Salon des Micro-Entreprises 2014

I was up again this year at the Salon des Micro-entreprises, held at the beginning of the month at the Palais des Congrès in Paris. This time I went for the Journée Nationale des Femmes Entrepreneures, which proved to be very interesting. It seems that, although as many women as men in France want to create their own business, only 28% of new businesses are started by women. Why is this? Do women still face discrimination and are they more hesitant than men to take this step? According to a recent study conducted by France Active and the IFOP, this is due to a lack of information on various forms of aid available for entrepreneurs and also due to the sense of isolation and lack of support from co-workers that can overwhelm them. Hence this day aimed specifically at female entrepreneurs.

I managed to catch the talk ’10 Tips to Increase your Visibility on Social Networks’, given by Catherine Headley, a Digital Strategy Consultant, which was concise and informative. I also went to some speed business meetings and ended the day at the presentation of the Bouygues Telecom Female Digital Entrepreneur Award.

The Wiko Cink Slim

A nice little Smartphone recently released in France is the Wiko Cink Slim. Produced by Wiko, a company based in Marseilles, this is a good quality Android at a very affordable price, around €140 or £155. It has a large tactile screen (4″/1.2cm) with good definition, with a dual core processor and a camera of 8 megapixels with zoom. It’s main feature is the dual SIM, ie there are two places for a SIM card which means that you can have both your personal and professional infos on the same phone. It may not have such a large memory as some others on the market, having only 512 Mo of live memory and 2 GB of built-in memory, but it is still a very good buy if you compare the quality with the price.

Salon des Entrepreneurs

Last week I managed to get up to Paris to the Salon des Entrepreneurs. They had quite a good conference and workshop programme and I went to some of the presentations on social networking, facebook and prospecting. The social networking talk focused mainly on Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin, mentioning also Viadeo and Foursquare, but Pinterest didn’t have more than a passing mention. Viadeo seems to be very popular in France, perhaps not surprising as it was founded in Paris. The prospecting talk by Booster Academy was very informative. It seems that the French are quite reticent when it comes to selling and marketing. I found it quite interesting to hear the French view of prospecting and I was amused to hear quite a lot of English words creeping in, such as ‘closing’, ‘nurturing’ and a ‘to do’ list.

Time management tips – part two

Time Management How do you manage your time?  Time slips by too quickly and can leave you wondering what you have achieved each day. Following on from Part One, here are some more tips that can be helpful in organising your day.

  • Time track yourself.  See how much time a task really takes.  Perhaps you put things off thinking they take too much time or you think something will take half an hour only to emerge from it two hours later.  Time each task for a day or so, so that you know how long your principal tasks generally take and then you’ll be able to create a realistic work schedule.
  • Don’t procrastinate – do it!  If it’s on your list, do it.  Don’t waste time.
  • Stop for lunch.  Decide on a lunchtime and stick to it.   If you decide on 1pm, stop then and take a break.  If you find yourself eating at 2pm you’ll lose your focus and again find yourself trying to catch up.
  • Mail.  Dealing with both regular and electronic mail can eat up a lot of your valuable time and you can end up feeling swamped by paperwork or emails.  Delete or throw away adverts, don’t waste time on them in case they might be useful.  Action as much mail as possible immediately.  If you think ‘I’ll do it later’, chances are you will find it still sitting there days later.  You can answer some mail with a short email or note.  Choose a certain time each day for dealing with mail, depending on the time that it arrives.  If the mail arrives at 10am, choose 10 to 10.30am for it and include emails too.  Choose times that are best for you and your business needs.
  • Calls.  Make a list, and choose a time to do them as for the mail.  Decide roughly how long each call should take and try to keep to this.
  • Finally, be flexible.  Your schedule is not set in stone, it has to fit in with your day and take into account out of office meetings, urgent calls, sudden urgent work, etc. However, it can give your day structure and purpose.


Time management tips – part one

How do you manage your time?  Have you found, when working on your own, whether from home or not, that you need to be disciplined and structure your hours, or time can slip imperceptibly through your hands and you can end up wondering what you have done with your day.

  Here are some tips that I found helpful to get you started.

  • Get up early!  This seems too obvious to mention, but if you’re ready to go at 8am you’ll get more done.  You may be a night owl and not an early bird, but if you start after 9am or take too long over your morning coffee, you’ll find that you spend the rest of the day trying to catch up.
  • Write a to-do list.  Obvious too, but how do you use this useful tool?  Write it at the end of the previous day so that it is ready for you in the morning.  Divide it into two. One will be a list of things that cannot be completed in one day but need regular time scheduled for them.  The second will be a list of what you have to do in the day.
  • Scheduling.  This is linked to the to-do list.  Decide on a time for each task, both large and small.  With your long-term tasks, block in half an hour or however much time you plan to spend on them, on your schedule – this could be useful for administrative tasks that need to be done regularly for your business, such as bookkeeping.  Stick to the time you have allocated, use a timer if you have to, or else you’ll find you’ve spent all morning on one task and are again trying to catch up.
  • Do two or three quick tasks first.  This will get you going and also it will feel encouraging to have crossed two or three things off your list quite quickly.  Then you are more motivated to tackle the bigger tasks.

Some differences between British English and American English

There are many varieties of English other than British English, as you will discover if you are learning the language. Variations of the English language can be found in Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Jamaica, to name but a few. However, the most well-known differences are between English in the United Kingdom and English in the United States. Some of these differences are very well-known, such as calling a pavement a sidewalk or a garden a backyard. Who hasn’t watched American films and TV series and noticed various differences between two languages. As George Bernard Shaw said, ‘England and America are two countries separated by a common language’. However, an English person can go to America or an American can go to England without any serious problems of communication. Why did these differences arise? The English language first came to America in 1607 when the settlement of Jamestown, Virginia was established. Since then, the two languages have not evolved in the same way, each being affected by different types of cultural and linguistic influences from, for example, immigrants. In one country, an old word might be kept and in the other a newer word would be used. The main differences between American and British English are to be found in spelling, grammar and vocabulary. Vocabulary I think this is the most well-known area of differences between the two languages. Apart from sidewalk and backyard, examples include truck (US) for lorry (UK), autumn becomes fall and biscuits become cookies in the US. Your purse is not for your change, it is your handbag. The change is kept in a change purse. In the UK you wouldn’t want anyone to see your pants as they are articles of underwear, in America you wouldn’t mind, as they are your trousers. Be careful what you ask for to eat, sweets are candy, crisps are chips and chips are French fries, a marrow is a squash and candyfloss is cotton candy in the US. If you want to go to the loo or toilet in America you must ask for the bathroom or restroom, whereas bathroom in Britain is where you have your bath. Some meanings of the same words are different between the two types of English. Mean in the US means angry or bad-tempered, in the UK it refers to someone who is tight-fisted and miserly. Quite in the US means ‘very’, whereas in the UK it means somewhat or fairly. Spelling This is also an area where there are differences between the two languages. For instance, words in British English that end in -our, such as colour and humour, end in -or in American English, color, humor. Favourite becomes favorite, -re becomes -er; theatre/theater, kilometre/kilometer. ‘S’ is often replaces by ‘z’, so realise becomes realize, cosy becomes cozy. The double ‘l’ in traveller changes to one ‘l’ in the US, traveler, the same for jewellery which becomes jewelry, also losing an ‘e’ in the process. Programme becomes program, dialogue becomes dialog, grey becomes gray and so on. Grammar One of the main grammatical differences between the two forms of English is the forms of the past simple verbs. There are some verbs that have a regular and irregular past form, eg burnt and burned, the irregular form being more current in Britain and the regular form more current in the US. These include: dreamt/dreamed, learnt/learned, smelt/smelled, spelt/spelled, spilt/spilled, spoilt/spoiled. There is a change in some past participles, too, the most well-known being gotten in the US for got in the UK. The use of the present perfect also varies between the two countries. In Britain it is used for an action in the recent past that has an effect on the present moment, eg. ‘I’ve lost my wallet’, meaning I lost it a short while ago and still haven’t got it. The Americans would use the past simple and say ‘I lost my wallet’. This also applies to sentences with already, just and yet. In Britain we would use the present perfect, ‘I’ve just had breakfast’, ‘I’ve already done my homework’ and ‘Have you finished your dinner yet?’, but the Americans could use these forms or the past simple, ‘I just had breakfast’, ‘I already did my homework’ and ‘Did you finish your dinner?’. In all these cases there are more examples than I have listed here. If you are writing in English it is a good idea to keep to one type of English and to try not to mix the terms and meanings so that your document is easily understandable.

False friends in English and French

Some words, both in English and in French, can be treacherous.  They are so similar that it is easy to think that their meaning is the same in both languages.  However, it isn’t only their pronounciation that is different. Sometimes there is a slight overlap in meaning and sometimes they can translate as something totally different. This could dramatically change the sense of your text. For example, sensible is not the same in English and in French. In English it means someone practical, matter-of-fact, intelligent, raisonnable in French; in French it refers to someone who is sensitive. The misuse of this word could give a totally different idea of someone in one language as compared to the other. Many words have the same roots, such as Latin, but, as the languages evolved, so did the meaning of these words, although many continued to be written identically. Some have slight changes in spelling, such as gentle and gentil. Gentle in English means someone with a mild and kindly nature and gentil in French means nice, kind or good. Here there is an overlap of meaning, both indicate kind but, in English, the emphasis is on mildness or softness. Other words are spelt exactly the same but mean something totally different, such as four, which is an oven in French and a number in English, or chat, which means a friendly talk in English and a cat in French. Here, the list is endless. Other words to be careful with are: grand; hazard/hasard/; mercy/merci; store; tentative; proper/propre; actually/actuellement. Then again, there are words that have two meanings and you must be sure to choose the right one for your translation. For example, in French voler means ‘to fly’ and ‘to steal’, bark in English means the noise made by dogs and the covering of a tree trunk. All these can cause a lot of confusion for language students and the only answer is to memorise the differences in meaning. Otherwise you could end up producing errors such as translating noyer as ‘drowning’ instead of ‘walnut’ to produce the phrase ‘the drowning dining table and chairs’. Although highly amusing for your English readers, if they don’t know any French they will never guess want you really want to say, which is ‘the walnut table and chairs’ (I have actually seen this in a tourist guide). This is one of the reasons for using a good translation service so you can be sure that your copy is correct if not humorous.

Do you need an internet virtual assistant?

If you are a  small business owner, you know that time is a precious commodity.  How much of it do you spend on administrative tasks when you could be growing and developing your business?  As time goes on, you can find that you can’t do everything on your own and that office management tasks can start to take over the time you want for creating your business and increasing your productivity and profits.  However, you may not want to employ an administrative assistant to deal with the more mundane tasks.  You might not have the space to hire an in-house assistant, you might not want to pay the extra costs in taxes, insurances and benefits that hiring a full or part-time employee would involve, or you might not have all the office equipment necessary for an in-house assistant to work with. This is where hiring a Virtual Assistant could be the answer.  Virtual Assistants are a group of independent professionals who provide all your administrative, technical or even creative needs at a fraction of the cost of hiring a full or part-time administrative assistant.  They can do everything from general correspondence, maintaining websites and social networking profiles, writing brochures and press releases, to copy and audio typing, follow-up calls and diary management.  Virtual Assistants can also specialise in website building, blogging, internet research or translation services.