The Girlboss Guide to Bitcoin

Bijou Concierge decided to investigate….

Who invented it?

How do you get Bitcoins?

There are different methods of acquiring bitcoins. These include:

  • Bitcoin exchanges: You can buy bitcoins on various exchanges, which serve as a platform for persons to transfer bitcoins from one wallet to another.
  • Bitcoin mining: People can use their computers in order to perform complex mathematical tasks that verify the blockchain of transactions and ensure that it is correct. As a reward, these miners are rewarded with bitcoins.
  • Payment: You can receive bitcoins as payment for goods and services, just as you would with traditional currency.
  • Exchange: You can also have people give you bitcoins.

How do you spend Bitcoins?

If you want to buy something using bitcoins, you need to make sure the seller accepts the cryptocurrency. If they do, you need the anonymous identification number attached to the seller’s “wallet” so that you can move coins from your virtual wallet to theirs.Some coffee shops in London and New York accept it as payment, as do online retailers such as Expedia. Even cosmetics giant Lush takes the virtual currency at its online store, as do Microsoft, Steam and WordPress.The “anonymity” of these transactions has made the currency particularly popular with drug dealers, says ABC News.

 What affects its price?

The price has jumped up and down since it first entered the mainstream consciousness in 2013. That year prices rose by almost 10,000 per cent before the collapse of Mt Gox, the biggest online bitcoin exchange, sent it crashing.Prices slowly crept up after that but surged again in 2017. This is largely put down to regulators appearing to warm to bitcoin and the rise of initial coin offerings – a way for projects to raise money by selling cryptographic tokens similar to bitcoins. Many sceptics believe we are in the middle of a new Bitcoin bubble while advocates say we are just beginning to see the rise starting.Prices have fallen in 2018 amid fears of a regulatory crackdown.

A bright future ahead?

So is Bitcoin the future of currency or is the Bitcoin bubble about to burst? All things considered, it has a promising, if not totally predictable, future. However,  it’s probably advisable to hold off on major investment until the currency has stabilised and has achieved a larger following.

If you are interested in finding out more about the crypto world visit Planet Blockchain 

 

Cryptocurrency: what it is and why should you care?

Bitcoin, Dash, Ethereum, Litecoin…you might have heard of them but what actually is cryptocurrency? Bijou Concierge investigates this digital phenomenon so you won’t be left in the dark!

Definition of cryptocurrency

Mathematics alone form the basis of cryptocurrency, a form of virtual currency. In essence, its an encrypted string of data that’s been encoded to signify a single, specific unit of currency. Solving mathematical problems, based specifically on cryptography–or the art of writing codes–produces cryptocurrency.

Other names for cryptocurrency include digital currency, crypto, or virtual currency. Basically, it’s ‘‘digital gold’.  No governments are associated with cryptocurrency, which makes it truly unique. Instead, a peer-to-peer (P2P) internet protocol monitors it. Fiat currency, on the other hand, is physical money. Fiat currency includes both bills and coins, and a wallet stores them.

A wallet also stores your cryptocurrency. The only difference is it’s a digital one! A cryptocurrency wallet requires a key, which is essentially a password. Without the key, you’re unable to get into your wallet. There have been many stories of people losing their keys and unable to access their wallets.

What is a blockchain?

A person or group of people known by the pseudonym Satoshi Nakomoto invented and released the tech in 2009. It is  a way to digitally and anonymously send payments between two parties without needing a third party to verify the transaction. It was initially designed to facilitate, authorize, and log the transfer of bitcoins and other cryptocurrencies.

Understanding Tokens

Tokens are essential to getting a true grip on cryptocurrencies. They’re the amount of digital resources you control on a given platform. As mentioned before, a digital wallet stores them and accessed with a key, which can be reassigned to someone else. Two types of tokens exist:

  1. Native Token – this type of token has an intrinsic utility. It forms the core part of a blockchain. That is to say, a blockchain could not run without a native token. Often times, they’re used as an incentive to validate transactions, or create blocks.
  2. Asset-backed Token – asset-backed tokens allow you to “hand over” your asset to the blockchain, and you’ll receive a token stating as much.

What are Smart Contracts?

Smart contracts are computer programmess that can automatically execute the terms of a contract. Someday, these programmes may replace lawyers and banks for handling certain common financial transactions.

The different types of Cryptocurrency

There are thousands of cryptocurrencies on the market. The most famous of which is known as Bitcoin. As the first of its kind, it paved the way for other cryptocurrencies to expand the use of virtual currencies.

An Altcoin, or alternative coin, is a cryptocurrency based on Bitcoin. Some of the most well-known Altcoins include Dash, Litecoin and Monero. Each has made its own impact on the market, to expand both the breadth and capabilities they bring.

Here is a quick rundown of a few popular cryptocurrencies.

Bitcoin: created in 2008, it housed the original code for blockchain technology. Its creation spurred many other cryptocurrencies. It’s easily the most trusted and known virtual currency on the market, even if it has its flaws.

Ethereum probably the second most well-known cryptocurrency. It’s allows users to do more than just use it as a virtual currency. It’s a open-source blockchain, and money and assets are quickly transferred with the use of smart contracts. Assets include houses, cars, stocks, and other property owned with a real-world value.

Litecoin: was one of the first cryptocurrencies to emerge after Bitcoin’s initial release. It has a much shorter processing time—about 2.5 minutes—than Bitcoin’s 10 minute timeframe. Litecoin provides more tokens and a different mining algorithm, but it ultimately didn’t take off the same way Bitcoin did.

Ripple: Because every single token was mined prior to release, it is quite possibly the most despised cryptocurrency by the community. This action is known as pre-mining, and is a huge no-no. Essentially, this takes away the community aspect of virtually currencies. It attempts to take a decentralized platform and centralize it.

Monero: solved many of Bitcoin’s privacy issues. It adds an additional level on anonymity to transactions. A few darknet markets (networks that require specific software or authorization, in order to access them) started accepting the cryptocurrency in 2016, where it ultimately reached its peak.

Click here for a great infographic of the major cryptocurrencies, which make up 84% of the coin universe.

Why Should I Care About Cryptocurrency?

Cryptocurrency solves the issue of government involvement in currency. This truly allows the market to work without outside influence.

Cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum have significant advantages over banks in a number of areas, including security, borderless transaction settlement, efficient payment clearance, and lack of dependence on centralized service providers or entities.

We were already moving towards a cashless society before the invention of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. Cash transactions have been decreasing over the years as more and more people opt to use credit/debit cards, Paypal, and other online banking platforms.

For those of you concerned about the lack of physical tangibility of digital money such as Bitcoin, you should realize that most of your money is already just a number in an online database.

Changing the digital landscape

Cryptocurrency markets are volatile.  It seems like a new cryptocurrency enters the market every single day. Many are built solely for profit and don’t even survive the first few months. You could watch one particular virtual currency jump 1,000% in a day…..just to watch it plummet 1,000% the next!

However, although volatility exists, cryptocurrency is here to stay. It truly has changed the entire digital landscape and currency exchanges. As a result, Asian countries have fostered the expansion and implementation of Bitcoin as an actual form of payment. In Japan Bitcoin has been recognized as legal tender since April 2017.

The future of cryptocurrency

Evidence suggests that in 2018 a growing number of larger retailers and service providers will also accept bitcoin (and cryptocurrency in general) as payment. This could include Facebook and Amazon. You might even be paying for your Big Mac with bitcoin by the end of the year!

Its not just investors who see the potential of cryptocurrency. Governments, businesses, and ordinary people like you and I are welcoming cryptocurrency into our everyday lives.

As more cryptocurrencies emerge, they will continue to grow in market share. One day, everyone will know what Bitcoin is and what it does.

The currency revolution has begun and cryptocurrency is the future. So, the questions is – will you stand by and watch, or will you become a part of history?

If you are interested in finding out more about cryptocurrency visit Planet Blockchain

How startups can use social media to supercharge brand engagement

Brand engagement & social media

Social media is a great way for startups to supercharge brand engagement. Startups face tremendous competition from larger, well-established brands and often have limited resources at their disposal to build their brand.

Social media & brand engagement
Social media & brand engagement

Social media, if done correctly, can become an effective solution in helping startups grow by connecting them directly with their target market. However, many startups do not know what content to publish or share when striving for brand engagement.

10 benefits of social media to your startup
10 benefits of social media to your startup

In order for startups to supercharge their brand engagement they just need to follow four simple steps:

Step 1    share interesting content

Step 2    post frequently,

Step 3    be consistent

Step 4    be likeable

We will now look at each step in turn.

Step 1: What content should startups share?

Brands & social media
Brands & social media

Startups should share valuable, relevant social media content that is going to engage their social communities. Users want to talk about your brand, so give them reason to!  Don’t post, bland, boring, beige content! Remember, super engaging content has the potential to go viral! It will also lead to retweets, likes, shares, followers and most importantly sales! If your social media doesn’t promote this kind of activity there is no point bothering.

Sharing promotional content is fine but startups must also regularly share relevant content that is tailored to their audience

Rule of social media sharing
Rule of social media sharing

.In addition to crafting or sharing great content, startups can engage with their social communities by promptly replying to questions, mentions, and so on. The personal, human touch can really help with brand engagement.

The following types of content provide the greatest value and can really supercharge startup social media engagement:

  • Content with images –  increase engagement with the simple addition of an image. Content with a certain number of points, ‘how to’, ‘what’ and ‘why’ posts will increase brand engagement even further.
  • Infographics – infographics are one of the most important pieces of the visual marketing cake.
  • Interactive content – from quizzes and surveys interactive social content is key for boosting brand engagement and creating truly stand-out content.
  • Content that evokes emotion –  is a sure fire way to increase brand engagement. Most people love pictures of cute babies and puppies! Posts that make your audience laugh are also a winner. However, if you post jokes make sure they are clean and actually funny. Steer clear of them if humour is not part of your brand!
  • Newsworthy content – half of social network site users have shared news stories, images or videos , and nearly as many  (46%) have discussed a news issue or event. In addition to sharing news on social media, a small number are also covering the news themselves, by posting photos or videos of news events. However, according to the Daily Mail. six in ten people post a news story on social media without reading it!

Step 2: How often should startups post?

Startups should post regularly. However, the frequency of posting on social media will depend on the startup’s audience and what they wish to share.

The frequency of sharing will also depend on the platform being used. For example, if a startup is using Twitter, the half-life of a tweet is determined to be around 18 minutes. However, this doesn’t mean posting every 20 minutes.

Step 3: The importance of brand consistency for startups

Social media for startups
Social Media for startups

It is important for startups to maintain brand consistency in social media. A clear brand voice and consistent presence will ultimately reinforce brand identity and will drive positive sentiment among consumers.

Step 4: How startups can build familiarity, trust & likeability

Famous brands collage
Famous brands collage

Startups should focus on building up familiarity, trust, and likeability to supercharge brand engagement on social media. Trust, in turn,  leads to brand loyalty.To do this startups need to post regularly and share high quality, engaging content that adds value. To cut through the noise startups need to be original, authoritative and stand out from the crowd! .

Unknown startup today, superbrand tomorrow!

By using the power of social media to supercharge brand engagement today, unknown startups could become household names like the brands featured in the collage above tomorrow!

About the author:

Annie is the founder of Bijou Concierge and is currently helping put London tech startup Shout on the map.

If you are a startup, entrepreneur or small business and need help with content writing, social media or blogging please email annie@bijouconcierge.co.uk.

For more info about Bijou Concierge please visit the website and follow us on Twitter

The rise of veganism: why is everyone becoming vegan?

Veganism: an investigation into the growing vegan trend

Go vegan!
Go vegan!

As a lifelong pseudo vegetarian (OK I admit I am partial to the odd bacon sandwich!) I have recently been contemplating becoming a full-blown vegan. So, I decided to go Stacey Dooley and investigate the rise of veganism and why everyone is becoming vegan.

Modern Veganism: from hippy to hipster

Veganism has come a long way: once reserved for peace-loving hippies, interest in a totally animal-free diet is at an all-time high, with celebrities like ,Jay Z, and Beyoncé  making veganism cool. Germany, the U.K. and the U.S. are all seeing an increase in the number of vegans, and millennials are leading the charge.

Vegan: Fad or here to stay?
Veganism: fad or here to stay?

The number of vegans has been steadily rising in the UK – up by 360% over the past decade and many more meat-eaters look set to switch from steak to seitan. People are understanding more about the ethical issues, and the impact it has on the environment as well as our health.

Vegan activism is on the rise and Veganuary is ever more popular in 2018. This year has seen about 150,000 people taking part.

Vegan activism
Vegan activism

With celebs like Emma Watson going to the Met Ball in an “animal-friendly” dress and Beyoncé investing in a vegan meal delivery service, veganism is now the hottest food trend. The modern day vegan  is a far cry from the lentil eating, sandal wearing hippy of yesteryear. Today’s vegan is more likely to be a cool hipster!

The growth of Veganism in the UK

vegan hipsters
vegan hipsters

Recently, veganism has become more accessible in the UK. As Tsouni Moss – owner of the popular Instagram account Yes, It’s All Vegan – told the Guardian, the “vegan pound” is real, and big businesses are keen to get their share.

Major brands are trying to bring veganism to the masses. However, according to the Vice they are doing it all wrong.

BBC Radio 4 recently explored how veganism is becoming popular with young people in the UK.It set out to answer the question: “Is this just a trend that’s fine for the hipster herbivores of Camden, or can it gain traction across the country and start a food revolution?”

Let’s look at what a vegan diet is and whether veganism is here to stay!

So, what is a vegan diet?

A vegan diet focuses on plant-based foods and beverages and eliminates all animal products. Its anchoring aim is to eliminate the use and harm of living beings. While vegetarians still consume dairy and eggs, vegans remove any and all animal byproducts, or foods that involve animals in their processing mechanisms. Meat, poultry, fish, and dairy are taken off the plate and replaced with veggies, fruits, beans, nuts, and grains.

The Vegan Society’s formal definition is: veganism is a way of living which seeks to exclude, as far as is possible and practicable, all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose.” 

Rise of the vegan
Rise of the vegan

Vegan diet: what are the benefits?

Health benefits

There are many health benefits of becoming a vegan. Studies show that vegans enjoy a longer lifespan and lower BMI than meat, cheese and egg eaters, as well as less incidence of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, kidney disease, cataracts and various cancers including colorectal cancer.

However,  on the flipside, it has been reported that B12 deficiency, lack of protein and bad skin are some of the dangers of a vegan diet.

Ethical benefits

Veganism: cruelty free
Animal cruelty: ethical reason for choosing veganism

Living a cruelty-free way of life

Today most meat and dairy products are produced using intensive farming methods. Meat production obviously involves the slaughter of animals, which is enough for some people to give it up altogether. But on top of this, intensive farming also often results in appalling animal cruelty up until the animals are killed.

While opposition to the killing of animals is a common reason given by vegetarians, it’s often overlooked that dairy production also involves slaughter. Male calves are removed from their mother at birth and killed or exported to the continent for veal production. Female calves are kept to become the next generation of milk-producers.

Dairy production also involves slaughter
Dairy production also involves slaughter

Protecting the environment

Another reason people choose to become vegan or veggie is to protect the environment.   Vast deforestation is taking place in Latin America to make room for soya cultivation, and with 97% of the crop being grown to feed animals for meat or dairy production, not to mention methane from farm animals which contributes 18% of global greenhouse gas emissions.

Meat production also impacts on human rights – while people in some countries are starving, one third of the world’s grain production is being fed to farmed animals in rich countries. Because of the demand for animal feed, a Western meat-based diet uses four and a half times more land than is necessary for a vegan diet and two and a quarter times more than for a vegetarian diet.

Vegan food: choice and quality have improved in recent years

There has been an incredible improvement in the quality of vegan food in recent years, which means you do not need to compromise to follow such a diet.

 Soy, almond and other milk alternatives are now ubiquitous in supermarkets and coffee shops.  Menus of high street chains and household brand foods have also undergone a radical change.  With the rise in vegan and vegetarian consumers, restaurants are having to do more to entice customers inside. Supermarket sales of vegan foods, produced without meat, dairy or eggs, are reportedly up by 1,500 percent in the last few years.

Millennial vegans in the UK: veganism on the rise in the 15-34 age group

Rise of millennial vegans
Rise of millennial vegans

The rise of veganism is being driven by the young. A recent study has shown that 42 percent of all vegans are found to be aged between 15 and 34, compared to just 14 percent who are over 65.

The not-for-profit Teen Vegan Network, a social network for vegans and vegetarians, has noted this rise with interest.

The rise of the power vegans over the pond

A growing number of America’s most powerful bosses have become vegan. Steve Wynn, Mort Zuckerman, Russell Simmons, and Bill Clinton are now using tempeh to assert their superiority.

Other notable vegans are Ford Executive Chairman of the Board Bill Ford (F), and Twitter co-founder Biz Stone,

It shouldn’t be surprising that so many CEOs are shunning meat, dairy, and eggs: it’s an exclusive club. Only 1 percent of the U.S. population is vegan, partly because veganism isn’t cheap: The cost comes from the value of specialty products made by specialty companies. Vegans also have to be powerful enough to even know what veganism is.

Instead of ‘Better buy this blue chip,’ it’s ‘Better eat vegan.’

Veganism goes mainstream

Veganism is going mainstream trend data suggests. The appeal and potential for vegan products is expanding beyond the small group of people who avoid animal products for ethical reasons. Many consumers are seeking healthier, cleaner foods,

The addition of these consumers to the group of potential buyers for vegan products makes the opportunity for animal-free products much larger than it initially appears.

Why the change of heart?

The reason for the expansion appears to be the mitigation of the perception of vegan beyond its traditional stereotype of being all about animal welfare.

Although veganism is still associated with animal welfare that is no longer the leading association. Instead, the association of veganism with health food takes the top spot.

These shifting associations mean most growth of vegan products are not coming from vegans, but rather meat-eaters who are cutting back. This opens the door for more realistic meat alternatives.

Other trends fuelling veganism

Increased interest in food from mission-based companies, millennial values and a desire to be part of a “food tribe” also are fueling the growth of vegan foods.

Many vegan food manufacturers’ values appeal to consumers, who increasingly are questioning companies’ motives, pushing for higher order benefits and demanding social good.

In addition, the U.S. is “becoming a nation of food tribalists with cultures built around close-knit viral communities based on personal values and behaviors,”  Other examples beyond vegan, including the paleo and gluten-free movements.

In addition, millennials’ focus on preserving the environment for future generations and sense of social responsibility is contributing to the rise of vegan eating.

Finally, consumers’ slowly shifting taste preferences for more savory and less sweet flavors favour vegan foods, which often draw from boldly flavored, global cuisines.

The Media and Veganism

The Media has often used scaremongering tactics about the dangers of a vegan diet.   Stories such as a vegan or vegetarian diet during pregnancy may increase the risk of birth defects are untrue. Leading health charity the Vegetarian and Vegan Foundation (VVF) says that veggie and mum’s-to-be should ignore the relentless stream of nonsense written about an animal-free diet.

A new documentary called What the Health was critically panned by health experts and the mainstream media for telling the truth about processed meat and disease.

However, vegans (and vegetarians) should know something about diet planning in order to make sure they are meeting nutrient needs

Social media and the rise of veganism

The vegan diet and products are gaining traction on social media and in traditional media, which further spreads awareness of veganism. The rise of vegan teenagers ditching meat and dairy is partly fuelled by Instagram.

Social media analysis shows incredible volume for vegan-related references to the point where “vegan and Coca-Cola” are competing for space for who is getting the most social media messages and marketing.

Research analysis shows vegan and vegetarian related content were mentioned 4.3 million times in 90 days, compared to 4.1 million references to Coca-Cola in the same time period.

While half of the references to vegan are positive, about 14% were negative, which suggests vegan still has some bad connotations that it needs to overcome to realize its full potential.

.Veganism is a lifestyle choice

Being vegan isn’t just about giving up dairy and meat, it’s a lifestyle choice that goes across ALL aspects of your life including fashion and beauty.

The Vegan Society thinks the rise of veganism online is mirrored in the real world, and describes veganism as “the fastest growing lifestyle movement”.

Guess which word  has launched millions upon millions of hashtagged Instagram photos ? Yes it’s VEGAN!

Ethical Consumer’s product guides are a useful resource to see which companies use animal derived ingredients. 

 Veganism is big business 

Vegan businesses are sprouting up across the UK to service this demand. Between 2012 and 2016, there was a 185% jump in the number of vegan products launched in the UK, while 9% of food products launched in the UK in last year carried a vegan claim, up from 3% in 2012, according to Mintel.

Devout vegans Kelly Slade and Chrissy Leyland helped organise the Vegan Pledge campaign, where participants try going vegan for one month, before launching subscription-based business Vegan Tuck Box in 2013.

Temple of Seitan, the UK’s first vegan chicken shop, has also attracted long queues of devotees

Companies worldwide are drumming up alternative ways to get people to try vegan food. In San Francisco, start-up Le Cupboard has even launched vegan vending machines offering everything from lentil and baby spinach salad to chia pudding with strawberries.

Vegan Propaganda: separating fact from fiction

Vegan propoganda
Vegan propoganda

The media often bands around scaremongering claims and mistruths about veganism. This information is referred to as ‘vegan propaganda’.  However, There is also a lot of hype and mistruths around all dietary systems – not just veganism.

Many animals eat other animals. This is a fact of life. However, we should not tolerate cruelty to animals.

Admittedly, there are huge problems with the commercial meat industry and animal welfare desperately needs improving across the board.

However, I feel there’s a much better chance of doing this if animal rights campaigners focus on the facts about animal welfare. Generally, people care a lot more about animal welfare than they do about misguided health claims.

Veganism: here to stay

Modern consumers are becoming increasingly aware of the health, environmental and ethical benefits of a plant-based diet. Furthermore, the health benefits have also been endorsed by the World Health Organization, which recommends ‘a nutritious diet based on a variety of foods originating mainly from plants, rather than animals’. It appears plant-based food is growing in popularity— and this global shift could be here to stay.

2018: the year of the vegan

Could 2018 be the year of the Vegan? Quite possibly yes! International meal delivery service Just Eat named veganism as a top consumer trend in 2018 as people become more aware of healthy and ethical lifestyle choices.

In 2017 Just Eat Marketing Director, Edel Kinane said

“The results from this year are a good insight into the future consumer trends and while convenience will continue to be key for consumers next year and beyond, we know that they are increasingly looking for more diverse, healthy, gluten free and plant based Vegan options”.

Are you thinking of becoming a vegan or are you already a vegan? Share your thoughts about veganism in the comments sectioin below.

Follow Bijou Concierge

You can follow Bijou Concierge on Twitter

Connect with vegans and find cool vegan restaurants etc near you!

Connect with vegans near you and find vegan restaurants etc with Shout. You can download the app here.

 

 

 

 

Mental health & pets: my puppy and I

How pets can benefit people with mental health issues

Coco: my pet yorkie puppy
Coco: 8 weeks old

Having a pet can significantly improve your mental health.  The enduring relationship between humans and domestic animals is well documented and there are an estimated 10 million cats (23 per cent of households with one or more cat) and 11.5 million dogs (30 per cent of households with one or more dog) kept as pets in the UK.

Studies have shown that pets can help people with depression, ADHD and autism.

A pet can also be a great source of comfort, companionship and motivation for their owners. In many ways, pets can help us to live mentally healthier lives.

The human-companion animal bond is of great public interest as well as a growing area of study for the scientific community.

A recent academic also  study found that pet-owners had higher levels of self-esteem and conscientiousness than non pet-owners, tended to be less lonely and less fearful, and were more extrovert and less preoccupied. Furthermore, there was no evidence that people’s relationships with their pets came at the expense of those they had with other people: pet owners were found to be just as close to key human figures in their lives as non-owners.

The mood-boosting power of dogs

If you’ve ever owned a pet, you already know how much fun and affection they bring into your lives. Dogs, in particular, can reduce stress, anxiety, and depression, ease loneliness, encourage exercise and playfulness, and even improve your cardiovascular health.

Caring for a dog can help children grow up more secure and active or provide valuable companionship for older adults. Perhaps most importantly, though, a dog can add real joy and unconditional love to your life. The mood boosting power of dogs is well documented.

Man’s best friend: meet Coco my 4-month-old yorkie puppy

Puppy therapy: forget antidepressants and talking therapies – get a puppy!

I have always had a great love for animals and sometimes I think I actually prefer animals to people! This might have something to do with my mental  health: for years I have struggled with clinical depression, panic disorder and agoraphobia. I have been on medication for most of my life,  been to see psychiatrists, had various talking based therapies but to be honest, none of it has really helped.

If you struggle to look after yourself how can you look after a pet?!

I have read various articles over the years about how pets can help people with mental health issues but as I struggle to look after myself some days and responsibility is not one of my strong points, I decided that I was not cut out to be a pet owner.

But, one dark Winter’s morning I found myself browsing puppies on Pets4Homes. I had considered getting a pug and a chihuahua but my mum suggested a yorkie as they are a bit like me i.e  ‘scruffy (chic of course!) and spirited’!

And so a few days before Christmas Eve I bought Coco, home. The first night I put her cage in my bedroom and she cried virtually all night. I picked her up and cuddled her. She licked my face and wagged her tail.  My heart melted.

The next few days she really tested my patience. She chewed up the carpet, the furniture, jumped all over the place, ran along the back of the sofa and leaped onto my head. She scratched and chewed my hands (which now resemble Elephant Man!) She refused to wee or poop in the garden (and still does!). I spent most of my time on my hands and knees with a can of Vanish Gold cleaning up her mess, at times with tears streaming down my face and questioning whether I could cope.  I even briefly contemplated returning her to her first human family. But, a few months on and I honestly couldn’t imagine life without her.

Exercise and a puppy: benefits for you and your furry friend

Coco recently turned 4 months and we have been going out for our daily walks.  At first, she refused to budge when I put her on her lead but after a bit of gentle persuasions and some puppy treats, she absolutely loves it.

And so do I. 

Exercise is good for your mental health as well as your physical health.

How Coco has helped my mental health

Annie and Coco
Puppy Love

Coco gives me a reason to get up in the morning. Even on dark days I can’t stay in bed as Coco needs feeding and exercising. She has really lifted my spirits and taking her for daily walks is having a positive impact on my mental health. I have more energy,  feel much more positive and sleep better at night.

I  finally feel there is real hope, since Coco came into my life, And I can definitely see light at the the end of the tunnel!

If like me you suffer from a mental health issue, I would definitely consider getting a pet. Obviously, it is not a decision to be taken lightly but having a pet  has really helped my mental health. and is rewarding in so many other ways.

Do you suffer from mental health issues and have a pet? Let me know how your pet has helped you in the comments box below.

.You can follow Coco on Instagram

You can follow me (Annie) on Twitter

If you need help with blogging, copywriting, social media or Virtual PA support you can contact me here 

To meet pet owners near you download Shout.  With Shout you can meet new people,  discover cool places and find interesting things to do with and without your pet! You can also follow Shout on Twitter

And if you live in the Tunbridge Wells area and have a dog my best human friend is a dog groomer. You can visit her website here.

How to nail branding & supercharge business success

“You have to stay true to your heritage; that’s what your brand is about.” – Alice Temperley 

Nailing your branding is crucial for business success. A strong brand will help you stand out in the crowd. If you are an entrepreneur it is important to build a personal brand, in parallel and before your business brand

Branding in the digital age

Building a strong brand in the digital age is vital.  In the last few years the digital communications revolution has completely transformed the balance of control. The consumer’s voice has become louder and much more public. Consumers can publish their experience of a brand and compare it with the experience of others. The ability of a brand to respond to this can have a profound effect on the way they are perceived.

How branding can help your business

Branding can help you stand out from your competitors, add value to your business and engage with your customers.  In fact, it is so important that according to Coca Cola branding is the next essential startup competency.

Stand out from the competition

  • Branding is a way of clearly highlighting what makes your product or service different to, and more desirable than your competitors. Nailing your branding and having a unique selling point (USP) is essential.
  • For entrepreneurs, your personal brand and business brand are often one and the same. Get this right and your business will stand out brightly against your competitors.

Add value

Connect with people

How to create a strong brand

The key ingredients

  • Idea – what is the great idea that lies at the heart of your business?
  • Values – what are your core values? what do you believe in?
  • Vision – what is your vision? where are you going?
  • Personality – what is your brand identity? how do you want to come across?

Brand consistency

  • In branding and brand management a lot of importance is placed on achieving brand consistency, so that the same attributes and characteristics are evident in all areas of the business’ operations.

Brand identity

  • You need to build a strong brand identity and you can use your packaging, stationery, marketing materials and so on to tell your brand’s story.
  • Every element of your business from colours of your logo, texture of your packaging etc is part of your brand story and every element should reflect the truth about your brand back to your audience.

Reputation is key to success

  • Reputation is the cornerstone of a successful brand.
  • Your brand’s tone of voice, personality and visual identity must reflect the products or services you are selling to give you credibility.

Make your brand rock

Keep your brand fresh

Keeping your brand fresh is essential. Using designers to help reassess your designs, language or identity every few years should be an ongoing investment in your business and an essential rather than an added luxury.

All successful companies revisit their communications periodically. Even some of the world’s most famous brands have had a revamp!

Here are my top 5 branding tips:

To summarize, your brand defines your business from the big things like vision and values to your people, customers, suppliers and every interaction anyone is ever going to have with you, no matter how small.

For a more detailed guide, grab your free booklet now Girlboss Guide: How to Nail Branding

Bijou Concierge can help with your branding in terms of content creation, social media, blogging and email marketing support.

For further info please email annie@bijouconcierge.co.uk

Top 7 tips for healthy work-life balance

Work-life balance is key to a healthy lifestyle.  As a busy entrepreneur or business owner work often consumes most of your day.

Work-life balance is vital for your wellbeing
Work-life balance is vital for your wellbeing

People want time more than they do money’, said Arianna Huffington back in 2013 but there never seems to be enough hours in the day, especially when you are running your own business. Life often takes a back seat!

However, it is important for your wellbeing to achieve a healthy work-life balance  so here are my top 7 tips to help you avoid burnout:

  1. Look after your health  – it is vital to look after yourself mentally and physically.  Your Mental health is as important as your physical health if you want to be successful. You can exercise your way to mental fitness as strength and power have been linked with both improved cognitive function and bigger brains!
  2. Work smarter not harder – working hard doesn’t necessarily mean you are working efficiently. if you want to maximise your time and supercharge your productivity you need to work smarter not harder.
  3. Take holidays – having an annual break will actually increase your productivity as well as recharging your batteries! Follow the example of smart entrepreneurs like Richard Branson who value the importance of taking holidays 
  4. Schedule regular time with family and friends – spending free time with family and friends will help you relax and de-stress.
  5. Learn to say no – it isn’t always easy to say ‘No’ but this will help free up time and keep you on track. As a busy entrepreneur, you can’t say yes to everything. There comes a time when you have to be firm and learn to say no.  
  6. Delegate – smart entrepreneurs recognise that delegation is important for business success.  Delegating tasks enables you to spend more time working on your business and not in it.
  7. Don’t be a perfectionist – perfectionists don’t make the most successful entrepreneurs and according to Steve Jobs perfectionism could be your worst enemy. Strive for excellence instead!

Grab a copy of my Wheel of Life Toolkit and supercharge your work-life balance today. We can also save you time by taking care of your To-Do List. Contact us today!

Virtual PA Handbook

Supercharge your productivity with our Virtual PA Handbook!

Thinking of becoming a Virtual PA?

Are you thinking about becoming a Virtual PA or in the early stages of setting up your business?  Help is at hand!

Virtual PA image
Virtual PA image

Grab a free copy of my Little Purple Toolkit – a great little resource for Virtual PAs and Virtual Assistants to help supercharge your productivity!

Although written for Virtual PAs and Virtual Assistants based in the UK, you may find it useful if you are a solopreneur, freelancer or girlboss!

From setting up your business to running and growing your business my Virtual PA handbook covers the essentials.

If you would like tailored 1:1 support I can provide a range of online training (or in person if you live in Tunbridge Wells).  Further details are in the booklet or contact me to book an appointment!

 

 

5 Tips to supercharge business productivity

In order to supercharge your business productivity you need to work smarter not harder. Increased productivity is essential for business growth and ultimate success. Here are our top 5 tips to supercharge your business productivity.

  1. Work-life balance – Albert Einstein once predicted ‘I fear the day technology will surpass our human interaction. The world will have a generation of idiots.’ It seems the prophecy may be coming true! Digital technology has blurred the line between work and down time. In this connected world we are constantly glued to iphones and tablets and even when we are out with friends and loved ones we are more often than not texting and tweeting. This has a detrimental impact on our health and wellbeing. If you let your work encroach on your personal life over a long period you risk burnout.. If we are tired and stressed it can make us feel ill so we are not going to perform at our best. We need time to relax and switch off completely to recharge our batteries and maintain relationships with family and friends. Try and find some balance between your career and your personal life. Take this quick quiz to see how you are currently managing your work-life balance. It seems we are all addicted to our tech. Why not try and turn off your mobile phone for a few hours and see the difference. Studies have shown that one day without notifications changes behaviour for two years! Look after your mental health. Mindfulness will help you get the most out of life by teaching you to live in the moment.  It can also have a positive impact on your mental health and wellbeing by reducing stress levels. Alex Soojung-Kim Pang is a consultant in Silicon Valley and a visiting scholar at Stanford University. He writes about technology and its cultural impact. His latest book, Rest: Why You Get More Done When You Work Less, is an empirical argument in favour of more limited working hours and greater understanding of the benefits of active rest as a means of raising creativity and productivity.
  2. Get organised It is possible to do more in less time by working smarter not harder. Having a daily action plan in place will help you maximise time and in turn increase productivity. If you fail to plan you plan to fail! Whether you use a good old fashioned pen and paper or a productivity tool to supercharge your work day, it is essential to stay organised. Keeping your work space clear of clutter will also help supercharge productivity as you will be able to find things easily. If you are more organised at work it also frees your mind to focus on the bigger picture rather than sweating the small stuff! If you are a small business owner think about delegating and outsourcing to supercharge your productivity. For example admin tasks are time consuming and your day would be better spent by hiring a Virtual Assistant and focusing on the fee generating work. There are many apps that will also save you time. It helps if you are tech-savvy but if not there are plenty of digital skills training courses that will help get you up to speed. Automation and systemisation are essential for a productive business. Tools like Zapier will save you hours of time. A CRM and working in the cloud (including cloud bookkeeping) plus social media automation tools are also essential.
  3. Create a happy work environment If you are a business owner or manager you need to ensure your team are happy. Happy people are more productive. Creating the perfect work environment is crucial to business success. Flexible working can also supercharge productivity There are some great.tools to boost team collaboration and productivity when working remotely.
  4. Take frequent breaks breaks are important to help maximise your productivity and creativity. Even having a very brief break from a task can dramatically improve your ability to focus on that task for prolonged periods. Stop thinking you are too busy to take breaks and just do it. You will be happier and more productive!
  5. Exercise, sleep and nutrition – are all vital to supercharge your productivity. Exercise  is the secret ingredient of the most productive and successful people. Richard Branson says he stays productive everyday by adding in 4 hours of workouts into his everyday routine. Sleep is also important for working productively. The value of a good night’s sleep cannot be underestimated, with its ability to build up our immunity to illness, lift our moods and enable clearer thinking. According to research, lack of sleep is costing the UK economy billions and increasing the risk of death for large numbers of tired Britons.  Naps at work can also boost your productivity. Finally the importance of eating well cannot be stressed enough.  What you eat affects your productivity. If you eat the right foods and develop healthy eating habits, you can become more focussed, energised and driven. What you eat in the evening may also determine the quality of your sleep. According to our friends at Health Ambition, if you want to sleep like a baby don’t eat a big meal before bed.  However, if you eat ‘smart’ you will sleep better!  Finally, entrepreneur, author and public speaker Tim Ferriss recently discovered just how crucial our food is when writing his new book, Tools of Titans. Ferriss found that many of the world’s biggest achievers credit their eating habits with their success! 

Grab your Work Life Balance Toolkit

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