And the winner is …….

Thank you to everyone who entered my 20 word story competition at Uckfield FM Expo last week.  It has been great fun reading through the entries.  Some of you managed to write a complete story in the twenty words while others began a story and left the ending to the readers imagination.

After some consideration the winner is Graham White with his intriguing story…

After lunch the fantasy started

with a fantastic crash.

Then came the triumphant bellow

as the elephant entered the room!


Congratulations to Graham. He is the winner of my singing donkey.



Twenty Word Stories

During the recent Uckfield FM Expo I showed my book Loose Ends which is a book of twenty word stories.  I ran a competition at my stand asking people to write their own 20 word story. There were some fascinating entries.

Here is an example from Graham White :

After lunch the fantasy started with a loud crash.

Then came the triumphant bellow

as the elephant entered the room!


This competition is open until Monday at 7pm.  Why not have a go at writing your own story in twenty words or less?

Loose Ends is available from Amazon



Uckfield Business Expo

Thank you to everyone who entered my competition to write their own 20 word story yesterday.  The competition is open until Monday 8th October and therefore I can’t announce a winner just yet.

However here are a couple of entries received so far …

She waited so long, then it happened.

The proposal, the baby, the house.

Finally everything was just as she’d dreamed.


He’d done it!

Proposed, a father a homeowner.

He felt trapped, alone and in debt.

He ended it!

The competition is open until Monday 8th October. Entries can be emailed to me at :

Do you have exciting achievements?



This basket of pears is an exciting achievement.  I have a lovely Conference pear tree in the garden which produces loads of fruit.  For the last 4 years they have completely disappeared over night – usually the day before I plan to pick them!  Not even one apple core or partially eaten piece of fruit is left as a clue.  My neighbours have come up with wonderful theories about pear loving foxes, hungry deer and even aliens.  I have tried protective sheeting, devices to scare scavengers  and frequent visits to the tree – nothing has worked.  This year I gave up on all the things I’ve tried in the past and left nature to ‘take its course’.  I’ve ended up with baskets of lovely fruit and I’ve been able to enjoy my very own home grown pears for the first time.

Time spent v Results

In business we often spend a lot of time tweaking procedures and streamlining systems.  Sometimes a small change can create a significant increase in productivity and profits.  However sometimes a large amount of time spent creates only a very small change – increase or decrease in outcome.  Sometimes when a system is left alone and changes happen around it, the results can be spectacular – as shown by my basket of pears.

Different types of issues

There is a wonderful saying, ‘If it isn’t broken don’t fix it’!  Add to this ‘Don’t sweat the small stuff’ and Paretos principle – the 80 / 20 rule, then the importance of assessing issues and identifying what is important emerges.  It is important to work out :

  • What are the main issues within your business?
  • What is going well and can be left as is?
  • Which issues can be tweaked to make them better?
  • Which issues need a considerable overhaul to be resolved?
  • Which issues can be left because either you don’t have a solution or you need a change in external factors to overcome the problem.

It is also important to remember the difference between procrastination and leaving an issue for a valid reason.

Do you need help to identify and resolve business issues?

Autumn is now officially underway and for many people it is the start of the busy Christmas season.  What are your business issues?  Have you taken the time to assess them and classify them in the categories listed above?  If you need help to review and classify the issues in your business,  please contact me for a free initial chat.  I look forward to talking to you.  I may even be able to offer you some pears!   T : 07769 865487

Is your business disaster proof?

What an amazing summer 2018 has been.  Now it has officially come to an end, it’s been classified as the hottest on record.  The extreme heat has been good for some businesses and not others.  It has been great for the ice cream industry, fan sales or air conditioning.  However it has stunted growth of plants and farmers are already saying that vegetables will be in short supply and expensive this winter.  Along with many people I have some very sorry looking plants in the garden!  However though several look dead, a close inspection shows that some are already showing signs of recovery.

I wonder how your business would cope if disaster hit – a natural disaster such as a flood or earthquake or a major change in customer choice such as the growth of veganism and dare I mention the impact of Brexit!

What can you do to safeguard your business to ensure it survives after a disaster

Here are five areas to consider :

  1. Insurance

Take time to read the small print and make sure you know what you are covered for.  In particular what happens if you are unable to use your current office space!  Consider options available.

  1. Disaster Recovery

Depending on your business, do you need to consider a disaster recovery policy so that your business can be up and running again within a fixed time period?

  1. Injury and illness

What would happen if you were ill and or injured and unable to work?  Do you have anyone who could take over your role and or run the business for you?  Could your business be temporarily shut down at short notice?

  1. Backup

Are your computer systems safe and backed up on a regular basis?  If your backup is manual, how good are you at remembering to do it?

  1. Stopping Work

If you had to stop work permanently – tomorrow,  what would happen to your business?  Would it survive to be passed on or sold or would it cease?  Have you planned for this?

The above are all really important issues for anyone who is self employed.  Not always the happiest of areas to work on, however we need to consider them and plan.  If you need help with these areas please do give me a call.  I may be able to help you consider the options and get your plans in place.

Barbara Hibbart

07769 865487


What is a degree worth?

After 3 exciting years at Bournemouth University my daughter has just graduated with a degree in Creative Events Management.  She has learnt a lot and was lucky to have really enjoyed the subject she choose to study.  Despite building loads of relevant work experience during her course, she has no clear idea of which aspect of events she wants to work in.  She has therefore left uni, like many, with a wealth of new knowledge and skills, life- long friends, a certificate,  a large debt and uncertainty about her future.

In the current world where debt and credit seems to be the norm, I wonder how new graduates view their student debt?  To me £45 k + debt for a 3 year degree would be a very scary position to start a career.  Yet young people seem to accept the debt or student loan as it is called and many view it as something they will never have to pay off.  The loan repayment starts when a graduates earnings reach £25k and any outstanding loan is written off at the age of 60.

Why do people often leave university with no clear career direction?  Firstly the lack of career guidance in schools can mean that many students fill in their UCAS forms with no clear idea of what they want to study.  They may also choose a degree for the wrong reasons ie the family have always been lawyers or to match their best friends choice.  Also many degree courses will turn out to be different from what is expected ie accountancy is very different from maths.   Sadly many students gain a degree in a subject they will never use and may even come to hate.

I would suggest that there is a need for universities to not only teach their subject but also to take responsibility for the future careers of their students.  To help to provide placements during the course and help to find relevant work for them during the long holidays.  Perhaps past students could  return to talk to current students and discuss how they have used their degree.  Lectures placed part way through the second year could cover career choices and options.  Lecturers could talk about their own career development.  Courses could cover basic cv writing, interview techniques and presentation skills.  In an ideal world students at Uni should have their career planned out before they start their dissertation at the beginning of year 3.  Then they can concentrate on their important final year knowing that there is a job waiting for them when they graduate.

I recently worked with someone who loved sport and therefore chose to study a sports degree.  Half way through the first term committed to a years rental agreement and having paid a years fees, they recognised their mistake.  A sports degree was very different from playing football and rugby!  Fortunately my client was brave enough to step back, talk to their parents and leave university.  After working with my client for a while they have now started a new career which they really enjoy.

Have you or has someone you know, recently left university with no clear idea of what to do next?  You may have loved your subject and not been quite sure how to use it or you may have discovered that the subject you studied is not for you?  I may be able to help you identify a new career path.  I am always happy to offer a free 30 minute, no obligation chat.  This will enable me to check that I can help you and will also ensure that you would feel comfortable working with me.  I look forward to talking to you about your future!

Barbara Hibbart

T : 07769 865487





What makes an effective Promotional Gift?



How often have you been to an exhibition and come home with a bag of gifts including odd pens and pencils that you throw away?  You may also have been given sweets, highlighter pens and pads of paper which may be useful but are not memorable!

For anyone who runs a small business it can be a nightmare to find an original and useful promotional gift, at an affordable price.  I would suggest that for a promotional gift to be effective it needs to include the following :

• Relevance to your business ie a USB from an IT company
• Personalised to your business ie business name and website
• Good quality – to reflect the quality of your business
• Easy to use for a specified purpose ie diary or desk diary
• Useful – ideally something kept with you ie secure credit card holder
• An original idea or an enhanced version of something  ie pen with a presentation pointer rather than just a pen

This morning at Heathfield Chamber Breakfast I was given a fantastic promotional gift from Melina Joy Opticians. It is a small pocket sized pouch with a glasses cloth inside. The cloth is a generous size, very colourful and feels like a quality item.   It also has a picture showing the inside of the showroom and useful contact details.  The cloth can be folded to fit in a glasses case or kept clean in the plastic pouch provided.  I personally don’t wear standard glasses however I am torn between keeping the cloth for sunglasses or passing it on to a family member who wears glasses on a daily basis!  Great job Melina – a really effective gift – especially when it was combined with a spray to clean glasses!

For original promotional gifts contact  Shirley Price –
For an eye check or glasses contact Melina Joy – 18.07.2018

Did you get an Advent Calendar last Christmas?


When I was a child the traditional Advent calendar was a cardboard picture with windows that revealed pictures of a toy.  One year there was a big break through when the pictures were replaced with pieces of shaped chocolate.  However for years after that the advert calendar format stayed the same.  Two years ago I noticed some  slightly more expensive Lindt calendars which came in a bigger box, included chocolate bunnies and a larger bunny for Christmas Day.  Then last year the market exploded with a wide range of exciting new advent calendars which were aimed at the adult marketThere were calendars with a different pack of chillies each day, a different bottle of artisan beer, make up, wine and even boxes with expensive bottles of vintage wine, champagne, artisan gin or rare malt whiskeys.  The established market for children’s calendars continued and yet a whole new and lucrative market had emerged!


What state is  your range of products and services in?   Are they static and stale or have they been regularly refreshed and developed to meet customer needs?  This is a great time of year to take a fresh look at your product range and ask yourself a few important questions :


  • Do I have a clearly defined range of products and services?
  • Have I marketed them effectively – so that my customers make the right decisions?
  • Which are my most popular products and services?
  • What have I done to develop what I offer?
  • Are my products and services meeting customer needs?
  • What can I do to add value to the existing range?
  • What new products and services can I introduce?


If you need help to review your products and services, please contact me for a FREE initial discussion.  Sometimes an independent view of your business can be invaluable!


Barbara Hibbart

Barbara@Barbara Hibbart

T : 07769 865487

How are your new year resolutions?

Happy New Year!


This is a great time of year for new beginnings, new ideas and trying something different. Many people make new year’s resolutions at this time of year – they are a great idea! However after the excesses of Christmas and the New Year celebrations wild statements such as ‘I’m never touching chocolate again’ or ‘I’m going to run five miles a day’ are unlikely to succeed. They’re usually not realistic and therefore when they fail are likely to become a de-motivator rather than a motivator.


I would suggest that replacing new year resolutions with clear and achievable business goals is far more rewarding. They are also far more likely to succeed! Think about what you want to achieve, jot it down and then turn it into a SMART goal where SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timed. (Only you know whether running 5 miles a day is possible, let alone realistic!)


When someone says ‘I’m never touching chocolate again’ in most cases they mean they want to reduce their chocolate intake. Therefore their initial statement could be turned into a SMART goal such as:

• From now until 1st May 2018 I will only eat chocolate on Sundays. OR
• From today I will eat no more than 1 x 100gm bar of chocolate a week.


Have a think about what you want for your business in 2018. Jot down your ideas and then spend a few minutes turning them into SMART goals. Ensure you refer to your goals regularly and check they stay relevant and SMART.


Good luck with creating your personal and business based goals for 2018. If you need any help to turn your jottings into SMART Goals, please let me know.


E :


Are you sitting on a pot of gold?


My featured short story for August, is about Charlie and is taken from my book – Loose Ends  :


Charlie went to bed.

The world moved on but he didn’t.

The world missed out.

His idea was brilliant!


In my story, Charlie has had a brilliant idea – I wonder what it was? Sadly he ‘moved on’ before he could develop and share it. Therefore Charlie, his family and potentially the world, missed out on his idea. It could have come to nothing or it could have been the current day equivalent of something amazing such as discovering penicillin or splitting the atom!


There are so many issues the world needs to solve such as :

  • A cure for the common cold
  • Growing enough food for everyone to be able to eat



Have you ever had a brilliant idea and then forgotten about it? Perhaps you’ve jotted it down and then never found the time to do anything with it? If your idea is sound, you could be sitting on a pot of gold!


How do you come up with and develop a brilliant idea?

Here is a simple process to work through :


  1. Be observant and open minded

Learn to recognise an issue that needs to be solved ie log jam in production

  1. Listen to customers and staff

They are likely to identify an issue ie reduce or re-use products that are wasted

  1.  Identify what is currently happening and what is needed

Identify the current steps in a process and investigate whether the result can be achieved in a different way ie making rather than buying in a component

  1. Test the idea

Create a mock-up, conduct market research or discuss with colleagues to assess how good the idea is.

  1. Eliminate bad ideas quickly

Once you have tested an idea, evaluate it rationally and dump it if it won’t work. Try to avoid wasting time and effort .

  1. Timing of ideas

Consider if your idea could be put into practise now ie remove an unnecessary procedure or is it an idea for future development ie driverless cars


If you have an idea and want to take it to market, there are specialist companies such as who can offer help.

Good luck with your brilliant ideas.  Let me know how you get on.  If you need some help to sort out your ideas, please contact me by email. 


E :

Loose Ends is available from Amazon ISBN 9781532922879