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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Wardrobe Influencers

Wardrobe Influencers

Our early wardrobe influencers may still have an impact on our attitude to our clothes.

Do you remember being bought a dress being told we could only wear it for best?

How many times did you get to wear it before it no longer fitted? Not many I’ll bet!

While our parents’ had good intentions, they were perhaps shaped by a number of factors including:

  • Disposable income;
  • Clothes proportionately more expensive;
  • Attitudes shaped by families who had lived through the war and rationing

But how many of us have been left with the legacy of keeping it for best?

Recently a friend told me that as a result of her mother’s instructions to ‘keep it for best’ her shoe collection was worthy of Imelda Marcos!  She hardly ever wore many of her shoes, as she was still keeping them for best!

If your ‘best’ clothes are ones that you really love and make you feel fantastic they deserve a regular parade on the streets of life!

Okay there are some items that may be too much for some occasions. However, if you consider how to style it, I bet that you can wear it more often than you think.

I have a simple vest style top that is covered in sequins. Bit glam for just going to the pub you might think.  I style it with distressed jeans and flip flops and it takes on a casual look.

If it is an item that gets you noticed, even more reason to wear it regularly (see style tip 8).  Self conscious about being seen in it too often? Use your imagination and style it up in different ways.

My favourite summer maxi dress is a clingy number that always makes me feel sexy and stylish.   I wear it with heels and a smart jacket.  Or I might add a scarf to create a second look.  Alternatively I wear it with flip flops and a denim jacket.  My fourth look is to simply wear a waistcoat with the dress.  There’s four outfits without thinking too hard!

Wardrobe Influencers Style Tip

Take that ‘save it for best’ piece in your wardrobe and try it on with different combinations – taking selfies as you go, to remind yourself what you’ve created.

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