus deal with what you think, and you change the quality of your actions and thus your results – cool right?)

Ask yourself how you feel about wearing a tee like the awesome creations from The Spark Company?

  • Do they inspire you and connect you to an idealism?
  • Or do you love them but think “I couldn’t wear that!”
Check out the range here

If people are fearful of posting their own views on social media, it can take a lot of strength to speak up and say “Hey this is me” even if it’s just in a Tee.

Your view on the humble tee could tell you a lot about yourself and how you see yourself in the world.

I’ve helped lots of people over the years accept and fall in love with who they are. Coming out to family (if they want to) and honouring what matters to them. I asked some of these wonderful people how they felt about the slogan tee and heard “Now I’d wear that with bells on (not sure the bells come with the tee!) but ask me to speak up in my clothing choices before I came out and I’m not sure I’d have had the confidence.”

I love the idea that fashion can display our confidence levels. When you have internal confidence, it doesn’t matter what anyone says or think because you are strong and true to who you are and accept not everyone will like that.

I’ve spent over 18 years teaching people how to honour who they really are, boost their confidence and speak up for what matters to them.*

With over 7 billion people on this planet, to assume every social media user will agree with you is ridiculous, but it doesn’t stop people from curtailing their views.

This is not about disrespecting others’ views, but it is about learning to see and respect who others are. So, I say “Bring on the Tee!” because learning to love honour and respect yourself is one thing. Learning to see others the way they want to be seen even if it doesn’t match what you believe, is a truly beautiful thing.

Now that Tee really is something amazing!

And if you struggle to honour other people, get in touch and I can share some amazing ideas from psychology, philosophy and coaching that can mean people with very different opinions on anything can work together beautifully.

A difference of opinion is an opportunity to learn…. can I get that on a Tee?

*My books, courses and coaching are powerful fast ways to gain real confidence that is not damaged by a bad day or a rude comment. Learn more here – Courses here and books here

Author: Mandie Holgate, Founder of The Business Womans Network is a global speaker, author and coach winning awards around the world supporting small business, women in business, resilience and happiness in the work place. Her books are highly acclaimed and featured as Top 10 Books for business and success. To learn more, connect and chat on social media (as Mandie likes to do with everyone she meets – yes she is that social!) click here.

  • April 21, 2022

Going viral – and getting a book deal

Savvy business owners don’t just look after themselves, they donate to charity, ask third sector organisations how they can help, think of the business owners around them and want to genuinely make our communities and society better. I know that may seem a bit of a tall Super human hero attitude, but whenever I speak to business owners, they genuinely want to make a difference.

Alas many overthink sales and marketing and end up doing way too much because they’ve not sussed what really matters. Here in 2022 we need to bring the good stuff to people who are really struggling with this big weird world we find ourselves in – so sparkly, life is perfect marketing is not what we want. We want people that are transparent and honest. Fun and bold. Real and ready to listen.

Imagine my surprise when I end up on eBay and spend over 30 minutes reading one description of an ancient old caravan! Back in those days (last Saturday) the bids for that caravan were up to £830. This is a 1980’s caravan that to be polite has seen better days. How is it worth £830…..well actually as of 5am on the 12th of April it has bids to the tune of £2100!


Image 3 - 1980 Ci Europa 4 Berth caravan

I’m not a slow reader (well Mrs Grimstone didn’t think I’d get anywhere with my English – ha 2 best selling books so what did my 80’s English teacher know!) but I’ve been spell bound by @CaravanMan80 writings and updates. (Yes the poor man “who doesn’t do social media” has caved and got a Twitter handle.

  • I’ve worried about his knees after his escapades in freeing a fancy beer glass from his local drinking establishment.
  • I’ve worried if his Mum did actually manage to get the right pictures off of her iPad.
  • I’d really like his hero James Acaster to see his amazing viral story, will it happen I’ve questioned?

I’ve laughed until I may cry at some of the updates because his family sounds as normal as mine – I too have a sister that will get rid of anything that doesn’t fit this seasons style only to be wanting it back in 5 years because “Oh that looks far nice than I’d imagined!”

He also has been honest about his own mental health fun and games and handles trolls and unkindness with brilliance and wit, the man is a born writing comedic genius – but what do I know, I write non fiction about the mind!

But what’s the point of this mans updates that can be a few words long or answering the most pointless question? (And as business owners, we’ve all at some stage thought “Er, didn’t you just read my website to get my telephone number and next to that said telephone number is the answer to the question you are now asking me?” )

The point is that after sadly losing his Dad, he has been a dutiful son (well to be fair, I think he just wants a quiet life with his tortoise but his siblings aren’t likely to let that happen until his has got rid of the caravan) and agreed to help his Mum get the caravan off of the drive. All those memories. The holidays. Sat there.

He had aimed to “raise a few quid” for British Heart Foundation. That’s when I was really hooked!

People struggle to think innovatively in business and often the most innovative answers are when you are honest, transparent and just your true self. CaravanMan80 may just want to raise a few quid, but at £2100, he has not only done that, he has got a lot of people popping over to BHF to leave a little donation too! And that is monumental!

BHF aim is to “Fund around £100 million of research each year into all heart and circulatory diseases and the things that cause them. Heart diseases. Stroke. Vascular dementia. Diabetes. They’re all connected, and they’re all under our microscope” and their vision “Is a world free from the fear of heart and circulatory diseases. A world without heartbreak.”

Fear and heart failure is something I know all too well. I can not tell you and hope you never experience the moment when a cardiac doctor tells you that your 47 year old husband is “Not a candidate for surgery and the situation is rather hopeless.” I refused to believe that and found Harefield Hospital and Mr Bhudia, as his secretary Chrissie (Yes we became on first name pet name terms!) said “Mrs Holgate, when everyone else says there is nothing that can be done, that’s when Mr Bhuddhia is there”. That wasn’t some Super hero tag line, Chrissie was spot on and after some very complicated open heart surgery and some state of the art “can only be done by 5 doctors in the world” scary AF days where he wasn’t bothering to breathe or restart his own heart, he has a normal functioning heart! That’s the miracle of BHF work right there!

That is what Caravanman 80 is really doing. Raising awareness that Dad’s die in arm chairs because people don’t know the signs of heart failure (Yes Caravanman80, that was 1 of the moments I cried, because I was checking to see if my husband was breathing for over a year.) That when you are open and real, you can make a difference in the world. Not some tagline from a super hero movie, real life.

Caravanman80 has to write a book. Has to have his own blog – I’d be his Number one fan – can we get T-shirts printed?

He’s likely to be dragged out of his quiet life with his tortoise into writing amazing works that make us feel connected, make us laugh and raise some money for British Heart Foundation who save lives like my husband. He may want to keep some of those royalties, he has plans for a holiday or a super yacht.

The bidding closes in less than 4 hours. I’m supposed to be up early off to celebrate my sons 21st birthday. It can wait until after 9.03:52 BST right?

If you’ve got £5 laying around, we know how hard things are for millions right now, so don’t feel any guilt if you can’t, just share Caravanman80’s tweets or this blog and enjoy your day.

Thanks for reading and Caravanman80 when the book comes out can we promote that for you too?

Here’s a pic of Caravanman80’s Dad (just because)…(I’m not sharing GILF of his Mum, just no. Go to the orignal eBay post for that here.)

Image 8 - 1980 Ci Europa 4 Berth caravan

And here is what it is all about. When my husband was out of ICU his surgeon took the time to tell me everything they’d done to save his life. To take his heart from 15% to 55% (which is classed as healthy – few have a 100% heart function.) That’s the work of BHF so give them a shout out using this link – and if you do something big or small for charity, thank you.

  • April 12, 2022

Side hustles – how to overcome the cost of living hikes (without putting your prices up or selling a kidney!)

As a business owner you can’t help but question how you will sustainably grow your business without putting your prices up as the cost of living goes up again and again.

I really feel for the public sector who don’t’ even have the option of pushing themselves harder to increase their income.

So with that in mind we asked our confidential mastermind group about their plans for making more money without having to work 24 hours a day. (Usually we wouldn’t share details of conversations on the Insiders because it’s a confidential place to talk business, life as a business owner and gain new business but we thought with their permission we would make an exception for this important subject) and we were interested to learn how many Insiders had created automated passive incomes and side hustles (not a term I’m keen on, makes me sound like a cowgirl!)

It’s a big passion of mine to create automated incomes and I’ve helped a lot of clients achieve this too, so that they can earn money while they are busy doing something else.

I love opening my bank account and discovering I’ve made money without doing anything – for me I have courses, books, affiliations, Hemp (random I know) and blog donations as my automated income. I thought it would be great to hear from our Insiders and shamelessly promote them and share what they’ve found to help them make more money and thus not have to put their prices up impacting on their customers too.

As Robyn Banks put it (no that’s not her job!) we have fingers in many pies, and it’s good to hear.

Robyn is the owner of Data protection specialists Adavista but when her and her husband are not running that business, they are making celebration cakes, hosting and building websites and helping Lions International with all their data protection needs.

Whose for cake?

To learn more, click here

Helen Watson’s day job is as a counsellor specialising psychotherapies, CBT and EMDR, not surprising that due to the pandemic and very real fears around the world Helen has never been so busy, with 2 busy practices in Maldon and Colchester, Helen also rents out rooms to therapists and small businesses in the area.

Helen told about her passion for Neal’s Yard Remedies Organic “For me, I value the power of essential oils to support clients as part of a holistic approach to mental wellbeing, we also use some of the NYRO products like hand washes, hand sanitiser etc at both Colchester and Maldon consulting rooms.

We try and use products in the business that are ethical and eco-friendly because that’s important to us – and the blue bottles are just one of the ways we of do that plus potential to earn a little extra. (Though I’ve stopped offering hands-on treatments myself, there’s also ranges for beauty and massage therapists to use in their treatments so can be worth joining for various therapists.) To learn more about Helen and her businesses click here.

Jill Roberson is passionate about small businesses appreciating the value of being a green eco friendly company and often shares advice to the Insiders on how to achieve this. Her side hustle as a Tropic Skincare Ambassador not only brings in an income it also helps her team.

Jill told us “It’s very important to me that I work with ethical companies. Tropic freshly make their products in their own cosmetic kitchens near Croydon, using only plant and mineral based ingredients. It’s really important to me that they’re a carbon negative company and that every product helps provide primary education to children in remote parts of the world.” Check out Jills’ eco approach to skincare here. Jill even offers online pamper sessions for you and your friends – now that’s clever thinking!

For Karen Boughton the day job is all about VA services. Helping busy business owners find additional time and takin gall the jobs they hate, Karen said that she joined Tropic not to set up another business but because of the discounts she gets. Well saving money is another way you can keep more profit, right?

Clearly Tropic Skincare is a popular option for the side hustle since Claire Martine is an ambassador too.

“I have been a Leader with them for a year and a half, joined as an ambassador only 3 years ago.

I love all the decisions behind the brand that support its ethos to create a healthier, greener, more empowered world. Teamed with the proven efficacy of the products, I was happy to stand alongside a brand that not only promoted clean and natural products to my friends and customers with real models, but it’s wonderful to support so many charities effecting change and people’s lives globally. To be able to guide and inspire others in their Tropic journey is just the best

No targets, no minimum earning must, no pressure. The vibe is very supportive and high morale. I did it as my full-time venture until I completed my master’s degree, I now have a part time role alongside this.” We’ve seen this first-hand with Lisa Hardy often bringing other Tropic ambassadors to our events so that they could grow their businesses. It had no benefit to Lisa but it’s about spreading the business love right?

For Daliah Hopcroft, when Dahlia’s is not teaching people how to love telesales or phoning on behalf of business owners who hate it is a Forever Living consultant. Daliah told us “I first discovered Forever when I was unwell with an infection on my leg and a friend suggested using Propolis cream and I was blown away with the results and I’ve used them on myself and my family ever since. Their products harness the amazing benefits of Aloe Vera to improve health and wellness. They also have an award sinning skincare that I’m in love with too.

Tracey Fordham meanwhile may be known for her absolutely incredible Victorian inspired cake creations but her passion for holidays is now bringing in money too. “I’ve travelled around the world, and love helping people get the very best holiday on whatever size budget they have. It’s been really tough through the pandemic but rewarding to know that our customers were well protected. Working with Not Just Travel has been an amazing experience for me. I feel like I’m holiday with my clients every day!” Click here to check out some beautiful holidays.

May be an image of palm trees and pool
Who wouldn’t want to talk holidays all day?

Sally Anderson Wai maybe a journalist of many years with a good few years working at the BBC, but when Sally is not writing copy, blogs or social media content for clients Sally also owns a dog walking, day care and holiday cat feeding services in North Essex.

“I adore animals and it means I can spend my spare time loving other people’s pets. It’s a great job and I often get inspiration for my PR and copywriting clients when I’ doing it too!”

Helen Tovey is a life coach that specialises in helping people with body confidence “It was a natural addition for me to join Synergy and build a team – the products are award winning, and my customers tell me they feel it helps with their immune system, boosting energy levels and many other benefits. I know we talk on the Insiders about legal ways to promote products like these and it’s great to share so many stories from customers. It’s lovely to help others be physically well and love the bodies they are in!” Check out Helen’s day job here.

Paul Boorman is the owner of White Label Detroit Pizza – it may sound bizarre, but they specialise in moorish pizzas that are as good (no better) than takeaway, but you cook them at home. Paul sells raw Pizza across Essex, Cambridgeshire and Suffolk (and they are growing fast – well who wants to wait 2 hours for a takeaway to turn up?) but when Paul is not making Pizza, he is a consultant to the leisure and tourism industry and delivers fine dining in your own home. It doesn’t come cheap but since Paul is one of the top chefs in the UK, it’s an experience you never forget. Try not to saliva over your tech as you look at these pics of Pauls food! You can see if WLDP deliver to your area here. We think Paul would travel anywhere to give you the gourmet chef experience as long as you are playing for the fuel/flight/boat to get him there. Learn more here.

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If these ideas have whetted your appetite for a side hustle join us on the Insiders to learn more and discuss what you could do to boost your income.

We are a friendly group of business owners of all sizes and industries coming together to support each other through tough times and exciting ones, challenges and growth. No subject is off limit the only rules I insist on are;

1. Don’t mention a business/product/service if you have not personally used it.

2. Don’t share links to your site/social media/landing page unless you are looking for confidential feedback and advice on how to make them work better. This we actively encourage and Insiders are always happy to share ideas and advice.

3. Don’t DM Insiders with advice and ideas, keep it in the confidential Facebook page then everyone benefits from your knowledge and can come to you for advice, and you gain new business. We see conversations from 2018 pop up with new comments as people use the FB group as a source of information and ideas for their business.

If you would like to join us, we’d love that, please feel free to share this article with your friends and social media world and let’s keep talking on the Insiders. As the Founder of The Business Womans Network and a coach I’ve helped over 10,000 businesses to grow. They range from pre-start up through to very large global business. Your business is my passion, it always has been, and it always will be so the more you get involved in the Insiders the more I and those amazing business owners can help you too.

It’s why all Insiders can sell my courses and keep 50% of the profit too. It’s another way to bring in an income with very little effort and when you work so hard in the day job, it’s good to get a helping hand right?

Learn more about the business, confidence writing and communication courses here

And just for the record, we actively encourage our members to put their prices up when it’s right to do so and over on the Insiders we help you work out how to put your prices up and ensure people are happy to pay them. Use the magnifying glass on the confidential mastermind group to access the advice on that.

  • February 26, 2022

The chef, the therapist and accountant – success in a pandemic (with a warning for your business!)

According to the FSB there was a 6.5% decrease in the number of small businesses in the UK in 2021. And while the UK rates the second best in Europe for business survival at 5 years, it is still at a pitiful 45% with on average 1 in 5 businesses failing.

Going it alone can be exciting and rewarding but it can just as easily be demoralising and cost you your life savings and even your health and home.

The pandemic had a catastrophic impact on small business in the UK, but Chef Paul Boorman, Therapist Helen Watson and Accountant Isobel Chaplin are all shining examples that sustainable growth and success are possible even in a pandemic.

Photo courtesy of Anne Thomas Photography

Isobel Chaplin set up her own accounting practice just before the pandemic and within 2 years has become a multi award wining business owner (already winning another award in 2022), and has just taken on her first member of staff, Isobel said “My ambition was to step away from making money for someone else and be in charge of my own destination whilst supporting other small businesses, I was concerned about how to learn everything I would need to do this but I’ve been very happy in my own self-employment journey.”

Paul Boorman, a Top UK MasterChef has worked for some of the top destinations in Essex and The UK and took a diversion into the White Label Detroit Pizza company. By creating inch thick toppings on unique ‘bake-at-home’ pizzas delivered to customers across the county, fans have been indulging in them by their 1000’s throughout the pandemic. “I didn’t expect to be opening multiple shops for pizza sales in a pandemic, but we are now in Colchester and Maldon, taking on staff and looking at new venues. The interest in the unique Detroit style pizza has fuelled an Essex-wide pizza base craze we weren’t expecting.”

Helen Watson not only grew her psychotherapy practice in the pandemic, Helen took on new premises and is now helping other therapists too “I’ve always had a base in two towns in Essex to be accessible to clients and whilst the first lockdown was a challenge, adapting to working with clients online during that time not only meant I could continue to work with my clients but  actually turned out to be a useful way of widening my reach. The ability to continue with in-person therapies though has been a vital part of my business and although I worried it was poor timing in a pandemic to invest, I have found that having my own premises has helped my business grow to its best profits since I started trading and 2022 is looking exceptionally attractive for further growth.”

So, what does the Chef, the therapist and the accountant have in common? The Business Woman’s Network, set up by coach and author Mandie Holgate in 2009 is an organisation that supports the growth of business owners. Formerly aimed at women in business its reputation means that business men turn to the BWN for support and ideas too.

Mandie said “At the start of the pandemic I asked our members what they needed to survive the pandemic and its aftermath and the response was huge. Many had no trade at all, and we helped them create online businesses and others wanted to know how they could grow and sustain growth regardless of what the pandemic threw at them. Through my own coaching, the experts we bring to the group and the expertise of the business owners in our mastermind group we find that everyone has supported each other and there have been a lot of success stories.”

Mandie added “Moving into 2022 we are hosting free networking and business growth events for our members. Our members are across the UK, with a growing number of expats based around the world, we want to be there for them for these fast changing times.”

Despite the worrying news on the success rate of businesses, a study by UHY, the international accountancy network, shows that there were 726,000 new businesses created in the UK in 2020 compared to just over 636,000 in 2019.

And in March 2021 more new businesses were created than in any other month since records began in 1989. (Data from HRMC).

The big concern for small business looking to grow.

Mandie said “An issue we’ve seen increasingly in the last 12 months is that business owners have invested between £5 and £8000 on support and training to grow their business with little to no results. The industry is not regulated, and business owners often turn to social media to ask for help, which is often a place of outdated, poor, or sometimes even illegal advice that costs businesses thousands but with no return on their investment. That is why our mastermind group is confidential to ensure you know the quality of experts you are accessing will be accountable to what they say. Something often lacking from social media and it’s part of why we see so many success stories. We have deliberately kept the cost very low so that no matter where you are on your business journey our support is accessible to you. We really want to see more business success across our region in 2022.”

As we move into a year of uncertainty for small business it is reassuring to see businesses in our region are riding the pandemic wave to bring new jobs, opportunities businesses to the county.

The BWN is a multi-award-winning organisation recognised by government, the Bank of England and enterprise for its work supporting SME’s in the UK.

Mandie Holgate is a multi-award winning global speaker, author and coach, writing 2 highly acclaimed books Fight the fear and Taking Control Of Your Mind. Her clients include the NHS, Virgin Care and WH Smiths. Mandie specialises in coaching business teams and business owners. This year her husband has had a stroke, open heart surgery, a blood clot and multiple surgeries for Thyroid surgery, yet her own business has also grown and supported more UK based businesses than in any other year since its launch in 2009, showcasing those obstacles and adversity does not define your success or resilience.

The BWN Insiders is £10 per month and accessible to all professionals, charities and business owners.,new%20business%20creation%20league%20table.
  • February 16, 2022

Time to panic over Meta/Facebook pulling out of Europe?

Those rumours on Facebook, are they true? What does it mean for your small business?

Here at the BWN, our INsiders benefit from some top experts on business. Here Insider Robyn Banks (Yes really her name) shares advice on the latest rumours on Facebook/Meta pulling out of Europe and what you need to know as a business owner.

Robyn Banks owns Adavista, a company specialising in ensuring you get the law right around data protection and freedom of information. The cost to small businesses of getting this wrong can be fines starting from £400. Every business (with few exceptions despite what you might read on social media) needs to be registered for example with the ICO. Not sure on what you are doing? On our confidential mastermind and networking group, you can ask Robyn anything and you get a discount to work with Robyn too. Not an Insider yet? Join here.

You may have seen lots of articles, even through Facebook, about Meta (Facebook’s parent company) pulling out of Europe.  As an expert in this industry here’s my thoughts on this;

Why would they?  This market is worth a lot of money to them.  There have also posted about Mark Zuckerberg losing a lot of money because people are turning away from Facebook.  May be this is a marketing ploy?

 Why are they “considering “if the market is worth a lot of money? 

Well, this has historical roots! Facebook – as well as Google – have fallen foul of many Information Commissioners across Europe over the years that has resulted in a lot of money in fines! They thought that, as big conglomerates, they could just walk over individuals and their privacy rights!  But you should remember that Facebook was never intended to be a “private” medium.. it was supposed to be a digital place to meet people and connect with others – you can’t do that if its only “closed” groups or private!

In an attempt to get round the data protection/privacy rules, Facebook originally set up its storage facility in the Republic of Ireland – ie in the EU.  But the “rules” state that, as a US company, they must abide by EU law in an EU country.  So when they kept getting huge fines, they moved everything to California.

California is one of the few US States to have a form of data protection legislation, but federally, the US does NOT have data protection legislation to protect the rights of individuals.  This is why the “EU/US Privacy Shield” was put in place – an agreement with the US Department of Commerce to protect our rights when dealing with US based companies.  This agreement was designated “illegal” and not-fit-for-purpose by the European courts in 2020. BUT if the US entity was not governed by the US Department of Commerce  – and many are not! – then it didn’t apply anyway!   This meant that the US organisation have to have an Agreement in place with the country concerned using the “Standard Contractual Clauses” drawn up by the EU authorities.  This is still the case and there are new Clauses just issued.

All this still applies to the UK after Brexit because our data protection rules have not changed in concept from the EU rules.  In fact they have drawn up an “Adequacy Decision” between UK and EU countries because we have the same level of protection on individuals’ rights and freedoms. 

What’s next?   – well, its simple!  Facebook/Meta just need to obey the rules!  They can draw up new agreements with European companies they market to (for adverts etc which is how they make their money) using the new Clauses. They need to think about data storage and the individual’s right to delete data. 

And perhaps they should think about employing me??!

The important thing to remember that you don’t need to panic, as an Insider I will always ensure you are up to date on the law and any changes that you may need to make. Not sure if you’ve got it right? I’m happy to have a chat either on the confidential mastermind group or via my website.

  • February 10, 2022

Do I need to file a Self Assessment tax return and what if I’ve received a COVID-19 grant?


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Article by GoSimpleTax

More than 12m people file a Self Assessment tax return each year, which is almost a fifth of the UK population. They include sole-trader bricklayers, plumbers and plasterers, as well as hairdressers, cake makers and chefs, and self-employed tutors, translators and tattoo artists. People of all occupations, trades and backgrounds work for themselves.

Sole traders are key to the UK economy. They’re the unsung heroes who make up about 59% (3.5m) of the total UK business population of 5.9m and they of course include many freelancers, contractors and agency workers.  

Many other people also need to fill out and file a Self Assessment tax return to report taxable income and in recent years, many UK sole traders have received taxable COVID-19 grants and support payments from government and other sources that must also be reported via Self Assessment. This guide provides an overview of who must sign up to Self Assessment and how they should report COVID-19 grants and support payments.

Here’s what we’ll cover

  • Who must file a Self Assessment tax return?
  • How to register for Self Assessment.
  • How to report taxable COVID-19 grants and support payments.
  • Sources of advice and support.

Who must file a Self Assessment tax return?

Self Assessment is the system the UK tax authority HMRC uses to collect Income Tax. You need to register for Self Assessment and file an SA100 tax return if you:

  • have earned more than £2,500 from renting out property
  • or your partner have received Child Benefit and either of you has an annual income of more than £50,000
  • have received more than £2,500 in other untaxed income (eg tips or commission)
  • are self-employed (ie a sole trader) with an annual turnover of more than £1,000
  • are a partner in an ordinary business partnership
  • are an employee claiming expenses worth more than £2,500 a year
  • have earned taxable income from savings, investments or dividends
  • have earned income from abroad that is subject to UK tax (eg renting out a property overseas while domicile in the UK).

• If you’re still not sure, HMRC provides an online tool that you can use to check whether you need to file a Self Assessment tax return.

Need to know!

  • If you need to file a Self Assessment tax return, you do so after the relevant tax year ends on 5 April and you have until the following 31 January to file it online (although it’s best to do it sooner). First you must register for Self Assessment.

How to register for Self Assessment

It’s simple and relatively quick to register online for Self Assessment. When registering you’ll need to give your:

  • National Insurance number
  • full name (and any previous names)
  • current address (and when you moved in)
  • date of birth
  • gender
  • phone number
  • email address and
  • whether you’ve registered previously for Self Assessment.

You’ll also be asked for basic information about your new sole trader business, if that what you’re doing. After you’ve completed the questions, HMRC will create an account for you. You’ll then receive a letter with your Unique Taxpayer Reference (UTR) number within 10 days (21 if you’re based overseas). You’ll need your UTR to file your Self Assessment tax return. You’ll also then receive another letter with an account activation code. Once activated, you can file your tax return online at any time before the deadline.

Need to know!

Reporting COVID-19 grants and support payments

To help some self-employed people to stay afloat during the COVID-19 pandemic when they couldn’t work, the government introduced a range of business-support measures, including SEISS (the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme), which began in May 2020. Five rounds of SEISS grants were awarded and the application deadline date for the last one was 30 September 2021.

Other COVID-19 grants and support payments included:

As a sole trader or member of an ordinary business partnership, you may have received COVID-19 grant funding and/or support payments, which you now need to tell HMRC about if it is taxable. Thankfully, it’s straightforward.

  • Detail any SEISS payments received in the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme Grant box on your Self Assessment tax return (SA100).
  • Record all other taxable COVID-19 payments in the box for any other business income.

If you’re self-employed, HMRC has published guidance on reporting COVID-19 grants and support payments (choose from short or full notes). Short and full guidance is also available online for members of ordinary partnerships who need to report COVID-19 grants and support payments via Self Assessment.

Sources of support

About GoSimpleTax

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GoSimpleTax does all the calculations for you saving you ££’s on accountancy fees. Available on desktop or mobile application.

  • January 20, 2022

Snapping up the perfect images – Business and family

Here INsider member Mark Alefounder from The Best Lil Photo shares top tips on taking great shots for your business and for the family gifts this Christmas (and any time of the year! Let’s face it those pictures that are cute now will be priceless in 15 years time. If you would like to write for our blog, this is a FREE service to all Insiders (Join here) or £55 per article. Discounts apply to multiple articles.

“Why your Home could be the best location for your Photo session!

Professional family photography

Family phone snaps will always have a place, but they will never compare to the quality images and portraits that are produced by a professional family photographer. You might think the latest phone gives you access to quality photography but with the latest camera technology, the ability to manipulate light and editing expertise, a professional will produce images of your family you simply couldn’t get yourself.

May be an image of baby and indoor
You can’t hide from a great photo!

What about a Studio?

At this time of year an outdoor photography session can be affected by our unpredictable weather so you may be considering a studio photoshoot. The first problem with a studio is location. You need to get to it rather than the other way round. How easy is it to get to? How far away is it? You might have seen photographs, but you never really know what it’s like until you turn up. The biggest problem however is that many people find the whole studio environment a little intimidating even clinical with so much equipment on show. If you don’t feel comfortable about visiting a studio, you’re not going to feel comfortable once you arrive.

What if I don’t feel comfortable in a studio?

There is an alternative. Why not use your own home for a family photo session?

Your home could be the perfect backdrop helping to form part of your family story. Imagine looking back at the photos in the future. More than looking at a family moment captured in time it becomes memories of a family home, a family life, a family room and even an assessment of old family furniture.

Is my house suitable for an at home Photo session?

I know what you’re thinking. Everybody does! “But my house is a mess”!

Yes, I know it can be stressful considering inviting a professional family photographer into your home for a photoshoot. You are probably thinking your house is too small or there isn’t enough room as well. You’ll be pleased to know that these are all concerns that have been raised many times before. We have dealt with, managed, and removed these concerns every time.

What about my children?

In my last Blog I talked about children’s behaviour. In their own home playing with their own toys in their own environment most children are untroubled by the appearance of a photographer. Another potential advantage of keeping things `in house`.

Natural Photographs

We don’t want to take your family photos in a show home we want to show the reality of your life. Natural shots, candid shots capturing real moments in your real lives. There’s no harm in a little mess, it’s a home and you have children or a baby.

I’ve been there. Children make a mess. Constantly. If you tidy up when your toddler is still awake you’ve probably wasted your time. If you have a newborn baby they won’t be untidy, but you will create your own clutter. It’s hard looking after a baby. Mum and Dad is a full-time job without any other jobs you might have. If you’ve got no clutter and a newborn baby, how are you doing it!? Tell everybody or write a book quick!

What I will concentrate on as a photographer

Even though it would really help if you did what you can to prepare your house prior to your shoot, I will be paying more attention to lighting as well as the background of your photos anyway. If needs, be I would work with you to shift things around to help get the best possible photos. An at home photo session is about collaboration and I love that part of the photo shoot.

As a photographer its my aim to show you and your surroundings in the best possible light. There will always be places that you won’t want photographed and that’s fine. I will be looking to use rooms that have the best light, but I will also bring along lights that will provide that for me if natural light isn’t available.

What’s the biggest benefit of an at home photo session?

I can bring professional studio lighting, backgrounds, and props to your home. What that means for you is all the benefits of a studio family photo or Newborn baby photo session but in your own home. You don’t have to leave your house. A home photo session with all the professional lighting and camera equipment you need.

Why a Newborn Baby at home photo session?

A home photo session for a Newborn baby is a great option. Baby will always feel most settled in their own home. No need to upset them by waking them up, getting them dressed, putting them in the car, driving to the studio, taking them out of the car, putting them in another pram or chair, taking layers of clothes off, changing them again and so on.

A home photo session means Baby is at home, content, happy, relaxed and doing what makes it happiest until I arrive. I can even set up without disturbing them. Often with a newborn baby shoot at home they might not even wake up.

At home we can make use of favourite blankets, toys and muzzies. If you don’t have those things or want more, I bring round a large plush luxurious round bean bag, blankets, a couple of new knitted hats and a few props. If you’ve got a feeding chair or are particularly proud of your nursery, we can include photographs of baby with those too. These are Photos you simply couldn’t get anywhere else.

Will your next photo session be at home?

Whether its family photography with mum dad and children. Newborn babies or grandparents etc the photos can be taken at home.

I can provide you with photographs that will reflect you and your family which you can transform into beautiful pieces of art you can display in your home.”

Mark shares lots of advice on capturing the perfect image to tell your story over on the Insiders and on his site here so if you are struggling for Christmas gifts a photo shoot could be perfect.

  • November 16, 2021

12 Ways Playing Board Games Improves Your Mental Health

We recently met Michael Adams from Mikko games. Here Michael shares some top reasons why we all need board games in our lives. We may be called The Business Womans Network, however many of our members are business men too. We would love to welcome you to our mastermind group events too. Thank you for sharing Michael. To read the full story head to Mikko Games website here


The first benefit of playing board games that most people probably think of is that they’re fun. They are a great way to pass the time and enjoy spending time with your friends and family. 

A side effect of this fun is laughter. Laughing has been proven to trigger the release of endorphins, the body’s natural “feel-good” chemicals. Endorphins have the power to improve conscious and unconscious mind functions, leaving a person feeling cheerful, compassionate and ultimately content.

Colour Brain Lifestyle Photo with people laughing

Action Tip – Don’t underestimate the power of laughing and having fun with your friends. Choose a game that encourages you to be silly and laugh, like Blockbuster or Scrawl. Anything that gets you to break out of your shell and just be in the moment, having fun. Remember, when it comes to having better mental health, time spent having fun is never time wasted.


According to an online survey of over 5000 people by RealNetworks Inc., a casual games developer, found that 64% of respondents said they play games with the primary intention to induce relaxation, and 53% play specifically to reduce stress.

Finding the time in your day to relax and enjoy yourself, such as by playing a board game, has a major impact on both your mental and physical health. Feeling stressed doesn’t just feel bad in the moment. If it isn’t properly managed, your stress can have serious implications on your overall health and life expectancy.

Playing board games can provide you with a much-needed release of energy after a stressful day of work. They help you to unwind, relax, and not let your mind be consumed by whatever negative things are going on in your life that may be leading to stress. Instead, you can have fun and escape into the world of a board game. There’s no need to worry about the trivialities of life for a few hours. Or perhaps the structure of a clear set of rules is a safe barrier against the chaotic world outside.

Apart from the distraction that playing board games can provide, a 2017 study on stress management found that playing certain board games can help train your body’s fight-or-flight response (the body’s natural response to stress). This means that by playing board games, you’re giving yourself healthy opportunities to practice facing stressful situations to develop your coping skills for when you feel stress in the real world.

Scrawl 12+ Lifestyle Photo

Action Tip – If you find yourself stressed and unsure of how to handle it, try getting some friends together to play some games. It will help you relax and enjoy yourself and will take your mind off of whatever else is going on in your life and make you happy – even if only temporarily.


When you suffer from mental health issues like anxiety and depression, it can be extremely difficult to go out and socialise with others. Consequently, people who suffer from mental health problems tend to report increased loneliness, which is a contributing factor to worsening mental health. However, board games solve a lot of these problems as they offer a structured way to meet others and provide a social world in themselves.

Playing board games allows you to socialise with a group of people without having to worry about coming up with things to talk about. For people who have mental health problems such as social anxiety, playing games can be a great chance to work through their issues and socialise with others without the presence of any additional social pressures. Playing games also fosters positive relationships and can help fight off feelings of isolation by giving one a sense of community. 

While you may not be an overly social person, and believe that you’re completely fine spending time by yourself, studies have shown that socializing with other people and experiencing more human connection is the most effective way to lead a happy and fulfilling life. 

The Chameleon Lifestyle Photo

Action Tip – If you’re feeling lonely or isolated, reach out to a few friends and try to create a group you can regularly play board games with. Or, if you still live at home with your parents, start to play games with them so you begin to remember what it’s like to interact with other people. 


When you suffer from mental health issues like depression it can feel like you have no energy at all. Sometimes even getting out of bed feels impossible. This is understandable and not anything to be ashamed about. When you finally feel ready to break the cycle of doing nothing you may wonder where to turn to.

Real-life chores or work might still be too much for you but a board game can be a great place to start. It’s an activity that’s designed to be fun, and while you’re playing games you will naturally start to gain more and more energy. If you really focus and put your heart into it, you’ll find that being involved in something interactive gives you the boost you’ve needed. 

What Came First Lifestyle Photo

Action Tip – Consider board games as the first step on your road to better mental health. When you feel low and don’t feel like doing anything, try playing a board game to give you the boost of energy you need to start feeling better again. 


When you suffer from mental health problems like depression, you can lose confidence in yourself. You can struggle to believe in your abilities and feel useless. Board games can help more than you realise. Not only will board games make socialising easier, but they also help you to become more self-assured.

To express your love for Michael’s blog article and business you can connect with Michael’s social media accounts via the website here.

It really helps small businesses when you like, comment and share their articles and posts, so share away and feel free to tag us too!

Need some help getting started with blogging or your marketing failing? Join us on our mastermind group – it’s just £5 a month and gets you 70% off of our Founder Mandie Holgate’s courses too. Join here.

  • August 20, 2021

How to Make a Professional Video Advert

Creating a video advert is one of the best pieces of content that you can use to promote your business. This dynamic and interesting content is something that can attract the attention of many different people, and it can help you to stand out amongst your competition. Here are some of the things you should think about when trying to make a professional video advert.


You need to make sure that your video advert is properly planned and has a distinct beginning, middle, and end. Even if it is going to be 30 seconds or less, there is plenty of time for you to get a point across.

Storyboarding is the easiest way for you to work out precisely what you want to put across in your video. You should be able to clearly and distinctly put across your point of view within the video, and it should be able to succinctly demonstrate whatever your business or product might be. By taking the time to correctly storyboard your video advert, you can be certain that you are not going to forget any point that you might have wanted to include, or that the meaning and intent of the video becomes lost.

Professional Lighting

If the advert is going to be live-action instead of animated, you need to make sure that you get it lit properly. Professional lighting production hire is always going to be worth every single penny that you might spend on it.

Lighting is something that can really transform the entire feeling of the video, and it is something that you need to do properly. This is where the value of lighting production hire comes in. The right lighting really does make the video, and you need the help of a professional to ensure that it is done precisely right.


You might also wish to hire a professional editor. Even with a smooth storyboard in place and loose shots and b-roll that have been shot to the highest standards, you need to make sure that the video is put together properly. This means that you need to edit it correctly.

Editing is also a lot more than just stringing the video clips together, which is why it is crucial that a professional does it. One of the main tasks that takes place during the editing process is white balance and small changes like contrast and saturation. They are the finishing touches that help make a video look polished and complete.

These might be just three of the things you should consider when creating a professional video advert for your business, but there are also three things that you cannot ignore. If you want to make an advert that looks as polished and as finished as can be, you need to make sure that you are bringing the experts on board to help. Think about what you would like to see in an advert, and then bring it to life as soon as you can!

  • June 16, 2021
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