“This weekly free vlog, ‘Sharp Shares’ will not shy away from discussing matters that many ignore or simply refuse to acknowledge,” Sadie said.
“It’s going to be a ‘warts and all’ weekly discussion on subjects relevant to anyone who runs or works within a micro, small or larger business. Now seemed the right time to do this as change is coming in a way no one could have anticipated. And, if my consultancy background has taught me anything, it’s that business owners need a new perspective on their businesses. And looking after themselves during the process.
A flexible friend
“Businesses need to embrace flexible working, redesign their cultures, and restructure their resources in a way they never have before. And that’s hard if you only have yourself to turn to.”
The vlog is one of a series of activities planned by Sadie, who runs a successful training consultancy Sharp Transformations. Her company has seen her work with the likes of HSBC, Primark, the University of Bath, and many more. She’s helped them embrace transformational change and organisation redesign.
One of the reasons behind her vlog series is the recent publication of her first book ‘Breakthrough’. In it, Sadie shares the lessons she learnt on her self-employed journey in business, and the life events behind her entrepreneurial successes and struggles.
Sadie pulls no punches in the events she discusses. These include:
1. Two occasions where she suffered serious sexual assaults 2. How she coped when she lost her mum from cancer 3. And how she suffered a mental breakdown aged 31 after severe burnout.
“In this first blog, we’ll be talking about how bad things happen in life at different times and the challenge then is how we face that difficulty. For some, they may travel a destructive path. For others they may try to ignore it.That can lead to a crisis later (as in my case), and then for others they may be able to be more resilient from the beginning.
“There’s no right or wrong. But for me it was about coming through those challenges and developing greater self-awareness and about how I react when life gives me lemons. And how those experiences became part of who I am today.”
Coming up on Sharp Shares – Sharp Vlog from Business Consultant
In future weeks, Sharp Shares…will talk about issues including organisational change, having difficult conversations, recognising mental health issues, bullying and much more.
Simon Webb, is well-known as a maker of beautiful hand-turned writing implements that tell stories. He’s crafted pens from woods that include church pews, Isaac Newton’s apple tree, the mulberry tree at the Richard Jefferies museum, HMS Victory and more.
But it’s arguable that his drumstick pens beat it all.
‘I’ve been working this project and am now proud to reveal the result’ added Simon. ‘I’ve made a rhodium and gold fountain pen and included the signed section of the drumstick in the presentation box with the pen.’
It’s been a real thrill to do this and Nick has said he’s happy for me to use whatever is left of the wood for what I want. So I’m planning some cufflinks.
They’ll be available from me soon, complete with a certificate of authentication. See picture below showing a prototype where the hickory wood of the drumstick is surrounded by ebony in a sterling silver setting.
Said Simon: I’d heard Nick on the radio early before I set up at the event. The presenter asked if he did any gardening. He replied that it was a standing joke that he was a ‘zero hours’ gardener.
So when my stand caught his eye and he wandered over to me, I shook hands with him and said it was great to meet another zero hours gardener.’
IT expert Chris Goodchild is offering cyber security support to business owners who have teams working from home.
The consultant offers a full suite of IT support services to SMEs in Swindon and beyond. He’s able to offer remote support to any business concerned about online security during lockdown and beyond.
‘Our lives have all changed over these last months. And, through no choice of their own, companies all around the world have also had to make changes to the way they work. Now their team members are working from home too.’
‘This is a completely new territory for many company directors or owners. That newness creates issues, particularly around safety and security. Getting this right is important for any business. But in particular if you’re running a business where you think ‘working from home’ may become part of your model as we emerge from lockdown.’
For bigger companies, especially those dealing with very sensitive data, working from multiple home office environments, means staff cannot simply get online and ‘hope for the best’.
Evidence is showing that, as the pandemic rages, security breaches, hacks, cyber scams are increasing at an alarming rate. And right across the world.
Criminals are grasping the opportunity to infiltrate organisations to steal data, demand ransoms or scam money from unsuspecting company employees.
*Phishing websites have increased by 350% in Q1 this year. *36% of organisations have suffered hacking in the same period. * 90% of remote workers do not act in a secure manner when working from home.
‘The question is – who handles being security? Is it the employee using their own wi-fi and resources to keep working for their employer? Or is it the employer expecting the employee to work from home and be efficient in doing so?
Many corporate organisations they know it’s their responsibility. But with the SME sector this may be a grey area.’
Some SupportWise top tips – IT Expert’s Tips on Safe Home Working
Chris has a few simple tips to help to ensure the wi-fi connection at home is secure.
If you still use ‘admin admin’ as your login, then change it immediately. Without your company network to protect you, make sure you create a strong and completely unique password. Use something that has a variety of characters, including lower and upper close letters and numbers.
Never run wi-fi without a password, and when you set up your password, make sure it’s set to WPA2.
Check you’ve enabled your router’s built-in firewall.
The standard security policies to keep your operating systems plugins and antivirus software up to date will still apply, even when working from home.
Bookmark oft visited sites.
A secure way to stop criminals intercepting your data is to use a virtual private network or VPN, which provides security for your internet traffic –bigger companies will have already done this.
Minimising the risk of phishing and spamming attacks:
Be aware there are many phishing scams targeting remote workers hoping to play on their emotional state.
If you receive an unexpected email from a colleague, and it’s not their usual writing style, it may well not be them sending it. Rather than open it or reply, report it.
Think twice if, in the main body of an email you’re asked to ‘click here’ or open an attachment. Before doing anything, check in the Sender’s line that the domain is what you would expect to see. If you’re still unsure; don’t open it. Send a new, separate email to the person you think it is to check, or report it.
Beware of fake and phishing emails asking you to update your credentials. Credible companies do not email you for this information.
Whilst working from home, resist the tempatation to use data sharing tools that are not: A. secure, and
B. May also give access to sensitive work documents. Only work with the secure data-sharing suggested and used by the company.
Your home office:
You should be the only person using your work computer. Ensure no one else has access to it. They could see files to which they shouldn’t have access. Or, without meaning to, download malicious websites. They’re rife at the moment.
Don’t print out confidential documents, and if you have to, then shred them immediately.
Work in a space where work phone call conversations are private. If possible behind a closed door and out of range of Alexa or Google home devices.
For more information on how Chris can support your company around remote working, please contact him via www.supportwise.co.uk
35 years and counting for pioneering Swindon web company
DMJ Computer Services is 35! A Swindon based web development company, created right at the start of the computing boom, is a phenomenal 35 years old!
DMJ Computer Services, headed by Martin Jarvis set up the business in 1985. In the first instance, offering programming and software development services. Martin jokes that he’s been programming “for as long as Bill Gates”.
Under Martin’s stewardship, DMJ has evolved. It now specialises in end-to-end website service for small businesses. From web design to hosting and aftercare, Martin’s service, based in offices in Chiseldon, runs the gamut.
The firm has worked on hundreds of websites. Clients include dog walkers and a chateau owner, a professional football club and a design agency which brands international airlines.
Weathering the storms
The company has weathered many storms including recessions in the 80s, 90s, 2008. And now the economic fallout from the Coronavirus pandemic, to become a strong entity with a loyal client base across the UK and more than eight other countries.
“We recognised back in the early Noughties that many smaller companies were not benefiting from quality website services because they couldn’t justify the ad hoc consultancy fees charged by specialists. Nor were they able to justify the expense of employing their own in-house staff,” said Martin. “We launched a boutique website service, aimed at delivering the quality service offered by larger companies at an affordable cost.”
Early interest in computing
Martin, who grew up in Swindon had an interest in computing from his teenage years. He began his career in 1978 as a computer programmer. He worked first with a factoring company, before moving to Burmah Castrol and then on to Intel.
At the age of 25, with a young family, he decided to leave corporate life and set up DMJ Computer Services.
“It was a risk, but when you’re in your twenties it doesn’t seem like a risk. I suspect it’s a lot braver to do this when you’re in your fifties,” said Martin. “I wanted to get a better deal for my family and the gamble paid off.”
DMJ Computer Services then concentrated on project work, including programming and software development for a range of businesses, including PHH and BMW.
The Millennium didn’t bug Martin
In the early Millennium, Martin steered DMJ towards web development for smaller business. He began building websites from scratch and then becoming an early adopter of WordPress, created in 2003 as a blogging platform.
“I was looking at a way to build websites smarter. I predicted that all businesses were going to need a website. And, at the same time, I realised that not every business was going to be able to afford the cost of a bespoke website. WordPress provided the perfect solution for my clients.”
As well as web design, DMJ offers hosting and support packages for website. Martin hosts the websites on servers based in West London, in premises powered by 100 per cent green-source renewable energy.
Martin is now expanding DMJ’s website support packages. His offerings will include a premium website spam protection product, with more benefits to come during 2020.
Fitness Fanatic Graphic Designer Fundraises. Fitness Fanatic Graphic Designer Supports Swindon Charity. Graphic designer Mike Land is well-known for his nifty artwork. But he’s also been putting his fitness fans through their paces during Covid-19 induced lockdown.
This week he’s been doing his free virtual classes – filmed in his back garden – for Swindon Domestic Abuse Support Service. This action is part of the national drive to raise vital charitable funds which would have come from the Virgin Money London Marathon.
The cancelled event, which should have taken place last weekend, is the world’s biggest one-day fundraising event. Last year it raised £66.4 million for thousands of charities.
Many of these charities have had to reduce or stop services at a time when vulnerable members of society need them most. What’s more, thousands of staff are now on furlough. Some may simply not survive.
Apropos domestic violence, it’s estimated that calls across the UK to various relevant support organisations have increased by 700 per cent.
As a result of the cancellation of the marathon, many people have, instead, taken on the 2.6 challenge. It involves taking part in any activity. From running 2.6 miles to holding an online workout with 26 friends and donating to charity at the same time.
He said: “In the business community I’m known as a brand strategist – in other words a creative behind a desk. But by night I’m a lycra-clad fitness junkie focused on making the fat cry for those who attend my classes.
“With no London Marathon last weekend, we decided to do our own challenge and raise a few pounds for a local charity in need of support right now. It’s well known that domestic violence increases dramatically during holiday periods. So who knows what lockdown is like for those who are suffering?”
Swindon Domestic Abuse Support Service (SWA)
Swindon Domestic Abuse Support Service (SWA) is a free and confidential serving Swindon and the surrounding area. It supports victims of domestic violence.
The team also work with young people aged 16-25 years who may be experiencing domestic violence or abuse.
For the love of fitness
Mike is using his love of fitness to look on the bright side of life. Although he has more than 25 years’ experience in brand and graphic design, working with large brands like Texaco, he took the brave move to go self-employed at the beginning of 2020. Only to find himself pushed into lockdown a few weeks later.
During isolation, Mike has been live-streaming his workouts for free. They’ve proved popular.
It’s been fun, I have to admit that standing in front of the camera for the first time, without getting feedback and banter from the group was weird. But, this is week six and I am beginning to get into a flow.
My friends know me, my style of fitness and yes, some say I am a taskmaster, but they’ve returned week after week.”
As part of his 2.6 Challenge. Mike wrote a ‘ bring a bottle’ workout and asked his members to donate £2.62 for SWA. The target was set at £262 and to date he’s raised more than £450. “I am so proud of my group of fitties and my friends. They enjoy the workouts, post, tag and share them every week. They voted for a refuge charity for the challenge and I am so glad that we’ve reached the target goal in such a short time”.
Mike is a qualified L2 Gym Instructor, kettlebell, suspension training (TRX) and spinning instructor. He now takes pleasure in helping others improve their strength, power, fitness and endurance.
Free curriculum server for schools to keep staff safe and ease impact of Coronavirus
Free server for schools keeps staff safe.
A Wiltshire IT company is offering a free lifeline to schools with staff working from home and their IT systems on site.
At the moment, head teachers and business managers are putting themselves at Covid19 risk. Having to work on site where their servers and data are is putting them in the line of fire so to speak. But hampering home working are:
a. slow broadband speeds b. or an inability to make a remote connection.
CloudHappi, which has offices in Pewsey and London specialises in IT solutions for the education sector. And they’re offering to migrate key applications and data to a secure, superfast Cloud-based solution.
They’ve teamed up with Access . Access are one of the largest suppliers of educational finance and HR software in the UK to launch the free Curriculum Server Service.
This co-operation allows head teachers and business managers speedy and remote access to their School Information Management System (SIMS) and finance information systems. That thereby removes the need to go into school and put their health at risk.
The Migration Process
The free migration process is simple, speedy and straightforward, with almost no downtime. At the end of the summer, ready for the new academic year, CloudHappi will simply reverse the process. It will then return all the applications and data to the individual schools’ servers, free of charge.
“In these difficult and unprecedented times, the challenge schools face is finishing the academic year with their management information and finance systems up to date and ready for the new school year,” said Nigel Jones, Pewsey-based Managing Director of CloudHappi.
“The issue is the majority of schools’ servers are on site, while staff are working at home during lockdown. They are finding it difficult to connect to their servers remotely. And the slow broadband speeds are making it hard or impossible to use their SIMS and finance systems.”
Cloud Happi’s Guardianship
While under CloudHappi’s guardianship, all the data gets stored in the secure London Docklands Telehouse data centre. A centre trusted and used by some of the UK’s leading brands and Access’s Cloud. It’s all backed up to an impressive and secure data centre, 26 miles away. Unlike other solutions, the data and applications never leave the UK.
The free Curriculum Server Service is available until the 31st August. At that point the data will make a swift return to the schools’ servers. Unless schools wish to keep a partnership with CloudHappi and Access. Already, schools across the UK are taking advantage of this service.
Nigel added: “Schools using this service are seeing speed improvements of 35-40%,. Alll without having to change the computer they use or their hardworking broadband service. There is little or no downtime during the migration process. And the service is completely free up to the end of August.
We’ll then migrate data and applications back again to the schools’ individual servers. Unless that is they decide to remain with CloudHappi as a preferred supplier.”
The Cloud Happi Rescue Service
The free CloudHappi Curriculum Rescue Service applies to Schools’ SIMS and financial management systems. It does not apply to any of the teaching data held.