With the temperature suddenly taking a nose dive, the winter woollies have been found and we’ve finally succumbed to turning the heating on.

But there’s something nice about the changing season into autumn, not least the beautiful leaves with their vibrant colours, but more so the feeling of cosiness – or as the Danes call it, hygge.

The month’s highlights

One of the highlights our working schedule recently was visiting the Churchill Theatre to meet the cast of Sleeping Beauty. Bonnie Langford, Lee Mead and Claudillea Holloway were all a delight to interview – and I’m sure this year’s Christmas panto will be a roaring success.

I personally also enjoyed a visit to Thorpe Park to celebrate my daughter’s birthday; being a big kid at heart, I loved the thrill rides and had forgotten what fun it was. And I was double lucky to also be able to escape on a spa break to Eastwell Manor – just what I needed after a particularly busy week of meetings, networking and flat plan planning!

We were also delighted to meet 12-year old Zora, who was nominated by her mum Zaynab as a local hero for numerous reasons. We’ll be featuring Zora in the November issue of Life In…Orpington and it was great to take her to visit Heather at A Time For Flowers in Orpington to be presented with a beautiful bouquet – she was delighted!

Yet another highlight was travelling to Coventry to a publishers’ conference where I gave a 45-minute keynote presentation on productivity and tech tools for small businesses. It’s one of my passions and I was over the moon that the talk was well received.

In terms of supporting local, it was lovely to have a cuppa, cake and join in the ‘spin the wheel game’ at the Macmillan Coffee Morning held by Chandra Sharma of Tangent Office Supplies. He did exceptionally well raising over £1,000.

But I think the ultimate highlight of the month was when myself and team members Nicky and Lynsey participated in the London Shine Walk to raise money for the Chartwell Cancer Trust. Nicky and I completed the 10K walk (after I fractured my ribs, I thought I should do the 10K rather than push myself), while Lynsey braved the half marathon. A HUGE thank you to everyone who supported us – your generosity meant that we collectively raised just over £1,100 for the Chartwell Cancer Trust and we know the money will go a long way for them.

Stars In Our Eyes Oct Blog post

Seeing the half full glass

I recently read an article entitled ‘Has the pandemic been good for small businesses?’ and it got me thinking about local businesses in our community.

I have witnessed many businesses either flipping their business model entirely or tweaking it to cater for demand – there are some savvy people amongst us and I think what some people have done is nothing short of remarkable.

Data from Cornerstone Tax reveals that 28 million Brits want to support their independent, local businesses more than before, and research from Tide shows that the pandemic has been the reason for 26% of new businesses opening this year. This matches Companies House data that shows there were 21.8% more businesses were incorporated this year than last.

I myself launched two new what I like to call ‘side hustles’ in lockdown. I became a Tropic Ambassador as using non-toxic, vegan skincare and beauty products is important to me and I also launched my own videography company, helping businesses stand out from the crowd in a world that is becoming increasingly digital.

However, the report also highlighted other questions – in particular, what will happen to the vacant office space now that so many people are working from home? And what about the plethora of High Street shops that sadly closed over lockdown and never reopened? Property experts suggest that empty department stores and office spaces may well become hubs for manufacturing and localised delivery services, and may well become homes for the wave of intrepid new entrepreneurs forming new businesses.

David Hannah, principal consultant at leading tax advisory firm Cornerstone Tax, said: “By no means has the pandemic been a positive, however, it has made many of us rethink our priorities, and for some, this has meant chasing the dream of founding a business. The data clearly shows it has sparked a wave of new business founders who are committed and confident about the longevity of their enterprises.

“This goes hand in hand with many traditional ‘9-5’s’ no longer needing as much office space now at-least partially working from home is the norm. I believe that these two factors may coincide – and empty offices, as well as the department stores and retail parks now dormant, may become homes for these new SMEs – potentially as logistics hubs for serving their local market.

“We have also seen them being used by Amazon for faster local delivery, and John Lewis even plans to turn stores into apartments. However, it would be a very happy ending if the new wave of small businesses could utilise this space to help the entrepreneurial-renaissance we are witnessing.”

Let’s hope Mr Hannah is right; I always try to see the good in a negative situation and this could just be it!

As usual, we’ll leave you with an inspirational quote to ponder…

‘As with the butterfly, adversity is necessary to build character in people’

– Joseph B Wirthlin –