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Blue Eyed Sun Blog

  • Business Ambition with Peter Jones from Dragons Den

    Jeremy Corner Peter Jones

    Watch Blue Eyed Sun MD, Jeremy Corner, on a Facebook Live panel session with Dragon's Den star and tycoon, Peter Jones. The panel was led by Kevin Poulter and included Janice B Gordon, both fellow Sage Business Experts. Organised by Sage the broadcast on 13th June was part of their ongoing support for business builders.

    The discussion included topics like ambition, what makes British business great, brexit, greeting cards and BambooCups. The evening continued with a fireside chat between Peter Jones and Sage CEO, Stephen Kelly. Attended by Sage customers it was fascinating to listen to Peter's journey and to hear tips for businesses within the audience.

    Click on the link to download a free ebook on Business Ambition.

    You can watch the playback of the discussion by clicking on the image below:

    NB. There are some issues with viewing this video internationally. We are working on this.

  • How to make your business fly

    How To Make Your Business Fly

    Running a business is a bit like flying a plane. Here's why and how to make your business fly.

    We all have key numbers in our businesses (often referred to as KPI’s - Key Performance Indicators) that we need to track on a regular basis. They’re kind of like the dials you’d use to fly an airplane. To help fly your business safely you need to measure and understand your customers, your products, your financials, your employees and your suppliers. 

    The dials are essential but they are not the whole deal. If we spend all of our time looking at them and not paying attention to what’s around us we can still crash. The information they provide is there to inform the decisions that pre-empt our actions. If we are only focussed on data and aren’t taking action we will also come unstuck. 

    Alternatively, if we don’t look at the dials and the environment, and simply rely on our intuition or feelings, we can be prone to making rash decisions. Actions taken without considering relevant information can also lead to injury. Before we take off, you need to understand what gives your business lift.

    Leveraging Numbers

    The numbers within the numbers are also important. You can have an overview of total sales from your customers, but if you don’t know that 80% of your sales come from 20% of your customers you could waste a lot of your time targeting the wrong customers in your marketing.

    The 80/20 rule was first noted by the Italian economist Vilfedo Pareto at the University of Lausanne in 1896. Also known as the Pareto Principle, it states that roughly 80% of effects come from 20% of causes. It’s not a completely fool-proof system, but it can give useful insights into your business.

    You can use it on almost anything in your life to help you focus on taking action on the things that matter most and to minimise time spent on the things that matter the least.

    Imagine, for example, that 70% of your profits come from 30% of your customers. Although it’s not an 80/20 split it still adheres to Pareto’s Principle. Do you know if this is the case in your business? Do you know who these customers are? How do you categorise them? 

    Let’s say your customers break down into three categories: 10% are raving fans (who love you and buy regularly), 20% normal customers (who buy occasionally) and 70% prospects (that haven’t purchased yet). How do you allocate your resources to these three categories of customer? 

    Most businesses allocate 70% of their time and money to acquiring new customers (the prospects), 20% to their normal customers and 10% to their raving fans.

    When you look at your numbers you invariably realise that the bulk of your profits come from your raving fans. They are also the ones most likely to refer you to others. Acting on the Pareto numbers within the numbers can then help you to take action on staying closer to your raving fans and allocating your resources more efficiently towards them (For example: 70% to your fans, 20% to your customers and 10% to prospects). Understanding the 80/20 rule can take your business to new heights.

    Customer Numbers

    It’s important to know your customers well, how many you have, how may you lose each year and how many you gain. Which are the most profitable and who are your raving fans? What patterns do they share will help you figure out how best to please them and target others like them? How many prospects do you find each year and how many do you convert into customers? How likely is it that your customers will refer your business to others (a.k.a. Net Promoter Scores).

    All of this data falls into areas largely within your control. It’s useful to track, because it can help you take actions like invest in marketing or product development to reduce customer churn. It’ll also help you to pay close attention to those customers that are most important to your business.

    Numbers outside of your control can also help. 

    For example, how large is the total card market (currently £1.75 Billion at retail) and what is the size of your market share share? If there’s room to grow and the market’s growing then you might also decide to act by investing your resources accordingly.

    Products and Service

    You need to know which products are most profitable and which are most popular in your business.  It’s surprising how many business owners don’t know their best sellers. They even allow top products to run out of stock because they are enticed by the next shiny new thing. That’s like letting your plane run out of fuel when you are flying high. 

    How well do you service your customers? How fast do you turn around your orders? Do you track this each week? How successfully do you fulfil orders (are there shortages?) How many quality issues do you have each month? How many complaints? How many compliments? If you don’t track these numbers you will suffer over time as your disgruntled customers leave or complain about your business instead of referring it to others.

    With products, remember to cut your poor performers too. Stay well stocked on best sellers and clear slow moving stock quickly. Know your numbers and own those mistakes as soon as you can. 


    It’s obviously important to know your cost of sales, profit margins, overheads and turnover. It’s worth tracking sales orders received each month and sales invoiced (orders shipped) to see what’s ahead. 

    What’s most important though is tracking cash flow. Loss of profit will slowly cause your plane to descend over time. Not having enough cash in your business is like turning the engines off mid air. 

    You need a cash flow forecast that acts as your map and then it needs to be checked against what actually happens each month. The map is not the territory. Knowing your monthly overheads and seasonal variables will help with managing these numbers.

    Knowing financial data that is outside of your control is also useful. For example, high levels of inflation means that even as consumers spend more, they can afford fewer goods. When inflation is low we might see volumes of sales go up and the volumes may fall when inflation is high. Tracking the climate around you helps you stay grounded when times are tough.

    Employee Numbers

    How likely are your employees to recommend your business as a good place to work? How many days do you lose to absence? What’s productivity like within your company? How much do you spend on training and personal development with your team members? Who are the weakest links on your team? Are you helping them to improve or terminating their services so that you can replace them with a stronger member of your team? A team of inflight crew are only as strong as their weakest link. They all need to be aware of what the customers want (a safe and comfortable flight) and all work together to provide it.


    What about your suppliers? Who performs well and who doesn’t? Can you track their reliability and sales performance? Do you have good communication with them to highlight issues and praise them on good performance?

    If you use sales agents, tracking sales orders received and sales orders shipped is vital to avoid missing important customer orders and to make sure the market reality (sales) meets your expectations (targets).

    Numbers are only useful if you use them to inform your decision making and take action based on those decisions. If sales aren’t going well, you know the numbers and you don’t do something about it you will suffer even more later.

    Remember that you can’t cover every detail when making a decision. If you think about it you can never take enough data into consideration. So it’s important to decide on the key metrics that you need. What are the vital dials are on your dashboard? What information will cause you to crash if you don’t keep an eye on it and take appropriate action? Remember that you can only act on things that are within your control. We can steer the ship and adjust the sails, but we can’t control the weather.

    This is important to remember so that you can avoid anxiety about the numbers. A good pilot doesn’t stress about the dials and numbers before her. She stays calm and uses them to take action no matter the circumstances.

    How to Future Proof your Retail business

    The importance of Story for your Retail Brand

  • PG Live 2018 - Essential Info

    PG Live 2018 - Essential InfoBlue Eyed Sun will soon be exhibiting at the PG Live 2018 trade show . Officially launching at PG Live 2018 are our beautiful new Christmas cards 2018. See our best selling BambooCup range and pre-order our latest everyday cards. Be sure to stop by and see us.

    Quote Voucher code PGL18 when ordering during the show (online or offline) for FREE CARRIAGE.

    About PG Live 2018

    The International Greeting Card Show is a highlight on card buyers' calendars as the UK's only trade exhibition dedicated to the greeting card industry. It runs for two days from Tuesday 5th June to Wednesday 6th June from 09:30 - 18:00 at the Business Design Centre in Islington, London.

    To register for PG Live please click here.

    Where to Stay at PG Live 2018

    The closest hotels to the show are the HiltonPremier Inn and Double Tree by Hilton a short walk away with prices from £75-£150. However as the show opens next week they seem to be fully booked now. You can search AirBnB for apartments and rooms nearby.

    Where to Eat at PG Live 2018

    Islington has many wonderful restaurants and cafes. We've sampled lots of them over the years and have short listed some of our favourites for you to try below:

    5 Great Restaurants near the Business Design Centre

    How to get to PG Live 2018

    The Business Design Centre is easily accessible from Angel Tube station on the Northern Line and is close to Kings Cross and Euston rail stations. The Business Design Centre's post code is N1 0QH. It's outside the Congestion Charge Zone  and there are 250 car spaces on site with a daily cost of £3.10 per hour.

    You can plan your journey with the TFL journey planner or you might like to download the mobile app CityMapper which we love using for journey planning in London.

    For more information on travel for the show click here.

    Can't make the show? Click here to request access all of our designs online.

  • New Christmas Cards for 2018 from Blue Eyed Sun

    A Touch of Sparkle Greeting CardsChristmas falls on Tuesday 25th December 2018, and we like our retailers to be prepared well in advance of this key retail period, so here's what Christmas cards are new from us this year...

    A TOUCH OF SPARKLE (above) are based on original stitched artworks by Jo Corner. Foiled and hand glittered this lovely new range includes 30 best selling captions. These wonderful 160mm x 170mm (8x6 inch) Christmas cards are blank inside and come individually cello-wrapped with a red envelope.

    BISCUIT (below) are based on beautiful original artworks by Jo Corner. Each card is handmade with acetate and hand finished with jewels, the range includes 39 gorgeous Christmas captions. They are 120mm square and come cello-wrapped with a red envelope.

    We have a large selection of Christmas cards online in the trade only section of our site, including many that are on special offer. To stock these ranges in your shop click here. If you'd like to see them in your local shop please tell them and point them in the direction of or you can recommend a shop to us by clicking here. You can also visit our stockists page to find a store near you that may be selling them.

    You can see these wonderful new Christmas cards first in person at:

    PG Live 2017 at the Business Design Centre in London 5-7 June 2018 - Stand 524

    Home and Gift at the Harrogate International Centre 15-18 July 2018 -  Stand DP1-D110

    Autumn Fair at the NEC in Birmingham 2-5 September 2018 - Stand 4A35

    Biscuit Greeting Cards

  • Pulse 2018 - Essential Information

    Pulse 2018Pulse 2018 features many of Britain's leading design-led greeting card publishers. Here are the essentials you need for this top trade show for retailers:

    For free tickets to Pulse please click here.

    When is Pulse 2018?

    Pulse 2018 runs from Sunday 13th May until Tuesday 15th May from 09:30 - 18:00 at Olympia in London and features a stunning edited showcase of over 1,500 hand picked brands. 

    Where to Eat at Pulse

    We've tried lots of different places to eat near Pulse. Here are some of our favourites:

    5 Great Restaurants near Olympia and 5 Great Restaurants in Earls Court.

    Where to Stay at Pulse

    Olympia is well serviced for hotels and there are good transport links to local London areas.

    Click here for an interactive map of hotels near Pulse

    How to Get to Pulse

    There's an overland train to Olympia Station to Pulse 2018 from Shepherd's Bush (central line) or West Brompton (District Line)Click here for the TFL website.

    The Sat Nav post code for Olympia is W14 8UX for drivers. You can park next to the venue. Do book in advance as it is more expensive on the day. Click here to book parking at Olympia.

    What's new from Blue Eyed Sun?

    Blue Eyed Sun are showing their new BambooCup range of gorgeous reusable coffee cups made from bamboo. With the drive to reduce single use plastic lined coffee cups, reusable coffee cups are a hot product category for retailers right now. Don't miss them on Stand L53.

    They are previewing their gorgeous new card range called Biscuit at Pulse 2018. You can also preorder from their Gorgeous Christmas selection and their other best selling ranges.

    Click here to see what's new from Blue Eyed Sun

    To order Blue Eyed Sun's new designs for your shop or request a brochure click here.

  • Business and the Environment

    Business and the Environment

    Someone cynically once said to me that people can only be environmentally conscious when they can afford to be financially. It sounded like a reasonable argument at the time, although these days I’m less sure. That’s because there now appears to be real momentum for environmental change, despite that fact that we are not currently experiencing a boom in the economy. 

    Britain recently successfully implemented the 5p plastic bag levy, which has contributed to a 90% reduction in their use. We’ve literally slashed consumption of single use plastic shopping bags by billions and there’s even talk of introducing the levy in retailers with fewer than 250 employees.

    Single use plastic straws are now in the firing line with bars, restaurants and cafe’s around the world no longer offering them as standard in order to discourage unnecessary plastic waste. Single use plastic lined coffee cups may also soon be targeted with a latte levy. Waitrose are committed to removing all single use coffee cups from stores this year. Pret a Manger and Starbucks already offer discounts to customers using their own cups (more on cups later).

    Changing Habits

    What’s significant about these changes is that people are actively engaging with habit change. If you can carry reusable shopping bags in your car, rucksack or handbag then why not carry a spare reusable cup? Changing habits aren’t just limited to reducing plastic consumption they’re also affecting what we consume everything from goods to food to power.

    This is exciting for the world as we move to embrace environmentally friendly renewable energy sources like wind and solar. There’s also been a rise in the number of vegans and vegetarians. Netflix hits like Cowspiracy and What the Health have emphasised the importance of eating less meat in order to save the planet’s resources and reduce CO2 emissions. Viral internet hits like the Story of Stuff are affecting the way consumers purchase, with a shift from goods to foods and experiences.

    The most important thing to be aware of with these changes is that they are increasing as people get more comfortable with making these small adjustments in their lives.

    Ideal World

    I guess in an ideal world we’d completely reduce or offset our carbon footprints. Perhaps we’d stop consuming altogether and live more simple lives. We might reduce our number of fashion items like those taking part in Project 333 or we could even move into a tiny house or a van conversion to minimise our impact on the planet. We may even decide not to have kids (one fewer child per family is said to save 58 tonnes of CO2 equivalent emissions per year). 

    These extreme alternatives are also growing in popularity, especially amongst millennials. It’s important that we start to become aware of these shifts so that we can accommodate them in our business models and avoid losing valuable customers.

    What can we do?

    As someone who loves to buy and send cards, I personally don’t want to throw the baby out with the bath water. I don’t find Facebook messages and SMS’s nearly as intimate as sending a card (besides, even websites contribute to CO2 consumption). I find writing cards with my fountain pen a soulful and profound way of connecting with my fiends and loved ones. 

    I’m not just saying that because I publish cards. I genuinely love them and always have done. If you watch The Greeting Card Project videos I made on YouTube last year you can see the effect sending more cards has on us. For those that love to send and receive cards they have real meaning and importance.

    Having said all of that, the environment is important to us too. How can we reconcile these two seemingly polarised values? How can we reduce the impact we have on the environment and still enjoy doing something we love?


    The first thing to figure out is what we are buying and where does it come from? For example, are the boards and papers ethically sourced from responsibly managed sources? At Blue Eyed Sun we have been using FSC boards since we first started although we don’t actively promote this on the backs of our cards (partly because we are design snobs and find the logo unsightly on the card backs and partly because administratively burdensome chain of custody requirements). FSC stands for the Forest Stewardship Council and is one of several organisations that promote responsible management of the world’s forests. It verifies that cetified cards are not made from rainforests.

    We are currently carrying out a company wide audit of all of our material components. Once this is completed we will be able to pinpoint areas for improvement. We’ll also be in a better position to communicate the environmental provenance of our cards to our fans and advise them on how best to recycle them when ready. 


    It’s all very well doing the right thing, it’s also important to spread the word and let your customers know the facts about your products so that they can make informed decisions. This includes being transparent on your website about where your products are sourced and how best to recycle them.

    Having environmental and social responsibility policies that you can share on your website helps with this sort of thing. Once we have all the facts about our sources this will be easier to communicate.


    Of course, being environmentally friendly doesn’t just stop with our products. How we run our businesses on a daily basis also affects our environmental impact on the world. Are your lightbulbs still tungsten based for example or have you switched to lower wattage alternatives? Our new production and distribution facility is fully equipped with LED lighting, which saves on electricity consumption. 

    We also recycle the majority of our waste at Blue Eyed Sun, which I thought was pretty good until I met Bruce Podmore from Windles at a recent GCA National Council meeting. His factory recycles over three tonnes of nails from his pallets each year and uses the wood from them to fuel his heating (reducing their bill by a phenomenal 85%). 

    Not only is Windles actively working to minimise their environmental footprint for the good of the planet, these actions are making good financial sense too. Their frequency controlled fluorescent lighting has reduced power consumption by 85% and saving money in the process. Their staff are more engaged with solutions and improvements. They’ve even won awards for their hard work in this area.

    What inspired me most about Windles is how they’ve  systematically identified areas for improvement throughout their business and are continually working towards reducing their environmental impact. This is the key I think. To start taking some steps. One at a time. Lots of small ones as many big ones as you can manage.

    For us, solar panels is the next big investment goal we are working towards to reduce our consumption from the grid. It’ll take time, but long term we will feel proud of making a difference using it.

    Working Together

    At the GCA we are working hard to try and improve communication of factual information surrounding the use of foils, glitter, recycling and so forth. There’s still so much to be understood and it’s important to share resources, learning and best practice. 

    It’s tempting for any business in the industry to use such knowledge to gain competitive advantage over others. To do this is to miss the bigger picture. We all need to work and act together to show how we can minimise our environmental impact on the world. We only have one planet after all.

    New Products

    As we continue to work hard to improve the environmental credentials of our greeting cards and the way we work as a business at Blue Eyed Sun, I’m also very excited about a recent exclusive distribution deal we’ve signed for a range of Bamboo Products. 

    BambooCup is an environmentally friendly alternative to single use plastic lined coffee cups, 2.5 billion of which go into landfill in the UK each year. Reusable cups are a booming category in retail and we are thrilled to be involved in a fast growing niche that’s making a difference to our planet.

    We still love publishing cards. Now we want to offer our customers even more.

    Find out more about BambooCup

    CelloBags and Recycling

    How to Change Your Habits for Good

  • Blue Eyed Sun to distribute BambooCup in UK and Ireland

    BambooCup - DistributorBlue Eyed Sun have signed an exciting distribution deal with design-led German company Chic Mic to distribute the BambooCup, SlideCup and BambooFriends giftware brands in the UK and Ireland.

    BambooCup is a beautiful range of eco-friendly, reusable coffee cups which are having a phenomenal response in the UK on the back of the drive to cut single use plastic.

    “We have been working with Chic Mic for several years in Germany and Austria, where they distribute Blue Eyed Sun’s handmade greeting cards to hundreds of stores. Their BambooCup stand at Spring Fair was mobbed with retailers who were quick to recognise the fast growing product trend in 2018 for sustainable eco solutions to the problem of single use plastics. We are excited to have come on board as the exclusive UK and Ireland distributor for these fantastic products.” - Jeremy Corner, MD, Blue Eyed Sun and incoming Chairman of the Giftware Association.

    BambooCup is designed to reduce the 2.5 billion plastic lined single use cups which go to landfill each year. Made mainly from sustainable, fast growing bamboo fibre and tested to the highest standards, these cups feel lovely to hold. There are over 50 contemporary designs in the collection. BambooCup includes a patented, lockable lid made from bamboo (unlike competitor cups whose lids are made from silicon) and a thermal sleeve. Dishwasher safe, odour free and taste neutral, BambooCup is available with great looking point of sale solutions including a 96 pocket floor stand and a 36 pocket counter top stand.

    With lots of exciting new products planned for the coming year, follow @BambooCupUK on social media to keep up to date with the latest news.

    Email or call 01273 823003 to request a price list and catalogue.

    See these fantastic cups in person at one of our forthcoming trade shows


    BambooCup - Floor Stand

  • How to deal with shame in business

    Shame in businessEverybody loves hearing stories of successful businesses and entrepreneurs. Most business owners aspire to sail their own ships with the hope of financial gain. And yet, even the best laid plans so often go awry.

    Around 300,000 businesses die every year in the UK (whilst 400,000 are born). Competition is fierce and it takes focus, determination and luck to succeed in a world that seems to change at an increasingly rapid pace each year.

    The transcendentalist Henry David Thoreau famously wrote that “the mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.” Currently it appears that many retailers and suppliers are silently struggling to cope with poor sales, increased costs, lower profits and the threat of potential failure.

    Shame of Failure

    Failure in itself is not the biggest issue for business owners though, it’s the stigma of shame and the suffering that might come with it that most find hardest to bear. This sense of shame can have damaging consequences on health, confidence and well being.

    Ideally we’d all have a sense of detachment from our businesses and the objects in our lives that are the achieved through financial success. More often than not we don’t. We identify ourselves with our status and get attached to an idea of ourselves (our ego). This is not surprising when we’ve poured blood, sweat and tears into our business endeavours and associate this with who we are.

    When faced with failure people can choose to act in ways that cause even more harm, pain and suffering to themselves and those around them. They may lie to conceal the reality of the situation, they may cheat in a desperate attempt to fix things and in the most extreme cases they may even take their own lives.

    Most people in these situations don’t want sympathy. This only makes it worse. They need empathy. They need someone who can see the world from their perspective in a non-judgemental way. They need to feel heard. It’s so important to understand each other’s feelings and to let them know.

    If you know of someone in a situation where they might be experiencing a sense of shame, a card is a great way of reaching out and letting them know that you care and are there to listen to them when they need it. A phone call or coffee together is even better.

    Identifying Shame

    If you are finding yourself in a difficult situation with your business right now and you feel ashamed about it, the first thing to do is to recognise that feeling. It’s most often linked to expectations you have of yourself or that others have of you. Certain people, situations, words or self talk will trigger the feeling for you and it’s important to be aware of what these are.

    So often we feel like it’s all us, we are the only one in this situation, it’s my fault, something is wrong with me. Because of the expectations of ourselves and others, we can often place ourselves under incredible pressure, making the situation even worse. It helps to take a step back.

    Reality check

    The truth is we are almost never alone with any given situation. We are not the only ones who suffer from expectations. The world at large affects all of us. If you are caught in a storm don’t blame yourself for the weather.

    I recently attended a talk by an economist on the future of the British economy. With Brexit, squeezes on living standards, increased costs, low income growth, low GDP growth and the retreat of consumers it’s continuing to be a challenging time to be a business owner. Particularly in the retail and wholesale sectors.

    Make sure that your expectations are realistic. Normalise your situation and be aware that you cannot control how others perceive you. Taking your focus away from yourself and seeing the bigger picture can be help to alleviate your sense of shame.

    Connect and Change

    Sharing our stories also helps to normalise situations and feelings connected to shame. You need to be brave to practice this one as it can feel vulnerable.

    Because I often write about positive stories and subjects in this column I am very much aware that I could come across to readers as some kind of know-it-all that has it everything sorted in my business and my life.

    Nothing could be further from the truth. I have good times and bad. I get some things right and have made spectacular mistakes which have cost me thousands of pounds. I try to help others as much as possible and I know that sometimes I have inadvertently ended up causing suffering. I have experienced hardship in both life and business and have at times felt truly ashamed of myself.

    To deal with this sense of shame it’s important to reach out and share your feelings with someone that can empathise. They don’t have to be an expert. They just have to hear you.

    Next you need to create change. Take an action that will help to change the situation you find yourself in.

    Asking for help

    Have you ever noticed that no matter how lost a man is he will rarely ask for help? It’s such a classic stereo type that I chuckle whenever I see it or catch myself doing it.

    We often don’t ask for help when we need it and there are people out there who are happy to give it to us. Sometimes we convince ourselves that we don’t need it and then get angry with our loved ones for not reading our minds and giving it to us.

    It’s so important to express how we feel and ask for what we need. Sounds easy enough, right? Sometimes we feel ashamed to ask. Asking somehow solidifies the situation we are in.

    The truth is you can’t hide from it anyway. It won’t go away. So be brave. Ask for help if you need it. You are braver for asking than not.


    If there are people in your life who trigger shame in you when you speak to them be aware of these triggers. Change the subject or avoid seeing them and then make sure you spend time with those who are great at empathising.

    Become a good empathiser yourself and you will draw more of this into your life. You can help others by being compassionate.

    Avoid blaming others as this promotes shame in the world. Shame is a cruel tool that does more harm than good. No matter what anyone says, you cannot shame people into altering their behaviour. So don’t do it.


    I’ve described how shame can cause suffering when things are difficult in business. Though this can be extended to a whole load of other things in your life that you might have shame triggers for. Your body, a relationship that didn’t work out, your role as a parent, your career, the list is endless.

    Shame and suffering are invariably caused by our expectations and desires. Sometimes we aren’t even aware that they don’t belong to us. We’ve picked them up from somewhere or someone else. Keep your expectations realistic. Know were they come from. Are they really yours? Then try to not identify your expectations with your own sense of self. Mindful detachment will mean less suffering and pain in  the long run.

    This will pass

    I can safely say that every time that I have found business or life tougher (and felt like a failure) has led to a new phase of growth both personally and in business. If you are finding it difficult. Remember that this too will pass.

    Be grateful for all of the good things in your life. Practice self care by not being too hard on yourself and giving yourself a break. Take action to prevent things getting worse. Most importantly, remember that you are not alone. No matter how bad things may feel, someone else will have experienced it too. Take comfort in this and remember to ask for help if you need it.

    Eight ways to deal with Failure

    Lessons in Creativity

    How to cope when things go wrong

  • The Farm Shop and Deli Show 2018 - Essential Information

    Farm Shop Deli Show 2018

    The Farm Shop and Deli Show 2018 brings together a huge range of products in an inspirational showcase of over 450 outstanding British suppliers in Hall 1 at the National Exhibition Centre (NEC) in Birmingham, United Kingdom.

    Register for FREE tickets to The Farm Shop and Deli Show by clicking here

    When is The Farm Shop and Deli Show 2018?

    Farm Shop & Deli Show runs from Monday 16th April until Wednesday 18th April from 10:00 - 17:00 each day.

    Where to Eat at The Farm Shop and Deli Show 2018

    If you've still got room after loading up on sample tasting, here are some of our favourite restaurants nearby:

    5 Great Restaurants near the NEC

    Where to Stay at The Farm Shop and Deli Show

    Consider hotels in Birmingham City Centre (which is a short train ride from the NEC).

    Find accommodation for the show here

    How to get to The Farm Shop and Deli Show 2018

    The sat nav post code is B40 1NT. Parking on site is free. There are free shuttle buses to take you around the complex.

    Birmingham International Rail Station is a 5 minute walk from the show as is Birmingham International Airport. It is an 80 minute train ride from London Euston Rail Station.

    Save 25% on Virgin Rail Advance Tickets

    Seminars at The Farm Shop and Deli Show 2018

    There are some fantastic speakers at this year's show:

    Click here for a full list of seminars and events.

    What's New from Blue Eyed Sun at The Farm Shop and Deli Show

    Blue Eyed Sun is launching their new BambooCup range on Stand A69 in Hall 1. Do come and say hi.

    Click here to see what's new from Blue Eyed Sun

    Quote coupon code: FSDS18 when ordering during the shows (online or offline) for a FREE FLOOR STAND when ordered fully stocked.

    Can't make the show? Click here to request access all of our designs online.

    Read 12 Top Tips for Trade Show Visitors

  • How to change your habits for good

    How To Change HabitsAre you choosing habits that best serve your interests, the goals of your businesses and your community at large? This post looks at why we do what we do and how you can change your habits.

    Often, choices that we might feel considered, are not. They are habits. A 2006 study found that 40% of the actions we take every day aren’t decisions, they are habitual. These routines can have significant impact on our health, wealth and happiness.

    We are the results of our routine behaviour. For example, someone with a muscled physique will regularly exercise and eat well. Someone calm and centred, like the Dalai Lama, will practice daily meditation, prayer, mindfulness.

    We all know we should change from some habits which are no good for us and yet we often persist in doing them. Why?

    How Habits Work

    Scientists believe that habits emerge because our brains are constantly looking for ways to save effort and energy. The brain will turn any routine behaviour into a habit if you let it. To do this our brains go through a three step loop to trigger ‘habit mode’ (thereby conserving effort) instead of a different mode.

    The first step is a cue that triggers our brain to go into automatic mode and which habit to use. Second is the routine, which can be physical, mental or emotional. The third step is the reward, which helps your brain to assess if this particular loop is worth remembering for the future.

    This three step loop of cue - routine - reward becomes automatic over time. Powerful senses of anticipation and craving then become linked with the cues and rewards in particular.

    Habits are powerful because they create neurological cravings that pre-empt the actual receiving of our reward in the three step loop. For example, supermarkets use smells of freshly baked bread and roasted chicken to trigger cravings before we even arrive in the bakery or deli sections. We feel the craving prior to even seeing, purchasing or eating the food.

    The good news is that habits aren’t set in stone. They can be altered, substituted and ignored. What’s so important about the three step loop is that because your brain is working less hard when in ‘habit mode’ you have to choose to fight the habit and introduce new routines in order to change it.

    How to Create New Habits

    To successfully change our habits we first have to recognise which craving is driving our behaviour.

    For instance, if you want to send more greeting cards it’s essential that you choose a simple cue (a birthday calendar on your fridge door) and you need a clear reward (the sense of accomplishment when posting the card).

    These are not enough on their own though, because your brain has to start expecting the reward in order for it to become a habit. To do this companies create cravings. Cravings are the reason toothpaste tastes minty instead of sugary and Febreze is fragrant rather than odourless. Having these qualities makes us crave tingling teeth and fresh smelling homes.

    Does this happen with cards? Do textures and fine boards help foster cravings because we have such a tactile relationship with wood and paper? Or do elements like characters, humour and sentiment cause cravings instead?

    Before the advent of social media we might have said that the craving behind greeting cards was to feel that sense of love and connection with friends and loved ones. Now we all get these feelings on a daily basis via our mobile devices.

    The notifications on our phones cause cravings. The ping, ping, ping sounds and even the red circles with numbers on them on our social media icons all trigger surges of serotonin (the happy hormone) in our brains before we’ve even opened the apps; before we’ve engaged and received our rewards of instant connection to our loved ones.

    Once you’ve identified the craving that drives your behaviour you need to adapt a new strategy to affect a change in your routine.

    The Secret to Habit Change

    The truth is you can’t get rid of a bad habit, you can only change it. To do this you keep the old cues and rewards and substitute a new alternative routine. Almost any behaviour can be changed in this way. Over time the cravings then reset with positive habits that add more benefit to your life than the old ones.

    In other words, the brain can be programmed, as long as you are deliberate about it.

    For example, recently I noticed that I’d gotten into the habit of spending an hour on social media and reading news before getting up each morning. This habit doesn’t benefit me at all because it allows other people and events to occupy my mind which affects my cortisol levels (stress hormones) before I’m even out of bed.

    In order to change I identified that I had a craving to get things done as soon as I woke up. The trouble is I was confusing being busy with being effective. Having my phone by my bed was my cue. I switched this cue for my journal, which is now the first thing I grab every day upon waking. I write down five things I am grateful for, how my life would be without them and how I came to have them in my life (Try this, it will change your life. I picked it up from my good friend and life coach Janet Mohapi-Banks). Then I write three pages of my journal to uncage my monkey mind, before meditating for ten minutes and then going for a short run. Upon return I have the reward of having accomplished things that benefit me and prime me for my day ahead.

    To change effectively, I also rely on the help of a new group I joined.

    Group Power

    Change happens when we believe that it is feasible. You must believe that you can alter your behaviour. If you don’t, it’s difficult to make any progress.

    All change happens in an instant. Snap. You make a decision that you will not suffer another day like this, you cannot carry on, you need to focus on a new direction. The first trick with these moments is to not hesitate. Take an action within five seconds that moves you towards attaining your new goal. Enroll at that gym and schedule the training time in, empty your booze down the sink, book that hypnotherapy session to quit smoking.

    It’s key that you believe in your new direction. More often than not, that belief emerges with the help of a group. If you want to raise your standards, figure out a new, more powerful routine that will satisfy the cravings produced by your current modus operandi and then find a group of people that perform at this higher standard. Enlist their support when needed.

    I joined a personal development group online to build in my new morning habits. Joining the group has enabled me to conquer my fears, grow my confidence levels and reach my goals faster and more effectively. Groups alter our environment and our state. Over time we adjust to new ways of being through the support of the group and supporting others within the group.

    What’s most important to changing our habits is to notice them in the first place.

    Noticing Our Habits

    Most of us don’t notice the effects of our bad habits. We are acclimatised to them. For example, smoking cigarettes damages our olfactory capacities so much that smokers don’t notice that the effects of smoke on their homes, clothes and breath.

    Even if we don’t smoke, we will have habitual behaviours that might stink without us realising. How we speak to ourselves, treat our loved ones, our staff, our customers, whether we slump in front of the TV every night or snack on rubbish, are all habitual behaviours. Are they good habits or bad habits for you and others?

    I recently read an online quote that said: we are the the sum of the five people we spend the most time with. Perhaps we are also the sum of our five most common daily habits?

    You don’t have to fix all your bad habits. Often there is a keystone habit, that if unlocked and altered can have a cascading effect of positivity on our lives and businesses, helping us to grow and prosper. Once you get in the habit of altering your bad habits, you'll find it easier with practice.

    The Power of Groups

    Seven Habits of Highly Effective Retailers

    How to do things you don't want to do

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