Is your Email list GDPR compliant?

Is your Email list GDPR compliant?

data security, GDPR, Data Protection

The General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) will come into force on 25 May 2018, replacing the current Data Protection Directive. It will bring significant changes to the way you handle data in your business. The legislation is very wide ranging and I can’t hope to cover all the areas that you might need to know about in one blog post. The area I am most often asked about is the impact of GDPR on information retention and on Email Marketing.

At its most basic level, the new legislation aims to ensure personal data is properly safeguarded, people’s privacy is protected, and we aren’t bombarded by unsolicited information. If you hold and manage personal data relating to EU citizens within your business, you will need to understand your responsibilities under the regulations. Even if your company is based outside the EU and UK, if you have contacts or clients there and you want to use their email address for marketing purposes, you must comply with the Regulations.

Accountability Principle

A key change will be the introduction of the Accountability Principle. This requires you to show HOW you comply with the principles by keeping a clear record of decisions taken about how each processing activity will be carried out.
Article Five of GDPR requires personal data to be:

• Processed lawfully, fairly and in a transparent manner.
• Collected for a specific purpose, that purpose to be made clear and explicit to all whose data you hold.
• No data to be further processed or used for other reasons for which you do not have, or have not sought, permission.
• You should hold only as much data as you need to complete the tasks for which you are holding the information.
• All data must be accurate and kept up to date at all times. Any inaccurate data found must be erased or rectified as soon as the inaccuracy is discovered. Also, if you have shared that data with someone else, you must inform them of the inaccuracy so they can alter their records also.
• Data should be kept only as long as is necessary for the processing purpose and must be held securely and protected against unauthorised or unlawful processing as well as against loss, destruction or damage.


GDPR also requires that the Data Controller, which in a small business is usually the owner, takes responsibility for, and is able to demonstrate, compliance with the principles of the Regulations.
It is good practice to demonstrate compliance via a policy for Data Protection. If you already have such a policy which complies with the current Data Protection Act then updating it to comply with GDPR should be reasonably straightforward.
Without the ability to demonstrate that you comply with the legislation you could leave yourself open to criticism and potential enforcement action if you breach the rules. The costs of a breach under GDPR are much higher than under the Data Protection Act so it makes business sense to get this right.

Email Marketing

With respect to Email Marketing, the most important change is that silence, pre-ticked boxes and inactivity are not considered as consent to be marketed to. People must actively take steps to opt into your marketing. So no pre-ticked boxes on your Email Sign Up forms please.
As mentioned above, you must state very clearly the exact purpose for collecting the data and how you propose to use it. So, if you wish to add people to your Email list, you must tell them this and explain what they will receive in return, for example, a monthly or weekly newsletter.
Because you need explicit and verifiable permission to add someone to a marketing list, you can’t just add the details from all those business cards you got at that networking event to your Email list. You must ask the person for permission to add them. You can send one individual Email inviting them to join your list. This must be a single email, personally addressed, and cannot be sent via a mail marketing programme such as MailChimp.
Similarly, if you put out a bowl on your trade stand asking people to drop in their business cards, the bowl should have a notice clearly stating that people will be added to your mailing list if they provide their card. This allows them to choose whether to opt into your mailings. There is a problem here though, the new legislation will require you to provide traceable evidence of sign up to mailing lists. So you might find sign-up sheets or asking people to sign up via your website on a tablet, a better choice for growing your email list at trade shows.
Although we are mainly discussing Email marketing, if you want to collect phone numbers to call or send text messages or collect addresses for traditional mailings, you need to seek permission to use each type of data (eg: phone, SMS, mail) and provide the option for people to opt in or out of each separate method so they can choose the methods of contact they are most comfortable with. Provide an empty tick box for each option.
Since every bit of personal data you collect about a person is another bit of data you are responsible for (and must secure) it makes sense to only collect what you need and will use. Particularly as the penalty for breaching the regulations is a very hefty fine.

Consent and Email Marketing

It really is all about getting verifiable consent. One way to get this verifiable consent is to use a system such as MailChimp to build your list as it has a double opt in. People will not be added to your list until they have responded to a second email which asks them to confirm that they really did mean to sign up to your list. This double opt in information can be used to prove permission to use the data.
The new rules specify very clearly that there must be an unsubscribe button or method by which the person can arrange to be removed from the mailing list and that this MUST be very prominently displayed and easy to find. Hiding it, or making it difficult to locate, is not an option.
Individuals will also have the “right to be forgotten”, that is, they can request to have their data erased with no trace of the information left behind. If someone requests this then it must be done as soon as possible and no further marketing materials sent to them.
GDPR will also prohibit the sale or exchange of personal data and it will not be possible to use data collected for one purpose (such as Email newsletters) for another purpose.
Even if you have previously obtained permission to use people’s email address, you will need to seek renewed permission to use that address ahead of the new legislation.

Action Points

So what action do you need to take?

• Review any areas of your business where you request email addresses, whether that is pop up windows on your website or sign up forms. Check that all the pop ups and sign up forms are clear and specific and include all the ways in which you might be going to use the Email address so visitors are very clear about how you will use their data.

• Keep a record of the permissions you are sent so that you can be quite certain, and can prove, that you have permission to market to each individual.

• If you have an old list you must gain permission to use each address on it. To do that, you would need to individually email each person on the list and ask them whether they would like to join your mailing list. Do not use the Carbon Copy (CC) function in your Email system to send messages to several people at once. Doing so will allow data to be seen by everyone you are emailing and thus breach the regulations.
It is possible to send to multiple email addresses using the Blind Carbon Copy (BCC) Function because each individual will see only themselves as an addressee. However, don’t send to large numbers of addresses all at once in this way. You will get blacklisted as a spammer if you do.

If you want to find out more about how to comply with the new legislation and get your business ready for the change, the ICO provides some excellent checklists specifically aimed at small business owners. These are straightforward and clearly written, covering the various areas which will change when GDPR is brought into force and the ways in which you can prepare your business for the new legislation. These can be found at
Another great source of information is which, together with the ICO website, keeps you up to date on the latest interpretations of the upcoming legislation.

You can also find videos about the impact of GDPR on the new JJB Office Services YouTube Channel.

Does all this make your brain hurt?  Are you wondering how you will find the time to make your business compliant?  Perhaps you need existing policies and procedures reviewed and updated but don’t have the time?  Well never fear, Jenni is here.  If you need a hand,  please get in touch with me here.

First Birthday Business Review

Happy Birthday to JJB Office Services

birthday business review, happy birthday, business birthday, first birthday, JJB Office Services Birthday

It hardly seems possible that it was only a year ago when JJB Office Services opened for business.  The year has flown by in a whirl of setting up processes, website writing, marketing, and most importantly, supporting some fabulous local businesses to achieve their goals.  Today seemed a good day to look back over the first year and conduct a business review.  As I look back on the year I am proud that I’ve come so far.  I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my first year in business.  So many firsts happened this year:

My first website, for which I wrote at least four sets of content before I was satisfied.   I am, after all, a perfectionist at heart.

First networking event.  That was rather nerve wracking and I sat in the car-park for almost an hour before I was able to steel myself to go in.  Of course, when I got in there, everyone was perfectly lovely.  That first event was quite a low key, relaxed event but the first time I attended a more formal event, at 4Networking, and had to do a two minute introduction, my poor dog had to listen to my pitch for three days until I was word perfect.  Networking was something I had been very nervous about when I set up the business and yet I have found I enjoy it immensely.  Since I’m quite nosey and I love people, I really enjoy hearing people’s business stories.  I always learn something new, sometimes something quite surprising, and always come away with a new perspective on something.

My first client of course. Every client I have is special and lovely,  and I enjoy working with them all.  I have a particular place in my heart for my first client though.

First self-assessment tax return. Which wasn’t actually as bad as people make it out to be.  I found it quite easy to complete.  Next year HMRC’s  “Making Tax Digital” will require me to use a cloud based accounting package so I’ve chosen QuickBooks Self-Employed as it produces a tax report which will hopefully meet HMRC’s requirements.

One of the best things about being a business owner is the scope for learning new skills.  I just love it.  I love the learning but I especially love using new skills to help my clients streamline their business processes.  It’s so rewarding to see people gaining more time to spend with their family or being able to return to leisure activities which they had dropped when they started their business due to lack of time.

I’ve loved working from home too.  It is not the first time I’ve done this and I’ve found I get lots more done without office distractions.  And of course, my clients benefit from that.  After all, when you are paying for your admin cover by the hour, you want as much work as possible to happen in that hour.  Being able to crack on and get your admin done really efficiently makes me happy, and seems to make my clients happy too, judging by the feedback I receive.

This year I’ve also worked on a challenging on-site project.   I love a good challenge and the project is currently on target to complete on time which I’m rather proud of.

I’ve met some great people and really enjoyed my first year in business.  I’m very much looking forward to my second year and helping more business owners to carve out some time for themselves.




Eight Crucial Requirements for Business Success

Eight Crucial Requirements for Business Success

Naturally, there are more requirements for business success but this is a blog post, not a novel and you came here, I assume, for the reading equivalent of a small snack, rather than a full seven-course banquet.   So whilst these are not the only requirements they seem to me to be pretty key ones.  And like just about every other key requirement in life, they are all underpinned by one single, absolutely critical requirement.  Hard Work.

Tenacitydetermination tenacity determined tenacious

At every stage of your business journey, you need the determination to push through obstacles. Never more so than in the early stages of the business set up. Growth brings its own challenges and even for an established business, keeping up to date with rapidly changing business and marketing methods, social media platforms, apps and technology can be a struggle.

Visionclear vision clarity business vision view far-sighted

A clear vision of the direction and aims for your business. Where you are going, and how you are going to get there. The step by step process you need to implement to get to your end goal. The success of your business relies on your vision. Also of critical importance is the ability to articulate that vision to attract customers to your brand.

Energyenergy enthusiasm excitement business success enjoyment

The determination and energy to work hard and to retain the enthusiasm and drive to succeed, in the face of setbacks.  Putting everything you have into your business to assure its success. The will to succeed burns brightly inside you.


In yourself, and in your business. Knowing right down deep in your gut that you can achieve great things.  Being totally committed to your product, or the service you provide and determined to make it the best in the market.

Resourcefulnessdetermination hard work energy enthusiasm business success

The ability to find a way around obstacles and come out the other side stronger and better than ever.  One of my most inspirational bosses had a saying, “There is no point trying to go through a wall, you must find a way to get around it.”  I heard that in my head every time I came across a road block to success in my career and now I use it in my business too.

Flexibilityflexible change management business change business planning business support planning for business success

To adapt to what life throws at you.  Being able to respond positively to feedback, being open to change and constantly seeking to make improvements to your service or product to ensure it delights the customer every time.

Supportbusiness support business structure underpinning architecture bridge

From your family, your friends, and your network of associates who are willing you to succeed. Support with tasks which you are less talented at so you are free to excel at the tasks that were the reason you set your business up.

A Kick Ass VA

To support you as you work toward your business goals. If you didn’t need to do your admin, just think how much more you could get done in your business.

Click here to get in touch to find out how I can help you free up more time to pursue, and to achieve, business success.

Organisation is at the heart of Productivity

I've been thinking a lot about productivity and organisation lately.  Specifically, the way in which different techniques work for different people.  As a Virtual Assistant I help improve business productivity.  By utilising my organisation skills to complete tasks and projects quickly and efficiently, my client's can concentrate on revenue producing activities.  Naturally, I am always on the look-out for new tips to either share with clients or use in my own practice.  After all, the more efficiently I work, the more cost-effective my service to the client will be.

Whilst researching productivity, I found that many tips shared one key element.  From grouping similar tasks and tackling them together to putting items back where they belong so you can find them again.  All shared an emphasis on being organised in order to increase productivity.

There were also a lot of tips available and since interrogating the internet takes time and can lead to distractions (cute dog video's anyone?) I've bravely gone down that rabbit hole for you, come up with seven key tips, and put them all in one place for you.  These tips were common to many of the sites I visited and can all be implemented reasonably easily.

It is probably easier to pick just one tip and concentrate on that.  Trying to implement multiple new tips in one go is likely to make you feel less productive as you struggle to recall all the things you are supposed to be changing.  But one tip, with a reminder, posted up on your computer, the wall in the office, or the fridge, is manageable.  Maybe pick the tip that resonates most with you or the one that you feel would fit most effectively with the way you work.  And although one small change may not seem like much, you could be surprised by how much difference it makes to your productivity.

If you still find you are not getting through that work as fast as you would like then click here to choose you preferred method of contacting me.  Maybe I can add a touch of extra organisation to your day which will help you achieve that goal you are working towards.

productivity tips efficiency plan organise organisation sections concentrate organised review prioritise

Productivity starts with the Environment

Productivity starts with the Environment

Productivity desk organised organisation safe

It is easier to be more productive if your environment is organised in a way that makes sense to you.  Time is money.  If you can find things easily and quickly when you need them, rather than scrabbling through boxes of dis-organised paperwork you will be able to make best use of your time.  Of course, organising the office takes time, you are busy and perhaps feel you have more pressing tasks to deal with.  However, tackling it a bit at a time makes the task more manageable.

You could start with the desk, removing clutter and finding ways to organise the items you require so they are to hand.  If you can find things more easily then you will be able to work more quickly.  Organising the desk need not be expensive either.  I love IKEA for low cost organisation solutions. For example, I use a plastic IKEA cutlery tray for pens, paperclips and staples etc.  The tray slides up the drawer easily so items stored under the tray can be retrieved quickly.  If you don’t have time to trek off to IKEA, there are other options.  Empty jars, Syrup and Treacle tins are great for storing elastic bands, paper clips, and other small items.  Tins are also great for pens, pencils and rulers.  Perfect if you prefer your stationery out on the desk, right where you can grab it.

Are you comfortable?  Is everything where you can reach it easily and safely? If you have a land line phone, do you need to stretch to answer it? Is your computer screen, keyboard and mouse located at the right height and at a comfortable distance from where you are sitting?  Can you adjust your chair to ensure adequate back support?  If you are uncomfortable you will cause health problems.  In addition, it is difficult to work productively if you are uncomfortable.  There are a number of websites which provide advice on how to set up your workstation effectively.  One very useful source of information is this NHS site:  How to sit correctly

Are the wires of your computer and devices snaking all over the place and creating a mess or a trip hazard?  Try taming them with wire tamer tubes.  These are available at IKEA and at DIY stores.  Alternatively, lower cost solutions include Ty-Raps or string.  In my house, wires get tied up with knitting wool because I always have some lying around.

Pinterest is full of really great ideas for keeping office items under control, including the Lego Figure approach.  Stick a flat Lego brick to your desk then stand your Lego figure on the brick, put your cables into the figure’s hands, and you have an instant wire tamer.  This will only work with fine wires such as Iphone cables and phone chargers.  There are also numerous Pinterest boards showing varied Lego-related organisation ideas for both home and office.

There are many ideas available to increase the efficiency of your work area and help with productivity including a number of blogs and Pinterest boards.  But if you don’t want to spend time trawling the internet for ideas (after all, the point is to increase productivity, not spend hours on Pinterest), then you could approach a Virtual Assistant.  Many Virtual Assistants, myself included, are able to organise offices to ensure they are healthy, productive places to work.  If you would like some help getting your office organised, please click here and choose you preferred method to get in touch with me.

Should you Do It (all) Yourself?

Should you Do It (all) Yourself?

As a sole trader or new start up it is easy to feel you need to do everything yourself.  Running a business, particularly in the early stages, is challenging.  Not only financially but in terms of time management.  And as your careful nurturing pays off and your business expands, so does the administrative burden.  You don’t want to work until 3am every day but there aren’t enough hours in the day to get everything done.  Maybe your family are starting to complain that they never see you. Maybe your family are telling you they want to see the fun, rested, happy you.  Not the tired, stressed you.

A bit of help at the right time would make all the difference to keeping the business momentum going.  But a small business can’t afford admin staff.  Or can it?

Freelance Administrators save businesses money time cost-effective money-saving

What if you could access a highly experienced administrator who could take some of the administrative burden off your shoulders only at the times when you want them to?  What if you had someone you could call on to come in and do a couple of hours a week or a month for you?  Someone you could trust to complete routine and time consuming tasks whether regularly or as a one off task?  How much revenue producing work could you get done if you weren’t trying to do every little thing in your business?

Sometimes a small amount of help is all you need.  A couple of hours sorting a pile of documentation you don’t have time to tackle.  Someone to respond to Emails and letters on your behalf.  Someone to research suppliers or tidy up a contact list to ensure everything is current.

A Virtual Assistant (VA) or Freelance Office Administrator can provide this type of flexible support, giving you access to administrative expertise at a price you can afford.  So, if you need a hand, click here to choose your preferred method to get in touch with me for a no obligation chat.

Freelance Support – Is it right for your business?

Freelance support business organisation Virtual Assistant

Freelance Support – Is it right for your business?

A Close Brothers survey recently found that 51.2% of Small and Medium Enterprises (SME’s) do not plan to take on new employees in 2017. Instead they plan to use temporary staff and freelancers.  This increasing reliance on more flexible support is thought to be partially driven by fears over Brexit. However, freelancing was increasing in popularity prior to Brexit and there is a growing recognition that a flexible workforce is helpful to business in periods of both recession and high growth.

Employed staff draw wages whether times are lean or busy.  Freelance staff are engaged only when the business needs them, making them very cost effective.  Freelance support is particularly valuable to new businesses and those with seasonal or cyclical peaks and troughs in workload.

Freelance support is available in many specialist areas and is particularly valuable to micro-business owners because it provides the option to build a flexible team of experts.

There are fewer overheads involved in working with freelance staff. This makes it a cost effective alternative to traditional employed staff.  Freelancers manage their own tax, employment costs and equipment.  Small businesses and those just starting out find the monthly invoice submitted by their freelancer is simple to manage with relatively little administrative cost.

Access to time-saving technology and increasingly varied communication channels makes a large office-based workforce unnecessary in many sectors.  Working from home rather than expensive office premises reduces costs considerably.  Video conferencing, Instant Messages and an array of online collaboration tools ensure keeping in touch with your team and working effectively on joint projects is straightforward and effective.

People are increasingly concerned about commute costs, not only in terms of monetary expense but also time, inconvenience and environmental impact.  Achieving a good Work-life balance is increasingly recognised as an important part of maintaining health and well-being.  People are increasingly choosing to adopt flexible, part-time and virtual working patterns.  Tapping into this pool of highly motivated labour makes good business sense for companies needing effective and affordable support.

The number of highly experienced administrators, PA’s and EA’s choosing to work as Virtual Assistants (VA’s) is growing.  Virtual Assistants are an increasingly popular alternative to agency staffing for ad hoc, regular and project support. Business owners gain a continuity of service with a VA which is not always possible for an agency to achieve, however hard they try.  The VA, being familiar with the company, hits the ground running each time.

To find out how a Virtual Assistant could help support you and your business, please contact me for a chat.