We love your good news so when we heard that Isobel Chaplin who set up her business 18 months ago had won her first award on top of having a record breaking profits year we were over the moon to share her article about her growing business and her first award.
Winning awards is a great way to understand your business, how it is percieved and get some free press to celebrate your business and stand you a part from your competitors. Don’t just put your award on your social media and hope it will bring in customers, it won’t!
Isobel works with our Founder Mandie Holgate as her coach and here Isobel shares how it feels to win that first award for her new business;
“My coach reminded me that I should be shouting from the rooftops about my SME News UK Enterprise Award. It’s not something I feel comfortable doing so Mandie Holgate sat and interviewed me because we really should celebrate our wins, shouldn’t we?
As small business owners we work so hard and I’m not sure enough of us take time to celebrate, so thanks to Mandie, here I will share my win. Let me know what you think.
Q: What made you enter the awards?The entry came as a complete surprise. I received an email from SME News to inform me that IJC Finance had been nominated as the Best Emerging SME Accountancy Practice for Essex AND for a Distinction Award for Customer Service Excellence, and I was shocked to be honest. In a good way, of course! I had seen the awards advertised but hadn’t dreamt of entering because of the business being quite young and I wasn’t sure we’d been seen to have enough experience. I think it’s great they have awards for all types of businesses, no matter whether in their infancy or if well established.
Q: How did you feel when you realised you were a finalist?I was told we’d been shortlisted but didn’t expect any more to come of it. This was a typical “Isobel” thought process at the time – I’m quite humble and didn’t think any more of it!
Q: In true Oscars or Miss World style “What does winning mean to you?”It’s given me a real boost in confidence. I think all business owners have moments where they think “can I really do this?”, no matter how long they’ve been in the game, and receiving the nomination and then the award has cemented my self-belief. It’s given me the push to enter more awards of my own volition. You have to be in it to win it so they say, and if anything it’s given me an opportunity to explore the business’ strengths and weaknesses in more depth.
Q: How do you feel this reflects on your business ambitions?My mission has always been to offer a personable and reliable service to small businesses so they feel valued and not just a number (that’s almost a tagline now). Being presented with an award as the Best Emerging SME Accountancy Practice of our region is a fantastic achievement for us, given that we had only been properly up and running for 18 months when the award came through. Also triumphing with a Distinction Award for Client Service Excellence shows me that we are surpassing the standards we set for customer care, which is one of our focuses for continual improvement, and the award helps us to stand out compared to our competitors.
Q: What do you feel it does for your clients?I like to think that our clients are cheering with us about this award. We’ve received a lot of positive feedback and congratulations, and the recognition has helped showcase our standing in the local accounting community as well. Showing potential clients that we have what it takes to meet their needs, and that we were even nominated let alone won the award, is also great for advertising. I think it gives our clients the reassurance that they are in safe hands.
Q: What would you say to someone thinking of entering an award for their business? What should they consider?Do it! Since winning the award we have entered more national and local awards, not necessarily with the expectation of winning, but in just writing our entries it has provided moments when have sat and thought about all the wonderful things we do that we are proud of. That’s something that business owners’ don’t normally do; we are often very critical of ourselves, so doing an exercise on shouting about how great we are has so many positives!”
We are so excited for Isobel who is an active member of our networking events and our mastermind group. If you would like support to grow your business as an Insider and member you can also share your good news, insights, advice and ideas in our blog for free!
Isobel is such a valued member of our mastermind group the Insiders Isobel will be speaking for us at our July event. We look forward to welcoming you too.
So, you’re new to running your business. Or perhaps you’ve been doing it a while and you’re not happy with the way you’ve been dealing with (or perhaps, not dealing with, as the case may be) the business’ finances. I think it’s important to start off any business ventures well organised and having thought through how you’re going to keep track of everything you’re doing in a monetary sense. It sounds obvious, I know, but so many business owners are perhaps a little afraid to face the finances as it all seems a bit daunting. By making sure you have set yourself a few rules to get going, it doesn’t have to be too complicated or time consuming. Step 1 Make sure you have a separate business bank account set up for all your business transactions. For limited companies it’s a mandatory requirement, so it’s one of the first things you should do once you’ve got your business registered with Companies House. Some formation companies even tag on the bank account as part of the process. Although it’s not a deal-breaking requirement for sole traders, it’s something I’d strongly recommend. If thinking about your tax return is a daunting prospect, then having all your transactions on one place makes….
I often get asked by business owners whether they should trade as a sole trader or under a limited company. It’s a decision that’s sometimes simple to make, but there are pros and cons to be considered and you may find that after some thought one style suits your business better. I will explain more on the key differences below and offer some food for thought…
How can one person walk out of an event and think “That was awesome and so good for business!”
And another walk out and think “What a waste of 2 hours, that did nothing for my business!”
How is that possible?
Who is right?
The BWN has hosted thousands of events across the East of England (and are now in London and Warwickshire too and we never thought we would say this but thanks to Covid 19 we are now seeing business owners from often 7 counties and 3 countries attending our events – recently we had guests from Ireland, Dubai, America, Sri Lanka, Essex, Suffolk, Norfolk, Cambridgshire, Lincolnshire, Hertfordshire, London, Warwickshire and Kent!) Our events for women in business around networking and business growth and are now in our 12th year and yet we still hear comments from both extremes. (Mostly we hasten to add exceptionally positive ones with women saying it’s the one thing in the month they will never miss.)
So what makes networking powerful and how can you ensure it wasn’t a waste of two hours?
No one bought anything from me!
If no one is buying from you it is not the fault of the networking organisation, it’s your fault. (Sorry to be blunt) We actually heard someone say “The people in this group don’t spend money” and the very next conversation our coordinator had that day was with a woman in business who told us that she realised that in a year and half she had made just over £50k of sales from our network alone. (She is not alone in results like that we have members making over £100k of sales every year with us! Someone was definitely spending money!)
So how could it be so different for these 2 business women in the same room of people?
A number of things impact on your networking success for sales;
So can a network be good for one and not another? We think there is enough space for all of the networks and that ensures every business owner can network in a style that suits them. We also think that some business women don’t appreciate the full value of networking to grow a successful business and alas as the saying goes “you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink.” And for us, our careers have rocketed since we networked regularly at The BWN and yet we never miss the events we say we will attend. We know the true value of networking and how to maximise the benefits for you too. We are happy to have a chat about that anytime so you can get maximum benefit too.
If you are struggling we have the following additional learning to help your business;
Course – How to find your target audience and get them buying
Course – How to rocket your confidence
Course – Highly effective ways to rocket sales with no cost / low cost marketing strategies.
Course – Supercharge your 60 seconds.
Course – How to be a powerful successful public speaker – anywhere!
Course – Foundation blocks to a highly successful business.
Book – Your Daily Dose of Business Woman’s Confident And Success
Book – Fight the fear – how to beat your negative mindset and win in life.
Book – The BWN Networking Success Manual – the genius book to get the most out of networking.
Book – Taking Control of your mind – lifehacks to resilience, confidence and success.
This article was written by Mandie Holgate, Founder of The Business Womans Network, International speaker and author, her books are highly acclaimed by business leaders, leading authors, a good few celebrities and business owners around the world. Fight the fear (the book that looks at the top 12 fears that impact on success) and Taking Control Of Your Mind are just 2 of the must read books that make business and success easier. You can meet Mandie at the Colchester and Braintree events and she pops into as many events across our network as she can each month now delivering an hour free of coaching and mentoring for all of our guests. Mandie is happy to connect with all women in business so feel free to do this via her website – www.mandieholgate.co.uk
When I work with a client the first thing I like to do is measure where we are starting from. While I appreciate that clients just want to “get on with it and fix things” as your coach it is imperative to me that we actually know what results we are getting and monitoring what is working, what is not and what needs to change and what needs to be celebrated to keep the results coming.
As a famous professor once said “If you can’t measure it, you can’t fix it” and while I don’t completely agree with this statement if you are spending money on achieving more, overcoming fears and obstacles it is essential that we check you are getting an awesome ROI (Return on your investment).
This tool works easily to help you understand where you are right now. You can use it on one area of your business life, across your company, on your personal life or even your ambitions or bucket list!
Here are some examples of what you could fill your graph with;
Central circle – Am I happy? – (Smaller circles) work, partner, family, home, finance, holidays, hobbies, health
Central circle – Business – (Smaller circles) profit, sales, work/life balance, fun, training, customers,
Central circle – New product – (Smaller circles) Brand awareness, profit, sales, reselling, new customers, data base, interaction.
Benchmark graph worksheet download your copy here – please remember this is for the use of The Insiders only and is not to replicated for anything other than your own personal use. Thank you.
Founder of The Business Womans Network Mandie Holgate shares her top 5 tips to make 2018 better than 2017…ignore them at your peril!
“Running your own business I don’t think I’ve ever seen a year that’s not been described as “really tough” or “unprecedently difficult environment for business” From Brexit to interest rates, wars to weather, there’s always a reason why this year is the toughest year yet, however why and how is it that some seem to thrive regardless? Creating new products and services and more importantly selling them in their thousands to adoring customers while other struggle to make ends meet and seem to fight for every sale?
What can you do to ensure the same old story doesn’t impact on your success in 2018?
Fail to learn.
Don’t berate yourself if this year saw you make the same mistakes or very similar ones to the previous year. Consider what the reasons are for this? Seriously, take a moment to look at the things that impacted on your success this year that was the same or similar to the year before. What are you scared of? What is becoming glaringly obvious as an obstacle to success. (You don’t have to tackle it (yet!) but you do need to know what it is!
Don’t go it alone.
It is a sad fact that November and December are my busiest times of the year because people struggle on through the Autumn thinking “I can do it,” and the very real realisation hits in at the end of the year that you are going to face another year of disappointment unless you do something different and fast! It’s sad because I know that if people had come to see me for coaching earlier in the year we could have dealt with the obstacles, increased sales and most importantly helped them have the business they wanted. Don’t go it alone, get some professional help. Why do we always assume we have to be master of everything in our businesses? Which leads me on to top tip Number 3.
Learn new things.
Learning new things can be scary, especially if we aren’t keen on technology, or speaking to crowds of people. Therefore, accept that to achieve more and not let 2018 suck as bad as this year, you are going to have to go for it and learn the things you hate, that or go for Top Tip Number 4.
Getting help is not a sign of weakness it’s a sign of sense. I asked the Insiders the other day if they could work just 3 quarters of their working week and still maintain their clients, productivity and current profit margin. The point being that if they couldn’t how are you going to grow your business? Learn what you can outsource to others so that you can get on with the money making jobs. (Which leads me nicely into…)
Is it a money maker?
I’ve lost track of the clients in 2017 that I’ve worked with who have discovered within the first half hour of our session that their business model is destined to fail. When you take the time to do the maths and actually work out your earning potential, as your coach I’m public enemy number one when I showcase the limitations that a clients current pricing structure, business model and strategy are creating. The realisation that no matter how hard you work it’s going to fail to produce the results you would really like is disheartening, however, I’d rather get a client to know the numbers and create a powerful business model charging the right prices before we start filling your diary with tons of clients. (There’s nothing more soul destroying to discover you are working so hard and won’t get the riches of business success!) If you have failed to make a great profit this year and you’ve worked so hard you feel you need a holiday it could be time to look at what you charge, who you work with, what hours you work and how your business model is (or is not!) working for you. If not you could be agreeing to another over worked year with little benefits for all your hard work, take half a day of 2017 to work out what really needs to change, and ask yourself “What can I expect to get more of in 2018 if I don’t take action right now?”
Don’t be a busy overworked fool, make the changes now to see the benefits in 2018.
Want more help? Check out Mandie’s courses on increasing sales, writing your first book, rocketing confidence, powerful elevator pitches and more. Ranging in price from £7 to £24! Perfect present for every busy business woman!
You’ve written your first blog and now you need to work out how to get it read. Here are some ideas to help you do just that. And bear in mind I actually feel very confident to say that I know what I’m talking about here. It’s led to me being asked to write a book for the UK’s leading non-fiction publisher, being asked to be a featured blogger for 2 international publications and lots of clients for my coaching, courses and books. So I know this works, you just have to actually do what I suggest.
So how do you ensure that people actually find your blog?
Firstly ideally it will be on your website for a variety of reasons but the most obvious one is that it brings new fresh relevant information to your website – and trust me that’s good for your SEO and ranking.
If you can’t get it on your website relying on WordPress or Blogger, etc is better than not having one. And they are free and pretty easy to set up and use.
LinkedIn also has a useful feature that enables you to blog within your profile. Even if you feel your business is business to consumer and not to the business owner or professional remember a well-worded article will get read by professionals. They still have lives outside of business that could need what you offer!
So you have an interesting relevant useful blog now its time to get it seen;
Talk about it on social media – Youtube, Linkedin, Facebook Instagram and Twitter are the main ones. But don’t just do endless links to your blog – you have to build up interest and get to know people first. If anyone in their very first tweet to me says “Hey check out my website, blog, FB page- I’m instantly turned off. They have never met me and they are already assuming that I need what they have. If they took the time to build a relationship with me I would be more than happy to “check out their blog” etc. So build relationships first and you do that exactly the same way as you would face to face;
Be interested in others, share useful tit bits (this works really well, commenting on other peoples discussions on Linkedin etc (so ensure you join the right groups too) allows you to get to know other people’s opinions and then share yours. If you have had a great conversation with someone then you can say “Funny enough I wrote this about this very subject…” but only after being interested, considerate and getting to know others.
If you have a mailing list (Please tell me you have one of those!) whatever effective ways you have to stay in touch with your client base (Please tell me you are doing that!) share your blog ideas there too. Don’t share the whole thing, just put something like “A client had the issue ………. so I shared this great solution and so I thought I would share it with you too. To read more…….”
Remember in this fast paced world everyone wants instant answers so sharing little useful titbits makes you a very useful golden nugget to keep in touch with – what’s that going to do to your sales and business growth?
If you publicly speak (and where ever you go NEVER turn down the opportunity, you never know who is in the audience and who they know!) finish with something like “There are a ton of free ideas on …………on my blog, so help yourself.”
Tell people about it in every form of your marketing in a useful relevant informative way ALL OF THE TIME. People make the mistake of assuming you can tell someone once on Twitter and that will get you a thousand hits – it won’t! You need to be consistent.
You have to tell people over and over again in a useful, relevant informative way (Hope I’m getting that across – ha ha!) in short succinct chunks. It’s the drip drip drip approach. That if you keep telling people they will get the message and want to know more and keep in touch and what does that do for your business success? Thus you always need to consider what is it that you want to be known for? Keep this at the forefront of your mind when writing to ensure you stay bang on subject.
These ideas will work, I have a ton more to share but get this right for starters, be consistent and you will see positive results and a great impact on your business.
I will also share a webinar on this subject of what to write, how to write it and how to get it seen on The Insiders too. If you have personalised questions you wish to ask, just say.
It’s a serious questions every business woman reading this should be prepared to ask themselves. Because if your business is not making sacks of cash, it’s not a business it’s a hobby, and let’s be honest most hobbies are rather expensive. And businesses are supposed to generate money not consume it!
So if you feel like your being a consumer rather than a generator here’s a wham bam Thank you Mam, quick tip guide to checking you’re on the right track to sacks of cash;
1. Ask the question “Is My business making sacks of cash?”
To do this you will need to know your accounts inside out, and every accountant on the planet will tell you how important that is. It will highlight good weeks/months, bad ones, opportunities, weaknesses and help you look out for tell tale patterns to be aware of. Assessing where you are allows you to move forward – forget this at your peril! So become best friend with your numbers.
2. Next ask yourself “What am I going to Do about it?”
Note the capital D on Do. You see procrastination is highly likely to attack your business progress if you don’t have an action plan. Remember Procrastination is destroyed by action! So what action do you intend to take? Ask yourself what has worked in the past, what has not worked in the past. And a word of caution here – if it didn’t work in the past, will it miraculously work this time, unless you make changes?
3. Say good bye to Ron
Have you met Ron? He lurks in every business woman’s psyche – “I will do it Lateron” “This is more important, I will have to leave that to lateron” Ron just loves to hear you say this. So take action on Ron. Knowing what action you intend to take is nothing without working out WHEN you are going to do it. You have probably heard the saying “working ON your business and not IN it” Every successful business needs the space to implement the new ways to ensure success.
4. Get out there!
It’s a biggy! And a pet hate of mine to hear that a wonderful business is relying on business cards and a website and maybe a spot of networking to ensure a wonderful stream of new enquiries, leads, contacts and most of all new happy customers. Even if you are mega busy you still need a multi level approach to your marketing. If you can’t list off at least 8 different things you are doing to engage with customers right now – then somewhere down the line you are going to have trouble – and highly likely to not have sacks of cash!
Okay so there are a ton of other things I could be telling you about right now, including your current customers, up-selling, side selling, multi sales, dangers of special offers, underpricing nightmares, confidence issues, your relationship with money, wrong products, wrong customers, Wow! This list truly could be endless, but you see right now nail these 4 and you WILL see results, you WILL see more of what you want in your business and less of what you don’t. So no more reading, chuck Ron out and take action!
As Essex Coordinator I often get told “There are so many networks to chose from, how do I know yours is any good?”
And its a fair point. There is a ton of choice out there – which is great for the consumer…..and the network. You see we never placed ourselves as a rival, on the contrary we regularly promote other networks and business groups, why? Because if its good for business we want to be telling you about it.
A different approach you may say, well yes, but then it works. You see we are here to do the hard work for you. Try out the networks, the seminars and workshops and we share with you the good stuff. You can expect to hear about those ideas at every event in the business ops slot at 10.30.
But lets get down to the nitty gritty – you network because ultimately it leads to leads and sales and profit and success. On top of those things at the BWN you can expect support (it can be a lonely world for a business woman – and its great to know what you are experiencing or finding tough someone else has the answers to – probably because they have been through it too!)
You get motivated into action – so often women say to me, thanks to coming to The BWN last week, I picked up the phone/got in touch/changed my website/got up and spoke about my company/challenged their decision/went for it/took my business to the next level. And that results in even more success.
The BWN blogs and “What Business Women Say” pages of our website are packed with testimonials of how we have helped business women get what they want for their business and their success – all in an environment that is always welcoming (never clicky!) motivational and business focussed – we may mention what gorgeous heels you are wearing but then its straight back to business. Because we know that’s what matters to you.
Stuart Goudge from The Light Bulb got in touch, because they want to spread the news about how beneficial a apprentice can be to your business growth and success. To prove a point they sent us a testimonial from an Essex based business on the benefits. Not only good for your bottom line, but good for the local economy and community – now what’s not to like about that!
Mark Williamson from Floor Coverings Essex took on 2 Apprentices in 2011 and has given them both a glowing report and high praise:
“When the guys started with us they had no knowledge of the floor industry. They were shy around customers and struggled engaging them in conversation. In conjunction with TheLightBulb they have progressed so much and picked up so many new skills that have really helped the business. After the different stages of training they relieved some of the pressure that comes with running a business and I now see them as assets rather than apprentices. I can’t see why anyone would not want to take on an apprentice. As well as providing an individual with a chance in life, from a business perspective you are seen to be doing something that adds values to people’s lives”.
And the great thing is that at The BWN, your staff are able to access great training at every event – because every event includs a 45 minute workshop targetting a key area of business. So your staff can become effective communicators, networkers, great ambassadors for your company AND learn new skills and ideas to grow your business from us all for as little as £11 an event!
No wonder we are attracting new women in business every month!
To learn more about Floor Coverings Essex visit their website here – http://www.floorsessex.co.uk/index.aspx
To learn more about TheLightBulb apprentices visit their website or contact us – www.thelightbulb.net TheLightBulb offer a large range of Fully Government Funded work based NVQ’s and Adult Apprenticeships in such areas as; Business Admin, Customer Service, Beauty Therapy, Nail Services, Team Leader, Management
Thanks for sharing with us what BWN networking does for you and your business – we look forward to doing a ton more to help you and your business success in 2012.
By The Way – Other included – motivating you, inspiring, supporting you, being there when you felt isolated and like no one understood what running a business was like and how tough it was – and included some great comments like:
If you missed our most recent newsletter then you missed Jill Poet from Organisation for Responsible Business Owners talking about how to stand out from the crowd and care for your community, the environment and it all be good for your business (that includes your bottom line.)
Thanks for sharing Jill…..
Will you stand out from the crowd in 2012?
Richard Branson has the answer! As he says: “Screw Business as Usual – Doing Good is Good for Business!”
The Organisation for Responsible Businesses is delighted to announce that Certified ORB Auditors across the UK are able to take businesses through The Responsible Business Standard. This auditable certification, validated by Anglia Ruskin University, is designed specifically for small businesses who want to demonstrate they are socially and environmentally responsible.
If you want to stand out from the crowd by demonstrating that you operate a “Good Business,” visit www.ResponsibleBusinessstandard.org.uk for more information.
Would you like your business showcased here?
Got some great news to share? A great idea? A solution that all women in business should know about?
If you have the Business Premier Pack then send us your blog articles anytime – lovely pictures to support your story are always great – and we will be happy to share with The Business Womans Network world.