women in business

Women In Business: Be Seen And Be Heard

This week I want to focus about women in business and in particular about being visible.

The UK has one of the strongest entrepreneurial economies in the world and a huge proportion of that being Micro Businesses run by women – source UK Govt*

  • There are 5.4M Small businesses in the UK
  • 95% of these businesses is defined as a micro business (less than 4 employees)
  • 20% of micro businesses are run by women – that’s 1.08M

Women In Business We Share Values

Many of the women in business that I meet and talk to share very similar values with regard to running a business:

  1. A burning desire to make a difference
  2. Passion for what they do which enables them to lead a fulfilled life
  3. Wanting to add value to their clients
  4. Freedom that a thriving business brings
  5. Flexibility that enables them to juggle business and family commitments

Women are more likely to have an innate desire to nurture and support others. This leads to many of them setting up a service-based business.    There are other factors too, which include lower start up costs and an increasing trend towards self-awareness and personal development.

When you run a small business, you are the business. There’s no shirking behind a corporate veil.   We, as business owners, are our brand and we need to own that.   How else can we run an authentic credible business that ticks the boxes for our values?

I Am My Brand

Let me use my business as an example. When I ran Want Her Dress, an online boutique, which I bought in 2013, I hid behind the concept that I had a ‘store’.

women in business

 

At first I would talk about ‘we’ and ‘us’ in terms of my business.  It was as if I was not an important ingredient in the marketing. That was wrong, but selling products I managed to get away with it, at least for a while!

When I trained as a personal stylist and launched Want Her Outfit two years ago, I had nowhere to hide.

People weren’t attracted to me because I could determine which colours to wear, help them to dress for their body shape or detox their wardrobe. They saw something in me that they liked.

Equally I know other women will not be attracted to me and will seek help elsewhere.

But until I showed up and was really visible how would anyone be able to decide?

 

Time to Stand Under The Spotlight …

Oh boy that was a big stomach churning moment.

So in true Carol fashion I ditched the water wings, held my nose and leapt into the deep end of the swimming pool!

Within a month of completing my styling course I was running my own webinar.

Volunteers needed talk at networking events and expos – I was there!  BTW it was cringingly awful at first but I knew that I’d never get better unless I practised (sorry to my early audiences!)

I was asked to present on stage (twice) at Pure London, the largest fashion trade show in the UK.

The University of Hertfordshire invited me to come in talk to students I virtually hugged the lecturer on the spot!

I’ve done two pre-recorded radio interviews and on 21st February I will be doing my first live radio on Radio Verulam as part of National Eating Disorders Awareness Week.

I also run events, workshops and retreats.

Last year I took my first baby steps into vlogging and FB Live.

 

So why am I telling you all of this?

It’s certainly not so that I can brag about my list of achievements. But it is to show you how I have shown up and let the world find out who I am.

There’s a very personal journey involved too as I have grown in confidence and have got much clearer on my big WHY.

I would be the first to admit that mine has been a very scattergun approach. It’s not a coincidence that I struggle to say no! I’m very good at seeing what potential benefits an activity might bring. Oh and I’m up for a challenge!

With so many small businesses wanting to reach an audience, it’s easy to see why video marketing is becoming so big.

Here are some compelling reasons why small businesses cannot ignore the impact:

  1. By 2019 74% of all internet traffic will be video (KBCP)
  2. Including a video in an email improves click through rate by 200-300% (Forrester)
  3. Video builds trust. 64% of people are more likely to buy online after watching a video. (ComScore)

 

So What’s Stopping Us?

It’s a 4-letter word beginning with F – fear!

woman hiding behind iPad

The most common objections that we put up for not putting ourselves on screen are:

  1. I don’t like the sound of my voice – guess what you’re not alone. You’d be in a very small minority if you did.
  2. I hate the way I look in photos let alone video and seeing myself on screen
  3. I’ll ‘fluff my lines’ and never be able to remember what I’m going to say
  4. I haven’t got time to learn something else
  5. I don’t understand enough about the technology to do it myself and don’t want to pay for it

The concerns are very real. But the good news is that with the right help and support you can start to produce your own videos. This will not only help your business but will benefit you personally!

 

The C-word…

Confidence is the big one here:

  1. Understanding how to look fabulous on screen will help your self-confidence way beyond making videos
  2. Getting clear on your message and what you want to say to the world will help you to communicate more effectively and hone your message.
  3. Communicating more effectively will help you speak to your ideal client and more importantly for your ideal client to hear you.
  4. Learning how easy it is to use the technology will help your self -confidence and broaden your knowledge.

Last year when I met Karen Witchalls-Plunkett I fell in love with the initiative she’d started of Teens on Screen.

I was like an excited puppy over the concept of giving teenagers the opportunity to present. Icing on the cake was doing this in a studio environment. I adored the fact that it would help their self-confidence, teach them how to present and give them an insight into what was involved with being on screen.

Karen Witchalls-Plunkett

Lunch And Coffee

Over lunch in a pub garden and several coffee dates we conceived the idea of offering training for women in business.

Our aim is to help women become more visible, grow in confidence and overcome the barriers.  We will be doing this as an online training course, supported by weekly calls and a private Facebook group.

But before we get too carried away with our ideas we want to ensure that what we plan to offer is beneficial to women in business.

This is where we’d like your help. We are preparing an online survey and would love to get your input.

We’re not quite there with the final survey! But we would love to know if you’re up for taking part.

We would love to hear from you if you are:

 

  1. A woman in business
  2. Plan to grow your business
  3. Want to reach more clients
  4. Would love to feel more confident about being visible

 

Please complete the form below to register your interest and we’ll be in touch very soon.

source UK Govt* Department Of Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy- Business Population Estimates For UK and Regions 2016

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inspiring others

A Cheery Hello Costs Nothing!

How rude can people be!!

Whenever  I’m out with my dogs,  I make a point of calling out a cheery hello to anyone that I meet. Okay slight exaggeration if anyone was walking round wielding a gun or a machete, I would think twice!

As my dogs’ pack leader I want to give them reassurance that I’ve clocked the oncoming person and they are not a threat. One of my dogs is particular protective and it can be the easiest way to avert unwanted canine behaviour and excessive barking!

Putting my dogs to one side, my other motive is that I genuinely believe it is a nice way to start the day to greet strangers with a warm hello and a grin.  I know how good it feels when others take the initiative.

As I often meet fellow dog owners, we may also exchange a few words about our beloved 4 paw families (not so different from the school playground!).

dogs

 

This week I clambered on to my soapbox on this very topic. Why?

Because the first three people I passed on this week couldn’t even be bothered to acknowledge my greeting.

One of them was already suffering from ‘glueearphone’ but the symptoms don’t prevent at least a nod! BTW none of them had noise cancelling headphones on just in case you were wondering!

I took to FB and within a few hours had received 50 ‘likes’ and 30+ comments. It was interesting to read the comments and the lovely cheery hello greetings and emoticons from my FB friends.

Several commented on how much more genial they find strangers abroad, others were keen to point out that it was effectively the other person’s issue not mine.   All of which were lovely comments and I’m very appreciative, so why am I still talking about it?

Surely my ruffled feathers should have been smoothed?  Well they were on a personal level as soon as I met a fourth person on Thursday who called out a cheery hello as she was running with her chocolate labrador.  However, I felt compelled to put fingers to keyboard, for three primary reasons:

 1. This week I’ve felt disillusioned with the world.

I find any terrorism atrocity very unsettling. I very much doubt that I’m alone. Life becomes unsettled .  We feel threatened, insecure and angry.

BBC Radio 5 Live, my station of choice in the car, carried almost non-stop coverage from Tuesday morning until Wednesday evening. In turn I feel compelled to listen at every opportunity and to keep track of online news bulletins.

I’m not sure if it’s my way of trying to share some of the pain or perhaps it’s a form of a remote type of survivors’ guilt? Perhaps any psychologists reading this post can explain this one?

The tragic events in Brussels make normal life seem superfluous. It feels surreal to simply be carrying on while such tragic events unfold.

pedestrians

However, carrying on as though our lives have not been interrupted is precisely what we should do in the face of terrorism.  We need to show to the perpetrators that their cowardly attacks and bullying tactics are not affecting us.

To me it seemed more important than ever this week to greet strangers with a cheery hello as a way of showing solidarity with those whose lives had been impacted.

Defiance in the face of adversity.

2. A photo that sparked a viral reaction on social media

Kelsey Harmon went to have dinner with her grandfather on Thursday.

Five of her cousins were invited, but she was the only one who showed up.

Harmon tweeted a picture of her grandpa sadly eating one of the 12 burgers he prepared for his six grandchildren. The tweet had been re-tweeted almost 140,000 times within 24 hours.

Anyone who didn’t feel saddened by the image of the old man sitting despondently with hunched shoulders munching on a burger would have needed a heart of stone.

Now flip that to the other end of the adult age spectrum.

We tend to presume that loneliness is associated with old age. A report published today by Acevo*, a charity network dismissed this misconception.

The report cites that young Londoners are twice as likely to be lonely as their counterparts elsewhere in the country.

Aged 18-24 these are people whose lives are going through a big transitional stage.

Young people may be leaving home for the first time, studying hard, establishing a career, facing uncertainty about getting job.

In London a culture of long working hours, a lack of local community and high housing costs are some of the reasons the report gives for increased loneliness.

loneliness

3. An event I attended this week

I’d been invited to speak at an event to mark International Women’s Day in March. The organizers nominated a local women’s refuge to benefit from the money we raised.

The first speaker was the manager of the local refuge. She told us about the valuable service the refuge offers to vulnerable women and children.   The refuge provides not simply crisis support but an extended outreach program that women can use without the move into a refuge.

The statistics for domestic abuse are horrific. On average two women are murdered every week in the UK.

Domestic abuse accounts for 16% of all violent crime (Source: Crime in England and Wales 04/05 report), however it is still the violent crime least likely to be reported to the police.  Domestic abuse has more repeat victims than any other crime (on average there will have been 35 assaults before a victim calls the police)

Domestic abuse is the single most quoted reason for becoming homeless (Shelter, 2002)

There is an assumption that domestic abuse only happens in poor inner city areas. This is an urban myth.   Domestic abuse is not discriminatory. It transcends class, age, profession, and educational background. Domestic abuse has no geographical boundaries.

isolation

I’m not suggesting saying that a cheery hello to a stranger on the street or on an early morning dog walk can stop domestic abuse, loneliness or or prevent terrorism.   The point I’m making is that you don’t know what someone else is going through.

A cheery hello may offer someone the encouragement they need to help get through their day or even the next few hours if they are having a tough time for whatever reason.  Even if your life is not going through any traumas the simple act of a smile costs nothing and may just offer someone a ‘feel good factor’.  You will also feel uplifted by the response you receive, a shy grin, a quick chat or a warm reciprocal smile.

The simple quote below from Robert Ingersoll for me sums up the importance of simple gestures of kindness.

we rise by lifting others

I’d love to get your comments and to ask you to share on social media.  Let’s raise awareness and see what response we receive that would be awesome!

 

* Acevo

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