So here are twenty-one small businesses you really must check out. I chose them because, apart from the fact that they are run by people I know, these businesses are innovative, unique and their founders are committed to performing their craft at the highest level of excellence. Here they are:
Are you a budding author or freelance writer, not quite sure where to start?
abidemi.tv helps writers write better, make more and grow their brand.
The site was founded by Abidemi Sanusi, an author of nine books and experienced content strategist. Having delivered digital projects and content training for some of the world’s biggest brands, Abidemi says:
“As an author and veteran freelancer with experience of running my own content agency, I’m aware of the unique challenges that authors, freelancers and subject matter experts (SME)s face with writing their first books, running their freelance businesses, or in the case of SMEs, writing content that sells.
abidemi.tv delivers services and products that helps these audiences be more profitable, by writing books that people will buy, creating content that sells, and running resilient freelance businesses.”
The Assistant Quarters
Claire Grace is the founder of The Assistant Quarters, a new agency of Virtual Assistants, Social Media Managers & Event Planners. The team offers a range of services to support ambitious female entrepreneurs and small businesses to escape overwhelm, grow their businesses and find their boss life balance.
As Claire explains: "Whilst no two clients are alike in terms of the support we provide, they all have one thing in common – too much on the to-do list and not enough time! By understanding a client’s pain points we provide proactive support & fresh ideas to help their business grow and work smarter, rather than harder."
Have you been thinking of using video to market your business, but just haven’t seen one with that certain “something”?
Beth Searle makes stop motion videos that bring your brand and products to life.
She says: "I work closely with my clients to create videos that help them to get noticed online. I love creating simple animations that bring products and brands to life!" Check out some of her fantastic work here.
Bright Sky HR
Career challenges are common, but Fay Wallis of Bright Sky HR specialises in coaching people to overcome them with confidence.
In her own words: “I help career-minded professionals navigate the transitions experienced in their 30s, 40s and 50s.
“You might be looking to land a more senior role, wanting to return to work after a break to have children, or trying to find a new path after redundancy or burn-out. It can often feel overwhelming dealing with these changes alone. And that can hold you back from finding a new way forward and achieving your career ambitions.
“Whatever transition you are struggling with, I am here to help unlock the confidence and plans you need to take that next step.”
No one wants to think of the dreaded C-word, but sadly many of us know someone who has suffered with some form of the disease.
Emily Hodge is an ex-NHS Health Psychology Specialist, and in her business Coaching Emily she specialises in supporting people to move forward from cancer. She is also passionate about helping people lead gentler lives in general.
In Emily’s words: "Cancer became part of my world at a young age. I realised I could take my personal experience– along with professional background – and build an effective coaching model to support others when I was well enough again.
"I soon discovered that the strategies I was teaching supported many others outside the cancer world too, so developed the gentle life programme to teach resilience and calm confidence for life."
Wondering what gift to give your clients, hand out in goody bags at that workshop or event, or how best to thank your teams?
Corporate Cakery was set up by Samantha Whittingham to help business owners celebrate and show their appreciation, with branded baked goods.
She says: “I created online cake shop Corporate Cakery to help business owners to celebrate & appreciate more. My background was in advertising before baking became my hobby, so I merged both passions to create delicious edible marketing products!”
It’s not often I find a piece of clothing that fits perfectly, which is why I’m glad to have found Dara Stringham.
She is the women’s bespoke tailor at Dara Ford, where she handcrafts beautiful contemporary tailoring for women in business and beyond.
From suits, dresses, skirts, trousers and silk blouses, to wedding dresses and clutch bags, Dara creates individual pieces to be loved and worn for many seasons.
Dara says: “'There is no perfect size, only the perfect fit. I love creating unique one-of-a-kind pieces that fit and flatter my clients – clothes that make them feel confident, powerful and ready to tackle anything the world throws at them.”
Dr Niamh Children's Books
If you 're considering an alternative to toys as a present for your children, nieces, nephews, grandchildren and godchildren this Christmas, why not check out Niamh Clune’s books?
She specialises in personalised children's books with exciting vocabulary, rhyme written in phonics, and beautiful illustrations.
Niamh says: “Children have incredible imaginations and are more likely to engage with reading if a book is personalised. When we read to our children, they learn to associate books with love and affection.”
Her books are truly works of art; see them here.
After dodgy extensions left her with hair loss and an inflamed scalp, Ekwy Chukwuji-Nnene founded Equi Botanics to inspire afro hair freedom.
In her own words: "I spent my life confused about my hair and that of my daughters. That was until I discovered how to make our hair thrive seven years ago, which led to an increase in our self-esteem and confidence. My mission is to inspire women to create hair they love by providing high performing products and live experience demos."
Busy and in need of a holiday? Not just any old holiday, but a different kind of experience?
At Faraway, Helen Robshaw helps busy people escape their routines, and go on far-flung life adventures.
She says: “From experience, I know that pressing pause and exploring somewhere new every once-in-a-while gives you energy, creativity and a fresh perspective. But ironically, our travellers are often too busy for the research involved to make it happen themselves!
“So we help them choose where to go, personally match them to out-of-the-ordinary experiences and take care of all the nitty-gritty involved in organising such a trip.”
Gwendi Klisa is Brand Stylist at Love Brand and a tutor at Central Saint Martin’s College of Art and Design in London.
She’s been building brands for fifteen years and has dedicated her career to helping entrepreneurs fine-tune their message, so they can position themselves in a profitable niche.
In her words: “I hate to say it, but packaging really is everything, especially in the busy online education, consumer products and lifestyle sectors. Aligning that packaging with your authentic self and knowing how to reach more members of your ideal audience can transform your business into a self-starter.”
Do you teach GCSE science, and would like an innovative way to get your students interested in the subject?
Hayley Loren may be just who you’re looking for! She creates fun and engaging GCSE science videos and teaching material, to support busy teachers and inspire students about science.
Hayley told me: "As an engineer who loves the arts, I believe combining science and entertainment is a great way to help students learn. The videos and teaching material I create help grab students’ attention during class, and lets them see science and engineering in action!"
Learn more about what she does here.
If you’re in need of a break in a beautiful English county, consider going to Suffolk.
And more precisely, book your accommodation through Keep Cottage.
Run by Sara Moreton, Keep Cottage is a holiday home business in Orford Suffolk where two beautiful holiday homes are located. One is a sixteenth century three-bedroom cottage, and the other is a one-bedroom contemporary holiday property.
Having had a blended career portfolio and owned a number of other businesses over the years, Sara says she was driven to this lifestyle business for the flexibility it gives her to pursue several interests. This includes being a Business Mentor for Princes Trust.
Life More Extraordinary
Oxford and Cambridge Universities have been the pinnacle of tertiary education in the UK for hundreds of years, and gaining admission to either of these institutions is no mean feat!
That’s where Lucy Parsons comes in. She is Academic Coach at Life More Extraordinary, where she helps students to get top grades needed to get into their dream universities.
In Lucy’s words: "I know what it takes to get the top grades, having got 5 As in my A-Level exams, and having studied at Cambridge University. I take the stress out of studying for teenagers and their parents, so that they can reach their potential without going stir-crazy in the process."
Couldn’t possibly write a piece like this without mentioning myself, could I?
I’ve always been good at building and taking logical steps, and I really enjoy doing what I call “creating order out of chaos”. Over the years I’ve worked in global banks and smaller financial institutions, where solving problems and delivering solutions – by working on improvements and optimisations, implementing new processes or new systems, or both – became my stock in trade.
And now, I do this through my consultancy, Mastermind Strategies, where I specialise in delivering projects that help Entrepreneurs and Executives grow and optimise their businesses.
If you’re looking for jewellery that is different from the run-of-the-mill ranges, here’s something very different for you to consider.
Susie Jones is the owner of Mildred Jones Fine Jewellery and designer of the Celebration Pendant. Susie specialises in working with individuals to personalise their pendants with hand engraving and gemstones, to celebrate life and mark special occasions.
Susie says: "I searched in vain to find a special piece of jewellery after my son was born. Unable to find anything which was high quality and could be personalised, I designed my own pendant and had it made.
“The idea for my business was born! People love the fact that each Celebration Pendant is not only unique to them, but is also made to last more than a lifetime and will eventually be handed down, becoming an heirloom which tells the story of their family. I feel very fortunate to be a part of that."
Optimum Living is a dynamic and innovative wellbeing consultancy that enables individuals and global teams to achieve their peak levels of health, vitality and happiness. Its mission is to inspire interest and responsibility for personal health, through creating sustainable, positive, measurable improvements for individuals and organisations.
Managing Director Colette Heneghan says: “I experienced first-hand the consequences of being hyper-connected, multi-tasking, long working weeks and erratic eating patterns. I went on a mission for answers to remedy this, surely there was a better way!
“Our approach combines relevant business understanding with human performance. It goes beyond healthy eating, exercise and sleep more, to really get to heart of the culture of an organisation or team. This makes sure the language, process, environment and behaviours support the individuals, creating a workplace where people can be their best and truly thrive.”
Have you ever missed out on attending Ascot or Wimbledon, because you didn’t get round to sorting out tickets?
Does your work involve lots of international travel, which means your property is left unattended?
Or, perhaps you’re moving to the UK with your family, and need someone to find you a property to purchase that meets certain requirements, as well as a school for your children.
You should talk to Timi Phillips of Poised, a dedicated concierge that offers a selection of carefully curated, luxury services, ranging from property management and personal shopping, to access to exclusive events and more.
She says: “I have always enjoyed organising and taking the stress away from accomplishing the simple and the unique things in life. With Poised, I get to do that everyday for my clients.”
Teresa Walton Headshot Photography
What picture have you got on your LinkedIn profile?
It gets to a point where that selfie or holiday snap just won’t do!
Enter Teresa Walton, a Specialist Headshot Photographer who creates striking images to make her clients’ first impressions count.
She will provide you with images to make you feel good about yourself, and coach you how to look your best in front of the camera. You will get direct feedback from seeing your image on the computer, and your confidence will grow as you see what you can look like with good lighting and direction.
In Teresa’s words: “An effective headshot can give the viewer a sense of who you are more than words can say. Being photogenic is about doing the right things in front of the camera, and anyone can be taught that. I aim for my clients to feel confident and comfortable, and this will show on their faces.”
She can be found here.
Villiers Park Educational Trust
This isn’t really a business, but it’s a worthy cause I’d like to bring to your attention.
Villiers Park Educational Trust is a charity that helps able young people develop a passion for learning and study, and it equips underprivileged over-16s with life skills they need to reach their full academic potential.
Their vision is a future in which all students experience a challenging and inspirational education, leading to increased personal achievement and an improvement in social mobility in the UK. They believe their focus on young people with high academic potential leads to an increase in whole school culture, ethos and attainment.
I met the charity's Director of Development and Communications Caroline Baker recently, and she gave me a brief insight into the amazing work this organisation does.
I’ve told you about the academic coach who helps GCSE students get into top universities.
But what about the level before that? If your children are at the stage where they need to get into the right secondary school, the person you must speak to is Nkem Ivara of Wordsmythe Tutoring.
She is so highly sought out that parents have been known to bring their children to her for tutoring from locations as varied as Cheshunt, Edgware, Stratford and Woodford Green.
Not that location is an issue; should you be based further afield, she can arrange virtual tutoring sessions.
Nkem delivers personalised tuition in English at all levels, as well as verbal and non-verbal reasoning for the 11+ and 13+ entrance exam preparations.
In her words: “I am passionate about English grammar and vocabulary, and love helping children navigate the murky waters of creative writing and reading comprehension."