Decisions, not resolutions

Decisions
Happy New Year, flockers! We hope you had a wonderful Christmas; here at the nest, we took the opportunity to catch up with friends and family, eat our body weight in chocolate goodies and do some very professional (ahem) cocktail sampling – guiness and champagne anyone?

For all of us, the New Year brings great hopes, expectations and surprises. The Skylarks team goes into 2014 excited and challenged, ready to launch the Cockpot™. As we set our 2014 goals and objectives, the Skylarks team review their personal development plans that were created when the team was first formed.

We took the time to create personal development plans for a number of reasons; to understand each other’s motivations and aspirations, to be able to communicate and be respectful of each other’s boundaries, to ensure we all had non-conflicting goals. However, the most powerful result of using this tool came from the re-framing of our lives as a direct result of the decisions we made.

Traditionally, we make resolutions for the New Year. Studies show that only 8% of these resolutions are kept! This prompted us to ask; why the gap? Why do 92% of people not achieve their own hopes for themselves?

We think:
Hope is an emotion that acknowledges and empowers outside influences; ‘I hope I will have a better relationship with my family in 2014’. Hope doesn’t acknowledge the fact that you’re the leading figure in your life, which means you are pretty powerful!

So instead of making resolutions, we are urging our flockers to make decisions this year – how much better does this sound: ‘I decide to change the way I communicate with my family this year. To achieve this, I will educate myself on positive communication techniques’.

Please feel free to use our PDP template to structure your decisions! Let us know how you get on – we love sharing our flockers journeys! Searching for Skylarks Personal Development Plan 2013

2013: the Year of being Brave

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Merry Christmas flockers! This will be our last blog of 2013 – we hope you’ve enjoyed your year as much as we’ve enjoyed ours. For us, 2013 was the year of being brave, of living 24/7 outside our comfort zone. It wasn’t easy, but it has been fun. We have learnt so much more and have done so much more than we ever dreamed we would.
This time in 2012, we had no idea that we would go on to form a business, raise an international supply chain, and most importantly, meet all you lovely flockers! This makes us very excited for what the next 12 months will bring; Cockpots™, cocktails and even more fun!
So before we say goodbye for now, we just want to take a moment to thank all of the people who have supported us throughout this incredible journey. You have laughed with us, inspired us, and helped us fly when it felt like we never would. We hope you have a safe, happy 2014 – we can’t wait!

Lots of love,

The Skylarks Team xxxxx

How to Keep Calm and Carry On this Christmas

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Christmas is a very busy time for everyone; this is no surprise! In business, the pressure of meeting the targets fourth quarter can be immense at exactly the same time as the pressure builds to see everyone and their dog, decorating the house to a standard that would make John Lewis proud and all the other myriad pressures that make Christmas the perfect time to have that breakdown you really deserve. Except you can’t, another of the pressures is to never, ever admit that sometimes, well, Christmas can be a right nuisance!

So what’s to be done?
The good news is; you are in complete control. It may feel like you aren’t, but that’s simply not true. You are a responsible, capable adult or are at least doing a good enough impression of one. The best solutions are often the simplest, so we won’t write you a textbook on the psychology of time management (we’re all busy people, anyway right?) .

So: pick one task, whatever pops into your head first, the most important and do that. It could be finishing a project to meet a deadline or maybe your child needs your help with their homework and give all of your attention to that. Remember- if it has your undivided attention, it has your undivided skills. Finishing something will also boost you and your morale.
If finishing something just can’t be done, why not talk it out with somebody? Find 15 minutes to sit with a friend, colleague or family member. If they’re in the same position as you, and don’t have time, find a friendly looking stranger on the bus and use them. Go on, treat yourself!
In the nest we often say to each other ‘one ridiculous situation at a time’. At the moment we are about to get our first samples of the Cockpot™ so that we can choose the very best product for you. From that point onwards the Cockpot™ will be in production and ready to hit the shelves in the first quarter of 2014.
This is the plan! However – we have no way of knowing. This is not something that we can control, we have to trust others.
So remember! Life is not straight forward so keep calm, do not overload, take everything one step at a time and you will be surprised how much more efficiently you get your tasks done.

Taking Flight; a startup’s journey

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As we near the end of our start-up phase, we know that we have been sharing our journey with you. In this blog we reflect on our journey so far!
In May 2013 Searching for Skylarks Ltd formed to bring you the Cockpot™. We came up with the idea, quite simply, because we were socialising and wanted to make multiple cocktails rather than going in and out of the kitchen making individual cocktails. Our resources were limited and we didn’t have anything other than a teapot to hand, so we used that – and quickly realised that this well-used, shall we say, teapot was not quite up to scratch as it kept dripping, the lid kept falling off and generally it was not intended for cocktails (which was fair enough). However, the idea was fascinating, this was a novelty item, not available anywhere, which we found brilliant and so set to work to find out all of the ways in which we could improve this teapot and make it cocktail appropriate.
We thought of all of the things it needed. As we were using it and experimenting ice was slushing around in the old teapot blocking the spout and adding hard work to what was supposed to be an easy situation, so we needed something to hold the ice in one place and so the ice compartment was born.
As you would expect the teapot was very simple and very unappealing in white, not pattern, no colour, just white. This was not something that would catch your eye and draw you to it so what would? Cocktails are colourful, that is what makes them fun. Some add coloured cordials, alcohol and even fruit but none of this would be seen if our cocktail teapot were opaque, so it needed to be clear! Excellent, decision two done!
Next, how do we put our brand on to it? How do we ensure that when people see this cocktail teapot in the shops they know it is ours? This is where we came up with our designs, we chose five based on popularity from the market research you wonderful flockers did for us. They are going to look amazing!
What were we going to call our brand new cocktail teapot? We brainstormed lots of ideas with nothing fruitful so took a break to see if we could be inspired and it literally happened like a light bulb switching on in one of the skylark’s head while she was winding down to go to sleep, she called a meeting and announced ‘Cockpot’, we were all a little stunned but it was so simple and so effective Cocktail teapot – Cockpot!
Now we were on a roll flockers!. We had our product, now to make it happen, we needed to build relationships, create business plans, construct strategies, gather information on who our target market(s) should be, build interest for our product and all in between. Looking at this now it looks very difficult but one rule we always say in the nest is ‘you’re only allowed to panic about one thing a day’!

Our first port of call was to determine interest for the Cockpot™, it was all very well us loving the idea but we can’t sustain a business by ourselves. We sent out market research questionnaires to all of the willing candidates for feedback, the information we received from that was invaluable as initially we thought the Cockpot™ would be perfect for the wedding industry. However, it is ridiculously hard to get hold of people in order to get the market research we needed, how would we determine whether or not it would be viable, we could not get anyone to answer our questions. Then we were lucky enough to hear from hitched.co.uk who were happy for us to post our survey but it received challenging feedback! We took this on board and decided it best to change our tactic – the questionnaires answered by our flockers showed us the personal use and giftware was the best way to go and so we had our first product family and our focus area. Yay!
Now knowing the price points, attractiveness and the popular features of the Cockpot™ we could begin.
Luckily one of the team had contacts in London and was able to get in touch with a pattern designer, Carrie Osborne, who could create fabulous designs for our Cockpots™ and she kindly agreed to help. We briefed Carrie on all of the information we received from you and got to work on them – we will be showcasing the finished product this week so be alert flockers!
With regards to the ice compartment and easy pouring solution we commissioned designs of what we pictured to be taken to suppliers for sourcing, it had to be perfect as the whole point of a Cockpot™ is to make life easier for our flockers. After consulting with a few people and doing lots of research ourselves we found the perfect match. Now we eagerly await prototypes so that we can show you our vision in the flesh and of course run tests for quality to ensure everything is perfect for launch!
Behind the scenes, the nest has been flapping its feathers for the past six months to ensure everything is running effortlessly. We have had many highs and a few lows, but we all adapt to changes and keep going. Since October we have had a brilliant time on social media getting to know you all and making some fantastic virtual friends, we love the networking hours and are being asked for advice from others to strengthen their social media campaign. It is important to us to build and maintain a lovely relationship with our flockers and we have had a blast doing so thus far.
Throughout business you must always be open to change and compromise, in our previous blog of 5 entrepreneurial skills you didn’t know you needed, one specified that you should always allow yourself to be surprised. Awareness of this has been such a brilliant tool. Since May we have been surprised by many things – our own abilities, the willingness of others to help, how powerful the simple things can be and if somebody isn’t willing to help you, find a way to help yourself. We have made some changes and tweaked a few things. We have been accepted on to the High Growth Programme. We have expanded our product families to bars, restaurants, retail and yes events such as weddings. With hard work, devotion, tenacity and some amazing word of mouth promotion from our flockers we are making our mark all over the shop, so to speak. After attending the business show last week we have had many contacts get in touch and we have been offered the chance to pair with some alcohol brands and even the option to create our own branded drinks… this is just the beginning, watch this space.