Monday, May 22, 2023

How people's forgetfulness is costing me a family home (or, maybe it's time I stopped trying to be so idealistic?)

A few years ago, I started to track how much time I'd 'lost' from people forgetting to turn up to meetings that they'd asked for with me, or from groups who'd booked me to run workshops for them, only to cancel them the day before.

My reason for this wasn't motivated by spite or indignation, but rather to try and quantify and understand the extent of the impact of such occurrences on my business; and what that meant in turn for how well I could earn money to support my family. 

The first time I reported this figure was in 2020 - and it a showed a whopping £4,560 over the year; equivalent to treating my family to a meal out once a week every week of the year.

Sadly, that figure has continued to rise year on year, and since 2020 it's jumped by over 80% to the latest reported value of £8,325!

That's about £160 a week that I otherwise could have earned - nearly £700 a month: almost the average cost of renting a family home in the UK! 

Over the last 18 years since I've become self employed, I've always tried to practice the value of grace in different ways - which to date, includes not penalising people who are causing me to incur these lost earnings (which, frankly, would be very welcome in my bank account in light of current inflationary and cost of living pressures). I could have been charging them a percentage of what I would have otherwise realised from working with them in those periods of time: a common practice in the terms and conditions amongst my fellow consultants and training providers.

But in light of people and groups seeming to be becoming more dismissive of recognising the impact (hurt) that their not trying to make effort to have the courtesy of letting me know when they know that they they're not going to be able to spend the time with me that they'd agreed to, and with sufficient notice for it not to cause me further financial distress, maybe I need to start introducing some 'nudges' in my own T&C's?

And that sucks - because, as I wrote before, I'm aware of how messy and unpredictable the world can be at times, and we can't always know when we're going to be knocked sideways. But surely, if we all know how much we're all struggling, we should at least be trying to make an effort to recognise when a change in our own circumstances may affect others, by having the courtesy to give each other a quick heads-up?

Perhaps by starting to include some penalties in how I agree to work with people, that might help to start to nudge behaviours so that we can all become a little more sympathetic, understanding, and supportive of each other?

But doing so would mean I'm starting to compromise on what I try and hold as one of my core values - perhaps after 18 years it's time I accepted that I can't carry on being so idealistic?

Thursday, May 11, 2023

erased from history (by facebook)

You won't be able to find me on Facebook any more.

And more than that - you won't be able to find any trace that I was ever there since I first registered my account on the platform about 20 years ago... no sign of any photos I posted, comments I made on your posts, nor membership of any groups.

And it's not because I've decided I hate you all and don't want to hang out with you anymore - but because I found myself being targeted by hackers who, it seems, when they couldn't get through my passwords and 2-factor authentication do-hickey, managed to find a back door way to link my personal Facebook profile to what must have been a very illegal Instagram account.

And I know this because when I recently tried to log into Facebook , it told me that my account has been disabled - and reading around this topic, it seems that whatever the hackers were doing on the Instagram account was bad enough for it to qualify as an immediate and automatic disabling (deleting) of both that account, and under the rules of the Metaverse, any accounts linked to it (which included mine, thanks to the hackers), with no right to be able to submit a request to review the decision.

Now - I know what most of you reading this will be thinking at this point:

"how awful for you (I'm glad it wasn't me that happened to!)"

"that's really unfair that you can't appeal this - surely there must be something you can do?"

Well - like I said, I read around this level of disabling and them's the rules that we signed up to when we created our accounts, and agreed to keep them going when Facebook went Meta.

Life isn't always fair - and no-one owes me anything (a personal mantra that helps me with navigating and pressing on in this world).

I'm fortunate to have grown up in a pre-Facebook world, so as upsetting as this might seem, I feel I'm able to bear it better than those that have come after me into this internet age would. Somehow I navigated this life before Facebook was born, so there's a chance I'll (hopefully) be able to again.

Whilst I do have the option to 'regenerate' myself on Facebook by recreating a new profile and account from scratch, I'm not immediately rushing to do so.

I'm using this unexpected plot twist to allow myself some time away from that playground - to have space to reflect and experience what it's like not to be on Facebook, so that if/when I return, I'll be clearer about how I manage my relationship with it (and hopefully it will have strenthgthed it's security and rights of appeal by then, too...)  

Friday, May 5, 2023

why volunteer as a small business owner?

Being self-employed or a small business is hard.

We're the ones responsible for making sure everything's being taken care of, to resolve all the issues as they arise, and to also make sure the coffee doesn't run out...

We spend more hours working than our salaried counterparts - so from a starting point of being more pressured and having less free time, how could we even consider adding volunteering to our calendars?

Well, various researches show that there are lots of reasons that motivate people to volunteer:

For me, volunteering is something I do through my pro bono work. It's part of my CPD: the opportunity to get involved in projects and activities that I might otherwise not, and in doing so, push my skills and gain new knowledge.

And it's also part of my values: for example, as a member of the Federation of Small Businesses, I try and show solidarity and support and encourage fellow small businesses, through volunteering as a host of one of their networking forums. 

I have an idea that it we're not clear as to why we're doing something before we embark on it, then at best we won't get the most benefit from the experience, and at work - it will be a waste of time.

So if you're thinking about what you might be able to 'give back' through volunteering as a small business/business owner/freelancer/sole trader - it's ok to think about what you might want to get out of the experience, and then to seek out ways that best help you to achieve that.