The Nude BWN Calendar Grand Launch night – 7th July, 6.30pm 2011.
It was an amazing event raising nearly £4000 for charity – Farleigh’s Hospice, Chelmsford. Click here to learn more about them.
Check out the Business Women that stripped off seeing the calendar for the first time here.
Check out the launch night photos here.
To order a calendar and for a sneaky preview, click this way
Because we are about our local community too.
Want to raise money for a charity that matters to you? We can feature your bravery and fundraising on our website on our Stella Women page – you just need to be a member to benefit.
Become a member – learn more.
When it comes to promoting your business a very powerful opportunity can be a business stand. Notice the word “can” in that sentence though, because many business women make critical mistakes when it comes to having a stand at an event.
You see it’s not just about what you do on the day – the before and after are important components in making any event work for you and your businesses success.
Tell everyone you know beforehand that you are going to be at that event. Firstly this gives people a chance to learn more about your business without feeling pressurised. They can learn about what you offer in a nonchalant fashion which can be very useful for people who are new to what you offer, or who want to learn more without having to commit. This is great for potential customers and to business owners who you network with who want to be in a position to promote and refer you. It also allows you to promote yourself in a different format to your existing leads and customers by telling them what your business has coming up.
Offering a special offer, an event only price, or free ??? at the event gives people incentive to pop by and say hi to you.
Make sure at the event your stand is engaging in more than one way. Businesses assume that being there with their products and services is enough to ensure people will be attracted to you. It’s not!
You need to have something visual that instantly attracts people’s attention. Say for instance an event last 5 hours and you want to have the opportunity to talk in depth and explain more about what your company offers to people, and that will take 15 minutes per person. That means you can see 20 people effectively on your own. What will you do to ensure the rest of the world passing by stays of their own accord?
Your business signage needs to be easily read – in the time it takes to walk past your stand – ie 3 seconds.
You need to ensure your business cards are easily spotted – people have every intention of “Popping” back if you are busy talking, but a busy event means they can easily get distracted – what do you do to ensure they DO come back?
Remember everyone will have signage, freebies and highly likely many will have a bowl of sweets and / or the requisite bottle of bubbly raffle – so what do you do to stand out?
The most important point about this day for you is that you gain as many contacts and potential quality leads as possible. And that is why the free raffle is so popular. But how can you do this with a twist?
Remember the most important part for you of any event is to be remembered for all the right reasons because the vital work comes AFTER the event and that is in the follow up. So what do you do to be remembered so that when you contact potential leads they are raring to go and can’t wait to hear from you?
What about QR codes at the event with your social media links, with free how to guides or free YouTube videos – that people can access at the event, and appreciate later?
What about asking people for their social media links, so that you can give them a shout out while you are at the event?
Whether you spoke to 50 or 500 people, after the event is where you need to shine – Every time.
How will you communicate with your contacts after?
What will you say?
What will you offer?
If you have free advice and reports available, now is a good time to make potential leads aware of them. The thing about effective marketing is that many different formats will drip, drip, drip snippets of your business fabulousness to them all of the time, making them feel like you already work for them. So it can feel like a natural progression in to working together. What will you do to ensure people want to interact with you?
How will you choose to interact with these potential leads after the event?
In knowing this information BEFORE an event you can ensure that DURING the event you are getting what you need to ensure effective follow up AFTER the event.
And effective follow up leads to more customers – which was the reason you had the stand in the first place.
For more top tips to help your business shine at any event get in touch – and we can’t wait to see you at the Big Christmas Event this December (15th), book early to avoid missing out on a stand.
I was searching for an alternative networking group to replace one I had been a member of for some time and having attended a couple of The BWN events, I was impressed by how vibrant the meetings were; I always leave feeling uplifted having met several like-minded business women in a friendly and genuine atmosphere, not to mention having the opportunity to listen to some fantastic business owners share advice and ideas for my business.
Not long after I had signed up for The Insiders (learn more here), Mandie (Suffolk coordinator) had put my name forward to appear on BBC Radio Suffolk to discuss how, at 50, I had overcome previous difficulties and set up my own Life Coaching Practice.
Not only was this a great opportunity to explain all about coaching but soon after the interview, I was approached by a local film documentary maker. We met for coffee and discussed the possibility of working on a film documentary to show how coaching had helped 3 of my clients to move on successfully in their lives. Just recently I was approached by the young, freelance cameraman who filmed the documentary and he is now a client of mine!
One cannot underestimate the power of networking ; not only might you gain business and recognition for what you do, but you also get the opportunity to meet other business women who are in a similar position to yourself.
At BWN, unlike other groups I have attended, there is no hidden agenda. You are encouraged to be yourself and are accepted for who you are and given the chance to share your own business journey., with all its ups and downs.
Pavlenka Small www.smallstepscoaching.co.uk
Thanks for sharing your thoughts Pavlenka.
This is a blog from Julie Philpot, in which she tell us what the BWN has done for her this year.
What do you think?
I received an email in January this year from Mandie telling me that ITV were auditioning for Britain’s Best Dish and why didn’t I apply to go on it. I thought about it for a couple of days and then on the Sunday night I decided to apply for the show and to cook an Indian Dish. I filled in the application and it took me a full 10 minutes to press the send button!!!! On the Monday morning I got a call from Lucy at ITV in reply to my application. She said that as I taught Indian Cooking in my classes, I would not be allowed to cook this dish on Britain’s Best Dish, but would be able to do a dish that I did not teach. I decided that I could do a dessert. She gave me 24 hours to put forward a dessert to cook on the show!! I thought about it and decided to cook a ‘Blueberry Burst Gateaux’, a favourite with many friends and sent the details to ITV.
On the next Thursday I received a call telling me that I had got through to the auditions which were being held that Sunday, 30th January in Cambridge, and they also asked me to bring along an Indian dessert as well as my Blueberry Gateaux. I cooked both dishes several times over the next couple of days, and on the Sunday set off early morning, with my partner, to Cambridge with my dishes safely packed in the car. At the auditions I had to pitch my dishes to the two judges (not the ones on the TV show) and then be filmed saying why I thought my dishes were Britain’s Best and also had a chat to the food team. I was told I would hear within 2 weeks if I was through to the next round….
I went off on holiday for a week still not having heard anything. Whilst away I got an email saying that unfortunately I had not got through to the filming stage and that the only reason for this was that there was a very similar dish to my Indian desert already been entered. The email said that the judges were very impressed with me and encouraged me to apply again for the next series.
On Tuesday 22nd Feb when teaching a Vegetarian Course, I had 3 missed calls and a voicemail from Lucy at ITV asking me to give her a call as she had good news. After the course I rang her and she told me that someone selected was not able to make the filming, and that I was top of the list to be invited to the filming stage and they wanted me to cook the Blueberry Burst Gateaux.
I next got a call from Connor at ITV to arrange my transport and overnight hotel in London to stay on Sunday 6th March, courtesy of ITV – I was getting excited by now! Since finding out on that Tuesday, I cooked the dish numerous times getting as many people as I could to sample it and give feedback – which I must say, was very positive.
On 26th Feb I had an email from Connor at ITV confirming my hotel booking and my train tickets. I would be staying at the Premier Inn, near the London Eye and had to be up and ready to be picked up for filming on the Monday morning at 6.30am!!!
Must say I remember that I was getting very nervous. We were picked up outside the hotel at 6.30am and taken to the studios where we were given breakfast and a pep talk from the producer, Juliette.
The reality of what I was about to do then hit me – cooking in a studio with eagle eyed judges watching at close range and cameras right in your face! On that day I was up against a 15 year old school boy who was cooking a crumble. He was really nervous as was his mother, who had to be in the studio with him due to him being under 16. It was difficult competing against a young boy as one part of me wants him to win, but the other wanted it for myself. Anyway, I cooked my dish and managed to get it all done in the time allotted. This was then tasted by the three judges – both Ed Baines and John Burton Race liked my pudding but Gilly Goulden thought the sponge was a bit dry. John suggested I add a lemon custard to combat this. The next nerve racking bit was standing in front of the judges to see who had won. Tom got the first vote from Gilly and I got John’s vote (I think I knew then I had won because I knew Ed loved my dish)
Ed voted for me and said he couldn’t wait to eat my pudding again. I was through to the Eastern Region Finals!!!
Back up to London again on Saturday 19th March for the filming of the finals the following day. This time my competitor was Beccy Carpenter, a really lovely lady who was cooking Hazelnut Tart with sloe gin ice cream and jelly. I think I was more nervous this time because there was more at stake – £500 prize for the winner and a place in the 1/4 finals.
I had made changes to my dish and took the sponge out 6 minutes earlier than the last time and added Lemon custard and blueberry coulis to combat the comments about it being dry. At the judges tastings I got some amazing feedback – John said it was amazing and Gilly said the new additions made a great improvement and Ed said he loved the dish. I remember shaking when waiting for the votes. I got the first vote from Ed and Beccy got Gilly’s vote and then I was voted through by John, WOW – Winner of the Eastern Region with my pudding and on my way to the 1/4 finals – plus I was £500 richer.
I had to keep all this a secret as it would be 5 weeks before the programme was aired on ITV. That was so hard as everyone kept asking me how I had got on.
The 1/4 finals were filmed at Hackney catering College on Monday 28th March in London. So off I went again to cook my socks off. It was very difficult to cook in a professional kitchen with all the industrial equipment and it was a hot day as well. I knew I had tough competition as I was up against the best puddings from each region.
There were 7 of us cooking and only 2 places available in the semi finals. We had a pep talk from Ed Baines explaining that Gilly, John and him would be tasting all seven dishes and they would choose just 4 to go through to the 3 food critics. The other 3 would go home. We were sent off to our respective kitchens feeling even more nervous now. We had 2 hours to get our dishes made and plated for tasting. This time I added a limoncello syrup to my sponge to make it very moist and to hopefully have the chance to go through to the critics. The judges came round to our kitchens to help and advise us. The cameras this time were mobile and very much in our faces. We were made to stay in our kitchens whilst the judges tasted and then we all lined up to face the verdict. The first two were eliminated and then Gilly had to decide the third person to go. Sadly it was me and I was gutted.
I do feel very proud to be the winner of the Eastern Region having beaten off so much competition, but I think its only natural to want just that bit more. It was a fantastic experience and has given me great media coverage over the last few weeks.
A big thank you to Mandie from The BWN for twisting my arm into entering this competition – I hope I have done you proud…
Made us proud? You are an amazing business woman and we knew you could do it!
(You were robbed and we are not at all bias – well maybe a little bit.)
And By the Way when do we get the recipe Julie and when is the cook book coming out?
To get in touch with Julie and to learn more about winning recipes:
To be a part of our network it is just £10 a month and includes networking, free mentoring, a confidential mastermind group, affiliate offers and free promotion on this website.
Just a quick article because we still hear business owners say;
“I’d love to join you on your mastermind group but ….
a) I’m busy that day.
b) I’m a techno phobe so it won’t work for me. I’d never suss it!
c) I just don’t see how it can help my business.
d) I don’t have the time to add more to my plate.
e) I’ve tried it and it’s alright but nothing special.
f) Social media is so expensive and time consuming – it doesn’t bring in any business.
Well here is what it has personally allowed me to do this week;
a) It got me 3 clients in one day.
b) People booked for my events while I was out working and in meetings.
c) I was able to say thank you to people who had helped me out and promote them at the same time to my followers.
d) Allowed me to get the answer to something I needed.
e) Directed great potential clients to my websites. That led to them emailing me and signing up to my mailing list and my top tips (see the sign up box in the right side of the page and we all know what great interaction leads to!
f) I was able to sell the BWN Nude calendar.
g) Give some business woman some ideas for free to help them with their business issues they were having this week.
h) I was able to support some business women (who have become either network friends or social media friends) with words of encouragement and help at a difficult time.
i) I was able to reconnect with someone who has been abroad for 6 months.
j) I was able to promote my events and my business for free.
k) I sold courses and books without telling anyone about them! (These courses incase you are interested)
All in one week – and it cost me just my time, but even that was limited because I use social media gadgets to make it more effective.
So, Social Media? Worth investing some time into?
I would say so!
I’m Mandie Holgate and my Twitter name is rather orginally @MandieHolgate (There were deliberate reasons I chose that name for my marketing.) So do come and say “Hi”.
Think you can spare 1 hour to learn a ton of ideas without pretty slides but jammed packed with answers to your social media woes?
Fancy combining that with great relaxed networking?
Click here to join us for our next event – Just £10 a month*
I have yet again had to do some data recovery for a client.
It amazes me the stories I still hear about people losing their work. Precious files, photos, emails, business documents of all shapes and sizes.
Do we forget?
Do we have that “I’ll do it later” attitude?
Or is it because we don’t have a simple easy to use system in place where it’s automatically taken care of?
It doesn’t matter if you are a Mac or Windows user. Mac users mostly favour Time Machine, which runs in the background and mirrors the internal drive of your computer to an external one. Windows users can choose from a range of backup software, some free to download to do the same thing. We can also use “The Cloud” to keep our files in cyberspace on secure servers. We are able to access them from anywhere, even from your iPhone or Blackberry. Then there is simple usb sticks. Cheap to buy and fit in your pocket.
But how about all those emails?
We concentrate on our work files, but what if the computer’s drive fails?
Where are those quotes?
Where are the Internet Explorer favourites and bookmarks?
Where are the network settings?
Where are the address book contacts?
Where are the confirmed orders?
Backed up as well?
Still on a server somewhere?
The other thing to consider is fire and theft. Yes a hard drive backs up the computer, but if it’s sitting next to it in your home or office, chances are it will go up in a puff of smoke as well or be stolen in the event of a break in. “It could never happen to me” Well it can. Don’t keep all your eggs in one basket.
Thanks for sharing that with us iCentreB2B for more ideas to help you with your I.T check out http://youneedbackupnow.blogspot.com/
And for great interaction and ideas follow on Twitter – http://twitter.com/icentreb2b
When it comes to running your own business there is so much to consider and do right?
But what’s the most important thing?
I would say one of the most important things is to always be appreciating the needs of your customers. In that way as markets change, as customers buying power or trends change direction you are organically aware of what your customers want and are adapting.
Great so got that sussed right?
But hang that’s not all is it?
It’s no good producing the best widgets in the world if you hide them a way in your factory and never tell anyone about them, right?
Ok so you need to market your business in the right ways too. And of course if you understand your customers needs then you will naturally know how they want to receive information, where they want to receive, how and when, so that you are always communicating with potential customers too.
Wow glad we got the important points of running a business sussed, aren’t you?
But hang on what about the invoicing, the chasing (get the right customers and guess what you will rarely chase money, they will love you that much!) the admin, the phone calls, the emails, the business procedures, the accounts, the end of year, the HMRC paperwork and forms, the laws that you have to abide by, the health and safety, the…….
Oh right….. THATS when running your own business can become overwhelming right?
Because on top of all that guess what?
You are expected to have the ability to turn your brain off and interact with the non business world. To have the energy to relax with friends and family, to play, to exercise, to plan holidays, get togethers, decorating, birthdays…..
Ok so NOW I get what you are up against.
And that is why the Business Woman’s Network will always cover every aspect of your professional life at our events. Every event will always be packed with business ideas and opportunities – so you don’t have to waste time finding the opportunities for your business.
Our events always have leading experts so that you are always up to speed with what effects your business – next week for instance we will be looking at the new Bribery Act and its impact on your business. I myself am looking forward to that one as it’s so imperative that I am up to date on what affects my business without having to spend a day wading through page after page of information.
So don’t get overwhelmed in your business. Don’t lose sight of the targets and the goals for your business this year. If you trust in the right advice then you will have the energy, time and money in your life for all aspects of it.
And you know with our mastermind group no subject is off limits and it’s all confidential.
The buzz around the BWN has always been positive, motivational and guaranteed to help you in your professional life. But with the launch of the BWN Nude Calendar this Thursday the buzz has gone to all new heights.
I wanted to share with you just some of the comments from business women that got involved. It was an incredibly life changing day, where we all jumped so far out of comfort zones we could not see them anymore.
We can’t wait for Thursday night to launch the calendar. Trust us when we say it is very sexy, beautiful and full of fabulous business women, with lots of free publicity for them all.
So here are some comments we received:
Pavlenka from Small Steps to Success said “YOU ARE AN ABSOLUTE STAR–well done for organising what must have been a nightmare to pull together in such a short space of time. I wouldn’t have missed the experience for the world-I think it has been a truly enlightening & liberating experience for all of us and it was so lovely to be pampered beforehand. Will we get the chance to have some copies to sell personally? I’d like to make a pledge to say I could sell at least 10!!!! Take care and thank you SO much–what a deserving cause.”
Kathy from Ennvision Training “I just want to say a huge ‘Thank You’ to everyone involved yesterday; Mandie for the idea, Sally and the team for making us look wonderful (as I am sure she has), all of the make-up and hair professionals for weaving their magic, Splash of Ice for their wonderful jewellery – and to all of the wonderful business women who took part in such a marvellous experience.”
Sue Cook “Totally had a fantastic time yesterday, thank you Mandie and everyone else involved. An awesome day. Made some friends, had fun, could do that everyday.Mwa everyone.”
Jacquie from Just Consultancy “Thanks for such a great day yesterday, it was good to do something that stretched my boundaries!”
Karen from Enchanted Childcare “Monday was fab and I’m so glad I took part – what a great bunch of women you all are! Such a laugh and obviously getting the chance to do something most of us will never do again!”
“Thank you Mandie for the opportunity of a lifetime. It was a great day and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Thank you to Sally (Sally Parkinson Photography) and the other photographers for their patience and to the makeup artists and hair stylists. They did a fantastic job too – and finally a thank you for Splash of Ice for loaning their jewellery to match the pieces that I have previously bought for this occasion! I won’t forget the Olympics in a hurry! For those of you who couldn’t make it you missed a fabulous day, and I never thought I would be saying that as I was so far out of my comfort zone I was knee deep in water! Trepidation on my way there was unbelievable but everyone did their best to make me feel comfortable and I did.” Susan from SMP Consultancy
“I just wanted to say a big thank you for all of your effort in organising the event today. I thought it went really well, and I certainly enjoyed myself!” Kayleigh from Birkett Long
Tina from Liberty VA Services “Thanks again for today it was fab and I have already sold two calendars.”
Even the makeup artists loved the exciting buzz of the day.
Toyah, Make Up Artist “It was great to meet you all yesterday and the team. I really had a good day and sounds like the ladies did too. It was a great experience for a good cause. It was a fantastic venue and i am really exciting about seeing the pictures and calendar when complete. I know you asked me to email you to remind you about sending the details for the charity event day. I also couldn’t remember which newspaper you said it would be in today. I know you’ll probably receive hundreds of emails. If you can just drop me a mail or text that would be great at would like to go and get copy today.”
And we even had messages from people that could not make it, Okay so Dave Monk would not have been allowed but you get the idea!
Sue from Maid2Clean “I hope you are having a FANTASTIC day, I wish I was there!!!”
Bridget from Arbonne “Have a great day today – can’t wait to see the calendar. Thinking of you all!”
Dave Monk from BBC Radio Essex “Hope it goes fantastically well today – don’t forget to wear your vest!” Mmmm not quite the idea Dave!
Elaine from Essex Chambers of Commerce “I hope the shoot this morning goes well, the weather’s sunny for you.”
Linda from Colchester Connected “good luck with the shoot, lovely weather for it!! Linda x”
And lastly in the words of Elene from Corozan Training “thanks Mandie for making this happen. I know why you’re so successful, you have vision, you work hard and you make things happen – great team too. Now let’s go sell some calendars”
And with 8 business women already having pledged to sell 77 calendars – I would say we are well on way for that one too.
Can’t make the launch night, a BWN event, the next Colchester Connected or the Essex Chambers networking recording breaking attempt 24th August? Then check out this page to purchase your copy on line – Order a Nude BWN Calendar – Raising Money for Farleighs Hospice
And to the 90+ business men and women that have booked to attend the launch night, hope you are feeling the buzz too!
Can you be professional naked?
This is a question that many business women from the BWN are finding themselves asking over the next week as the date of the shoot for the Naked BWN Charity Calendar draws near.
But to be honest with you, since I (stupidly) suggested this at our Colchester event (and they snapped my arm off at the idea, rather bizarrely) I have found myself asking that very question.
You see I have spent a long time building up a great reputation both for my own business as a coach and for The Business Woman’s Network and as Dinah Liversidge taught us last year it takes a life time to gain a great reputation / credibility and seconds to lose it.
It’s like climbing a mountain to get it and falling down a slippery slope to lose it.
So should we get naked for our businesses?
The business women involved will benefit from lots of free publicity for their businesses, our businesses details will be on the walls of businesses up and down East Anglia (and beyond?) for the next year ensuring we keep on the radar of business owners helping them be ready to buy from us, but at what cost?
And as I have spent the last month thinking about this I realise, as much as the right suit/image can create the “image of professionalism” professionalism comes from within. It comes from your actions and what more powerful action can you have that says I passionately care about my business and helping others than by doing something that challenges you so much?
Right now as you read this what percentage of people are saying “I couldn’t do that”?
I bet it is even higher, the fact is we have 30 very brave business women that as we speak are clearing packed schedules so that they can be there for the big shoot on the 20th June at Layer Marney Towers in Essex.
BTW how many of those 30 business women have been considering “which angle” works best and have been practicing in front of the mirror……okay me too. But seriously this is a big thing for a woman. We have so many hang ups about our bodies. We use clothes, makeup and gorgeous shoes (me a lover of gorgeous foot wear? ) to hide our insecurities and here are 30 business women going to remove the camouflage and bare all, not just their flesh but their true feelings.At the time I thought THIS was showing too much.
(In case you are wondering they have me in a Super Girl cape and 6 inch platform boots– Not sure of the relevance? Pop along to an event or check out my Facebook page. And at the time I thought THAT outfit was risqué .)
As a coach I say and teach my clients that I will have no obstacles to my success. I have never seen a picture of me I like and yet here I am about to get naked and have my photo taken….mmmm…comfort zone much?
But I don’t believe in comfort zones, I have always said, “I like to get so far out of my comfort zone that you can’t see it anymore.”
Well I am pretty certain this will do it.
Bring on the shoot on the 20th June – we are ready, willing and able…..as we will ever be.
You Can book to be at the free Calendar launch night and networking event in Colchester open to business men and women on the 7th July, By Clicking Here
Gratefully supported by Essex Chambers (who have excting news for you on this night) and Colchester Connected for Farleighs Hospice in Essex. You can also book a stand.
Oh and yes we are all too aware how little time that gives us to produce this calendar, but hey us business women can rise to any challenge.
Thanks go to Tamara Unwin of the beautiful Stoke By Nayland Golf Course, Spa and Hotel where we host our Suffolk events for sharing this fascinating and incredibly motivational story of a families passion, determination and ability to achieve their goals. We hope it inspires you as it did us.
It is perhaps a surprising fact that, according to a Barclays Bank survey, around 60% of firms in the UK with a turnover of £5 million or less, are owned or managed by related family members – and in East Anglia as many as 75% of all businesses are family-owned and managed. This is no doubt due to the importance of agricultural businesses in this area – of which apparently 94% are owned by families.
There is a saying that in many family businesses the first generation creates, the second generation develops and the third generation squanders.
Unfortunately only a small percentage of third generation businesses survive as a result. With this in mind we have made a decision to strengthen our own family business by planning ahead and involving the next generation.
My four siblings and I are a second generation family business – or ‘G2’ as we have come to all ourselves, and are very much in the expansion stage. Our mother Devora and her first husband, Bernard Loshak, started fruit farming in Suffolk in 1938. She then married Bill Peake in 1948 and together they expanded and diversified the business.
Bill and Devora Peake were incredible risk-taking entrepreneurs, creating two championship golf courses at Stoke by Nayland and Copella Fruit Juices, as well as numerous fruit, arable and livestock farming enterprises over the years. They selflessly ploughed any profits back into the business to create a legacy to pass onto their children and we have done our best to nurture and develop that legacy in turn to pass on to our own children – of which there are now 12 (aged from 20 up to 44), and referred to as ‘G3’.
Bill died in 1979 and Devora in 1999, and since then my sisters, Susanna and Carmella, brother Jonathan and Ihave developed the original Golf Clubhouse into Stoke by Nayland
Hotel, Golf & Spa which comprises of an 80 bedroom hotel, conference centre, Spa and fitness club as well as Lakes Restaurant, Pippin gift shop and Golf shop. We are currently in the process of building some self-catered chalets on the golf course to complement the hotel. My nephew Robert – a ‘G3’ member, is also working in the business as managing director of Peake Fruit. We have invested heavily in the fruit farm, packhouse and storage business and now grow apples, strawberries, raspberries and blueberries for the supermarkets as well supply apples to the Department of Health’s School Fruit and Vegetable Scheme.
Two years ago I attended a conference on family businesses at the Institute of Directors in London and I was most impressed by the facilitator, Peter Leach. On introducing myself to him I was taken aback to learn that he already knew a great deal about our business and family. He informed me that Sir John Harvey Jones had enlisted his services, as a family business expert, during the making of his BBC Troubleshooter documentary series in the early 1990’s, when he had advised us about our Copella Fruit Juice company, fruit farming, packhouse and golf club enterprises.
I came away from the conference inspired by him and at the next board meeting encouraged each of my siblings to read Peter’s book, Family Businesses – The Essentials. We agreed that, as shareholders in our 50s and 60s, we should take steps to ensure that ours would not be one of the many family business casualties once it reached the third generation. We then embarked on a fascinating journey with Peter over the next few months. We formed a ‘Family Council’comprising of members from both G2 and G3 which now meets twice a year and makes recommendations to our Board.
The Council has written a ‘Family Constitution’ manual which addresses questions of governance, shareholding, succession and many other issues relevant to family businesses. We held a G2 siblings two day ‘retreat’ – which was an enlightening experience involving at the end the ritual of burning pieces of paper on which we had each written any “hot button” issues we knew could irritate one another! We are now organising an annual Family assembly event this summer which is designed to be fun filled as well as educational and which will involve every possible member of the family, including of course ‘G4’ which now numbers 14 and is growing rapidly. There will around 50 of us ranging from babies to OAPs to spouses, to even ex-spouses.
Finally, and most movingly for us, our children, G3, created a Book of Family Values, which they presented to us and which we G2 members wholeheartedly agreed with. A page was given to each of the values which we feel pervades and embraces our family business, such as honesty, integrity, trust, creativity, innovation, inclusiveness, compassion and more, interspersed with family photographs and a family tree. The result of all this activity is hopefully a robust family enterprise in which all the current and future shareholders feel a sense of worth and belonging. We now have a fair and effective means of communicating with one another across the generations, and we can refer to a ‘book of rules’ as a guide.
Finally, we have recently appointed a non-family chairman which has been very beneficial – we have come a long way in two years!