Thank you to the members and friends of the Oxford Business Community Network for sharing their valuable tips for this Christmas, and indeed next year.

I hope you enjoy the occasional pun, but most of all, I hope you get some benefit from the wisdom and expertise we have in the group.

1 Be more Angel Gabriel – Jane Fryatt

If you’ve got staff in your business, or if you work with outsourced services, you need to articulate a really clear vision and get them all on board with it. Then you need to give direction by setting measurable objectives, ‘be in the stables in Bethlehem by the 25th of December’ for example, and then let them get on with it and find their own way there so they can use their innovation and creativity to achieve your business goals. I hope you find your wings this year!

2 Lead like Rudolph – Nick Hughes

Christmas is a time of fantasy and child’s play, but how much of a fantasy is your current pipeline of new business? Let me tell you probably 50 percent of it is just fantasy, so my top tip for the new year is just stop. Stop being the Prancer, or the Dancer, change from being the Cupid or a Vixen don’t be a Donner or a Comet, get dashing and a blitzing on that pipeline – be bold – be honest – and lead like Rudolph – from the front!

3 Don’t be a stubborn donkey – Jo Spencer

I don’t know about you, but I like to work things out for myself. The work I do is involved with solving problems and coming up with solutions, that’s just the way my brain is wired. Whilst I like the process of learning and I like that feeling of accomplishment, sometimes I can be so stubborn that the whole process is actually quite detrimental, with hours wasted, getting no further forward and generally feeling frustrated and cross. I’ve learned over the past few years that it’s actually really quite good to ask for help, so whether it’s work related like trying to edit an image or do something clever in a spreadsheet, or maybe something more personal, a quick phone call can provide an instant solution, or even a dusty road to a solution. So my Christmas tip is, don’t be a stubborn donkey ask for help!

4 Do different and focus on the fun – Sarah Southey

My motivational tip for the new year is do different. The last two years have been the years of enforced change. Words like social distance, unprecedented, isolation and pivot, have become commonplace. Covid 19 has forced all of us to change in one way or another and to make our work and home lives as safe and as functional as possible. Survival has been our driving force – not the most inspiring or exciting of reasons to do anything! A lot of the fun has gone out of our daily actions due to this fierce state that we’re in and the restrictions imposed upon us. Our lives have become repetitive and a bit like Groundhog Day so in 2022, do different, focus on the fun. Look at your personal, family and work goals and dreams, and find the one thing that excites you and looks like fun to achieve. Something that takes you out of that fear/comfort zone that we’ve all become so used to. Make a short list that gets you looking forward and smiling no matter how left field it is no matter how silly and then decide on the one action that you will take to move you closer to achieving it, and then do it! So, let this new year be the year we focus on living, thriving and having fun. Let next year be the year we choose what our different will be.

5 Memory boxes and family conversations – Richard Hayes

It’s been a tough couple of years for families, very tough, and my top tip this year is for you all to start thinking about yourselves and your families, and really taking the time to understand each other. One of the things I think is going to be really quite important this Christmas is the time you have with your families and how to use it – how to open up conversations, and one of the things I’ve come across is a thing called a memory box. Now a memory box is something you can create yourself but if you go onto the Macmillan Cancer Research websites you’ll find tips on how to set up memory boxes. They can be really useful things if you’re talking about your family, about things that are going on in your family and of course the things that you do, but that’s not so important. If you can get your parents talking to your children or you talking to your parents, which is quite a difficult thing sometimes, you just need a lever to make that happen and a memory box is an ideal thing to start that conversation. As Mr Rogers said in It’s a Lovely Day in the Neighbourhood, “if it’s mentionable it’s manageable”. Don’t be afraid of opening the conversations, you’ll be surprised at what you hear and there may be some really pleasant surprises in there. Merry Christmas.

6 Remember the Law of Attraction – Lisa Hollander

We’re all massive magnets and we can continue to attract business opportunities by showing up and having courage, even when we’d rather hide under the covers so try to take all eyes off you by remembering your family, friends and customers need you, your skill, your support and your time. They just may not know it yet!

7 Make the most of your Christmas presence – Josh Cox

I’m talking about improving your presence this Christmas. Now I don’t mean buying the latest Xbox game or iPad for your niece or nephew, I’m talking about your online presence and what you can do to improve it. So, if you haven’t already, get a Google My Business page set up. They’re free, it takes five minutes to set up and will do wonders for your local search visibility. You’ll appear in the map section when people search for your business, for instance ‘web designers in Didcot’, as well as prove to Google that you’re a real business. If your business already has one, fantastic but think about what you can do to optimise it now. Do you have photos on there of your business or services or your team? Are you collecting reviews, have you added a description or posts? There’s all different bits and pieces that you can do to elevate your profile on the biggest search engine around, so yeah, make the most of your presence this Christmas!

8 Plan to travel – Gill Nicholls

My tip’s really boring but very practical! It is for everyone to check your passports, because if you’re planning to travel in the EU, from January 2021 you will need at least six months validity remaining on that passport. However, the EU only count 10 years maximum, from the date of issue so if you do have any extra months added on, they will not count towards that six months validity. So, everybody check your passports, that’s my tip!

9 Stop worrying and start enjoying life – Ian Roberts

I just wanted to share some thoughts. I work and have worked this year with lots of business owners of later ages. Actually, one chap of 75 years wants to stop his business now because he wants to enjoy himself more. My tip for you is to remember that no one I’ve ever spoken to or that has been ill, ever said to me that they wish they’d spent more time in the office, or worried more about my business. They wish they’d spent more time with their families. They wish they’d spent more time enjoying themselves and they’d also spend more time doing the things that they love and what makes their hearts sing. Yet we often spend time worrying about business and the money. You’ve got to remember, Covid has brought a stop to quite a lot of the things we like to do and that, I hope highlights to you that you can live today like it was your last day. My tip is to stop worrying every day about your business, and being in the office all day long, and in evening and at weekends, but actually enjoy your life while you still can. That is my tip for this year.

10 Say no more often – Sarah Fletcher

I would like you to give yourself the gift of saying no. If you’re making up a shortfall for business going a bit random in the last year or so, the money is always nice, but you don’t have to say yes to a client you’re not suited to. Practice the courteous ‘thank you but no thank you’, if you are not the best person for them, so you don’t waste each other’s time. Now there was a time where I could have overridden my gut instinct and I still would have invested time having a phone call, and if they’d really wanted to work with me I probably would have signed them up as a client and then spent the next few months regretting it because we’re not suited. But it’s more than okay to say no, you deserve to choose your customers like your customers get to choose you.

11 Help you staff – Ben Thompson

My tip is to continue to help your staff progress. With such uncertainty in the world and in such a challenging couple of years, it is only natural for us all to worry as business owners, but your employees are no different. It is so important that your staff have something to work towards, so they feel that they’re improving and in an uncertain world they feel that they have that golden light to work towards. Can you give them some added responsibility? In less busy times what could they do with that extra time? It’s so much better for them to be working really hard for six hours a day and working on their development for an hour and a half, than be at an average level of work for seven and a half. How can that promotion look? What are they working towards? How can you help them to be the best version of themselves? Merry Christmas everybody.

12 Mike Foster

The festive season is a good time for reflection. How did the past year go? What would you change, repeat or never do again? My tip for the New Year is to reflect on what you really want both personally and for your business. Then ensure that your business goals align with your personal goals in order that the business delivers what you really want. I cover this in one of my recent video snippets at https://youtu.be/vQKtYbAl2WU.

So, on that note, all that remains for me to say is, thank you once again to the members and friends of the Oxford Business Community Network for sharing your tips. Here’s wishing everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

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