Small Business Saturday

December 6, 2014

Bath is a fantastic city for shopping, we know that because coach loads of people come in, for that very reason, but how many of us stop and think about where we buy things.

With a little thought, we can all make small changes to help support our local traders – people who really do value your business, people who in turn, will spend their money locally and keep our local economy buoyant.

One initiative we can all support is Small Business Saturday (6th December) which encourages shoppers to ‘buy local’ on the first Saturday of December, of course we can all make changes and shop locally every day of the year.

So instead of buying your morning coffee from a large coffee shop chain, why not buy it from an independent coffee shop and next time you are looking for a gift, don’t head straight for the high street stores, seek out some of the fantastic array of quirky little shops that Bath has to offer.

The key thing here is that now we have so many more choices, and we often say the reasons for this are convenience and cost benefits. Your local shops are not always more expensive than supermarkets, and the advantages are that they can you offer a personal service and also a depth of knowledge of the products they sell.

The sad thing is that if we don’t use our independent businesses, we may lose them. One less customer a week for a small shop could mean closure within a matter of months.

So next time you go shopping think small first and shop local!

Why networking is important in business

October 24, 2014

On of the things that brings people together in communities is having something in common, whether that is where they live, or what their interests, beliefs or backgrounds are. Since the internet became part of our lives the word ‘community’ now describes more of a social unit that shares common values, and sadly some of the face to face contact is now non-existent.

Studies show that nearly 80% of all new business comes from networking, so meeting people face to face really is a time effective, engaging and informal way of doing business. But you can’t just turn up once and hope to make lots of contacts, you need to build relationships and trust by being there in person, regularly. And remember to have fun, most networking events are social occasions too, if you focus on building friendships, referrals will follow.

So why not step away from your computer, grab a handful of business cards and head off to a networking event, make it a goal to go to one a month at least.

Its not about how many followers or likes you have on social media platforms, its about real people, because we do live in a society, where ‘real’ people do business with ‘real’ people.

Why community still matters

September 2, 2014

One of the things that brings people together in communities is having something in common, whether that is where they live, or what their interests, beliefs or backgrounds are.

If we look at our ancestors, it is easy to see why communities were based around living in a particular location, perhaps in a village or small city.

People shopped at the local butcher, newsagent, baker and post office, and went there, not just for their shopping, but also to catch up on local gossip and to reinforce the bond they had with others living and working in the same location.

Since the internet became part of our lives the concept of a virtual community has much less of a geographical bias, with people joining online communities that consist of people from all over the world in some cases. The word community now describes more of a social unit that shares common values, and sadly some of the face to face contact is now non-existent.

We are all, and can be, part of many different types of community, and it’s worth taking a few moments to think about those, and why we are part of them.

Bath has its own diverse collection of communities, and is a small enough city that people can feel very much part of any number of these, all people need to do is go out there and engage with others.

I am very fortunate to live and work in Bath, and am part of a large number of communities in and around the city, mainly based around my leisure and work activities, but I am also part of much wider virtual communities which link me with people from all over the world. Sadly, I like many people, probably spend more time with my virtual acquaintances than my real ones.

As chairwoman of the Bath branch of the Federation of Small Businesses – a national community that supports the self employed and small business owners – one of the things I am continually striving to do is to bring the business community together. We do this through attending and hosting events, creating surveys and answering questions about local business issues, but also by meeting people face to face, and supporting other local businesses by shopping and buying locally.

Have we therefore gone full circle, in trying to get people to engage with each other, shop locally, meet face to face? Maybe it’s time to put the laptop down, forget about your online shopping and get out there and meet real people.

Please do come and say hello if you see me out and about in the city, or at an event, I am always happy to have a chat and to build on the real-life Bath community.

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To Do List Tips

August 15, 2014

Here are my top tips to help you create and use a TO DO LIST

  1. Create a TO DO LIST at the end of every day, so that when you start the following morning, you have something to focus on straight way before getting distracted.
  2. Prioritise your TO DO LIST tasks into things that need to be done today, or those that can wait – have a weekly and daily TO DO LIST if that helps.
  3. Split larger tasks into smaller more manageable ones, and tick off your TO DO LIST when complete – you gain a small sense of achievement when you see what you have done.
  4. Plan in time in your TO DO LIST for emergencies or things that crop up unexpectedly.
  5. Add a diary note for tasks that don’t need to be completed until a specific date, so that you don’t have to keep looking at them on your TO DO LIST every day.
  6. Make a note on your TO DO LIST of how long a task took you to complete, from start to finish, this should help you get less distracted.
  7. Don’t get bogged down by reading and responding to all your emails that come into your inbox, not all emails need to be reacted to straight away, so add to your weekly TO DO LIST if not urgent.
  8. See if some of your TO DO LIST tasks can be completed together, for example if you have to go to the bank, post office, get petrol and drop off dry-cleaning, save all of the tasks up and do together, rather than as they crop up.
  9. Give yourself 30 minutes a day (15 in the morning, 15 at lunchtime) to spend on web-based activities (social media, entertainment, news, weather, shopping, holidays etc) and be strict; this is probably one of the biggest time wasters of the 21st Century
  10. Add your allotted time to your TO DO LIST if necessary.
  11. Keep your desk and work area as clear as possible, if your TO DO LIST extends over many pages, keep the information in a file, so that things are easier to find when you need them.

Good luck in getting yourself organised. If the thought of a TO DO LIST fills you with dread, get in touch with us – we can at least get you started !

Angela MacAusland, chair of the Federation of Small Businesses: Aiming to nurture the young tycoons

April 25, 2014


Angela MacAusland, chair of the Federation of Small Businesses: Aiming to nurture the young tycoons

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Bath business champion Angela MacAusland backs Love to Shop Awards

April 18, 2014


Photo courtesy of Bath Chronicle

Love to Shop Awards Bath 2014

For more details on the story visit

Angela MacAusland, chairman of the Bath Federation of Small Businesses: Think small

March 20, 2014


For more details on this story visit–chairman-of-the-bath-federation-of-small-businesses–think-small/

Judges decide on shortlist for first Bristol and Bath Women in Business Awards

March 7, 2014


Personal assistance expert Angela MacAusland, who owns AMPMPA, has also entered the category, showcasing her work with the Save the Richmond Arms campaign and her election as chair of the Bath branch of the Federation of Small Businesses.

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The ying and yang of customer service

January 9, 2014

One of the things I strive to receive in my work and personal life is good customer service, yet all too often I find myself having to complain about awful service. I don’t like to name and shame companies but when my experience has been shockingly bad, I feel compelled to tell others, so they too can be on the watch out.

On the other hand, to balance things up, this morning I received an excellent level of service from another company, so I have given below some of details, so that you can see the differences.

Company 1
I have an i-Phone and I have phone insurance, I also run a business and have to complete VAT returns every quarter, so naturally everything I pay VAT on, I need to have copies of. So I phoned my insurance company to retrieve this information.

2 phone calls later, totaling around 45 minutes (mostly on hold with ear-bleeding loud hold music) I was initially informed that the monthly premiums ‘included VAT’ but when I asked if I could be sent a copy for my VAT return, I was informed that a) they didn’t usually do this and b) they couldn’t provide anything showing the VAT breakdown, but c) that VAT was definitely included in the monthly payments and d) they could send me a statement but it would only show payments, not VAT.

Both people I spoke to didn’t really understand what I was asking of them and had to keep ‘putting me on hold’ so they could ask ‘their manager’. I thought the request was simple enough, so after not receiving a resolution, I ended the conversation (and contract) by saying “I’ll make this easier for you, I would like to cancel the contract” to which the answer was ‘OK sorry about that, let me take some details’.

The result, I didn’t get a resolution to my query, they lost a customer (and I don’t think they even cared about it either – which was worse).

The company was: The Geek Squad (Part of Carphone Warehouse).

Company 2
Being a keen runner, I rely on my equipment, so when the USB connector for my GPS running watch failed to work, I phoned the company, explained the situation. They asked me for my serial number, email address and postal address and informed me they would send out a replacement. Gave me a case number and asked ‘is there anything else I can help you with today?’. I was put on hold, but only for seconds, and the total time of the phone call was less than 5 minutes.

The result, a happy customer, who will tell all her running friends how good the company was at dealing with the issue.

The company was: Garmin

So 2 sides of the coin there, 2 different days, 2 different companies, 2 different experiences. I do ask myself if this was down to the experience (or inexperience) of the customer service advisers or whether ‘company policy’ comes into play at all in these situations.

If I do receive bad service on the phone, I usually ask if my phone conversation is being recorded ‘for training purposes‘, and I will say ‘I hope this is being recorded, and that you will use it in future to teach your staff how not to treat your customers’.

I may be a tough cookie, but after having spent a lot of time developing and teaching people in the workplace, and working with call handlers in customer service centres, I know that most companies would cringe if they heard the way their front line staff are talking to their customers.

In summary, don’t put up with bad customer service.

Angela MacAusland is new leader of Bath’s Federation of Small Businesses

December 8, 2013


Angela MacAusland is new leader of Bath’s Federation of Small Businesses

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