Small Business Saturday UK

Small Business Saturday UK

4th June 2016

Small Business Saturday UK

small business saturday uk 2016


If any listeners out there have read any of my ramblings in this section of this blog: you’ll have an inkling that I do what I can to support small businesses and the whole notion of shopping locally. In fact – I bang on about it rather incessantly.

To that end I’ve writtenlots of  posts on Born again Swindonian about mine (AA Editorial Services) and other small businesses that I’ve met business networking as well as independent restaurants and cafes in Swindon – read more of that here:

Then there’s the bricks and mortar independent businesses that I support where I can – such as my favourite Italian Delicatessen: Da Paolo’s:  And not forgetting of course the fabulous Eggelicious.


Small Business Saturday UK

So the Small Business Saturday UK campaign is rather exciting and one that I’ve only relatively become aware of.  So what’s it about?

From their website: ‘Small Business Saturday UK is a grassroots, non-commercial campaign, which highlights small business success and encourages consumers to ‘shop local’ and support small businesses in their communities.

The day itself takes place on the first Saturday in December each year, but the campaign aims to have a lasting impact on small businesses. In 2016 Small Business Saturday will take place on Saturday, December 3rd.’


Recently, feeling frustrated that nothing seemed to happen in Swindon for Small Business Saturday and to promote the wonderful small businesses that Swindon has in its midst, myself and a few others formed a Facebook group with a view to trying to do something for ourselves.

Now though, via the wonderment of Twitter and the #swindonhour event on Thursday evenings. we’ve made contact with  Nicky Pasquier, aka the Virtuoso Assistant, who also happens to be an official Small Business Saturday champion. Hurrah! 

She it seems has some events up her sleeve so it makes eminent sense to work together with her to make something happen in Swindon!

So if you’re a small business in Swindon and you’d like yourself and your business to be a part of all this … ummm …  business there’s some things you can do – RIGHT NOW.

  1. Register your business on the business finder on the SBS website:
  2. Send in your business pitch to be one of the Small Business 100. Do that here:
  3. If you don’t already please subscribe to follow this blog. Here’s a very handy link: [jetpack_subscription_form]
  4. While you’re subscribing to stuff it wouldn’t be a bad idea to subscribe to Nicky’s newsletter so you can be kept up to date with the events and needs apropos of Small Business Saturday in Swindon! Contact Nicky here:


“This year we are once again highlighting 100 small businesses, one a day for the 100 days leading up to Small Business Saturday 2016.

For the last three years, the 100 have not only received exposure on our social media channels and in the local press, but also joined the Small Business Saturday team in London at receptions in both Downing Street and The Treasury Drum with the Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne.

Applications close on June 30thth, 2016. Successful applicants will be notified by email in August.”

And Small Business Saturday on Twitter: @SmallBizSatUk:



Getting by with a little help from friends

Getting by with a little help from friends

23rd May 2016


What happened when a wedding accessory hire business, a make-up artist and a photographer went into a bridal studio


Getting by with a little help from friends


Whether your ambitions for your business are modest or magnificent, humble or huge, it’s important to celebrate the small milestones you pass along the way.

Hence here at AA Editorial Services HQ I recently held a mini celebration to mark surviving my first full financial year and issuing my 100th invoice. A cork was duly popped!

This petite party-for-one was a good opportunity for a spot of reflection on my journey so far: the people I’ve met, the friends I’ve made and the support I’ve received – and given. The extent to which all of that has contributed to my progress so far can’t be underestimated.

The same goes I know for the friends I’ve made and clients I’ve ‘acquired’ on the journey. They too have benefitted from a mutual support network.

Indeed, when running a business, whether still in the start-up phase or well established there’s no doubt that there’ll be times when ‘help me if you can’ will be your cry.


One of my friends and clients, Sandra Trusty – owner of the Fab Gift Boutique – is one among many that has been a support to me over the past year or so.

I met Sandra, as you do, at a business networking event. Then at another and another. Over time we became friends and more recently she has become a client for my editorial services too.

Sandra started her business as an online gift shop and gift sourcing service. Now though, using her experience organising events in a previous existence when living abroad, she’s expanded her offering to include a hire service of accessories and decor items with which to style a wedding or special occasion venue.

All of which is by way of a segue into accounting a wonderful bit of co-operation and collaboration between three Swindon businesses.


Sandra’s most recent addition to her ‘available for hire’ section is the last word in wedding venue styling: a flower wall.

Placed firmly in the public eye by Kim Kardashian, the flower wall is the new backdrop curtain.

Used as a background to the photographs, behind the top table, or to enhance the cake-cutting table the flower wall can be customized to fit your colour scheme adding a gorgeously glamourous note to your wedding decor.

Having seen these flower walls on-line, Sandra did some research and discovered that, at that time, no-one in the Swindon/Wilts area was offering such a thing for hire. Should anyone else have one now it’s a fair claim that the Fab Gift Boutique flower wall was the first in the county.

So, with no further ado, Sandra set to acquiring the components and, with her own fair hands and an awful lot of hard labour, creating the wall of flowers in her garage at home.


Having taken the bold step of acquiring this dramatic item of venue decor the next hurdle to get over was how best to display it to potential clients. Clearly photographs of it in situ in the garage were not going to show it off to its best advantage!

Thus Sandra’s organisational and networking skills went into overdrive.


From her regular presence at wedding fairs and business expos Sandra met the perfect network of foot soldiers to help her execute her plan.

Entering into the fray with Sandra were:

Trousseaux Bridal who offered Sandra use of their bridal studio in Swindon’s Gemini House in which to erect the flower wall.

Kirandeep Mudher – Hair and make-up artist to transform the ‘bride’.

Your Digital Memories – to photograph the proceedings and give Sandra a selection of quality images with which she can promote the flower wall.

All 3 of these businesses gave freely of their time and, in the case of Vicky and Trousseaux Bridal, their space too.

 a bride and 3 ladies in front of a flower wall

Sandra Trusty (Fab gift boutique), the ‘bride’, Vicky (Trousseaux Bridal) and Kirandeep make-up artist.

After all, surely there was no better way for Sandra to show prospective clients how spectacular the flower wall would be at their wedding than to present it and photograph it with a bride posing in front of it exactly as it’s intended?


The plan was for the daughter of Vicky, owner of Trousseaux Bridal, to stand in as a ‘bride’ for this sharing of skills and resources. Unfortunately she was ill and unable to fulfil that function.

As luck would have it though, a very helpful young woman, at the studio shopping for her own wedding dress, agreed to step into the bridal shoes.

With bridal make-up applied by Kirandeep Mudher and a dress loaned by the Trousseaux Bridal Studio she played her part to perfection – as you can see in the photographs below taken by the lovely chaps at Your Digital Memories:


  • The Fab Gift Boutique has two sections of flower wall available to hire. Each is 3 metres wide. They can be used separately or joined together to make wall 6 metres wide.
  • The band of colour across the top of the wall can be colour matched to your scheme.
  • The hire costs include set up and removal at party’s end within a 35 mile radius of Swindon.

To find out more contact Sandra on: 01793 326 354

NB: The flower wall can be seen in all it’s glory on:

26th May at the Marsh Farm Hotel

9th June at the Hilton Hotel wedding fair

The Fab Gift Boutique hire service is here:

The businesses involved in this brilliant bit of business collaboration were:

Trousseaux Bridal Studio:

Kirandeep Mudher Hair and Make-up Artist:

Your Digital Memories:


The Westrin Study Centre

The Westrin Study Centre

5th August 2016: AN OLYMPIAN OFFER: Book your first lesson during the Olympic Games and receive 10% off if your country wins a gold medal!

May 2016


The Westrin Study Centre

Westrin Study Centre

When I did my recent (ish) English degree studies I undertook a TESOL module (Teaching English to speakers of other languages). Oh boy! I felt like I’d been hit by a steam roller. Having not been taught English grammar when I was at school I wouldn’t have known the present participle if it jumped up and hit me on the nose! So being faced with all of that stuff was one heck of a shock I can tell you.

For my coursework for this module I had to work with a non-native English speaker. I had the pleasure of doing my project with a Portuguese guy who fully understand that in order to get on in his new country he had to get a good grasp of the English language and worked very hard to do exactly that.

So it’s been really lovely and interesting to meet Odile from the Westrin Study Centre on Swindon’s Victoria Hill:

If you’re an L2 speaker and you’re looking for a job or applying to university then the Westrin Study Centre is for you.

The centre is a lovely warm and welcoming place and the ‘school-room’ has an agreeable cosy feel to it.

Hailing from France, Odile herself understands the importance of knowing the language when in another country. Something that we monoglot English are really rather bad at. I have a few words of French and can read a menu in a few languages but that’s the extent of it so I include myself in that.

It must be so frustrating to have worked as a doctor or an engineer or whatever it might be back in one’s homeland and be unable to do that elsewhere due to a lack of language skills and have to get through the IETLS : ‘the high-stakes English test for study, migration or work’.

Swindon is, as we know, richly multi-cultural and always has been so there’s a demand here for the services of the Westrin Study Centre. Indeed I’ve heard it said that there’s 105 different languages spoken in Swindon. That’s amazing don’t you think?

Classes at the study centre are available on a flexible basis so can be fitted around work commitments if they have to be. This means that lessons are available:

  • In the day time
  • Evenings
  • Weekends

Lessons on Skype are also available along with intensive courses if needed.

What makes Odile and her language school different to the colleges?

  • Individual attention or small groups
  • Private lessons are available 
  • Each lesson tailored to the student’s individual needs – not a ‘one size fits all’ class. Much like Harrod’s – ‘Whatever you want – you can have!”
  • Flexible timetable rather than fixed class times
  • Can practice interview skills at the centre

Moreover – because Odile has had to learn English herself she knows what it’s like! She understands from first hand experience the difficulties in learning English and can anticipate them.

Also – as a non-native speaker she understands about intercultural communications. And I remember that from university.

Contact the Westrin Study Centre:

Tel: 07921 540475



Avoid dread – be a wise owl

Avoid dread – be a wise owl

30th April 2016


Wise Bookkeeping Services Swindon


Quick straw poll. How many listeners out there LOVE the thought of receipts, financial records and tax returns? No? Me neither. Yuk.

Which is why I went along to a bookkeeping surgery last week hosted by Aliz Bodo owner of Swindon (and London) based company Wise BookKeeping.:

Aliz hosted the free event at the new Desk Cowork space in Old Town:

Wise bookkeeping surgery

To find out more about coworking go here:

Now – back to bookkeeping. No yawning – it’s worth hearing. True story!

Aliz hosted the free event at the Core to raise awareness of her bookkeeping services and why you might, as a business owner, want to give it some thought.

Mission Impossible?

Book-keeping is inevitable graphic

Cakes from the corporate cakery

Cakes from the corporate cakery

Aliz’s mission in life is to relieve people’s fear of bookkeeping. Hmmm…  🙂 I may plead the 5th amendment on that one.

However, for the event at least, the pain of bookkeeping was eased by the provision of individual cakes, from the Corporate Cakery, bearing the attendee’s name. A nice touch.

And if she can’t manage to convince you, with her training courses, then she’ll happily do it for you!  She does, I know, love working with small businesses and is always available and approachable to her clients. And – her rates are jolly reasonable.

She offers a complete or part service – so you can pick and mix. For instance, you can opt to use Aliz to do your tax return only or you can use her for both that and for bookkeeping.

Strengths and Weaknesses: We all have them and it’s never so apparent than when you start to run a business. Spinning plates also comes to mind – how many plates can you keep spinning before you drop one?

And it’s not just about that either really. If you only have so much time available to you then surely you’d be better spending that time doing what you’re good at and getting someone else to do for you what you are either not good at or hate doing. And for me anything to do with figures comes into both those categories! Yeuch!

I have modest ambitions for AA Editorial Services. I’m very much still in the start-up phase but, now my client base is growing, I can see the sense in getting someone – namely Aliz – to do my tax return for me. It’ll take me less time and a lot less stress to earn the money to pay for the service than to do it myself. Hence I’m starting with that and may well progress to outsourcing my bookkeeping to her in the future. I’m already considering it.

So whether you make widgets, bake cakes, cut hair or do word stuff – ask yourself what you’d be better spending your time on. Can you afford NOT to is the question? Probably not at these rates:

Wise bookkeeping rates

Other points to ponder

 When weighing up your own time against the cost of using a bookkeeper you might want also to think about these things:

  • Doing your tax return early (instead of on the 29th January) not only saves you that dreaded last minute scrabble BUT should you be in the unhappy position of having underpaid your tax you have a longer time period to address that.
  • How many hours have you lost hanging on the phone to HMRC? I’m pushing 60 now so frankly don’t have the hours to waste! Your bookkeeper or accountant has the equivalent to a Batphone so they can get a response from the dreaded taxman with greater efficiency than we can.
  • Bookkeeping software is much safer than an Excel spreadsheet. No possibility of you or the cat accidentally deleting a row and throwing everything into a tailspin. One that will, at the very least, take time to put right. And that’s costly in and of itself because it’s time you could be earning.
  • Everything is in the cloud so is backed-up.

Meet the Team

You can find more about Aliz and Wis Bookkeeping by visiting her website and Facebook page – links below. But first meet the team in all their lovely plumage:

Although Aliz’s partner Kevin has his own business he also plays an active role in Wise BookKeeping.

Find out more – MUCH more by visiting the website:

Find them on Facebook:

Next Event


Book a 1-to-1 Q&A or training meeting:


Avoid dread – be a wise owl

Wise Book Keeping Q&A Surgery

19th April 2016

Everything you ever wanted to know about Book Keeping but were afraid to ask

Book keeping Q&A surgery

Accounts and book keeping. Ugh. The very thought of it all brings me out in a cold sweat. I’m a words person – numbers are categorically NOT my thing. And I’m not alone in this I’m sure. So if you – like me – would pretty much rather eat your own feet than think about book keeping then this event put on by Aliz Bodo owner of Wise Book Keeping Services could be just the very thing.

And oh crumbs -there’s going to be cake!

WiseBookkeepingLogo“Bookkeeping is not popular, because it’s never social!

We are creating a time & a place, where questions can be asked, and attendees who do their books differently, can learn from each other, as well as from us.

There will be a topic, but all questions are welcome, and you can book free 1:1 follow-up sessions in person or on Skype.

There will be opportunity for Introduction to ‘doing your books’ with Online Accounting Software, and hear from those already use it and do their own books, who are not professionals.”

When and where is this not-to-be-missed happening – well happening?

The venue: The Desk Coworking space above Core 4 Devizes Road, Old Town. SN1 4BJ

NB: Desk Coworking –  is a new business initiative in Swindon from Matt Greenwood. Read more about it here:

When: Tuesday  26th April. 20:00-21:30

How to book:

And did I mention there’s going to be cake? Book via the Eventbrite link above and there’ll be delicious cake with your name on it courtesy of The Corporate Cakery. 

So bring questions regarding DIY book keeping and fill your face with cake. Irresistible surely?

Swindon’s tented market: a response

Swindon’s tented market: a response

15th April 2016


I wrote on here not so long ago about Swindon’s tented market and shopping locally, blah blah blah.

SCV logo screen shot

Join Swindon Civic Voice here:

Swindon Civic Voice – your voice – – carrying out their remit of ‘talking civic sense’ have submitted a document calling for the rejection of the application to demolish the tented market and rebuild with a changed use.

Here’s a link to the full documentre the application for demolition of the tented market

And here’s a couple of extracts:

‘This opportunistic application has come forward ahead of any exploration of the ‘best’ uses and potential configuration of this site, which is identified for ‘regeneration’ in the adopted Local Plan and Masterplan. A Development Brief should be required for this site; the Brief should be written based upon wide consultation with the many stakeholders, including the market traders.

This application has not been widely enough discussed to warrant the demolition and new build for such inappropriate uses on this key historic and ‘doorstep’ site.  It is also inconsistent with the Local Plan and Masterplan policies for ‘regeneration’, and with the policies demanding high quality design in the town centre.’

‘As an organisation which strives to be thoughtful and cautious in the opinions it expresses, Swindon Civic Voice has read all the local social and print media responses to this proposal, and our response is 3-fold:

1)      We note and agree with the widespread dismay at this surprising, opportunistic proposal to alter the site usage without proper study of potential requirements. We note the success of Market Halls elsewhere and the lack of ‘start up’ trading units in the town centre, where high rates and rents and low footfall prevail.

2)      We note and agree with the widespread dismay at the proposal to install restaurants in this location, which is considered unsuitable in location, but also in the context of new and planned restaurants/food courts at nearby Brunel Centre, Regent Circus and the Corn Exchange.  These existing and well-advanced proposals (the latter approved in outline form and approaching final stage of application) should more than satisfy any perceived need for restaurants in the Town Centre for the foreseeable future.

The balance of uses in the town centre must meet the needs of a wide range of shoppers, and not be driven by land values and commercial market only; this is the whole point of planning – that it secures a balance between owners’ wishes and community needs.

3)     We note and agree with the widespread dis-like of the design and the lack of maintenance of the existing Market Hall, and agree that the proposed new building would look no less like a public convenience than the existing building with its ‘toilet-block’ glazing. This proposal does not begin to deliver the ‘high quality’ design Swindon needs, and which town centre policy requires.

We propose the rejection of this application. We also call for an appropriate public consultation seeking future proposals for this site, with respect to both use and design.  

As an appropriate organisation, Swindon Civic Voice offers to collaborate in such a public consultation, using plans and perhaps modelling, within the Market Hall and nearby in Wharf Green in the coming summer, and with the cooperation of the Market Traders. ‘

Join Swindon Civic Voice here:


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