Coffee, Jelly and my love of independent businesses (blog piece for Enterprise Nation)

I have just written an article for Coffee Birmingham sponsors, Enterprise Nation here.

Here’s the text below … Enjoy!

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Earlier this week, we posted about our support for the inaugural Coffee Birmingham SuperJelly co-working event for solo workers in Birmingham. Here, Coffee Birmingham founder Tim Wilson explains why he thinks solo workers, freelancers and mobile workers should spend a little more time together – while supporting their local independent cafes.

Tim Wilson, founder of Coffee Birmingham In a previous article for Enterprise Nation, I extolled the many virtues of being a coffee loving freelancer, writes Tim (left). So you will be unsurprised to hear that I sat in an independent coffee shop for the large proportion of writing this blog piece. What you may not know is that I am not alone and have shared a coffee table with other freelancers doing their thing. I am not alone in the freelance universe…

In fact, in Birmingham, you will find many of us who share in the desire to live, work and play out of coffee shops. There is a fervent community of small business owners who are mobile and don’t want to just work in an office (or from home) and want to be around others. In fact, I don’t have a desk at home! I have a sofa or a nice chair.

You might be thinking that this is the caffeine talking, and several flat whites later (during the editing process), there is an element of truth regarding my state of caffeination, but the caffeine isn’t fuelling my excitement to tell you about Coffee Birmingham and the global Jelly network which exists all over the world.

The birth of Coffee Birmingham

Coffee Birmingham logo Enthused by a desire to unite small independent businesses across Birmingham, I set up Coffee Birmingham with a primary aim to unite them, to help them grow and to shout about the incredible things that they do … and yes, the coffee shops and the independents that supply and frequent them are an important part of this ecology.

Coffee shops have become one of the ‘go to’ places for small businesses to forge their own identities. What goes on in the shops helps businesses to shape business practice. The quality of product is matched by the communities that exist within them – two things that define independent coffee shops – and the latter, in particular, is one of the reasons why small businesses return to the coffee shops to work, time and time again,

With this in mind, the Jelly co-working movement exists all over the world giving freelancers, soloworkers and people who want to get out of the office for the day an opportunity to meet with like-minded people.

There are Jellies all over the UK, and I am often to be found at the official Birmingham Jelly and have recently launched the Jelly meet-up in Lincoln, too. This month, Coffee Birmingham has joined forces with the official Birmingham Jelly and Enterprise Nation to run a Superjelly (it’s a bird, it’s a plane, no it’s a jelly) at three coffee shop locations (instead of the usual one) across the city.

We are doing this because the official Birmingham Jelly is popular and we want to give other small businesses and freelancers the opportunity to come and find out what all the fuss is about regarding this Jelly thing.

Ten reasons to go to your local Jelly

UK Jelly logo 1. Get out of the office
I still know many freelancers and small business owners who don’t escape the office or the home unless it is for domestic chores, or to pick up the kids or purely for leisure. Get out of the office and enjoy a Jelly and it could be one of the best business decisions you make.

2. Got a problem, find a solution
I have regularly always come away from a Jelly having had a few questions and having learnt new things – often it is “geeky” stuff such as digital tools or apps which make my business efficiency greater. Otherwise it is basic – meeting new people.

3. New ideas
Do something different! Don’t just show up with your laptop and your mobile! Ever considered bringing a pen and a simple notepad, some crayons, your knitting. I’ve even known someone bring a ukelele. Be creative!! For many, #jelly represents the ideal opportunity for new personal as well as business ideas.

4. Be Inspired
Isn’t it great to meet with likeminded freelancers, solo workers? Jelly is also about collaboration swapping ideas and mutual support.

5. Real live #Watercoolermoment moment
Much like Enterprise Nation’s daily #Watercoolermoment on Twitter, one of the benefits of Jelly is that it is a place to chat about anything you like but it is also an opportunity to play and to share your knowledge and expertise.

6. Treat yourself.
Eat something nice. Drink a new coffee. Buy a cake. Support locally sourced produce. Whatever it is that you want on the day, this is an opportunity to treat your mind and senses …. and let those diet fads go!

7. Dress for the occasion.
You may work naked at home, but at jelly you should never exposed. Obviously, wearing clothes is a requirement – but unlike going to a business office environment, you can wear what you like (within reason!). Casual is fine.

8. Support local independent business.
By going to Jelly you are supporting the local independent business ecology. This is not just the small business owners you will be talking to but possibly also the venue that you are in!

9. Something to look forward to 
Put Jelly in your calendar safe in the knowledge that you will be coming to an event in which to do something fresh and different and to be around people who think the same thing.

10. Flexible to your business day… come and go as you please!
One of the principle differences between #jelly and other co-working, or indeed networking events, is that there are no formal timings or requirements. If you want to go early, or indeed you need disappear off to other commitments throughout the day (and come back), you can do that. Jelly is flexible to your needs! Much like Jelly – it is wobbly and moulds around the shape of your day (tenuous analogy!)

If these reasons have whetted your appetite for Jelly, and you are in Birmingham, please come along on Friday August 10th for come along on Friday for the SuperJelly or find out where your UK Jelly is here.

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