Content is KING

Content is KING

Publishing great editorial is something we’re really proud of at Life In…Magazines. We regularly receive emails, text and WhatsApp messages, social media DMs and calls relating to the content we’ve published and it’s something that really captures people’s imagination.

You might have heard of the expression ‘Content Is King’. But what does that mean exactly? Just like we do in Life In Orpington and Life In Bromley magazines, you’ve got to capture the attention of your potential clients. And if you’re not offering something of value – a USP if you like – then your potential clients will shop elsewhere.

Our USPS are that we include social media promotion for all our advertisers and, if they advertise for at least three months, they are also encouraged to contribute editorial to the magazine to further increase their brand awareness.

But with all the ‘noise’ out there – how do you compete with your competitors and make your content more engaging? Well,  SEO Agency, Novus Digital, has some great advice on how to make content more engaging. Here’s what they say.

Be authentic

It’s near impossible to be 100% unique and original today. If you have a good idea, chances are there are people out there who’re already talking about it. But guess what? That’s okay. 

The idea here is to stand out. Even if you cover a topic that’s been covered exhaustively, add your own unique spin to it! Your content should be made so it has ‘you’ written all over it, it should characterise your personality as a brand. Doing so will earn you a loyal following as people begin to recognise ‘you’ and your brand’s voice.

Know your audience

When you know and understand your audience, you can produce content that’ll drive them to your page. We get so tied up in optimising our content for search engines and for our business that we forget that it has to be audience-centric.  Make sure to create content that prioritises your target audience, ensuring that they get valuable and helpful information out of what you’ve got to say.

Make your audience think

Having your own unique voice is one thing, but being able to create an interesting train is a valuable skill. Could you use your content to induce thought-provoking scenarios in your reader’s mind by asking questions with no definitive answer, or using abstract examples?

When doing so, ensure that you stay relevant in order to grab the attention of your audience by staying abreast with current events, and using pop culture references. These work like magic with content engagement. Using such a strategy will spark discussions around your content, which is more likely to keep people coming back and engaging time and time again.

Add more visuals and then some more

Everybody likes a good picture or infographic, and visual elements are integral to a piece of content’s success. A collection of good images or infographics placed across your content not only improves overall readability but also improves the aesthetic appeal of your webpage.

Another visual element that’ll work wonders for your engagement is videos, these could be product demonstrations, discussions, ‘How-To’ videos or even interviews. Incorporate videos in your posts, your website, social media platforms and email newsletters. You won’t regret it. (Oh and now is a good time to mention that our parent company, Luna Creative Media, offers videography services if for business)

Perfect your headlines & intros

Your content needs to be clicked to be consumed, this is where a catchy headline is crucial to reel your reader in. Your headline is the face of your content as it’s the first thing people see on your website, social media platforms and on search results, meaning you need to craft titles that are clickable and appealing.

But reeling your audience in is simply not enough. If you want to increase the content engagement you’ve got to keep your readers hooked with a good introduction.  Research suggests that almost 55% of audiences spend barely 15 seconds on an article. If you can hook your audience right off the bat with engaging an engaging headline and introduction their chance of remaining interested will increase substantially.

Hopefully by adopting a mix of these strategies, you’ll be ahead of the game when it comes to making yourself visible.

Speaking of being more visible, we were recently awarded ‘Community Media Company Of The Year – London 2022’ from Prestige Awards. We had to submit various forms of evidence to be considered for the awards (including proof of original testimonials and such like), but it was worth it to be able to add the tag ‘award-winning’ to our repertoire.

Next month, we’ll be taking a closer look at business awards – and why you should consider them as part of your marketing campaign.

Make sure you don’t miss the latest issues – and if you can’t get your mitts on the hard copy, there’s always the digital issue to rely on – sign up here!

“Life is like a camera. Just focus on what’s important. Capture the good times and develop from the negatives. And if things don’t turn out, take another shot.”

Dorothy Spring

Networking in Bromley

Networking In Bromley

We are often asked what the best ways are for businesses to market themselves locally. And we’ll always offer the same advice: don’t put all your eggs in one basket.

So yes, go ahead and place a regular advertising space in one of Life In…Magazines’ community magazines and align yourself with a trusted brand, but also consider a few other marketing avenues including social media, digital advertising, email marketing and networking in Bromley.

We email our customers every month and we’ve got a strong presence on social media (especially Instagram!), but one of the ways we benefit about spreading the word in what we do is by networking. And we’ve tried many a group locally.

So when we liaise with potential customers, we’ll often go out of our way to give them details of local networking groups – certainly ones we’ve tried ourselves, so we thought we’d share them with you…

PIB (People In Business)

We’ve been members of PIB Bromley for the last three years and it’s always been a very friendly and supportive group and mostly attended by local businesses. It’s run by Michelle Harvey and Gary Valentine – members of the community who also run local businesses. Events take place at least monthly, usually at Chelsfield Golf Club in Orpington on a Wednesday or Friday from 9am-10.30am.

The meetings are structured and informative and there is usually a monthly speaker. Get your elevator pitch ready too. When you take out membership (£100 a year and £20 per meeting), you can attend the monthly meetings and they also promote members for free on social media. Check them out here.

Friday Winddown

Another very supportive group, but as this is on Zoom (every other Friday), businesses come from near and far. The sessions are structured and the group describes itself as ‘unashamedly commercial’ – they’re there to do business and serious about it. Attendees are encouraged to ‘sell the sizzle’ and votes are given to the best elevator pitch.

The sessions take place every other Friday on Zoom from 4.30pm-6pm and the first session is free with subsequent sessions costing £5 or you can opt for annual membership. Email fridaywinddown@gmail.com or see them online here.

Bromley Business Network

This group meets every other Wednesday morning at 7am at Bromley Football Club. It’s run by Chas Jordan with the help of Susan Wright and a few other volunteer helpers. It’s the only group that offers a ‘hybrid’ meeting, whereby you can attend by Zoom (£12) or in person £23. The in-person event offers a lovely buffet breakfast and everyone is very welcoming and friendly.

The first meeting is free and sessions are structured and typically include a speaker (for 10 minutes). Everyone gets the opportunity to do a 45-second elevator pitch and the group is non-profit – any money brought in goes on the room hire, breakfast, equipment and gifts every now and then for regular members. Find out more about the group here.

Beckenham Business Association

The Beckenham Business Association isn’t a networking group as such, but they do host regular events and networking events – both for members and non-members.

The association is chaired and has a committee (which we’re proud to be part of), and the annual ‘big’ event is the ‘Beckenham Business Day’, which is a day-long event usually towards the end of the year consisting of a variety of workshops, speakers and business exhibitors. Throughout the year other events take place – both offline and online. If you’re a member these are either free or heavily discounted. It’s a friendly group that come up with innovative sessions and events.

Visit the website for more information or email info@beckenhambusinessassociation.co.uk

B2B Marketing

The Chislehurst and Bromley boards are run by Anna Young of Bells Accountants and membership is by invitation only. The 1st session is free then it’s £50 a month and an additional £20 every time you attend a meeting.

The Chislehurst events are on the second Tuesday of the month at the Giggling Squid, while the Bromley Board meets on the 4th Thursday monthly at Miller and Carter Steakhouse. You can also attend other ‘boards’ – from a selection of 5 other ones. Although it’s the priciest of all the groups, the ‘brainstorming’ concept is a great idea; it’s not so much networking, but rather getting a small group of businesspeople together to generate ideas on pain points that people share. And what is said at these groups, stays in the groups! For more information have a look at the website or email Anna@bellsaccountants.co.uk

12.30 The Women’s Company

Jackie Groundsell has run 12.30 The Women’s Company for a number of years. It’s really well established and meetings take place monthly across the borough – and further afield.

Although this is a members-only group for women, businesses are encouraged to attend a meeting to see if they’d like to become a member. The monthly sessions usually take place in a restaurant and you can book online to attend, with the cost including a main meal and a side dish.

The structured meetings commence at 12.30 for an hour and a half and usually include a speaker for attendees to learn more about a certain topic or industry. It’s a very supportive group with different types of events run throughout the year – plus there are a lot of tips and resources on the website.

Ladies Who Latte – Bromley

Finally, Ladies Who Latte takes place on the last Wednesday of each month at CASPA café in Community House (South Street, Bromley) from 10am-12pm.

As the name suggests, it’s a women-only event (currently run by Denise Meade-Hill) and although it’s free to attend (you just buy a drink), you must book in advance. Once you have attended a meeting you are able to join the Facebook Group.

The group is very popular with around 15-20 attendees and although it seems a more supportive and encouraging group, connections, collaborations and business are regularly made. The format is general networking for the first hour, then the group stands in a circle and presents a minute’s ‘elevator pitch’ plus the one thing that they want to get from the meeting (e.g. more followers on social, to be introduced to a certain business/industry etc..). After that it’s more general networking. For details see this Eventbrite link.

So that pretty much sums up most of the regular networking that takes place in the borough, although there are plenty more events and groups so it’s worth asking others and doing a bit of research.

The thing with networking is that one size doesn’t fit all, so it’s worth exploring them all to find out which you prefer. And good luck!

Out the other side

April 2022 blog post

The last four weeks have been a whirlwind to say the least. First of all, we took part in a ‘UK Entrepreneur’ panel (featuring Emily Maitis) for Startup Bromley. We also hooked up with iVerbalize to present a new ‘Be Inspired, Be Empowered’ event for women – watch this space for future events.

Next up we organised a VIP event to mark the launch of the new Life In Bromley magazine, welcoming both The Mayor and Deputy Mayor of Bromley. And finally, we took part in a Business Pitch, organised by Startup Bromley (and helped by Exclusive Visions) and are delighted to announce that we came in second place and awarded £1,000 to invest in Life In…Magazines. We’ll be using the prize wisely and announcing something exciting soon!

Taking stock

As far as we’re concerned, there are many perks of our job; reading the regular comments we receive on how the magazines have entertained and engaged people; receiving the first batch of magazines off the delivery truck; meeting and celebrating local people that have made a difference; and last but not least, getting first dibs on new launches, updates and developments, much of which we aim to share with our readers.

This month we’re delighted to let you know that The George Pub in Hayes is undergoing a full refurbishment and we’re super excited to see the finished result, not least because we’ve had a sneak peek at what’s to come! And to give you a glimpse, here’s the mood board that inspired the new look…

Mood board for the new-look The George in Hayes

The big reveal takes place on Saturday 16th April and promises a modern, stylish and contemporary setting. We can expect a warm and inviting atmosphere with wall panelling, illuminated display cases and luxury fabrics helping create a country pub feel with a hint of glamour.

And hand-in-hand with sophisticated yet relaxed surroundings comes a top-notch menu. If you’re planning on dining at The George, a broad range of premium grill dishes as well as a plethora of healthier and lower calorie options are available. Showcasing seasonal flavours, from Pan-Fried Wild Scallops with smoked Haddock bonbons to Buttermilk Chicken Brie & Bacon Pie, it seems there’s something to suit all tastes.

We’re excited about giving it a try – and no doubt we’ll be back on a Sunday when a traditional roast is on the menu – with all the trimmings!

Come what May

As well as the May Day Bank Holiday to look forward to (2nd May), there’s also the new April issues out now, which feature a whole range of interesting, entertaining and engaging features. Plus we’ve got some great prizes to give away this month – three amazing Chocolate prizes, a £15 App Store & iTunes voucher, not to mention a pair of tickets to Bromley Picturehouse.

And as we’re working ahead (and are about to send the May issue to press), you can also look forward to ‘Ask The Experts,’ with some great advice from people in the know. In our Life Hacks feature we reveal how you can cut costs at the cinema and control negative thoughts. Plus there are some great new products we’re showcasing on the Shopping feature – talking of shopping, we reveal why shopping local benefits you. You’ll be surprised!

As well as hay fever tips, local eco news, business networking advice and the new cyber laws you should know about, we also celebrate our new local hero in May, Fran Flin; take 5 Minutes out with Anton Du Beke who, would you believe it, used to work locally; and delve deep into Food Banks – what they’re all about and how you can help.

Make sure you don’t miss the latest issues – and if you can’t get your mitts on the hard copy, there’s always the digital issue to rely on – sign up here!

“We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.”

Winston Churchill

The medley month

The medley month blog

If we thought last month was busy, we’ve just turned up the dial at Life In…Magazines’ HQ! Not only have we tried to get into the swing of running two magazines, we’ve also been…

  • Invited to attend a ‘UK Entrepreneur’ panel for Startup Bromley
  • Decided to host a free ‘Women In Business’ event at the end of March in conjuction with iVerbalize
  • Entered the ‘Bromley Business Pitch’ competition
  • Organised a VIP event to mark the launch of Life In…Bromley.

Given how busy the month has been, we’ve been lucky enough to have two new volunteers come forward to help distribute Life In…Orpington magazine, which will certainly lighten the load. We’re lucky (and very grateful) for the help we receive from others.

Out and about

You might spot a famous face in the main picture holding Life In…Bromley. We were thrilled to bump into Dina Asher-Smith whilst out and about delivering in Bromley. What a lovely lady – she even let us take her picture and we couldn’t resist handing her a copy of the mag too – we just forgot to ask her to be in it!

We were also thrilled to be invited to chat on Jackie’s 12.30 The Women’s Company radio show (on Love Da Beat Radio), where we discussed the new magazine launch amongst other topics. It was an enjoyable morning and not as nerve-wracking as we envisaged. And of course, we attended the monthly Ladies Who Latte event at Community House in Bromley, where we couldn’t resist striking a pose to mark ‘International Women’s Day’.

The new magazines

It’s always tricky when you have a new launch to keep up the momentum and get used to producing a bit more work in the time allocated. We always strive to ‘work smarter’ rather than harder, but we can’t deny it’s been an exceptionally busy time lately – we don’t think the short month in February helped, but we go there in the end.

We spoke about systems and processes in last month’s blog post and realised that streamlining ways of working lends itself well to getting things done more efficiently. Of course, taking on extra pairs of hands does too – and we hope to be able to do this in the coming months.

As we type this, the new April magazines are about to land – we’ve really enjoyed putting them together this month, not least of all because it’s been fun celebrating ‘Chocolate Month’ and organising chocolate prizes for the issues. Thanks to John from Keller Williams, Leslie and Aysha from Newton Wood and Natasha from Faithfully Yours PLG who kindly donated the Easter prizes!

And on that note, it wouldn’t be fun if this month’s quote wasn’t do to with chocolate!

“As long as there is chocolate, there will be happiness.”
Wayne Gerard Trotman

The Bromley launch!

February 2022 blog

This month has possibly been one of the busiest months we’ve experienced here at Life In Magazines, with the planning and execution of our second monthly magazine, Life In Bromley!

From going on photo shoots in town with the aim of getting the perfect cover shot, to interviewing local heroes, it’s been non-stop action and we’ve loved every minute!

Now it’s just a case of keeping up the momentum of producing two monthly magazines – and putting systems in place to ensure everything runs smoothly.

Speaking of systems, and just to offer a bit of an insight into one of our ways of working, we couldn’t do without our whiteboard in the office. For each date in the month there’s an action plan – whether it’s finalising the next flatplan, doing the social media posts for new advertisers, picking competition winners and updating the website – every day is strategically planned so that we don’t miss the important stuff.

Seeing something visual is how we operate best – even if it’s just a ‘to-do’ check list. Favourite apps we’ve discovered include Notebook (very aesthetically pleasing!) and FocusList which also helps with productivity.

Business planning & strategy!

It has also been a busy month in terms of new developments and learning. We had the pleasure of attending a business presentation by Lee Lam of Your Startup Partner on business planning and strategy. It was organised by Startup Bromley earlier this month, held at Bromley Central Library.

Lee’s chat was both entertaining and informative and got attendees thinking about (a) where they are going (b) planning the route to get there.

We also managed to attend a few other business events and sessions this month including People In Business (PIB Bromley), Ladies Who Latte and the Bromley Business Network.

Meanwhile, our new 3-metre banner has been installed at Beckenham Town Football Club. We are really pleased with it and, as it’s a permanent fixture, we only hope it withstands the weather for a few years!

Banner at Beckenham Town Football Club
Our 3-metre banner at Beckenham Town Football Club

And this month we wrap up with a new design for our digital newsletters. Now that we’ve got two magazines, it was definitely in need of an overhaul. If you are a subscriber, we’d love to know what you think!

As usual we’ll leave you with an inspirational quote to ponder – and this month it’s about having the courage to take risks.

“You cannot discover new oceans unless you have the courage to lose sight of the shore.”

—André Gide

 

A new year – a new venture

new year new venture january blog

As is customary, the New Year is an ideal time to reflect on the past year and look forward to the coming months. It’s a time to observe the mistakes we made, acknowledge the successes we found and make resolutions for the future.

We look back on 2021 with mixed feelings. It was a tough year with tragedies that shook our faith in humanity, but it was also a year of hope-filled moments that reminded us that people do care about each other. We saw celebrities doing good, social media campaigns raising awareness of important issues and ordinary people touching lives one at a time with kindnesses big and small. We felt a sense of community and it was great to be able to capture this and celebrate it in the magazine.

And this is what makes us optimistic about 2022 – there are people who want to make this world a better place, to help and encourage each other, and to offer support when needed.

Small business plans

This year many small businesses (including ourselves) will be looking to expand their reach, increase their networking and deepen their community engagement. This year we’re getting ready to launch Life In…Bromley and the excitement is picking up pace!

All the editorial features are pretty much done – and now it’s just a case of filling the advertising slots. With just half of the magazine reserved for advertisers, we’re already 95% sold. It helps to have the example of Life In…Orpington magazine as people can see your vision and what you’re trying to achieve.

The hardest thing in starting a community magazine is having nothing to show in the first place. We’re thankful that our loyal advertisers took a leap of faith in the concept of Life In…Orpington. And it’s telling that most of those early advertisers continue to advertise with us until this day. Community is a word that’s very important to them – and we’re privileged that they want to be part of that wider message by showcasing what they offer in the magazine.

So, what else can small businesses do to continue to grow this year? Ideas around starting a blog or developing a series of newsletters to keep their customers informed are all tried and tested – and seem to work in building a sense of community. So too can getting out and about, meeting other like-minded businesses to see what synergies they share and how they can collaborate. Just a few ideas we thought we’d share.

Lastly, we’d like to share one of our highlight moments from the last month, where we were invited to be a guest on Zeenat Noorani’s Mindset Matters Radio Show recently, along with the lovely Michelle Simpson from The Chartwell Cancer Trust. Please do have a listen – where you can discover more about the wonderful work that The Chartwell Cancer Trust does in the Bromley borough, as well as our personal story on being diagnosed with the illness that now affects one in two of us. It’s a positive story, with a positive outcome – and message. We’d love to know what you think.

We’d also like to take this opportunity to wish all our readers, supporters and advertisers a very happy New Year – here’s to health and happiness in 2022. Here’s our own inspirational quote to kick off the new year…

“If a serious illness has taught us anything, it’s to be sincerely grateful for what we have. Forget the fast cars and fancy mansions; health and happiness are what we should all be striving for. Because ultimately, they are all what really matters.”

Let the festivities commence!

let the festivities commence

We usually touch on the highlights of the month and this month – as the festive season ensues – it has to be catching up with friends, enjoying a mini break to Marlow and taking part in Startup Bromley’s Winter Showcase event at Bromley Central Library.

As much as the latter was a great awareness exercise for the imminent launch of Life In…Bromley magazine, it was also a time to catch up with some lovely small businesses that we’ve enjoyed getting to know over the last year.

And actually, networking is a great way of not only raising awareness of what you do, but also a great way of meeting like-minded businesses. We recently attended Bromley Business Network at Bromley Football Club – it’s on every two weeks for those who don’t know about it – and were pleasantly surprised to discover a great bunch of welcoming people, but also people who were genuinely keen on supporting and help one another. And that’s what true networking is about.

Over the last year, through networking and meeting others, we’ve been lucky that I’ve been able to collaborate with others, and being able to connect people with similar synergies has been particularly rewarding.

For example, we put the lovely Jackie Groundsell from 12:30 The Women’s Company in touch with Ed from Love Da Beat radio. Next thing we know, Jackie has her own radio show with Ed – amazing! Perhaps we should launch a match-making service! But what we do know is that it’s hugely rewarding and we want to do more of this in 2022!

Automation is king!

When we gave a talk on productivity at the Beckenham Business Day last month, we mentioned that one of the ‘top tools’ for automation is IFTTT. And we stand by this – simple, automatic processes that can be set up just once and repeated automatically can save a small business so much time.

So when we recently read an article from Keap on things every small business should automate – we thought it would be great to share. It offers some great ideas on systems and processes that can be automated. Our advice? Start with one (the one that takes up most of your time) and see how you go!

Let us know how you get on – and just for some extra encouragement, here’s our usual inspirational quote!

“Once a new technology rolls over you, if you’re not part of the steamroller, you’re part of the road.”

– Stewart Brand, writer –

The BIG announcement

november 2021 the big announcement

One of the perks of my job as editor, aside from the researching and writing, is the opportunity to visit showcase events.

As you can imagine, during lockdown no preview events were on, but they have since reopened and Nicky and I recently enjoyed a trip to Lidl’s Christmas showcase in London. They’ve got some great food in store and it’s nice to get a sneak peek at what’s to come.

What’s also been great is getting out there and seeing people face-to-face. In-person networking events have also resumed and this month I enjoyed my first visit to the Beckenham Business Day. It was a really well organised event and I was fortunate enough to be able to deliver a keynote presentation on productivity – and some great tech tools for small businesses. Just one of the highlights of the last 30 days!

And yes, I did remove my shoes to deliver my presentation in my socks! It kept me grounded (I’d been in heels for the day!) and maybe it even meant that I’d be more memorable!

This month’s highlights

Other highlights over the last month have included the opportunity to work at Devonshire House in Elmfield Rd in Bromley. There’s a nice little story behind this – when I got my first job after university it was working for a tour operator, based in Devonshire House. The operator has since dissolved, but I recently discovered that Devonshire House is now being used as Office Letting.

So, thinking long term, I decided to set myself a goal to one day be based in an office in Bromley – and where better than the place it all started over 25 years ago? I even saved a picture of the building on my iPhone screensaver to give me a bit of inspiration. I was explaining this to a friend, Chandra Sharma of Tangent Office Supplies in Orpington, and lo and behold I couldn’t believe it when he told me that his daughter, Jaya, was deputy manager for Devonshire House!

Within a day or two Jaya had contacted me to ask if I wanted a tour of the building and if I fancied working there for a couple of weeks to see what it was like – this was music to my ears! I really enjoyed working there; it brought back a lot of memories and has made me even more determined to one day be based away from home.

Other highlights, from a personal perspective, included a visit to 221b Baker Street in London (my daughter and I are huge Sherlock fans) and a few days away in the beautiful city of Ljubljana, Slovenia’s capital. On one of the days, we enjoyed a visit to Lake Bled – and, as you can see from the picture I took, it was stunning. It was great to get away for a change of scenery and some downtime – I always find if I have a few days away from work it recharges me when I return – and this trip was no exception.

Lake bled, Slovenia
Lake bled, Slovenia

The Big News

The big news this month is that we are launching Life In…Bromley magazine early next year. We’re hoping that the first issue will make a BIG impact; we’re planning on delivering via Royal Mail to no fewer than 10,000 households in and around Bromley.

It’s also going to be a bumper issue with over 50 pages – I’ve got plenty to chat about! So, what’s the first thing that one has to do when launching a new magazine in a new area? Before I even start contemplating the editorial, I need to ascertain the distribution points, so that when people receive the magazine through their letterboxes they know where to pick it up from the following month!

So my tasks this month have been to reach out to potential distributors. The next task is to come up with a flat plan, which I’m delighted to say I’ve already done. And of course, I need to fill the magazine with some great editorial and of course advertisers which is always a work-in-progress!

So on that note, if you’re a business based in the Bromley borough (small or large) and you’re interested in being in the very first issue, which is guaranteed to create a real buzz In Bromley, feel free to get in touch with me by emailing hello@lifeinmagazines.co.uk

And on that note, we’ll leave you with our usual inspirational quote!

“Most people fail in life not because they aim too high and miss, but because they aim too low and hit.”

– Les Brown –

Stars In Our Eyes

Stars In Our Eyes Oct Blog post

With the temperature suddenly taking a nose dive, the winter woollies have been found and we’ve finally succumbed to turning the heating on.

But there’s something nice about the changing season into autumn, not least the beautiful leaves with their vibrant colours, but more so the feeling of cosiness – or as the Danes call it, hygge.

The month’s highlights

One of the highlights our working schedule recently was visiting the Churchill Theatre to meet the cast of Sleeping Beauty. Bonnie Langford, Lee Mead and Claudillea Holloway were all a delight to interview – and I’m sure this year’s Christmas panto will be a roaring success.

I personally also enjoyed a visit to Thorpe Park to celebrate my daughter’s birthday; being a big kid at heart, I loved the thrill rides and had forgotten what fun it was. And I was double lucky to also be able to escape on a spa break to Eastwell Manor – just what I needed after a particularly busy week of meetings, networking and flat plan planning!

We were also delighted to meet 12-year old Zora, who was nominated by her mum Zaynab as a local hero for numerous reasons. We’ll be featuring Zora in the November issue of Life In…Orpington and it was great to take her to visit Heather at A Time For Flowers in Orpington to be presented with a beautiful bouquet – she was delighted!

Yet another highlight was travelling to Coventry to a publishers’ conference where I gave a 45-minute keynote presentation on productivity and tech tools for small businesses. It’s one of my passions and I was over the moon that the talk was well received.

In terms of supporting local, it was lovely to have a cuppa, cake and join in the ‘spin the wheel game’ at the Macmillan Coffee Morning held by Chandra Sharma of Tangent Office Supplies. He did exceptionally well raising over £1,000.

But I think the ultimate highlight of the month was when myself and team members Nicky and Lynsey participated in the London Shine Walk to raise money for the Chartwell Cancer Trust. Nicky and I completed the 10K walk (after I fractured my ribs, I thought I should do the 10K rather than push myself), while Lynsey braved the half marathon. A HUGE thank you to everyone who supported us – your generosity meant that we collectively raised just over £1,100 for the Chartwell Cancer Trust and we know the money will go a long way for them.

Stars In Our Eyes Oct Blog post

Seeing the half full glass

I recently read an article entitled ‘Has the pandemic been good for small businesses?’ and it got me thinking about local businesses in our community.

I have witnessed many businesses either flipping their business model entirely or tweaking it to cater for demand – there are some savvy people amongst us and I think what some people have done is nothing short of remarkable.

Data from Cornerstone Tax reveals that 28 million Brits want to support their independent, local businesses more than before, and research from Tide shows that the pandemic has been the reason for 26% of new businesses opening this year. This matches Companies House data that shows there were 21.8% more businesses were incorporated this year than last.

I myself launched two new what I like to call ‘side hustles’ in lockdown. I became a Tropic Ambassador as using non-toxic, vegan skincare and beauty products is important to me and I also launched my own videography company, helping businesses stand out from the crowd in a world that is becoming increasingly digital.

However, the report also highlighted other questions – in particular, what will happen to the vacant office space now that so many people are working from home? And what about the plethora of High Street shops that sadly closed over lockdown and never reopened? Property experts suggest that empty department stores and office spaces may well become hubs for manufacturing and localised delivery services, and may well become homes for the wave of intrepid new entrepreneurs forming new businesses.

David Hannah, principal consultant at leading tax advisory firm Cornerstone Tax, said: “By no means has the pandemic been a positive, however, it has made many of us rethink our priorities, and for some, this has meant chasing the dream of founding a business. The data clearly shows it has sparked a wave of new business founders who are committed and confident about the longevity of their enterprises.

“This goes hand in hand with many traditional ‘9-5’s’ no longer needing as much office space now at-least partially working from home is the norm. I believe that these two factors may coincide – and empty offices, as well as the department stores and retail parks now dormant, may become homes for these new SMEs – potentially as logistics hubs for serving their local market.

“We have also seen them being used by Amazon for faster local delivery, and John Lewis even plans to turn stores into apartments. However, it would be a very happy ending if the new wave of small businesses could utilise this space to help the entrepreneurial-renaissance we are witnessing.”

Let’s hope Mr Hannah is right; I always try to see the good in a negative situation and this could just be it!

As usual, we’ll leave you with an inspirational quote to ponder…

‘As with the butterfly, adversity is necessary to build character in people’

– Joseph B Wirthlin –

Let’s be mindful

September 2021 blog let's be mindful

With the kids back at school, we’re pleased to welcome a more structured working day here at Life In… Magazines!

And although we’ve had a few downs this month (namely our website getting hacked and our floor stand disappearing from Sainsbury’s Locksbottom), there’s still plenty to smile about – and it starts with the lovely Simone Curry from Sublime Beauty.

Things to smile about

We first met Simone a couple of years ago at a local networking event, warming to her infectious laughter and warmth. The wonderful thing about Simone (apart from being a genuinely lovely person!) is that she’s launched a charitable arm of her business to offer women who have had cancer the opportunity to have free semi-permanent makeup treatments.

Simone does this every month – and offers everything from semi-permanent eyeliner and lip-blush effect, to micro-blading, which is what she is doing for my mother-in-law in the main blog picture above. Quite rightly, Simone was nominated as a Local Hero by a few women she’s helped and featured in our July 2021 issue.

Do you know a Local Hero like Simone? Someone who puts the needs of the community into consideration and does what they can to help? We’d love to hear about them – you can write to us at hello@lifeinmagazines.co.uk

We also had the pleasure of joining a discussion for Bromley’s new podcast, Bromley Buzz. The monthly release is a collaboration between local residents Darren Weale of In Tune PR and co-presenter and mindset coach Zeenat Noorani. It offers interesting and insightful news and views on all things local – we love it and we think you will too.

If you fancy a listen to us (on episode 4), it’s right here!

Being mindful in the office

Although at Life In… magazines our ethos is to report on positive, encouraging news to inspire the community, we couldn’t help but notice a recent report by BreatheHR which said that nearly a third of employees are willing to leave their jobs due to poor workplace culture.

I’m sure that most of us have, at one time or another, worked in an environment where any number of factors were at play – office politics, lack of teamwork, office gossip, interpersonal conflicts, exclusive cliques/social groups, poor management, demotivated workers, high turnover rate, stifled career progression or lack of work-life balance…te list goes on.

However much our company grows, we’re determined to keep toxicity out of our company’s culture. We’ve worked, in large part, for toxic companies in the past – and it’s not something we want to replicate. So for jobseekers, here’s how you can research a brand’s track record to get a feel for the type of culture they foster:

  • Look at company reviews from present and past employees on reputable platforms like Glassdoor.
  • Monitor their turnover rate over a period of several months and see how it compares to the industry average.
  • Research how diverse the company is. Find out how many people in senior positions are women or from a BAME background.
  • Pay attention to how they communicate with you and with each other.

And for employers, once a toxic trend is spotted, it’s important to address it as soon as possible, so it can be stopped. The team at Instant Offices have provided the following tips:

  • Lead by example – behave the way you want to see your employees behave. That includes maintaining a positive attitude, and holding yourself accountable for mistakes the same as you would a subordinate.
  • Treat every employee with dignity and respect, regardless of their position or seniority.
  • Don’t play favourites, and don’t scapegoat or alienate any employee or group of employees.
  • Make sure all management is properly trained on what makes a diverse and inclusive workplace.
  • Ensure that all employees are properly trained on what constitutes bullying, harassment and discrimination in the workplace.
  • Provide training that empowers managers to handle internal conflicts.
  • Keep communication channels open for mutual feedback between employees and management.
  • Encourage constructive feedback and create an environment where criticism can be shared without fear of “punishment”.
  • Make sure your employees know that it’s safe to speak up.
  • Recognise and reward your employees’ efforts.
  • Promote employees based on skill, not just on likeability.
  • Foster an environment of open, constructive communication.

In this month’s issue….

We’ve got a cracking issue for you this month that highlights a number of interesting reads – from ‘feeding your mind to boost your brain power’ and ‘working smarter, not harder’; to ‘reducing your living costs’ and ‘championing small businesses’. Not to mention the local heroes we’re applauding, what’s on locally and the community noticeboard – we hope you enjoy the read!

We’re also delighted to welcome some new advertisers this month – Smart Switch Utilities, which offers competitive utility rates for both residential and commercial properties; Brightwater Memorial Park, an above-ground burial facility located in stunning, landscaped gardens in Orpington; Sports Star Images, which offers personalised sports posters – a great gift idea for birthdays, celebrational wins and of course Christmas! Phil Kitchenside, a local maths tutor for GCSE and A-Level years 10-13; and (drum roll please!)…with theatres now fully open, Bromley Churchill Theatre is OPEN! Coming up they’ve got a great range of shows – we’ve already purchased Stewart Lee tickets for March 2022 – they sell out fast apparently, so make sure you don’t miss out on the show you really want to see.

As usual, we’ll leave you with an inspirational quote to ponder…

‘The power of community to create health is far greater than any physician, clinic or hospital.’

– Mark Hyman –

Until next month!