Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Are you ready to grow? | Planning for business growth with Excelerate Labs

Planning is the key to success in any business. It’s sensible to review your performance on a regular basis and identify the most likely strategies so you can grow your business. Here are some of our tips on planning for business growth: 

Look Back to Look Forward
Study the past successes of your company and use this to create new ideas for future achievements. By regularly assessing your performance against the plan that you began with, you are more likely to reach your goals. By doing this you can highlight where and why you have gone astray. By choosing to reassess every three to six months, this will show direction and commitment to employees, customers and suppliers as well as keeping you focused

Look Around
Also study your competition, the trends of your target market, and economic trends to forecast your growth plan. Looking over the business plans of various other companies that have seen great recent success, both in your industry and in other industries, you can use their ideas as motivations to create your own strategy. 

Look Closely
When you are reviewing your business plan, it's important to be clear on how you will allocate your resources to make your strategy work. The business plan for growth should allocate sufficient resources to achieve it's goals. You should assess your companies efficiency in terms of employees abilities and adaptability, as well as your own. This will help you to realise what you can or cannot do without your current staff, and if you need to hire new staff, or hire your existing staff in with new skills or training. 

Look for Friends
Another good way to plan for business growth, is to collaborate with a business owner that has successfully expanded their business, as you are trying to do. Gaining advice from someone who has been in your position is invaluable. 

Is your business growing? The Women's Organisation would like to offer support and advice to those who's business is growing and accelerating...

Exclerate Labs is part funded by European Regional Development Fund and offers FREE business growth consultancy to businesses registered in Greater Manchester who are operating in a business to business sector and ready to grow.

Excelerate Labs expert Business Growth Advisers can support you with:

• Developing Growth Strategy

• Accessing Markets

• Building Strategic Sales & Marketing Plans

• Developing Effective Leadership

• Gaining Support with Financial Management, Procurement, Bids & Tenders

• Linking to Networks & Developing Strategic Partnerships

• Measuring & Understanding Corporate Social Responsibility

Or building your business in another way.

If you are interested in receiving support contact our team via 

Social Media Top Tips: What Are The Best Times To Post On Social Media?

Time and time again we are asked in our Social Media courses, when exactly is the best time to post on Social Media? And it’s always a really tricky question to answer! Because not only does it depend on your customer and your target audience but it also depends on the Social Media platform that you are using!

But we’ve found some great top tips from QuickSprout about the most effective times for posting on your chosen Social Media platform…


The best days overall to post are on Thursdays and Fridays, with 86% of posts being published during the work week and engagement peaking on Thursday and Friday
But engagement rates fall 3.5% below average for posts published on Monday through to Wednesday!

The best time of the day to post on Facebook is in the early afternoon!


Twitter Download PNG

For B2B’s the best days to tweet are weekdays which provide 14% more engagement than weekends. But for B2C’s engagement is highest on weekends and Wednesday’s

Tweet at 5pm to get the most retweets! This could be due to people looking for something to keep them occupied on their commute home from work


According to LinkedIn, weekdays during business hours are the best times to post and the best days to post are Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays.

LinkedIn consist primarily of a B2B audience, that’s probably the reason why the highest engagement rates are during weekdays and business hours.

Check out the rest of QuickSprout's great tips on the best time for posting including more on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, and also Instagram, Pinterest and Google +

Monday, December 5, 2016

‘In An Effort To Heal Myself, I’ve Ended Up Spreading Healing Magic To Women Across The UK’ – Shirley Razbully & Muse Retreats

Shirley Razbully’s story of how she came to set up her business, Muse Retreats, is an incredibly inspiring one. When we spoke to Shirley we were overwhelmed by her positivity and it was surprising to learn that things hadn’t always been so easy for her, as Shirley decided to set up her business as a result of a breakdown that she suffered a couple of years ago. We think the Shirley’s journey of overcoming adversity and setting up a business that can help people is a fantastic one and we wanted to share it…

Shirley Razbully
Muse Retreats is a monthly subscription box service for ‘the creative soul’. Instead of delivering beauty products or food products like other subscription services, Shirley delivers a creative retreat for people to explore at home at a time to suit them. It includes sweet treats, organic herbal teas, step by step retreat guidelines and art/craft gifts as well as other surprises based on the month’s theme. Shirley says; ‘It’s a great way for us to reclaim a bit of ‘me time’ by taking time out, just for ourselves, to get creative and reflect on what we think and feel.’

Each month Shirley chooses a different theme and creates the box around that and although it is a subscription box service there are one-off boxes available which make great gifts! ‘The main purpose of these creative retreats is for women to reconnect with themselves and their joy.’

An Alice in Wonderland Box - Photo from Lola De Vil
It’s incredible to think that something as positive as Muse Retreats was borne out of such a dark period of Shirley’s life. She told us; ‘I decided to set up my business as a result of a breakdown. After working in an extremely pressured environment for so many years, I burnt out. I was also dealing with multiple family bereavements. The combination of burnout, bereavement and breakdown let to me being off work desperately ill for six months. During that period I had a lot of time to reflect, and I realised I wasn’t really living; I was just about surviving my life.’

It was during this time that an Occupational Therapist suggested that Shirley visit an art gallery, and although she wasn’t initially well enough to do this, she did begin to make an effort to ‘reclaim a sense of joy’, devising creative activities that she could do at home. Shirley, a naturally creative individual, did things like made aromatherapy bath salts, gift hampers, and collages and painting. ‘When I was feeling a little better I created a few little retreat boxes for friends of mine. They were intended as ‘thank-you’ gifts for the support they had given me but the feedback was glowing and they commented on how so many other people they knew would benefit from these little retreat boxes.’ And so, Muse Retreats was born!

Shirley is the type of business woman who wants to cover every single eventuality and be entirely prepared before launching a business, so it was no surprise to us to hear that even before contacting ourselves she spoke to three different women who work for themselves and got advice on the pros and cons of running a business because; ‘I wanted to move forward with my eyes wide open.’

One of the women that Shirley talked to mentioned The Women’s Organisation so Shirley gave us a ring and booked an appointment with our Business Adviser; Yan Miao and began to attend our courses. In fact, Shirley has completed nearly all of our training courses! ‘I found the experience of attending courses very valuable, the content was excellent and they gave me a sense that this business goal was achievable. Although I love learning anyway, it was the practical approach to the courses which I found most helpful. After each course, I left with a little more confidence, that yes I could do this!’

And as Shirley’s confidence grew, so did her business too! Although it wasn’t without its difficulties, as well as finding bookkeeping and tax and national insurance requirements daunting, Shirley was also managing her mental health issues including anxiety and symptoms of PTSD. She told us; ‘Ironically it was from within my deepest vulnerability that my business was born. In an effort to heal myself I’ve ended up spreading a little healing magic to women across the UK.’

A Creative Space Muse Retreats Box
Shirley launched Muse Retreats in September and received her first subscriber within one minute of launching! So far she has had subscribers from across the UK and received fantastic feedback. ‘To date, I’ve received a review from a clinical psychologist who is a columnist for Psychologies magazine; she reviewed my first box and actively advocates my retreats as an integral part of her own self-care. I’ve also had three video reviews on YouTube and a business spotlight on a blog too!’

‘People seem to resonate with my story because it’s the story of so many women. Although having a breakdown might be a bit extreme, feeling out of touch with yourself or frustrated and sad as a result of spending time caring for others and not enough time for yourself seems to be quite a common theme among women, so my creative retreats have addressed that.’

Now the benefits of being in business are beginning to show in Shirley’s life! ‘I get to make the rules and change the rules and break the rules too. I love having free reign to be creative and create the life I want. I feel really proud of what I have achieved so far. One of the last things my Mum said to me was ‘Shirley, life’s so short. You’ve got to live every moment.’ I intend to follow her advice and make each moment count, changing the world with my little boxes, one creative soul at a time.’

If you would like to find out more about Muse Retreats you can do so by using the contact details below!

And Shirley has kindly given our WO readers a special offer for Muse Retreats! Please use the promo code: worg1

This is exclusive to The Women's Organisation and gives you £2.50 off any one-off retreat box, reducing them from £15 to £12.50 each including free UK P&P. If anyone would like to purchase more than one box they will receive a £2.50 discount on every one-off box in their basket. Valid from now until 17th December while stocks last!

And if you’ve been inspired by Shirley’s story and would like to find out how we can help you start or grow your business, then get in touch with us! Email us on or ring us on 0151 706 811

Friday, December 2, 2016

Christmas at 54 St James Street

It’s officially December and the festivities have well and truly begun at 54 St James Street.

This week you may have came across two Christmas elves roaming the building - they were set a mission to turn 54 St James Street into a winter wonderland.

If you’re a 54 tenant you may now notice that we have a 7 meter tall tree standing proudly in our reception area, and if you haven’t yet saw, pop in and take a look for yourself. A big thanks to the Christmas elves for their hard work!

54’s onsite café, Siren is offering a seasonal menu of winter warmers to add to your festive 54 spirit. Drinks start from £2.00 and include a Chai Latte, Gingerbread Latte, Apple and Cranberry Spiced Tea or of course, everyone's favourite Mulled Wine/Cider.

We are thrilled to have our festivities underway and wish all of our 54 tenants, neighbours and friends a joyful run up to Christmas!

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

BUSINESS TIPS: Teleprint’s Tips for Saving Time and Money on Document Printing

It is a well-known fact that with all necessary print outs using electricity, ink/toner and paper, printing is one of the most pricey burdens for office budgeting. The cost of the printer is a one-off, but endless replenishment of ink reminds you of the true cost of printing. Despite this, office printing is an unavoidable 'MUST' for most businesses. So just how can businesses minimise their long-term printing expenditure? This month we caught up with Ian Fitzpatrick from Teleprint to lend us his expertise in saving time and money with document printing. 

Tips for Saving Time and Money with your Document Printing

1) Make sure your machine is fit for purpose

"The photocopier/printer industry is very diverse and vendors have many ways to try and maximise the money they make out of customers. There are many pitfalls and if you aren’t careful you can end up with an onerous contract over many years that aren’t suitable for your business requirements. In this sector of the market the biggest opportunity to make money is by supplying second hand equipment, this equipment is often referred to as refurbished, reconditioned, ex showroom etc when in fact it has been in another customers business and they have replaced it because it wasn’t working satisfactorily. My advice is to avoid this sort of machine as they tend to be unreliable and of poor quality. Our business only supplies new printers and photocopiers as our reputation and our customer’s happiness is paramount"

2) Pick a service contract that suits your business needs 

"A large percentage of customers use colour extensively and one of the biggest uncontrolled costs within businesses is print costs. An example of this is a client we supplied equipment to recently who was spending £2000 per annum on two colour multi-functional printers, the majority of the prints had minimal colour coverage but they were paying 6.5p per page. We analysed the usage and put them on a three tiered billing platform that reduced the majority of prints to 2p per page. As we work closely with our clients, we offer a bespoke package which caters to their business needs. We supply state of the art equipment with mobile printing but most importantly reducing the annual spend by £1000.00 per annum"

3) Use the experts

"My advice to businesses looking to buy Photocopiers/printers is to look for a manufacturer service if possible. Many people in this industry use compatible parts and toners to increase profitability and often don’t adhere to service schedules again to make more money. Compatible parts affect the performance of equipment and impact greatly on the print quality they also impact on the validity of warranties. Our business only uses manufacturer direct service with genuine parts and toners, this ensures our clients get the best experience possible and we can deliver on our promises.

"In a nutshell the copier/printer industry has many pitfalls for a business who buys into a company misrepresenting the real condition of the equipment they offer. Often the customer doesn’t take into account the true total cost of ownership and the impact having unreliable poor performing equipment has on a business. If a company sends out correspondence with poor print quality that is a representation of your business not the supplier. We know from experience that as a return on investment (ROI) new well maintained equipment is always the best way forward and takes away any poor performance issues."

So there you have it – three tips of excellence from an expert! If you would like to find out more about Teleprint, visit or follow them on Twitter or Facebook

Friday, November 25, 2016

ACE Erasmus Plus Partners Meet In Cyprus For Transnational Learning Experience

Last week project partners for the ‘ACE’ Project met in Nicosia, Cyprus and were hosted by CARDET (Centre for Advancement of Research and Development in an Educational Technology) Training Coordinator; Bernie Cox, Engagement and Marketing Officer; Abi Inglis, Operations Manager; Laura Anderson and Chair of The Women’s Organisation Board; Pat Shea Halson joined the transnational meeting to represent the UK!

Bernie, Pat & Laura in Nicosia!
The purpose of the visit was to review the progress to date on the creation of the 5 training modules which are being developed to support adult educators and enterprise advisers in working with lifestyle entrepreneurship and also carry out pilot runs of the programme with the group of partners taking part in the practical exercises and activities planned.

Bernie delivering her module (Module 1)

The modules covered…
  • The Basics of Lifestyle Entrepreneurship
  • The Use of ICT and Open Educational Resources in Lifestyle Entrepreneurship
  • Marketing of Adult Education on Lifestyle Entrepreneurship for Disadvantaged Learners
  • Assessment Tools of Learners’ Skills and Competencies in Lifestyle Entrepreneurship
  • Creating Awareness on Validation of the Acquired Competences

The partners on the ACE project span across Europe, we were joined by Cyprus, Lithuania, Bulgaria and Poland, all representing various organisations in their home countries and coming together to learn and share knowledge on lifestyle entrepreneurship. This project has been running for over a year with the partners already meeting in both Liverpool and Bulgaria’s capital; Sofia.

ACE Partners taking part in a practical exercise!
Whilst we were in Cyprus we did manage to get a break from working and were treated to a cultural day trip where we visited the pretty marina town of Limassol and also visited one of the oldest and most historic villages on the island; Omodos where we had lunch at a traditional tavern and ate some fantastic Cypriot food! 

We are looking forward to the next international meeting is planned for the spring when the partners will be meeting in Poland to continue working on this project!

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Veeno On Castle Street To Host #WOBizClub Festive Networking!

We are delighted to announce that on Wednesday 30th November from 4-7pm our last Business Club event of the year will be hosted in the lovely Veeno on Castle Street!

We are inviting you to join us at Veeno, a relaxed and intimate Wine Bar, in the heart of the city centre on Castle Street for a tipple or two and to celebrate and reflect on a year's worth of great events and networking...

Tickets for this event are just £5 for members of our Business Club and £10 for non-members; this will include a glass or two of wine and some delicious nibbles! If you are not a member of Business Club, but would like to be, simply email for more details

Veeno will be providing us with their quality Sicilian wine and Italian food in the style of 'Apertivo' - Delicious sharing platters including cold meat cuts, breads and cheeses all from Italian producers paired with expertly sourced Sicilian wine!

'Apertivo' is a big part of Italian culture and it means; 'Nibbling and drinking in a relaxed and informal atmosphere' - And frankly we couldn't think of anything better!

Andrea and Nico, the owners of Vino grew up in Italy and moved to Manchester to follow their studies and jobs, and the story of how they started Veeno (which now has cafes in multiple locations across the UK) is a great one!

“We started playing football together: after one of our matches, whilst having a drink, we found out that we had something in common – we both were Italians abroad with a strong passion for quality wine and authentic food. In Italy, we have the culture of Aperitivo – it means nibbling and drinking in a relaxed and informal atmosphere with friends & family during the later afternoon and early evening. Because this was missing in the UK, we decided to make it our mission to share this amazing tradition with our friends in the city of Manchester.

Thanks to the expertise of our family vineyard in Sicily, we brought our wines to Manchester and then we began to source the best quality “spuntini” (Appetisers) from Italian producers. We opened our first Italian Wine Café in 2013 just off Albert Square in Manchester city centre. Within a year, we opened cafés in Leeds and York.

Today, we have Wine Cafés in multiple locations across the UK, we are growing very fast and spreading the Aperitivo culture’

We are delighted to be partnering up with Veeno to host this festive networking event, it’s going to be a fantastic celebration of a year's’ worth of great business networking, and we hope you’ll be able to join us for a drink or two and a celebration to start the festivities with!

Thank you to Veeno for sponsoring this event!