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‘Business’ and ‘inspiration’ are often not words that people would expect to see together. Oh, how wrong they are. It takes a lot to build something from scratch and develop it to the point where you’re not only living, but living comfortably while doing something you love. Below, you’ll find a list of resources which we think could help you to build your business into something truly special.

XOSarah

Sarah’s blog is specifically aimed at people who want to make money out of their blogs. It might seem like the lessons don’t apply to people with a very different business idea. However, blogs are a great thing to have for pretty much any business, so Sarah’s super-informative site is a great place to start. We especially love this post about how best to handle a really busy day.

Two Scots Abroad

While Two Scots abroad is a travel blog, we came across this post and we love it. It gives some great info that works for people who are just starting out, or for those who want to step up their game. Fine, you might not be promoting your own travel blog, but if you’re trying to sell anything online the tips they offer would be a great way to start.

Adore Creative Studio

Chloe is a freelance designer. She runs a beautiful website, as you would expect from a designer. However, we want to talk about her blog. It’s a fantastic example of how a business can use a blog to showcase their work, as well as creating a ton of business-related content which people will want to share. If people share your content, they spread the word about you. This post gives some great ideas for what to post on social media when you get stuck. And you will get stuck eventually. It happens to us all.

Living For Naptime

Living for Naptime is designed for mums who want to start a blog in their free time. But if you’re starting a business while dealing with something else that takes up a lot of time and attention (ie. that full time job you want to get rid of some day) we think there’s a lot to be learned from the brilliant time-saving tips on there. We particularly love this post about growing your Instagram. Give it a try!

Snap Creativity

Tauni Everett has an amazing ‘Blogging + Entrepreneur Tips’ section on her website, which is packed full of information which is really useful whatever your business. For those looking to increase their social media following, we particularly love this post about organically upping your Facebook likes. But, really, the whole blog is a treasure trove.

Nesha Woolery

Once you’ve got yourself set up and your website looking great, you’re on the right track. But it’s not enough to just sit there and wait for your clients to roll in. This post on Nesha’s blog is especially great. It provides a run-down of loads of ways you can go about attracting clients. It’s all about putting yourself out there, and that post will show you how.

Now. Real talk time. Did we miss any amazing sources of business inpiration that you think we should know about? Where do you turn when you need a kick up the backside? If you take away one tip from all of this, what will it be?

 

You may not have noticed, because it’s hardly been mentioned at all, but it is now a new year. As such, everybody’s making resolutions and planning on becoming better people. We’re not that into making tough resolutions that make January a more unpleasant month than it already is. However, we definitely agree with making little changes that make life way more awesome. So, whatever positive change you’re making this month, we’ve probably got a class that can help you.

Change No. 1: Have a go at Veganuary

Veganuary is a thing now. It’s pretty self-explanatory, and involves eating vegan in January. It’s healthy, and it’s also good for the environment. If you can stand to be away from the bacon for a full weeks, you might find you can do it forever. There are HowNow teachers who can guide you through the process of cooking a whole host of delicious, vegan recipes, so you’ll never run out of inspiration.

Change No. 2: Get Fit

It’s not the most original, but after several weeks eating nothing but sausages in bacon and quality street, and washing it all down with wine (just me?) lots of people use the momentum of a new year to improve their fitness. It can be really hard to drag yourself to the gym, so imagine if you could exercise with a trainer in the comfort of your own home. As it so happens, we can totally help you to do that.

Change No. 3: More ‘me’ time

Modern life, guys, am I right? We’re forever running around, commuting for hours, getting work emails at all times of the day and night… It’s a juggling act, and it shouldn’t be. One of the easiest ways to start the new year feeling less stressed is to set aside some time every day that’s just for you. For example, you could try meditation. Close the door for a while, switch off your phone, and focus on yourself. Bliss.

Change No. 4: Learn a new language

Maybe you can’t wait to do some travelling in 2017. You might want to try living in a new country. Maybe you just want a new challenge, or to earn some bragging rights. These are all perfectly valid reasons to start learning a new language. The easiest way to start is to talk to people in the language you’re learning, and we know a whole load of awesome folks who can help with that.

Change No. 5: Be my own boss

Picture the scene: You have to go to work. You get out of bed, get dressed, and walk ten paces to your sofa. Because that is your office. Because you work for yourself. It’s the dream but, when you’re running around at the beck and call of your boss, it can feel totally unattainable. Maybe 2017 will be the year that changes. Start learning how to put your plans into action today, and thank us later. Maybe you want to turn your passion into profit and teach your own classes – we could even help you with that.

Change No. 6: Take more pictures

Maybe you’re about to start a new phase in your life and you want to remember everything. Maybe you got a flashy new camera for Christmas and you need to know how to use it. The best way to make sure you’re creating memories in 2017 is to start now. And a great place to start is by making sure you know what you’re doing.

Change No. 7: Learn to cook

Are you sick of microwave meals and cereal dinners? Do you feel like you might be getting judged by the people who run your local takeaway? It’s time to learn how to cook. Whether you’ve got delicate baking or hearty meals in mind, there are professionals out there who can talk you through the whole process in your own kitchen. Just remember to send us some when you’re done.

Change No. 8: Manage my money better

Oh, money. Some people think it makes the world go round and, whether or not you agree with that sentiment, most people would probably agree that there’s never enough of it. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by bills, it might be time to get somebody else to help you. You could chat about budgets and how to manage your cash better. Just remember to send us some when you’re done. (LOL, JK. Unless you’re feeling generous.)

So, what changes, if any, are you planning on making in 2017? Whatever they are, remember to keep it positive rather than punishing. The new year is a great opportunity to do new things, but no man (or anyone else, for that matter) is an island – if you need help, let someone else step in and lend a hand. It just so happens we know a few.

We’ve all been there. You’re working on a creative project and suddenly inspiration runs dry. Or maybe you have every intention of starting a creative project but all that’s happening is that you keep flicking through Instagram to see what everyone else is up to. Once you’ve ground to a halt it can be difficult to get going again. Fortunately for you, we’ve come up with a list of ways you can get out of the rut and get the wheels turning again:

Try something different

Sometimes you just have to mix things up. If you get stuck while writing a novel, life drawing might be just the break you need. If you’re an arty type already you might be able to find a new lease of creative energy by trying cross stitching or knitting. Basically, you might benefit by doing something outside of your comfort zone for a bit.

Blow away the cobwebs

You might need to put whatever you’re doing down and get away for a while. An increase in endorphins and some time spent outside could be just what the doctor ordered. Whether you hit the gym, or try an at-home workout, a good workout could be enough to blow away the cobwebs and give you your creative groove back.

Widen your perspective

Yes. Your problems with your creative work are difficult. But there’s nothing like hearing about other peoples’ issues to put your problems into perspective. Getting involved with charity work or even just reading the news can help. Once you’ve had time to reflect your next sentence might not seem like the giant hurdle it once did.

Chill out

We’ve got so much going on these days. The chances are you’re jumping from work to commuting to trying to finish your own creative stuff, and it’s no wonder that sometimes you don’t know whether you’re coming or going. A quick session of meditation that teaches you how to be tension-free could be just what the creativity doctor ordered.

Have a drink

Ernest Hemingway famously said ‘write drunk, edit sober’, and we think it’s perfectly reasonable to extrapolate this to all kinds of creative people. We’re not actively encouraging hardcore alcoholism, but a glass of wine might help to lower your inhibitions and stop you getting caught up in worrying about the quality of what you’re doing, which is one of the biggest things that can put a person off. 

creativity

Ultimately, getting over a creative block is really just a case of giving yourself a break. If you stop work altogether and try not to think about it you might find yourself unable to concentrate on anything else. Therefore it’s a good idea to think about something totally different for a while. You might even find something else to focus on at HowNow.

It’s always difficult to decide whether we should take the leap and turn our passion into profit. Work takes up a lot of our time, but more often than not it’s the things we do in the spare hours before, after, and at weekends that really make us happy. You might be an accountant with a penchant for painting, a barista who hula hoops on the side, or maybe you work in sales and have colleagues queuing up for your cupcakes. But what if you don’t want to do it on the side any more?

The option that a lot of people choose when they decide to start turning their passion into profit is to teach. Teaching your hobby can be really rewarding. It’s a great way to meet new people who might be into the same kind of thing that you are, or to pass on what you know to total beginners who end up loving the thing you love too. It can be a daunting prospect, but we’ve put together a few tips to help you get started.

Think about how it could fit in

I’m not suggesting that you jack in your high-flying career in neurosurgery straight away. In fact, as a high-flying neurosurgeon, you’re probably smart enough to realise that. I’m sorry for insulting your intelligence. It might be that you don’t want to teach full time. You might just want a little Saturday gig to make a bit of pocket money. Or you might have a total career overhaul and world domination in your sights. Anything goes. Plus, if you decide to teach online you’ll have way less to organise before you can begin.

Do your research

Maybe you have a friend or acquaintance who’s already teaching something. Awesome. Take them for a coffee and have a chat. It’s amazing how good meeting an actual person who’s done the actual thing you actually want to do can make you feel. You might just realise that it’s a totally do-able thing for a person to manage. If you don’t have a useful friend, reach out to other people who run classes. It’s amazing how many people are willing to meet up if there’s a free coffee in it for them. If you can’t meet up with someone in person, we have this super-cool thing called ‘the internet’ now, and you’re bound to find people who are willing to share tips if you look hard enough.

Try holding a test workshop

Before you take to the internet, gather a group of your nicest, least sarcastic friends, and try out your ideas on them. If you want to teach a specific craft, for example, you can make sure you’re able to explain the stages as easily as possible. You can also use your willing volunteers to try out yoga routines, dance steps, or anything else. You’ll get feedback on what you could do better, as well as a chance to practice being in front of real people who view you as an authority figure.

Don’t be freaked out by practical considerations

Yes. You will need a plan. You’ll need a webcam. You’ll need to be able to stand in front of a camera and tell up to ten people what to do. The likelihood is that the people who already do this are no cleverer than you, and they all managed, so you know it’s possible. Make a list of everything you’ve found out in your research that you need to organise, and then work through it point by point. Try not to skip ahead or let yourself get overwhelmed. Point by point. That’s all you need to remember.

Take the plunge

Sometimes this is the hardest part. You’ve done all the legwork and you’re totally ready. You’ve got everything you need. You’re awesome, basically. You’re an organisational wizard. It would be so easy to stop at this point. If you stop now you’ll have a 100% success rate and never have to face failure. But this is the time to take a deep breath and dive in to actually teaching strangers how to do the thing that you love to do. After all, you’ve come this far. Every class you teach might not be perfect. You might have no-shows or uncooperative students. Those things happen, and they happen to everyone. We guarantee the good will outweigh the bad, though. You’ll feel the joy that only comes from sharing something you love with other people, and watching them fall in love with it too. You’ll meet new people. And most of all, you’ll be able to go to sleep at night knowing that, for once in your life, you put yourself out there and made it work.

passion

So. Real talk. Do you fancy sharing your passion whilst making money? check out HowNow and starting earning from the thing you love doing. All you need to do is bring your passion. Team HowNow can bring the organisation, and we’ll meet you on the internet.

We’ve already talked about how to create listing on HowNow so that it grabs as much attention as possible. But what about your profile? That can be just as important when it comes to selling your classes, but sometimes it’s the thing that gets overlooked. We write so many profiles these days that it’s easy to get blase about them. But resist the temptation to just write any old thing – it’s worth taking time over.

Do some bragging

Have you ever won an award? Do you have ten degrees? Have you been featured in the press? Details like this are great as they help to cement the impression that you’re an expert in your field, so mention them in your profile. That’s not to say that if you don’t have paper qualifications your classes will be worth less. Whatever makes you confident that you’re a great teacher, that’s the thing you should be bragging about.

Sell yourself, not your class

There’s a very good chance that you’re not the only person in the world teaching your subject. You might not even be the only person on HowNow teaching your subject. So why should a student choose you to be their teacher? Remember that your profile will appear on each of your class listings so don’t go too in-depth about any subject. Just give a general overview of why you’re great.  If you have any feedback from former students, that’s a brilliant thing to include too.

Give a sense of your personality

Your profile on the website will give students a chance to get to know you better. They’ll be much more comfortable taking classes with someone they feel familiar with, rather than a total stranger. Are you a fan of anything? Do you do anything interesting in your spare time? Were you Coney Island Hotdog Eating Champion in 1998? It might not seem relevant to making people sign up to your class, but people are much more likely to want to work with someone they’re able to warm to.

Have a great profile picture

You’ve used your profile to give potential students an idea of why you’re qualified and what you’re like as a person. You’ve given them a really positive impression. Now you need to cement that positive impression by adding a great profile picture. This should be a picture of yourself, and preferably just your head and shoulders. The profile picture field is a bit tight for full-body shots. You can take a photo using a selfie stick and a phone – it doesn’t have to a work of art. Users are much more likely to sign up to classes where they can see the teacher because it creates a subconscious trust. After all, if there’s just a logo, or a picture of a plant pot, how do they know their teacher won’t be a robot.

study

Once you’ve got your profile set up and you’ve listed your first classes, don’t forget to spread the word among your following and encourage them to get booking. We can’t wait to watch your classes develop.

You might think email marketing is the preserve of big businesses. Think again. Technology has levelled the playing field for businesses great and small, so it’s easier than ever to create slick email marketing campaigns that look as though you’ve paid thousands of graphic designers to help. But what should be considering when you start your campaign?

Keep it regular

Pick a day of the week, and a time in that day, and stick to it. That’s when your users should expect to hear from you. By giving you their email address they’ve basically trusted you. If you abuse that and send too many messages, or send emails when they’re not interested, you’ll find yourself relegated to the junk folder before you can say ’email marketing’. If you don’t have enough content to warrant a weekly newsletter, remember you could always just make it fortnightly or even monthly. It’s better to send one great message than five rubbish ones.

Make sure it looks appropriate

You say a lot about your company before you’ve even said very much in the body of your email marketing. The look of your newsletters can give your mailing list an idea of exactly what your business is like, so make sure it suits what you. For example, if you sell floral vintage china and your key demographic is grannies, your emails probably don’t need to look slick and minimal. Appeal to your demographic.

Make it engaging and informative

Try to let some personality come through in your emails. You might always include a link to a funny news story, or always have something motivational to say. It’s a little thing, but it makes people more likely to read your next message. On the flip side, don’t send out a marketing email for no reason. Keep things informative. Let people know about company updates, new products, or any press. Don’t email ‘just to chat’. That’s a bit weird.

Don’t be too ‘salesy’

Picture the scene: Someone turns up at your house trying to sell you something. You’re not interested. You close the door in their face. You feel a bit guilty, but there was no other way to deal with them. Email marketing has the potential to be a bit like that, except without any guilt about getting rid of you. If you’re emailing people and trying to aggressively sell something, you’re going to rub them up the wrong way. There’s a big difference between saying ‘here’s some things you might be interested in as a previous client’, and saying ‘Hey. You’ve shown a vague interest in me before. Buy all of my stuff. BUY IT NOW.’.

If you’re still on the lookout for a way to make great email newsletters, we recommend Mailchimp, which is versatile enough to do pretty much anything and also has a free subscription below a certain number of subscribers. We can’t wait to see what you come up with!

 

If you’re reading this, you’ve probably discovered HowNow. We’re giving everyone the chance to learn from experts in all kinds of subjects from all over the globe. We’re also giving everyone the chance to teach others what they know in online classes. But why should you start teaching classes with us? Well, let’s start with these reasons.

1. A worldwide audience

The fact that HowNow classes take place online means that your potential students could be anywhere in the world. If you want to teach around a full time job there’ll be people up for taking classes at pretty much any time that is convenient to you. There’s no need to spend loads of money on travel for either you or your students, which means it’s super-easy to keep them coming back.

2. There’s no need to hire a venue

When you’re teaching from the comfort of your own home there’s no need to worry about finding the perfect venue for your HowNow classes. As a result, there’s no stress about how students will find you, and you’ll also never have to worry about the risk of spending loads of money on a venue only to have nobody turn up. With the financial risk removed, you’re free to make your classes as regular as you like. In fact, the more the merrier.

3. You can be your own boss

There’s nothing quite like being your own boss. You don’t have to answer to anyone, there’s no need to explain yourself, and there’s no pressure to work set hours as requested by somebody else. You might choose to start teaching part time for some extra pocket money. However, you’ll have the potential to grow your business and take it full time, so being your own boss is genuinely within reach.

4. Share your knowledge

Wouldn’t it be great if there was a whole new influx of people who were just as interested in Polymer Clay modelling as you? Well, when you start sharing your knowledge you might find you start inspiring people. You’re the best advocate for the thing you love to do. If you want to get more people involved, teaching them how is a fantastic start.

5. Turn your passion into profit

Pretty much everyone has a passion. Relatively few people get to actually profit from theirs. For most people, their passion is a thing to be indulged in after work, or at the weekend. We want to see more people taking the leap and starting to make money doing something they really love. We think that teaching classes is a great way to start doing that. Who knows where it could lead?

6. We’ll take care of everything

All you need to do is let us know what times you’re available to teach classes by adding your availability to a dedicated Google Calendar. After that, users can book hour-long slots without you needing to worry about any complicated scheduling. We’ll also email your students to confirm their bookings, and we’ll give you a dedicated dashboard so that you can keep track of what’s working and what could be improved.

Once you start teaching classes on HowNow we’re willing to bet you’ll get the bug and want to teach more. And who could blame you when there are a whole host of great reasons to get started. First of all, think about what first inspired you to do what you love. Now, how can you pass that on to other people? You practically have a lesson plan already.

Once upon a time, people decided what they wanted to do, and then they’d go ahead and get a job doing that. Unfortunately, in this day and age, jobs in certain industries are more difficult to come by. However, if your full time job isn’t what you want to do forever, there’s no need to feel downhearted. With a little work in your free time it’s possible to complete amazing projects. That could be producing theatre, making films, or starting a new business. It’s a lot to take on, but there are things you can do to make sure you’re prepared.

Make a list of steps

It’s easy to get overwhelmed when you think about what you’re embarking upon. Yes, taking on extra projects is a big undertaking. But humour us, and make a list of all of the steps you’ll need to complete to get there. We’re talking about really breaking it down. That way, when you get home at the end of the day you don’t have ‘plan a huge event’ as your one task for the evening. Instead you’ll just have ‘find five possible venues in East London’. By following a list of small steps you can make any projects seem much less overwhelming. You’ll also be able to keep track of everything you’ve already accomplished.

Do one productive thing every day

In the spirit of not being overwhelmed, think about doing one productive thing every day. It could be sending an email on your lunch break or designing a logo but, however tiny, at least you’re actively working towards your goal in your spare time. So many people fall at that first (and very obvious) hurdle, and this way, you won’t be one of those people. You’ll probably find that once you’ve done one thing you’ll have the momentum you need to do a bit more too, because you’re brilliant and an overachiever.

Think about everything you need and how you’re going to pay for it

It might be that you don’t need much in order to complete your projects. But if, for example, you need equipment, or a set, or a space, do your research about what that’s going to cost you and think early about how you’re going to pay for it. You might have the savings, or you might need to pursue funding, but forewarned is forearmed. There’s no shame in putting things on hold for as long as it takes to acquire what you need – better that than losing out later on.

Make the most of networking opportunities

Yes, it’s a pain to leave work after a long day and then have to go to a networking evening or some other similar event and pretend like you’re not knackered and desperately in need of some dinner to soak up the free wine you didn’t really fancy. And it’s not  ideal to have to spend your weekends travelling far and wide to hear advice from people in the know. But if the alternative is not making connections or missing out on some valuable information, then it’s definitely worth the minor inconvenience. Plus, it totally counts as your one productive thing per day.

Go easy on yourself

Just because you’re basically working two jobs doesn’t mean that you never have time for a social life. What it does mean is that you might feel a pang of guilt if you spend an evening in the pub when you had a budget spreadsheet to fill in. But at the end of the day you’re not a machine. It’s essential to take a bit of time out occasionally to avoid burnout so don’t beat yourself up.

focus

So, what kind of extra-curricular projects are you working on in your free time? Don’t forget, if you need advice on anything, it’s very likely you’ll find an Expert who can help on HowNow.

So. You have an amazing idea for a business and you’ve decided you want to make it happen. That’s awesome, but what’s the next step? It’s likely that you’ll need to find funding to get the wheels in motion. Here are a few of the options you might want to look into:

Use your own money

Sure, it’s a risk, but it can’t be that much of a risk if you have an amazing idea and you’re really confident that it’ll work. It’ll mean you stay completely in control of your business and there’s nobody who’s going to kneecap you because you owe them money (although if you’re borrowing money through legit means we’re sure there’s only minimal kneecapping anyway). It’s the kind of funding that provides the most freedom from other peoples’ opinions.

Ask your friends/family/connections

If you know somebody who has money and who’d be willing to chip in to support you on your way to living the dream, then let them help you. It can be awkward, but it’s worth it if it gets you where you want to be. If you have connections with people who are open to investing, exploit those. Starting a business is no time to start feeling shame, and lots of people would be very excited about funding a loved-one’s dream.

Grants

It can take a while to research all of the business grants available and whether your project fits their criteria. The application process can also be equally long and dull. However, if you can find a suitable grant and end up getting it you’ll be glad you took the time. After all, free money is the best kind of money.

Incubators

If you think you could benefit from more than just an injection of cash, an incubator could be the way to go. Depending on the company involved they could offer to provide office space, advice, help with marketing, and networking opportunities along with their financial offering. It does require giving up a degree of control, though, so it might not be the dream option for everybody.

Loans

Loans are a classic option and, while there’s some suggestion that they’re more difficult to get in today’s financial climate, if you have a well-thought-out business plan and a clear idea of what your revenue will look like, you still might be able to convince a bank to sit down with you and talk it over. The crucial thing to remember is that you’ll have to pay it back eventually, whether or not the business works out.

Nothing

If you’ve got a simple idea, you might not need to be put off by complicated methods of finding funding. Say you were launching a consultancy business: You could work from home, set up a simple website, and get networking. There doesn’t always need to be a big financial outlay, and as you being to bring money in you can reinvest it to help your business grow at a sustainable rate.

funding

It’s not necessarily hard to launch and grow a successful business, but it does take a lot of work to keep it running. If you’ve managed it, you’re already kind of our idol. Do you fancy guiding other people through the process? Sign up today to become an Expert with HowNow. And if you’re just at the beginning of your journey, keep an eye out for some advice from our experts.

Leaving the world of full-time employment is exciting. After years of being told what to do and when to do it, you suddenly don’t have to answer to anyone. It’s a great step if you’re looking for more independence. However, along with losing the boss who constantly orders you around, you also lose the convenience of having somebody sort out most of your money for you. It’s not the end of the world, but it does mean you have to step up and take responsibility for your finances. Here are a few things you might need to think about.

Remember you need to pay taxes

When you’re on somebody else’s payroll your taxes are basically sorted. You’re sent a tax code and your employer makes sure you pay your taxes. It’s done before you even get your hands on your own money, and everything’s legit. When you’re working for yourself you need to keep track of your own expenses. You also need to make sure you fill out a tax return when Moira Stewart tells you to. And, take it from us, compared to the other bills you have to pay, your tax bill is a big one.

Keep your money separate

As a freelancer you invoice your clients, and they send you all of your money in one go. It’s very exciting. But it does mean that you might be tempted to spend it all at once. Think again. You remember that big tax bill we talked about? It’s a sensible strategy to put a bit of money aside every month. This will cover your tax bill and any other expenses you know you’re going to incur.

Keep your receipts

Part of doing your tax return is knowing how much you spent on business expenses during the year. This information is a key part of your tax return. The Inland Revenue could decide to audit you so it’s important to be able to prove you spent this money. If you go hire an accountant  it’s also helpful for them to see the details of your expenditure in front of them.

Find some good invoicing software

Part of being the super-organised freelancer you are now is being able to quickly and easily generate an invoice. If you have a regular client and nothing much changes you can automate these to go out every month. If you have slight-less-regular-but-still-frequent clients you can store their information to make invoicing even quicker. Team HowNow bloody love Wave, if you’re looking for a great invoicing tool.

Plan for the future

If your freelancing is a long-term thing, you need to think about the future. You might be used to having a nice employer provide you with a pension, but that is not something that happens for those out of the realm of employed work (because any current pensioner will tell you that the state pension on it’s own will barely cover a thing). There are loads of pensions you could set up so that you can keep saving for the future, but do remember to pay into it.

Don’t forget you can take other jobs

If you’re working with one main client, it’s easy to forget that you’re a badass freelance type now, and can therefore take on as much work as you please. Of course, you shouldn’t take on more than you can cope with, but your clients can’t complain about you doing extra work for other companies like your old boss might have done.

money
Freelancing is a changing beast but, like we already mentioned, it’s an awesome way to gain some independence. Keep an eye on your money, and be a little bit sensible from time to time (Boring, we know) and it could be lifechanging.