Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Falling In Love Again....

In a recession we all take steps to cut our spending and often the same rule applies for many businesses. But is this really the best strategy?

With so many companies falling by the wayside, the desire to hold on to what money we have is understandable but not necessarily pragmatic.

Consider the following;

  1. Do your clients know that you are still in business?

  2. Is there a pool of potential new clients whose normal supplier has gone out of business?

  3. Are you fully aware of what your clients need in a recession?

  4. Are your staff 'treading water'?

  5. Do your clients know what you can offer them?

  6. Are you and your staff falling out of love with your business?

How much money might any one of the above be costing your business and what steps could you take to reduce that cost? New business, retained business and lost business all have a monetary value.

Let's explore how to eliminate these costs and keep moving towards maximised productivity and profitability;

Engage with New Clients - Host an open day at your premises.

Publicise what you offer and the level of service you can provide. If not for now, for the future.

Remind lapsed clients you are still in business - Run a workshop to showcase your services.

We all have clients we only work with periodically. If you don't maintain contact with them they might assume that you have 'disappeared' and place their business elsewhere.

'Press the flesh' of existing clients - Organise a seminar with a keynote speaker relevant to your line of business and share some 'free' information.

Show appreication to your existing clients and be sure to 'thank' them for their business. Existing clients are the cheapest audience to market to. Make the most if them.

Interrogate your clients, new and old - A client questionnaire aligned with a free prize draw will increase response levels and provide valuable marketing material.

In times of recession our needs change. Make sure you keep abreast of what your client needs NOW and in the future. The only way to do that is to ask questions.

Re energise your team - a small team building event can clear the air, bring new energy to a team and (if handled correctly) identify some great marketing ideas.

Recession is a difficult time for everyone. Don't allow your staff to think that your business is treading water. This is bad for morale and for business. Maintaining energy within your business is a fundamental part of success.

Educate your clients - Workshops, Seminars & Training sessions can all educate your clients and (with luck) highlight just how much they need your products/services.

Make sure your clients understand what you have to offer. As you introduce new products, services, team members, move premises etc keep you clients informed of what you can provide and how.

Re energise yourself - Providing your business with a target (other than a KPI) can increase energy levels immensely.

Remember that businesses need energy. If you fall out of love with your business, your clients will fall out of love with you. If you lack energy - fake it.

Monday, 29 June 2009

Never Underestimate the Power of Twits

After attending a workshop at the WiRE Conference back in April I realised that the need to have a 'virtual' presence in the online community was to become increasingly necessary as time went by.

Not everyone shares this view and of course, why would they? Unless your business has first hand experience of the powers of Twitter you have neither reason to believe that it is a neccessity in the modern business world nor a sense of how it can be beneficial whatever your line of business.

My Twitter name is @salt_solutions and I use the site for a wide range of reasons. I use it to access information regarding the latest happenings in my industry sector, find out about the diverse range of businesses and charities that exist in my area and for laughs. There are plenty of kind and slightly wacky people who can make you smile just at the right moment.

Also, as a homeworker, it can be comforting to know that other small businesses are experiencing similar issues and problems as those encountered by myself from time to time.

So where is the evidence? Well, since joining Twitter in April I have been fortunate to have featured in The Sunday Times Business Section; http://tiny.cc/zX2qaI have appeared in The Shropshire Star in their 'TwitterTalk' column; http://tiny.cc/0zPIs and on Thursday of this week I will be appearing on local BBC Radio Shropshire to discuss a project that I am working on outside of my core business which is aimed at assisting those who wish to improve their public speaking skills.

All of the above have come about via Twitter. Each of them without any 'cold calling' on my part. None of them requiring me to leave the safety and comfort of my home office. Not a single penny has been spent by my business in achieving any of this. But every single item has helped me to raise the profile of my business.

Naturally Twitter is not the only way to grow your business, there are still the traditional methods that are key in marketing, branding and profiling, not to mention winning business. But Twitter works in addition to the usual methods that, whilst effective, are more expensive require more effort and involve 'getting out and about'.

All of which are fantastic and necessary but it just serves to demonstrate that 140 characters and a bit of time can add real value to your business.

But even in traditional marketing methods Twitter comes into it's own. I have been to several meetings, workshops and seminars where I have met people who I follow on Twitter. This provides a real ice-breaker and promotes a sense of 'community' amongst those who would otherwise be complete strangers. It's like a virtual 'foot in the door'.

Don't get me wrong. Twitter is a two way street, (or should I say two way tweet? Sorry) and I have, in my own small way, helped to support, raise profile and offer encouragement and advice to other Twitter users. You can't just sit back and let it all happen to you, you have to make it happen for others too but hey, isn't that what life is supposed to be about anyway? You only get out what you put in (true of most things in life) and quite right too.

I would like to thank the following people (amongst others) for helping Salt Solutions to realise the power of a 'virtual world';

Check them out on Twitter and take a look at the people they follow. Common ground spreads far and wide.

See if Twitter can work for your business too. It costs nothing but a little time and, as they say... nothing ventured.

Tuesday, 9 June 2009


Five key points when managing guests at an event.

  1. Clear Signage
    It is essential that you have good signposting for toilets, meeting rooms, key areas. Make sure you have clear signage and plenty of people on the ground to welcome and direct delegates/guests to registration, drinks reception etc. Nobody likes to feel lost and/or ‘in the wrong place. These marshalls should be clearly identifiable by uniform or badges.

  2. Informed Staff
    Ensure registration staff and/or welcoming committee are well briefed for the types of guests who will be arriving and in particular any keynote speakers, VIPs, disabled guests with special access needs and/or large groups who may be attending.

  3. Go With The Flow
    To aid flow of guest and to avoid congestion, it is important to have a specific area to which delegates/guests can be directed initially. Depending on the type of event this could be where reception drinks are being served, the auditorium where the formal welcome and introduction is to take place or the exhibition hall where display stands are located. It is far simpler to have flow of people who will then congregate in one area rather than forming small groups all over the venue site. If the event is to work, you need to manage your delegates.

  4. Welcome
    A formal address and welcome should of course be warm, welcoming and informative. It is your main opportunity to communicate with all of your guests in an organised and structured manner. This is your opportunity to outline the agenda for the duration of the event and to set any ‘rules’ that you need to implement. This includes items such as any housekeeping issues and depending on the size and type of venue a quick roundup of the procedures and locations of fire exits, toilets and first aid points.

  5. Always on Hand
    Providing guides and/or staff are on hand at all times to assist with directions, questions, late arrivals, emergencies etc. you should be able to manage the flow of people and timelines for the day effectively and systematically.

    If you have a forthcoming event and would benefit from specific planning advice please contact Heather Noble for an informal discussion on 07843 006984 or email heather@salt-solutions.co.uk

Monday, 1 June 2009


Here at Salt Solutions our main aim is to help our clients promote and enhance their professional image at every opportunity.

When organising an event, whether for business or family there are some key elements that will always enhance the quality and success of the event.

Organisation and good communication are the mainstays of success and the following 5 key points are intended to help you consider the level of detail which needs to be employed in order to achieve a truly memorable and successful event.

None of the following are rocket science but it is proven time and time again that it is the attention to detail that can make a real difference on the day.

1. Direction
Make sure you have good signage and plenty of people on the ground to welcome and direct delegates/guests to the registration desk or drinks reception area. Nobody likes to feel lost and/or ‘in the wrong place’. Your meeters and greeters should be clearly identifiable by uniform or badges. In addition you should always check that you have good, clear signposting for toilets, meeting rooms and key areas.

2. Informed Staff
Ensure all registration staff and/or welcoming committee members are well briefed on the types of guests who will be arriving and in particular that they are aware of any keynote speakers, VIPs, large groups and/or disabled guests with special access needs who may be attending. Devise a simple way of arranging passes or badges so that they can be located swiftly as each delegate arrives. This can so often be a 'bottle neck' area and cause a bad impression from the outset.

3. Manage your guests
It is important to have a designated area to which delegates/guests can be directed as soon as they arrive. Depending on the type of event this could be where reception drinks are being served, the auditorium where the formal welcome and introduction is to take place or the exhibition hall where display stands are located. It is far simpler to have people congregated in one area rather than them forming small groups all over the venue site.

4. Clear guidelines
A formal address and welcome should be warm and informative. It is your main opportunity to communicate with all of your guests in an organised and structured manner. You may find this to be a good time to outline the agenda for the duration of the event. You should make sure any housekeeping issues are announced and, depending on the size and type of venue, a quick roundup of emergency procedures and locations of fire exits, toilets and first aid points.

5. Help on hand
Ensuring that guides and/or staff are on hand at all times throughout the day to deal with directions, questions, late arrivals, emergencies etc. should enable you to manage the flow of people and timelines for the day effectively and systematically. The movement of people from location to location can often be the cause of lost time when working to a tight schedule so plan your schedule wisely.

If you have a forthcoming event and would benefit from specific advice and planning please do not hesitate to contact Heather Noble for a no obligtion informal discussion on 07843 006984.

Tuesday, 26 May 2009


Key elements for consideration before you start planning any event.

1. Key Objectives

  • Be sure to set out and understand the objectives of the event.
  • Consider what you are trying to achieve and how you will achieve this?
  • Who are you trying to target and where do you need to be to reach them?
  • Be sure to identify the the unique selling point (USP) of your event and make sure you shout about it when marketing and advertising!
  • Be original - don’t aim to copy other similar events.

2. Budget

  • Decide on your budget and set it out in an easy to follow format. A simple Excel spreadsheet is more than adequate for this.
  • Keep this budget sheet up to date and review regularly.
  • Carry out a cost analysis to establish how much of the budget needs to be allocated to specific tasks. It’s no use planning a gala dinner dance if you have allocated 75% of your budget to the entertainer and then can’t afford to feed all of the guests.
  • Be sure to set aside an element of the budget as a contingency – (approx 10% should be sufficient).

3. Team

  • Establish a Planning Team and nominate one person as Project Manager to coordinate and oversee the progress and budget planning.
  • Make sure everyone else knows who this person is and ask them to provide regular updates on their activities to the Project Manager.
  • Agree a schedule of regular planning meetings. Make sure these meetings are minuted and clear action points assigned.
  • Be certain to allocate timelines to each activity and set clear deadlines to avoid any creep in the overall project timeline.

4. Venue

  • Compile a list of venue ‘must haves’ and appoint one person to research suitable venues.
  • Be sure to check availability dates, seating and catering capacity, facilities and parking and any other events that might be taking place on the same day.
  • Produce a shortlist for inspection and book the venue before announcing any dates to your attendees

5. Action Plan

  • Set out key procedures for the following;
  • Advertising/Ticket processing.
  • Invitations/Location Map/Parking Permits
  • Dress Code/Theme
  • Delegate/Guest arrival and/or registration.
  • Managing entertainers/speakers/sponsors/exhibitors and guests.

6. Catering

  • Source caterer and ask for referrals from previous satisfied clients.
  • Wherever possible ask to attend a tasting before making your final choice from the menus available
  • Make sure they can accommodate the date you require.
  • Establish menu and any special diet menus.
  • Check available facilities for catering at venue.
  • Agree timings and numbers of servers with caterers. Hire additional staff if necessary.
  • Keep caterer up to date with guest numbers and dietary requirements.

7. Guests/Delegates

  • Ensure all guests receive tickets/passes/parking permits in advance of the event.
  • Check for any special dietary requirements.
  • Check parking and accessibility for any wheelchair users, disabled or infirm.

8. Entertainment/Speakers

  • Secure any entertainment, special guests or keynote speakers early on to avoid disappointment.
  • Make sure the venue can accommodate their set up requirements.
  • Check any licence requirements for the type of entertainment you are planning.
  • Provide all entertainers/speakers with a clear itinerary of how the event will progress. Make sure they understand what is expected of them, at what time, and for how long.

9. Check, Double Check and Check again.

  • Use checklists, plan ahead and don’t leave anything to the last minute
  • Always double check rather than guess.
  • Make sure that all bookings with caterers, entertainers, flower arrangers, key speakers are confirmed in writing and always, wherever possible, hold back a final balance payment until they arrive at the venue on the day.

10. On The Day

  • Make sure that one person is ‘in charge’ on the day.
  • Be sure to signpost the venue well so that guests/delegates understand where they need to go.
  • Issue badges or coloured bands to identify guests or groups and manage numbers from a Health & Safety aspect.
  • You could either use the services of an Event Coordinator or nominate a member of your team as the point of contact for all onsite staff, contractors, caterers etc. Whoever you decide to use it is vital that you have one person who can stage manage every aspect of the ‘on the day’ activity.

Tuesday, 19 May 2009



We all know that more and more people are setting up small businesses in 2009 but what does this mean for the established companies and the 'serious players' of British commerce?

Unfortunately, in recent months many companies have had to reduce overheads by cutting their staffing levels and often in the process the jobs that are spared are those considered to be the core skills of the business.

Sadly this often means that the so called ‘softer’, strategic skills that can add real value to a business are considered to be an 'overhead' and a ‘luxury’ with the perception being that these are the areas where savings can be made. And to a certain extent they can.

However, just because times are hard it doesn't necessary mean that you no longer have a need for these specialisms within your organisation, simply that you are not able to fund them on a 24/7 basis.

Fortunately, as a small business with lower overheads we are able to offer these same skills, on an adhoc basis, at a lower cost than would normally be associated with employed staff. This gives clients the flexibility to control expenditure, manage activity and enhance their existing team in order to respond the needs of their business.

Such an increase in the number of freelance business services available should be a godsend to British businesses as they stand to benefit from a massive range of skills such as Virtual Assistants, Accountants, PR and Media Specialists, Health & Safety Officers and Freelance Graphic Designers.

Salt Solutions has the expertise and ability to provide many of the softer skills on an ad hoc basis for as many or few hours as our clients need. We provide planning and implementation of new systems, strategic marketing, corporate events, product launches, staff training sessions, and business development projects. Plus we are able to research, review, implement and/or execute these plans at a manageable and affordable cost.

The following links will direct you to small freelance business in the West Midlands who offer the types of services mentioned above;


Tuesday, 12 May 2009


That's how we all begin and it seems to me a fitting way to make an introduction.

From my humble abode in Shropshire, UK I am saying Hello World to every man and his dog.

I am opening my arms to potential millions of people who don't yet know me or anything about me many of whom will never know anything about me, nor ever want to.

I recently established my own business after having been made redundant due to the economic downturn.

Redundancy is sadly something I have encountered several times during my career so this time I decided to take control of my own life and focus on what I do best.

In February I established Salt Solutions and you can find out more about our services at;


Over the past 20 years I have worked in a wide range of business sectors and this has enabled me to developed and strengthen my natural ability to organise, plan and manage.

The beauty of my skill set is that it can be transferred to any type of business. My abilities are not sector specific nor do I have to limit myself to the world of commerce.

In essence I can apply what I do best to any situation and that is why I set up Salt Solutions.

Salt Solutions offers a professional level of service to businesses, groups and individuals across the UK. I can hold the reigns at a corporate event, coordinate services and manage delegates at a conference, plan the relocation of your business, or 'stage manage' your wedding day. If you need somone to 'take the reigns' and be your 'woman on the ground' I am certain to be able to assist.

In 2009 it seems increasingly apparent that there is a real need for an internet presence in business and have recently discovered that a website alone is just not enough. Hence this blog.

I also have a personal blog that I update every day and that can be found at


It seemed to me that a blog would be quite a cathartic way of diarising the progress of my business whilst also keeping myself in touch with the outside world. As those that work at home will know, working alone can be lonely.

Over the coming months I shall use this blog to share with you any developments and ideas that have proved beneficial in growing my business and may from time to time touch on some of those that were perhaps less useful.

We are all learning that interaction is what it's all about so I shall welcome your comments and thoughts about the best ways to grow a business and your anecdotes about what has and has not worked for you. If some of those are funny, all the better :-).

So once again I say, Hello World!

Drop by from time to time and let me know you are all still out there...