1. Our Data Protection Plan

    Our Data Protection Plan

    We are very conscious that there are new data protection laws coming in to effect on 25th May this year.  And to make sure we are absolutely compliant with the law, we are doing something DRASTIC!  We are wiping our old mailing lists and making a completely new one, so that we can be absolutely sure we are up to date with all the laws of the land.

    Our mailshot goes out twice a month: one is long, chatty, full of gardening tips and a great competition, and the second is really just to remind you we're there and perhaps inspire you to come on a workshop or a tour.  We don't clog your inbox by any means, and we aim to amuse, inspire, and inform with our newsletters.  

    So if you're already signed up for our newsletter, and would like to keep receiving them, then please sign up again here.  Equally, if you've never received our newsletter, then

  2. How to grow a kitchen table business

    How to grow a kitchen table business

    People who start kitchen table businesses usually do it because they are brilliant at the thing the business sells: bread making, sewing, designer making, jam, ironing, photography... often a hobby which could be turned into a small business.  And they might be brilliant at making patchwork, or flapjacks, or whatever it is, but they might also not have any business training.

    And this is where this day course in small business management comes in.

    Eight years ago, when I started Common Farm Flowers, I had no business training either, and I started my business because I was good at growing sweet peas and needed to do something which made me a living, but which I could do from home as I had two very small children, and didn't want to commute away from them every day.

    So my job is to share with you everything I've learned along the way: the difference between turnover and profit, how to make a cash flow forecast into a fun tool rather than a project which overwhelms,

  3. Working from home with kids

    Working from home with kids

    Spot the kiddliwinks?  

    And so the summer holidays begin their long roll.  Remember yours?  Mine were long, happy days, scented with the dusty, hot smell of harvesting corn (and then burning stubble - I grew up in arable country in East Anglia.)  And my fantasy is that my kids will have long, happy days, feeling feral, running wild around this little flower farm too.  

    People start kitchen table businesses for an endless list of reasons, and one of mine was that I wanted to work from home so that I would be around for the kids.  Ha! I should have examined my mother's own kitchen table business (she made patchwork quilts for a living,) more carefully.  I realise that my Mama arranged things so tht at the end of term she downed tools for the duration of the holidays, during which time she played perfect mama, rustling up amazing meals, thought of fun activities, took us on Anglia Holiday Club outings to the roller disco at the Corn Exchange

  4. Take the day off!

    Take the day off!

    Take the day off!

    Running a small business from your kitchen table, or, in my case, my greenhouse, is in some ways absolutely living the dream: I work from home, I work from outside, I'm answerable only to myself, every day is all about being creative... But running any business effectively is also extremely hard work. While all the above living-the-dream stuff is true, it's also true that if I don't think strategically I'll end up with no product to sell, if I don't pay my bills I'll spend time dealling with debt collectors when I'd rather be thinking creatively, if I don't get into that greenhouse day in and day out then I'll get behind... and then and then and then.  Sometimes I can feel imprisoned by my business.  

    And that's when it's time to let down my hair and escape from the castle (flower farm) that I've built around myself.

    If there's one thing I've learned over the years which is fundamental to the success of running a small business, that

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