During this health emergency all our thoughts are with the families who are affected or have suffered because of COVID-19. Also to our amazing health workers who are working tirelessly to support those families and protect the health of us all. This article is intended to focus on supporting small business owners but we should not lose sight of those helping care, support and fight to keep the country safe and moving forward.
What a week - at the time of writing this article its been nearly seven days since UK "lockdown" and when most of the business world stopped. Small businesses up and down the country were either forced to close or business owners made the correct moral decision to close helping to protect the health of their employees and customers as well as helping to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Every small business owner in the country who has been affected should be proud of their actions and also give themselves a pat on the back for what they have had to go through over the past week.
Many have had to furlough employees and spend many hours and long days on the phone to customers, suppliers and banks.
It’s not been easy and it is unlikely to be any easier over the coming weeks and months. But that does not mean that as a small business owner we just sit back and accept our fate, whether that would be as extreme as business closure or just sitting back, waiting and hoping for normal times to return.
It’s important for our health, our families and our business that we have sacrificed so much for over the years to build up that we do not just let the current situation and events overwhelm us.
There are steps we can take to get us through this, to give us the strength to plan our next moves and to action our way out of this not only as business survivors but also in a much stronger position.
Like nearly every business owner over the past week I've lost sleep, spent many hours on the telephone to a host of different people and organisations and had to make some pretty big and important decisions in recent days that not only affect my own but other peoples life’s. I’ve been running my own business for nearly 24 years now and nothing over that period has prepared me for events of the past week but over those years I've learnt many tactics, routines and plans that have helped me navigate through those many years of small business life.
There's probably going to be no other time in my business life where I need to rely on that arsenal of tools as much than the present time - I'm compiling this list of things primarily for my own benefit as it's so easy to get caught up in the whirlwind of news, social media posts, guidance and rules, that I needed to write them down in this article to keep on reminding myself that I have tools to help my wellbeing, to help me focus and to help me plan for the coming weeks, months and years ahead.
Below is a list of 10 tools that I rely on, some every day, some every week and some whenever I require them. The list is not exhaustive but hopefully you will find some of them helpful to not only as small business owners but also as human beings trying to navigate through this turbulent time.
Please comment and share with me your own tactics and tools.
The village of Cambusbarron, Stirling remembered today all those that fell during the Great War.
For my generation World War 1 feels such a long time ago, with World War 2 feeling closer to our time as that war is more associated with being around the birth of our parents and the stories they could pass on to us.
Unless you go deep into studying the history of WW1 I don't think we truly can appreciate the atrocities that our grandfathers and great grandfathers went through in that conflict.
Like many millions throughout the world, today my family and I took time to remember and pay our respects to the millions that fell and who sacrificed to allow many future generations hope and opportunity.
The campaign to regulate the electrical industry in Scotland reached the Scottish Parliament today with a debate in the main chamber following a motion put forward by Jamie Halcro Johnston MSP.
The campaign to 'Regulate Electricians as a Profession' is led by electrical trade association SELECT and is supported by Unions and other industry bodies.
Today's debate is an important milestone in the campaign process bringing the need to improve electrical safety in homes and business properties to MSP's, parliament and the wider public.
Further information on the campaign:-
- Electricians as a Profession - The Case for Regulation
- Scottish Public Expresses shock and disbelief as SELECT reveals dangers of rogue electricians
- Article 1
- Article 2
- Article 3
- Article 4
The debate can be viewed here thanks to Scottish Parliament TV.
Later this week myself and fellow electrical colleagues will attend the Scottish Parliament.
On Thursday 25th October just after First Ministers Questions a debate brought forward by MSP Jamie Halcro Johnstone will take place to support the Regulation of Electricians as a Profession.
I have mentioned on this blog previously about an ongoing campaign by electrical trade association SELECT to bring legal status to electricians as a 'Profession' - similarly like Gas engineers, essentially making it mandatory that those that carry out electrical work in Scotland be fully trained and have up to date qualifications to carry out such work.
Currently anyone with no training or qualifications can carry out electrical work and legally at the moment there is nothing stopping them carry out such work, if this work is carried out by someone with no formal electrical training or past qualifications that have no or little relevance to the latest electrical regulations then the work could cause harm to property and put lives at risk. Presently the homeowner or business property owner has no mandatory regulated formal way of checking the qualifications of the person carrying out the work.
The parliament Motion calls for support in regulating the electrical industry where only those with up to date and ongoing electrical training and qualifications can carry out electrical work within Scotland and for a mandatory regulated register of qualified electricians/companies. Failure to do so and still carry out electrical work would then be illegal - similar to Gas work.
The campaign by the hard working group at SELECT has gathered pace and now has the support of other electrical organisations and trade unions and will now have a voice at this parliament debate.
I have today written to my local MSP highlighting this campaign and parliament debate and will update with more news later in the week after the debate on Thursday.
In the meantime if anyone has any questions or queries about why the Regulation of Electricians as a Profession is important please ask in the comment section below or in a reply to my social media posts.
My new podcast is now available where I will discuss business, fitness and family.
Hopefully I will provide some words of wisdom along the way.
The podcast is available to listen and subscribe to on a host of popular platforms including Apple Podcasts and Spotify.
Full details are on my new podcast page.
Stirling Electrical Services / Stirling Alarms
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Customers on our new list will receive our electrical safety and security information helping create a more safe and secure home and business property for you and your family.
The new General Data Protection Regulation ("GDPR"), comes into effect May 25, 2018. To help comply with GDPR consent requirements, we need to confirm that our customers would like to be on our customer only list.
We hope our customers will join our new list to receive customer only special offers and useful information. All existing customers on our mailing list have been emailed asking to update their preferences to stay on our customer email list. If you'd like to continue hearing from us, please update your subscription settings via the instructions in the email.
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There has been a positive step in the drive to regulate the electrical industry in Scotland with MSP Jamie Halcro Johnston tabling a motion in the Scottish Parliament.
The motion tabled by the Highlands and Islands Conservative politician can be viewed below and is calling for cross party support. (image from The Scottish Parliament website)
This past week has seen an upsurge in calls for tighter regulations over electrical white goods after a recent study suggested faulty appliances could "cause 60 fires a week".
The issue has even been on the agenda of our local Stirling MP Stephen Kerr who, in his latest Stirling Observer newspaper column(see below), said he has been involved in looking into this matter at UK Government level.
MP Kerr's involvement and the awareness within the news media recently should be welcomed as the lessons learned after the terrible tragedy at Grenfell must be acted upon quickly.
I have been involved in the electrical industry for 25 years and while tighter regulations may indeed have to be introduced into the manufacture and warranty procedure of white goods, the lack of regulation is more widespread than just white goods - the whole electrical installation industry needs to be more tightly controlled and regulated.
You may be surprised to find that there is currently no legislation in place to prevent an individual with no electrical skills or qualifications whatsoever from placing an advert in the local newspaper advertising as an electrician, willing to undertake electrical work in homes and business premises.
The law (in Scotland) currently allows anyone to carry out most electrical work, with no mandatory formal checks to confirm that the individual has been trained and is qualified to the latest regulations.
A recent survey found that up to 2000 unqualified electrical businesses are potentially putting the safety of the Scottish public at risk - that figure is staggering and could be quite literally 'shocking'.
View the video and visit the link to read and watch the disbelief as members of the Scottish public who thought electricians were currently regulated were told that no such thing is in place.
View More Videos
There are a few non-mandatory trade organisations databases including a building standards database in Scotland available for consumers to check if electricians are registered - these databases list the electrical individuals and companies who have up to date qualifications and are already committed to upholding the safety and carrying out work in accordance with the latest electrical regulations. More info for the public at SELECT website as well as at the Electrical Safety Council.
There is some hope though as Scotland's largest electrical trade organisation SELECT are determined to address the issue and improve public safety and have started a movement to regulate the electrical industry in Scotland. By making the job of an electrician a 'Profession' it would become an offence to carry out electrical work in Scotland when not qualified to do so. Did you know that a door steward in a night club has more legal and mandatory checks carried out on them than an electrician?
To give some context to the idea of regulation that affects the electrical industry, in December 2015 it became mandatory in Scotland for Private Rented Landlords to have electrical wiring testing carried out every 5 years and a short time before that date new fire safety regulations were introduced increasing the number of smoke/heat detectors installed within properties rented to private occupiers.
For the past few years at Stirling Electrical Services and at other qualified electricians in the Stirling area, we have been into many hundreds of private rented properties and because of the mandatory testing, landlords (including myself) have been 'forced' to increase the safety of the electrical installations with many life saving devices such as smoke alarms and RCD switches being introduced.
I say 'forced' because unless the mandatory testing regulation was in place then a large percentage of the rented properties would still have life-risking and fire-causing electrical problems present.
Having mandatory regulation works - the vast majority will adhere to it meaning safety to all will increase - and those that don't adhere to the rules should be punished.
Over the past year or so SELECT have been in discussion with the Scottish Government and as part of their campaign have submitted a report and evidence to support the idea of regulating Electricians.
An idea that would bring electricians and electrical work in line with gas engineers and gas work where tighter regulations already apply.
Listen below to a 2017 BBC Interview with SELECT MD Newell McGuinness about the campaign.
I have said for many years that to get a light or socket to work is relatively easy with a little knowledge, but to make sure the work involved (and the end result) is SAFE to YOU and YOUR PROPERTY is an entirely different scenario - and that is why only qualified electricians with up to date training and qualifications should be allowed to carry out electrical work in homes and businesses throughout Scotland.
If they do not have up to date electrical qualifications then it is time to stop - the kitchen fitter, plumber, joiner, man at the pub and even electricians who were qualified many many years ago but have no up to date training from carrying out most electrical work. For safety reasons electrical regulations change and are updated every few years and without up to date training and qualifications you cannot carry out electrical work to the current safety standards.
A regulated industry would also raise the standard of those electricians currently qualified as it would mean we would always be kept on our toes knowing we had to maintain our standards to remain on the mandatory register of electricians.
It is time for the electrical industry to be regulated as an equal to gas and while the current movement to increasing the safety of white goods should be welcomed I would like to make our local politicians aware of our current electrical industry situation.
As SELECT continue to have discussions with Scottish Government officials it would be reassuring to know that our own MSP Bruce Crawford is aware of the situation and I would also hope our Stirling MP Stephen Kerr would offer his support where he can - they, you and I all have homes and work in or visit business premises and it would be good to know that the person you ask to come into your property to carry out electrical work involving 230 and 400 dangerous volts of electricity is qualified and competent to do so - and that they have been audited by an official register before they come into your property.
It's time we stopped taking chances with electricity - the mandatory regulations in rented properties brought in so far have made a big difference so it's about time we went all the way and made sure the people carrying out all electrical work are trained and qualified to do so - surely life and fire safety are not worth taking a 'chance' on.
What are your thoughts on the plans to regulate the electrical industry - did you just presume the person who you let into your property to carry out electrical work was qualified, did you carry out competency checks on them beforehand ? Post your thoughts in the comments below.
Follow the campaigns latest news - https://twitter.com/regulate_SELECT
The images below are all real examples of dangerous electrical work or faults we have encountered in recent months.
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