Issue #14 - WFH? WTF! 😨

Confessions of a catering company | Should home workers really be paid less? | Is it time to give up the morning brew? | How to protect your business from complaining customers | Tunes | Podcasts |

🦾 G O

All together now

Hello to all the new subscribers we’ve picked up since we belatedly introduced ourselves in Issue #7, and we’d love to hear more about you and your businesses. And if you’ve been here since Issue #1, we’d still love to hear more about you too.

But first, let’s reintroduce ourselves…

We are Bionic. The business comparison experts.

The Backbone is a new type of business newsletter where you can share your stories, offer useful tips and actionable advice to make running a business that little bit easier.

Once you’re done with this issue, please get in touch to tell us a bit about your business or offer some sage advice you’d give to anyone just starting out.

You can even sound off about things that really annoy you about being a business owner - anything we can use to improve our service and help make running a business radically easier​.

Leave a comment below or join our Discord group to tell us your thoughts. Now, let’s get on with Issue #14…

Leave a comment

👩‍🤝‍👩🏾 S H A R E

If you love The Backbone (or even if you just quite like it) share it with someone who has equally great taste in email newsletters.


🗣  S H O U T O U T

#BionicBusinessStory - J'Nik's 🍽

Bionic caught up with Lorraine Brown, who helps run Northampton-based catering company J'Nik's. We got the low down on how the close-knit team set up shop, tackled the pandemic and came out stronger than ever, with big plans to serve at Glastonbury one day!

Bionic: How did you start up your own business?

Lorraine Brown: “Jason and Nick have been good friends since they were 13-years-old. They’ve always wanted to work for themselves, but the timing has never been right. In 2017, mine and Jason’s youngest son Adam had been working at the Grand Prix at Silverstone with his dad and Nick. They’d been serving food at another company’s stall and a discussion was started about why they couldn’t do this too and work for themselves. So J’Nik’s was born.”

B: What is your advice for small businesses just starting out?

LB: “I’d say you need to be prepared to put in the hard work because you don’t get anything for nothing. Try to have a good outlook and stay positive.”

B: Does technology help or hinder your business?

LB: “Sort of both actually. Having a website is necessary and very important for getting our name out there but the cost of keeping the site up to date is a hindrance. Social media is great but we don’t really know how to use it for business, it’s a cost-effective way to market but we don’t utilize it I don’t think.”

B: What's next for J’Nik’s and do you have any long-term plans?

LB: “The diary is starting to fill up, so we have a lot more events to cater for. Northampton FC has been brilliant; we’re now running three food units at every home match so that’s great.”

“We’ve decided to keep small this year to build up funds so next year we can try and get bigger jobs. Jason has said always said his biggest wish is to do Glastonbury, so maybe one day!”

To see what J’Nik’s have to offer or to book them for an event, go to

To read more from this #BionicBusinessStory, click on the trailer below 👇

📩 J O I N

We want to hear about you and your business 🗣

💡 How did you end up running your own business?

😟 As a business owner, what keeps you awake at night?

🤩 What’s your proudest achievement as a business owner?

🤔 What advice would you give to someone starting their own business?

Leave a comment to get involved 👇

Leave a comment

📰 N E W S

Should people who work from home be paid less? 💸

Remember the huge panic at the start of the pandemic, when none of us could leave our homes but somehow had to keep on working?

Those who could work from home were urged to do so, and have continued to do so as we slowly crawl out of lockdown. Even if it’s meant spending almost every waking hour in a box room, employees up and down the country have continued to work from home/live at work*

But it seems the honeymoon is over, as an ‘unnamed’ government minister (they’re always unnamed) is putting out the feelers for an idea to cut the pay of civil servants who work from home.

The senior (but still unnamed) minister told iNews: “People who have been working from home aren’t paying their commuting costs so they have had a de facto pay rise, so that is unfair on those who are going into work.”

First off, since when have commuting costs been factored in as part of a salary package? Rarely, if ever at all, for most of us.

And why is it always a pay cut these people are after? If it’s such an issue, why not increase the salary of those who go to the office to cover their commuting costs?

Millions have already struggled through the last 18 months, contending with pay cuts, job losses, and businesses going to the wall. And things could get a lot worse before they get better - the furlough scheme ends next month and could potentially lead to even more job losses and businesses going bust.

The suggestion that home workers should be paid less is a kick in the teeth to anyone who has worked hard to keep their head above water and businesses afloat over the last 18 months. If there’s been no drop in productivity, there should be no problems around pay.

And if you think this is an issue that’s only going to affect government workers, think again. Google in the US is already considering cutting the pay of staff who opt to work from home.

First, they came for the work from home civil servants…

One positive outcome of the story was that we finally found something that Bionic Instagram and Twitter could agree on 👇

*delete as applicable

🙏 W E L L N E S S

Time to give up the mid-morning brew? ☕

If you love a strong cup of coffee in the morning, did you know that a quarter of that caffeine will still be having an effect on your body 12 hours later?

That means having a mid-morning brew could stop you from getting a good night’s sleep. Here’s why it could be time to give up (or at least cut down) the caffeine.

How does caffeine keep you alert?

There’s a chemical in our bodies called adenosine - a central nervous system neuromodulator that tells our brain when we’re tired. Adenosine levels rise over the course of the day, and this makes us feel tired and drowsy.

To a nerve cell, caffeine looks like adenosine. Caffeine binds to the adenosine receptor and blocks off all the other receptors that adenosine would normally bind to.

Hey presto! No more tiredness.

But (there’s always a but) all the while the adenosine is still knocking about in your bloodstream and building up during the day. This means that once your liver has metabolised the caffeine, you get one big hit of sleep-inducing adenosine - and that’s when you crash.

Which means you’ll want another cuppa.

Is caffeine bad for you?

No. Caffeine isn’t bad for you, and the tea and coffee you drink you get your hit actually contain antioxidants that are really good for you and can cut your chances of getting certain kinds of cancer, cardiovascular disease, and even dementia.

The only real downside to caffeine is that it seems to affect slow-wave sleep. This is the really deep sleep that’s needed for brain hygiene - the bit that makes sense of the day you’ve just had.

This kind of sleep diminishes if you have caffeine in your system overnight, which can see you feeling sluggish and less alert the next day.

Which means you’ll want another cuppa. And so the cycle begins again.

As with most things, there are pros and cons to getting your caffeine hit, and the positives probably outweigh the negatives when it comes to drinking tea and coffee.

But while there’s no need to completely give up that morning brew, there’s definitely a case for reaching for the caffeine-free options after mid-morning.

🤝🏻 T I P S

Protect your business from complaining customers 🤬

Unfortunately dealing with a “Karen” or just a bog-standard complainer is never a particularly pleasant experience for either party. But there are ways to quell the quibbles and alleviate the abrasion between yourself, as a small business owner, and an irate customer. 

1. Keep calm and keep your head

It’s vital to stay calm and listen to your customer. Hear them out. Listen (and we mean really listen) to their issues. Even if you don’t think their point of view is completely accurate or right, you need to show a willingness to at least hear their side of the story.

2. Be solution focussed

Acknowledging the customer’s feelings and offering a solution goes a long way. If your company is genuinely in the wrong, offer a genuine apology. If you and the customer are never going to agree it’s best to just focus on how the situation can be rectified. Be polite, genuine, and let them know you hear what they’re saying.

3. Stick to the facts, don’t get emotional

If you aren’t able to come to a solution, then you’ll need to calmly let them know why. At this point, it’s important to keep your head and explain the situation factually, not subjectively. Emotion feeds the fire and you don’t want to poke the proverbial bear.

4. Keep records and protect yourself

Keep records of your service, work or sales so you have a paper trail. Keep communication open and transparent with your customer so they also have a record of the exchange. Remember, it’s also important to manage customer expectations. 

5. Know your rights

This one sounds scary but it’s good to know your legal rights and what customers are entitled to. If you ever feel like you could be on the verge of a legal issue you should seek professional legal advice as soon as you’re able. There are also plenty of resources you can access for free online. 

Finally, we always recommend investing in public liability insurance just so you have a piece of mind and are covered if the worst does actually happen. If you have even one employee, then employee’s liability cover is a must, while if you’re in the business of giving advice, then you should consider making professional indemnity insurance part of your policy. 

At Bionic, we offer a choice of over 40 insurers, from a specially sourced panel, that cater specifically to small businesses so rest assured you’re in safe hands. 

Ever wondered which parts of the country complain the most? Or whether a person’s name gives any clues to the likelihood that they’ll complain? Check out The Karen capitals - Who and where complains the most?

🗞 R E A D

Impatient customers tired of waiting for service are taking out their frustrations on the workers. That’s where owners can help.

Rude customers are a drag – but can we small business owners do more?

While the easing of restrictions is great news for many small businesses, it means one group of people - those who have made and sold face masks in the past year - have to look for a new way to make money.

What will mask makers do now?

🎧 L I S T E N


Recommended by Les, Content Manager at Bionic, TERN of the Century: Issue One was a collaborative playlist put together to mark the release of a TERN, a football fanzine. Zuzu, Slowthai, Fontaines DC, Loyle Carner, Groove Armarda and more feature on this 25-track mixed bag.


The Long Read from The Guardian is a selection of the Guardian’s long reads in podcast form. Designed to give you the opportunity to get on with your day while listening to in-depth writing from around the world on immigration, crime, business, the arts and much more.

🔥 H A S H T A G

If you want to hear more from us, check out our TwitterFacebookInstagram, and LinkedIn feeds.

Get involved by using the #BeABionicBusiness 🦾 and #BionicBusinessStory hashtags.

📊 B U S I N E S S

Get your business costs sorted.

Our tech-enabled team will answer all your questions in simple terms, and help you find the best deal on business energy, insurance, phone, broadband, or finance. No jargon. No-fuss. #BeABionicBusiness 🦾

Get business utilities sorted

Check out more ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Trustpilot reviews

🏡 H O U S E K E E P I N G

Check your folders 📁

If The Backbone isn’t landing in your inbox every other Friday, please mark this address as ‘not spam.’ If it isn’t in your spam folder, it may have been moved to another folder, like ‘Promotions’ or ‘Social’.

🚫 S T O P

Cảm ơn*

Thanks for making it to the end of another Bionic bulletin 🤝🏻

Please leave a comment and let us know if there’s anything else we should be featuring.

Leave a comment

And don’t forget to send this link to all your friends and get them to subscribe ✌🏻

Share The Backbone

*sounds like a Londoner trying to hurry you up, but it’s actually Vietnamese for ‘thank you’