Biznet Networking with Who Dunnit Personal Development

Biznet at Sovereign Connect

presents

Who Dunnit Personal Development

Building Great Teams!

Who Dunnit will be running a taster sessions of their excellent CSI themed team building days as part of the Biznet meeting on the 28th July. This will be a great way to find out about what they do with hands on experience. And of course we will also have our Biznet meeting with breakfast from ‘Cooked from Scratch’

About Who Dunnit

Can your team solve a murder?
Who Dunnit provides a unique team building day that will turn your staff into CSI’s.
Whodunnit Personal Development can help you make it a reality. They use CSI themed workshops to develop the key elements of teamwork.
Participants learn how having clear goals, effective communication, trusting each other and much more are essential to great teamwork.

Biznet Meeting

Our Llantrisant Biznet meeting is held at Sovereign Connect, Sovereign House, Sterling Drive, Llantrisant. CF72 8YX

Biznet provides a relaxed environment for businesses to get to know each other, share their connections and promote each other to like minded businesses. We start at 7.30am – the meeting is due to finish at 9.30am but attendees are welcome to stay and chat with others if they wish to spend more time with them.

The meeting is £15 (membership rates are available)
To book or to enquire about this event just email us.

Email Biznet

Kitchens and bedrooms in Talbot Green

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Talbot Green is full of many wonders but did you know we have our very own Kitchen and Bedroom studio? Ready and waiting for you, the house do’er upper to go along and plan your dream kitchen or bedroom.

Forget the high street chains with all their sales and over selling, go somewhere where you deal with people who are just like you. They are not there to sell you something you don’t want to make their targets or cut the price of a product because it isn’t selling.

When you go to the Kitchen and Bedroom studio you will meet Rob or Geraldine, a husband and wife team that will have no doubt had one of their own kitchens in their own Homes and can personally vouch for what they are like to use on a daily basis.

Budgets, styles and weird shaped rooms

The Kitchen and bedroom studio have eight go to manufacturers they use for their kitchens. They range in price from budget to bespoke and come in various styles to suit you and your home. A traditional house – tick. A modern home – tick. A home with weird shape rooms – (yes they cover that too) – tick.
They have been the business a long while so you will get experience, knowledge and their expertise in an industry they have built a successful business within.

One stop shop for you home

They also have a magic trick up their sleeves, they don’t just sell the kitchens and bedrooms, they offer a complete service. A dedicated team of fitters, builders and go to electricians, plumbers, basically all the trades you need for doing up your house are available to you through the Kitchen and Bedroom Studio. Both Rob and Geraldine have very high standards so you can rest assured knowing that these people have been vetted within an inch of their lives and given the golden seal of approval.

Shop Local

Shopping here also ensures that you are giving back to your local area. We are big on shop local here at AmberCouch and a large percentage of our clients base, is here in the CF72 area , Cardiff and South Wales. We believe that by growing your local network everyone benefits, the income stays in your area and you can better build long standing relationships with people you can walk to meet with or just pop in the car for a short journey.

If you would liek to know more about the Kitchen and Bedroom studio you can visit their website or call them on 01443 223 052

Business event here I come!

I’m signed up

I’ve just booked an event! – Very exciting. It is an event for business owners and it is two days of focusing on who we are and what makes our business unique. Why do this?

All business owners get tied up in looking after their clients and the day to day running of their business, this is perfectly normal and acceptable to a point. However- for your business to sustain itself and for you to sustain yourself as a human you need to invest in the future of the business. This means focusing on yourself. Industries change, technology changes, what people want changes. So you need adapt, stop fire fighting and invest in you.

I’ve always liked the idea of swanning off to a business event to learn stuff and eat and drink and come back full of ideas. It has always been something other people do. This year AmberCouch has seen huge change and we’ve really upped our game. We’ve been focused on us and therefore the business and fallen in line. Our personal lives over the last 5 years dictated that we freed up some time in our week, it was essential to get through this phase of our lives and be there for someone else. When a situation is forced upon you, you deal with it.

The daft thing us humans do – is do nothing until these situations arise and therefore we are forced to make a change. Once this part of our lives changed and we moved on we found we had more time. This is purely because there was now a huge gap, one that had been stressful and put a lot of pressure on us as a couple and our business. So what to do – wait for the inevitable to happen and the gap will be filled with ‘stuff’ at some point or continue to force the gap to give us more time, time for us. Time to learn, relax and get outside.

Getting the balance right

For those of you that know us, you will know that we now work a 4 day week. We’ve filled our gap with walking, reading, getting outside, watching films, weekends away and generally having much more of a life that is defined by decisions we make for ourselves. The luxury of being able to do what you choose on your days off. It’s the dream for a lot of people, the 3 day weekend – I still can’t believe we’ve maintained it – but we have and we love it! No going back now.
It turns out that this decision to work less has also had a positive effect on our learning – we are learning at a rapid pace, our minds are less cluttered now and have more space for new things. New things such as a two day business event that is happening in November.

I signed up to an email series almost a year ago now and I’ve really enjoyed it. Vicky Fraser is a copy writer and she has successfully grown her business. She now has an email series, a book, a write your book course, an inner circle and a podcast – and now her first event, which I’m so pleased to be part of.
I don’t know Vicky and have not yet met her personally but she has nailed her target audience and I’m there, hook, line and sinker. Before I signed up to her email series we had begun our journey to get our business ship shape and step it up a gear so this fell into my lap at the right time. With a clear head and focus we’ve made changes almost every month and still going.

Ongoing learning

Everything we are learning from the podcasts we listen to, the books we read, the networking we do is all having an effect. It is good though to have someone like Vicky in my inbox everyday giving me a shove with a ‘you can do it’ approach. Her event in November already feels like something I’ve learn’t from, even though it’s not even happened yet. Firstly making the decision to go felt easier. I deliberate constantly about what I should do but this year has taught me that actually this is just a waste of time. Make a decision, move on. Done.

I’m not yet sure what this event has in store for me but learning and thriving off a room of likeminded people can never be a bad thing. I do know, I will enjoy it and I know I will learn something, not because I have amazing foresight but because I want to enjoy it and I want to learn something.

Have a happy morning!

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It is no secret that Richard is one of those annoying early bird morning people and I am the complete opposite, miss night time body clock that the world does not accept. I’ve spent my whole adult life wanting to be awake and working when everyone else is either half asleep or already long in zzzzz land – this is annoying for all involved. I remember thinking my ideal working day would be 3pm til midnight but everyone else has other ideas. They also think you are lazy and simply don’t understand why you can not get up and work at stupid o clock like them.
It is not about being awake, eyes open, this does not mean my brain is awake and ready for html and pixels. No – this just means I have the skill to see at this point. People are different – my ability to work for hours on end into the evening being productive and highly motivated will not work for those who’s brains are switched on earlier.
After all this fight with the rest of the planet, I eventually caved and decided to try and force myself to be a morning person. This is no mean feat – this means changing everything about my natural body clock and forcing my body and mind to work at a time of day it is simple not geared up for.(My lovely friend Julia will totally get this!) So – it’s been 2 years, I’ve tried everything so as not to bore with a very long list of failed attempts, you will just have to believe that I have.

A body clock break through

And then one day I read another body clock article (yes – I’ve read 100’s) that simply suggested setting your alarm clock daily to the time that will allow you to be on time for the earliest regular commitment you have. Unfortunately, for me I attend a 6.30am networking meeting every fortnight (I know, right? pigs can fly now too). This networking is something I decided to commit to about a year and a half ago, part of my, let’s force the clock idea, mmm. Let’s just say I don’t think I spoke to anyone and made any sense for at least the first few months. If I did, I apologise I have no memory of our conversations – I was asleep.
So according to yet another body clocks article this meant setting my alarm for 5.45am everyday. Yes – everyday. Days off, holidays, when I’m ill, every single day. This is my idea of hell.
The idea is that if your body is interrupted form it’s sleep at the same time every morning then your body clock will adjust over time. 6 months or so later it is starting to work. This is real commitment but I am beginning to see the benefits. You morning people don’t know how lucky you are.

Worth the trauma

So over the last few months my alarm as gone off at 6.45am everyday and Thursday morning I had a break through. The pictures for this post are Billy Wynt in Talbot Green, we walked up there BEFORE breakfast and were back before 8.30am just in time for a sausage sarnie before work.
This little spot is amazing and not far from our house so it’s a perfect mini adventure. We left the house around 7am and it was the perfect way to start the day. I’ve still got along way to go but I’m winning the battle of the body clocks and it feels good.
This change is huge for me and it is making a difference to my working days – I am far more productive in the daytime now and I no longer work in the evenings.

What would you change? What commitment would you need to make? Once you start winning you’ll wonder why it took you so long in the first place.

ambercouch_walking_up_billy_wynt_body_clocks

Website Design for Speed

We know clients love Google. Being higher in the Google rankings for appropriate search terms will almost certainly increase traffic and that in turn will increase leads and conversions.

When trying to climb the search results ladder, anything you can do to improve your website and make it better for your users can be the difference between being ranked above your competitors or not. Improving the speed and performance of your website is one area that may have been overlooked if you had your site built just a few years ago but today it is an essential part of any design.

Mobile Website Performance

Screenshot - Gooogle search results. Google loves websites that perform as well on mobile devices as they do on desktop. Websites that respond to the users device are label as “Mobile-friendly” in the search results page Google provides this tool for testing your website. If your site performs poorly on mobile this test will let you know.


Website Design – Load Time

Screenshot - Google PageSpeed InsightsHow fast your site loads is also a big deal for Google because it is a big deal for your users. If your site takes longer than 2 seconds to load then your users are going to drop. Again Google provides a tool, PageSpeed Insights, to measure how fast your page loads. It also tells you how you can improve this.


We have just created a redesign for Stretton Climate Care and along with a fresh new look and modern design we have also made sure that it is really fast and mobile friendly. This is something that has now become the de facto standard in our web design process.

HR Management – Julie Kelly HR

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HR Management  for small businesses

HR management is a crucial part of any business. Smaller businesses can struggle even more with this, trying to do everything themselves to keep costs down, getting in a spin with staff issues and contracts. As a small business ourselves we are overloaded with admin based tasks that take up a lot of our time. sometimes you just need a bit of help. We met Julie from Julie Kelly HR through networking and she would be a welcome addition to any team.

We have some clients of which we do work for where we are the silent partner, we do the work that the client doesn’t have the time or skill set to complete themselves. Our client concentrates on the bits they are good at and works with us to produce to web work or development of the business. We work closely with our client to ensure that their clients needs are met. When we work in this way it can get confusing as to who is supposed to be doing what. If we are working directly for our client but we are not in contact with our clients client, then this is a white label way of working. The project is managed by our client and handed to us to complete.

Helping out with contracts

Julie helped us with this by drawing up a white label contract. This helps get everything clear from the start. Working with Julie was effortless, we had a meeting, discussed the requirements, she went away and drew up the contract. It was only a few days later that this was sent over to read through. We met up again and refined the contract tailored more to specific services. Again, this was attended to quickly and sent over not long after.

This type of service is really useful to small business owners, it is efficient and takes away the headache of having to source and sort out your own paper work. As our business grows so does the amount of admin that needs doing. The amount of money that it costs to get a contract drawn up for us was around the £100 pound mark or thereabouts, compare this to the amount of time it would have taken to sort this ourselves without help and the amount of time it will save when working on projects – it is a no brainer.

Knowing the right people helps

HR management sounds a like a big scary thing that you just avoid because you don’t understand it. It is one of those things that is always on the list, to get round to one day. Working with Julie Kelly HR though is not scary or over whelming. We have a lot to get through like most small businesses – outsourcing can feel like a huge risk, you never know who to trust, will they do it right, will they be expensive. I can assure you that all those worries are stamped out when dealing with Julie, it’s good to know the right people to go to and she is one of them.

So – if you need a great website, online business growth or business development, get in touch with us but if like us you don’t have a clue about where to start with HR then please don’t contact us because we don’t have any idea – but Julie does so call her on 01443 805 525 or find out more about all her other HR based services on her website.

 

WordPress – Remove Empty p Tags

So you know we all love WordPress. That being said, there is a lot of things that can bug the heck out of your average developer when building sites with WordPress. For me it the dreaded wpautop function! That’s the little blighter that is responsible for creating a lot of extra line spaces in many of your WordPress posts. It might be a br tag or it might be and empty p tag. Do you want to use html comments in your WordPress post? Not without the wpautop function wrapping them in p tags and causing unsightly white space all over your page. Damn it WordPress stop messing with my markup!

How to Remove empty p tags in wordpress

So there are 2 basic choices if you want to stop wpautop from adding empty p tags

  1. Use PHP in your functions.php file to remove the wpautop filter
    remove_filter('the_content', 'wpautop');
  2. Use jQuery to clean up all those empty p tags after the page has loaded
    $('p:empty').remove();

The problem with both these methods is they are global, They will happen on every post, every page even all your custom post types. This might not be a problem for you but for me and your basic WordPress author those automatic p tags come in handy when writing simple posts or pages.

Remove empty p tags from specific pages in WordPress

If you want to kill that wpautop function on specific page, for instance when you need to just dump a big blob of custom markup in to the content field then I created a WordPress plugin that will work for you.

Simply download this plugin from the Github repo, upload and activate the plugin and it will add a checkbox to all your posts and pages. Just check that box and bam no more empty p tags on that page or post.

 

Get out the house and clear your mind!

Sunday – the day of rest. That does not need to mean you sit in front of the T.V all day, doing nothing. This last week has been a hetic old week for Ambercouch. Mainly due to recently coming back from a road trip in Arizona but largely to do with the continued blame assigned to jet lag for all my short comings this week.

I’m tired – it’s the jet lag. I’m too busy – It’s the jetlag. I’m behind on my work – It’s the jetlag. Well, no it’s not, quit complaining and organise yourself. There are 24hrs in the day, everyone has the same amount of time each day. Getting outside to clear your mind each day or every couple days can and does actually help bring some clarity to your world.

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Networking in Pontyclun – Grow your business

Come to Pontyclun Networking!

Every other Wednesday AmberCouch meet up with other local businesses from the Pontyclun area at Sovereign Connect. We joined this group at the very end of 2014, maybe you have read the other article we wrote when we were undecided what to do. For us the process of networking wasn’t something we were used to. We have never needed to go out and find work, it all comes through our own website or word of mouth. However, we are a husband and wife team and we work at home, we thought it was a good idea if one of us occasionally left to meet some real people face to face. The novelty!
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