The mum and Working Academy and Awards.

Yesterday I spent the day at the Mum and Working Academy and Awards. Mumpreneur Inspiration was nominated in the working parent blogger of the year category,  we didn’t win but still had a great day.

There were excellent speakers at the Mum and Working Academy on topics like social media, Finance and funding, search engine optimisation,  team-building PR, legal advice and vlogging.

NatWest were the event sponsors and their regional enterprise manager gave a great session on funding and finance. As well as talking about bank finance he told us about the many great resources that can be found in the city business library. He also discussed alternative funding routes, for example grants, sweat equity, crowdfunding, government start up loans, peer-to-peer lending, pitching competitions and crowdfunding.

Natwest small business funding presentation

Natwest small business funding presentation

There was an excellent session called 42 great SEO tips for small businesses, they focused on how good the search engine optimisation was really about helping users find what they want rather than tricking Google. My key takeaway from this was to think about what people might be googling and use those phrases to make my posts easier to find.

Sarah Cressall

Sarah Cressall

Claire Jones-Hughes from Claritaco Media led the session on social media she talked about limiting the number of platforms that you use, many people agreed that four was overwhelming so she suggested starting with one of them and when you feel confident with it add another. She talked about the importance of making a commitment to your social media and linking in your social media goals with your business goals.

I particularly enjoyed Sarah Cressall’s closing remarks, her enthusiasm is really contagious and she left me feeling inspired.

 

The awards part of the day began with a keynote address from Caroline Dinenage MP who talked about the importance of women in the economy. The working parent blogger of the year category was quite early in the program. Tired daddy received a highly commended award and the winner was honeymumster, the blog of Sarah-Jane Honeywell, who also spoke later at the awards. These are both fantastic bloggers and deserving winners as were  the many other amazing award winners.

All of the finalists received a framed certificate and everyone got a fantastic goody bag. If you’re considering attending next years event I highly recommend it.

Book Review: Find your extraordinary by Jessica Herrin

Despite not being a high achiever at school Jessica Herrin managed to go on to graduate from Stanford and become the founder of a very successful tech company in Silicon Valley. Once she was ready to start a family her goals changed. Her aim was to give both herself and other women a way to run a business that allowed them to prioritise family. She achieved this by launching mid range jewellery brand, Stella and Dot and brought direct selling up to date to provide other women with a business opportunity.

I was keen to get in to her story and found the introduction a bit slow but once she began telling her story I was really engaged.

The book is structured around her 6 P’s of the entrepreneurial spirit. The first P is passion, which is about realising the importance of focussing on what you want rather than what society thinks you should want.

The next P is for path, this one isn’t quite so straightforward. It becomes clear that following your path involves careful judgement to decide weather it’s time to change tactics as we have a tendency to want to change our path because things are getting hard when you actually just need to push on through. The part that really resonated for me was the importance of doing something rather than nothing. It’s tempting to keep putting off starting something as you want it to be perfect but it’s better to get started and make changes along the way than never start at all.

I’ve always been a positive thinker so the next P was a no brainer for me. I firmly believe that we all achieve more when we think positively but that does make it hard for me to judge her advice on changing your mindset, I’m not sure how easy it would be to apply it if you tend towards negative thinking.

As part of the “People” P she describes her father, I loved this part as I was inspired by his willingness to teach himself the things he didn’t know in order to move forward. I also thought his attitude to parenting was interesting, focussing on encouraging his children to do things for themselves to help them develop. She describes an exercise to help you listen better to those around you and that’s something I’m going to try as I realise I am often more focusses on what I’m going say next rather than what the other person is saying.

Perseverance is the 5th P and focusses on keeping going despite adversity, the idea that the people who succeed are simply those who keep going is a very powerful one. I also liked the idea that when we are unhappy we don’t necessarily have to change our choices, just make our current ones better.

The final P is productivity. This is the one that had the biggest impact for me. She talks about the need to make trade offs to prioritise what matters, instead of saying that you don’t have time for something, say that you don’t choose to prioritise it, this helps you to see what really matters. She also points out that it’s important to spend your time on a high value activities that align with your objectives rather than the things you enjoy or find easy.

My big takeaway from the book though is about chunking time and staying focused on one thing. She described some research that showed the human mind is a bit like a factory machine, it has to be tooled up to start work on a particular project and when you change task it has to be retooled, wasting valuable time. I have the habit of stopping what I’m doing frequently to check emails or reply to messages. In future I’m going to set aside chunks of time to work on a task without interruption. In fact I’ve already started by writing this review in one sitting without getting distracted by other tasks! Unfortunately it was only partially successful as my 6 year old kept interrupting me to ask for help with his Lego but I definitely got it done quicker than I would if I had been checking social media and emails while I did it.

Although Jessica is in the direct selling industry her advice is applicable to women in any field and I found “Find your extraordinary” a very inspiring read.

If you’d like to know more about direct selling you can read some personal experiences or check out our brief guide.

Disclosure: I was sent a copy of this book to review but all opinions are my own

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Tea at mums enterprise roadshow

A day at the Mum’s Enterprise Roadshow

I booked my tickets for the Mum’s Enterprise Roadshow ages ago and was really looking forward
to it. When the day finally came on Saturday I wasn’t disappointed. The event was aimed at Mums enterprise brandingMums who were either looking for flexible work, considering starting their own business or had a business they wanted to grow. For me it was great to spend a day just focussing on my business.

There were lots of stands where Mums could talk to people who could support them to fulfill their potential but what I was really interested in was the workshops. I attended Adia PR’s session on getting free PR for your business. I got some great ideas on identifying where I would benefit from getting press coverage and how to approach people to get it. I then went to Hannah Martin, from The Talanted Ladies Club’s workshop on writing and one page business plan and was so inspired I stayed for her session on How to charge for your services.

The thing that surprised me the most was the networking. I listened to Debbie Gilbert from networking group, “Mums UnLtd” and even if I never attend a networking group, the excercise of introducing your business in one minute really helped me focus on what was at the core of my business. Then it was time for the speed networking session. In person networking still scares me but I felt that I really shouldn’t miss the opportunity to let all these Mums know about my business so I decided to give it ago and, guess what? I loved it! With my one minute introduction I was able to confidently tell everyone what I do and it was so interesting hearing about what everyone else did.

A&a panel at mums enterprise roadshow

Finally I attended the Q & A panel with Hannah Martin, Debbie Gilbert and Katharine Tate AKA The Food Teacher. I think everyone was a bit too in awe to ask many questions but Kath Melandri, who was hosting, did a great job of provoking interesting discussion. One of her questions was about confidence, such a big issue when taking the leap in to self employment. Hannah Martin described how when she was young she was so shy that she couldn’t bring herself to ring the bell on the bus and had to wait till someone else did to get off. Having seen her deliver two excellent workshops, totally off the cuff, this seemed hard to believe. She described how at night she went to sleep with a video playing in her mind of the sort of person she wanted to be and, eventually, she became that person. I love that it’s possible to make so much change to your life and, to quote Hannah, once you push the boundaries of your life they don’t shrink back.

Enterisers handbookI also have to mention the food, pastries in the morning, a fantastic buffet for lunch then what I can only describe as a cake buffet in the afternoon, we were very well fed! We also recieved the fantastic “Enterprisers Handbook”. It had all the details of what was going on, details on the exhibitors and space for making notes.

 

I came away from the day full of enthusiasm for my business and where I can take it. Lindsey and Lucy are hoping to run more roadshows in the future and if you get the chance to go, I would absolutely recommend it.

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8 inspiring reads for Mums in Business

As a former librarian I love reading, whenever I have a new idea the first thing I do is read about it so of course I have read lots of books on Mums in business, here’s a run down of my 8 favourites.

Mumpreneur: The complete guide to starting and running a successful business image
Annabel Karmel

This is a good all round starter book for any Mums considering self employment from one of the country’s most famous Mumpreneurs. It has a useful chapter on developing your confidence as well as keeping the importance of work life balance in focus.

 

imageA Woman’s guide to working for herself
Sarah Hewett

This book has a section specifically about Mumpreneurs as well as a range of case studies to illustrate the advice it offers which make it a more interesting read. It also has some great advice on deciding if being self employed is right for you, something lots of people never really consider.

 

The Girl who Refused to quitimage
Cassie Farren

This is the story of one Mumprenenur’s journey, it highlights the fact that it isn’t always a straight road and the importent thing is to keep going. Cassie was involved in network marketing before finding her true calling helping people to achieve their potential.

 

imageStaying at Home with the kids
Nicola Semple

While this isn’t specifically about running a business it’s a great book for a mums who are trying to decide if they should go back to work or become self employed. It’s also great for anyone struggling with being at home with small children all day, it recognises that just because we love our children it doesn’t mean we find being at home with them all day easy.

 

Start your Dream Businessimage
Emma Wade and Carol Ann Rice

This book is a lovely combination of inspirational stories and down to earth advice, while the stories don’t focus solely on Mumprenenur’s there are some great stories to read. Lots of the businesses are quite big but it’s great to dream big!

 

imageThe Mumpreneur Guide
Antonio Chitty

Although this one is getting a bit old now it’s still a good introductory guide for Mums who are thinking about self employment for the first time. It includes a useful section on finding the right business idea.

 

imageWhat should I do with my life
Po Bronson

While this is about neither being a Mum or being self employed it is a great book on discovering the right path. Po spoke to hundreds of people who have achieved happiness about how they did it and why it made them happy. Brilliantly written and very easy to read.

 

If you’re looking for more inspiration check out “Business For Mums”

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start up 2016

Start Up 2016 – An Inspiring Day

On Saturday I spent the day at Start up 2016 in Canary Wharf, luckily I booked my
ticket early as the event was sold out with a waiting list of 2000 people. It was run by Enterprise Nation and as well as the Canary Wharf event, partner events were also running around the country making it accessible to everyone. There were a great range of sessions to attend from Instagram advice to packaging design and subscription businesses to trend watching.
It was the first time I’d attended an event like this so I wasn’t sure what to expect. It’s easy to think that your business isn’t important enough for you attend events like this but, although some of what went on was aimed at large start ups who were looking for funding, there was plenty that was relevant to my “micro business”.

The first session I attended was “Make or break: How I’ve built my start up” which was a panel interview with Darren Rook of the London Distillery, Penny Power OBE, founder of The Business Cafe and Esther Thompson of Tea Huggers. The panel was chaired by Gary Turner of Xero, his company has recently commissioned research in to success factors for start ups and the findings of this research steered the direction of the interview. The research found that businesses who don’t seek support and advice were much less likely to succeed than those who did and what really came from the panel was that you need to be open to accepting help which can be difficult when the business is “your baby”. Other key points were that it’s really important to be familiar with the numbers and to maintain some kind of work life balance, the main tip for achieving this was to automate wherever possible so that you can focus on growth.

The next session I attended was “Boost your Business on Facebook” which was run by someone from Facebook. The main message here was mobile, mobile, mobile, of the 28 million people in the UK who use Facebook daily, 25 million do it on a mobile device. This means that advertisers need to focus on catching attention quickly (or “thumb stopping”) and she explained that we have just 3 seconds to do that. She also talked about the new carousel ads which have been recently launched highlighting they’ve seen a 30-50% decrease in the cost per click on these ads.

One of the main reasons I wanted to attend was for the session on offline events run by EventBrite (as running events is my business) and it did not disappoint. It was run by EventBrite’s content manager who started off by discussing why events are still relevant today before moving on to the before, during and after of event marketing. He shared a great deal of information and if events are your thing then I would recommend checking out the EventBrite blog but I’ll just cover the key points here. The overarching theme for me was really the use of Hashtags, he suggested that they should be memorable, unique, short and evergreen, for me evergreen really struck a chord, it refers to keeping the hashtag the same for each event in a series (for example with annual events or for me with monthly events) as this keeps up momentum. The site keyhole.co was recommended as a way to check out the reach of your event using the hashtag and this is certainly something I’ll be trying out. He also talked about creating shareable content before the event, my favourite example was for conference type events and involved asking all the panellists the same three questions and then using the answers to create a blog post which can then be shared with the hashtag. I was also really interested in the statistic that drop out rates for free events are often over 50%, definitely worth baring in mind if you are deciding weather to charge for an event or not.

I had a very enjoyable day and there were plenty more sessions I’d have loved to attend if I’d had time and it’s an event I’ll certainly be looking out for next year, especially since it was completely free. My main takeaways were to be clear on the outcome you’re trying to achieve, look for and accept help and keep a close eye on your numbers.

me at the evnt

At the Make or Break panel interview

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Book review: The girl who refused to quit

Cassie’ story is essentially one of determination, initially to keep her house for herself and her son but in the long term to find the right path for herself in the wider world. Her story is very readable, I finished it in one sitting with just a short break to pick up my little one from preschool and put her down for her nap!

Cassie’s experience of becoming a mother is one I’m sure many will relate to, despite loving her child she experienced a great loss of self esteem, through both the physical changes that pregnancy brings and the emotional changes caused by new motherhood. The ending of her marriage intensified this but the determination to keep hold of her home pushed her to move forwards.

Working full time while caring for young children is very challenging and Cassie’s experience of the pressure she experienced to achieve targets and work long hours will be familiar to many who have considered leaving the corporate world to start their own business. Cassie’s brave decision to change to a much lower paying part time job shows her great strength of character, she did what was right for herself and her children even though many people thought the choice odd. I found her experience of being made redundant from that job very interesting as it clearly shows that the emotional stress of redundancy isn’t only about money and status.

Cassie explores a number of different things in the book including reiki and counselling and even experiences great success as a network marketer but none of these things quite seem to be her calling.
It is only at the end of the book when Cassie launches her business as a Body Confidence Coach that you can see how all of the threads of her story come together, seeing how everything that she has experienced has led to her perfect career restores my faith in fate. If you’re questioning which direction you should then this is a great read for you.

 

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Review: Business Start up 2016

If you’re thinking about launching your business in 2016 The Financial Times Guide to Business Start Up 2016: The Most Comprehensive Annually Updated Guide for Entrepreneurs (The FT Guides)
The Finincial Times Guide to Business Start up 2016 is a great place to start. If you’re new to business then it covers all of the basics and even includes a chapter on starting smaller businesses as opposed to full time ones.

Getting started

The book opens with a chapter on exploring your ideas which is great if you haven’t settled on one thing yet. It then encourages you to consider who your customers would be and how you might reach them.
One of the most useful features is the chapter “Are you sure?” Which helps you identify potential problems you might face in running your business.

The nuts and bolts

The book contains all the information on the legalities of setting up the business as well as other legal issues such as copyright, trade marks, insurance and franchises.
While the book does contain information on Finincial record keeping and Tax, it tries to cover such a wide area that it only touches the service and you may need to look elsewhere for more detailed information (we’ll be reviewing a great book to help you with that soon).

Marketing

The book offers some great information on choosing your business name and branding. It also offers a summary of the different methods of marketing. These are useful as you can decide which methods would be right for your business before researching them further.

Conclusion

This book is a great starting point for planning the launch of your business and will give you a good overview of the different things you’ll need to consider. Look out for our future reviews of books that will offer you more in depth information on different areas.