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Is Surveymonkey the new Hoover?

August 19, 2015

2013-03-30Just a quick observation really, no particular opinion or judgement.

Lately I’ve noticed people (well, those for whom research is not their full time job) using the brand name ‘Surveymonkey’ where previously they might just have used the word ‘survey’.

Instead of saying “I’m going to send out a survey” they say “I’m going to send out a Surveymonkey”.

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I have everything I need to run my business in this handbag

July 28, 2015

2009-09-16I really said that the other day – I really said “I have everything I need to run my business in this handbag.”  And it was true!  In my handbag I had:

  • A laptop
  • A notepad and pen
  • A mobile phone
  • A digital recorder and batteries
  • A business debit card

And that’s all I need.  No stock, no staff, no premises, no real assets. Just a little bag of stuff.

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On employing more staff

July 8, 2015

Ruth and HannahAnother question that people ask me about my business all the time is whether I’m going to employ more staff.  Fair enough, this is a reasonable question to ask me and an obvious way that I might grow my business.

As I’ve mentioned before in 2012 I took a business degree at Napier University, and one of the subjects we studied was “business growth issues”.  Amongst other things I wrote an assignment on how this related to my own business, so yet again I thought you might be interested to read what I had to say on the matter. 

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Tendering for work: Pick me! Or don’t!

June 23, 2015

2012-09-15I was recently interviewed for a freelance research position, which I didn’t get.  The feedback was:

“We think this project may require a less formal approach than you described.”

The freelance research market is competitive, and as such I am regularly knocked back.  For me this is one of the hardest parts of the job, because it is hard for me not to take it personally as I’m a sole trader and I am the Ruthless Research brand.  Nothing to hide behind.  I set out my stall and hope my application will be the best one, more so that I will be the client’s favourite.  Like me!  Like me!  Pick me!  More often than not they don’t pick me.  Ouch.

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A quick guide to Maternity Allowance for the self employed

June 16, 2015

2014-12-22When I was pregnant I found it really difficult to find information about what I was entitled to in the way of maternity benefits as a self employed sole trader.

So I thought I’d write a really concise guide in case it is of use to anyone else!

If you are self employed and live in England, Scotland or Wales you are entitled to claim Maternity Allowance from HMRC during your maternity leave, which is very similar to Statutory Maternity Pay.  Here’s how it works:

  • Once you are 26 weeks pregnant you can apply by submitting a Maternity Allowance form (MA1) which you need to print out, fill in and post.
  • Maternity Allowance payments can start 11 weeks before your baby is due – you say when you want it to start i.e. when your maternity leave will commence.
  • Maternity Allowance is paid into your bank account every 2 or 4 weeks as you prefer.
  • Assuming your income has been more than approx. £8k per year you will be entitled to £139.58 per week (2015) in Maternity Allowance.
  • You can claim Maternity Allowance for up to 39 weeks.
  • You can work up to 10 Keeping In Touch (KIT) days whilst claiming Maternity Allowance in order to maintain contact with your business. If you work for more than 10 days you are required to stop claiming Maternity Allowance.

Here’s the official HMRC site, and here’s a link to the form.



Becoming Ruthless Research

May 25, 2015

WorkWhen I meet new people they often ask me how I came to be self-employed, and I think this is an interesting question.  Usually they tell me I’m brave, which is nice.  But my guess is that when people ask this they have a few ideas about what drives a person to become their own boss.  I think they often expect that a self employed person is a bit of a work-a-holic control freak that needs to be in charge and can’t / won’t work with other people.  Actually that’s not me. Read more…

Does your questionnaire pass the toddler test?

May 4, 2015

2008-09-08My Mum tells me that when I was three she took me along to a Health Visitor appointment, where one of the things they do is a routine developmental check.

The Health Visitor took out a picture of a jungle and asked me “Can you name any of the animals in this picture?”

I answered…. “yes”.

Cue silence, and a smirking mother.

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