Thursday, September 12, 2019

Case study: Breaking down barriers with Helen Clarke Autism

Helen Clarke Autism is a specialist autism training and consultancy service, dedicated to improving the lives of autistic children, in particular autistic girls. With support from the Enterprise Hub programme, Helen is taking her business from strength to strength. 

Helen provides educational and consultancy services for schools, parents, health services and other organisations that support autistic children.
As an autistic woman herself and having previously worked with autistic children for over twenty years as an Art and Design teacher, Helen is passionate about sharing her own life journey to improve the experience of others.
Her mission is now more important than ever, with recent reports suggesting that the number of autistic women and girls may have been severely underestimated due to historic gender biases.
Experts explain that early assumptions of the condition meant that it was predominantly thought to affect men, with the real ratio in fact coming in at approximately 3:1. This means that the number of girls and women with the condition has been vastly underestimated with thousands going undiagnosed.
As might be expected, this has taken its toll on the mental health of many girls and women across the country as living without a diagnosis often means that people are not accessing appropriate support in terms of health and education.
Thankfully, there is now a growing recognition of the issue and Helen is one of the professionals at the forefront of this battle to help autistic women overcome the barriers they face and improve the services available to them.With such an important task at hand, Helen decided self-employment was the best way for her to reach and support as many girls as possible – and so she founded Helen Clarke Autism consultancy services.

Click to here to visit the Enterprise Hub page and read the full case study. 

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

My Charity Marketplace on Championing Charities and Growth

My Charity Marketplace is an online shopping platform donating 7% of every sale to charity. Their luxury gift and lifestyle marketplace can be linked to unlimited UK charity websites, giving small charities a free online shop to take advantage of without the worry of stock control or running expenses. 

Alongside setting fundraising goals, the business champions small creative businesses by selling their gifts and homeware to the large charity supporter market with an aim to grow and compete with some of the internet’s most popular profit-making marketplaces.

Founder and director – Lisa Dickinson spent most of her career working in the charity sector in management and fundraising roles. She decided to start her business after noticing a gap in the market that no one had addressed, Lisa told us “As a charity professional (and enthusiastic online shopper), it frustrated me that very few non-profit organisations had resources to develop viable online stories, I felt that charities were missing out on the e-commerce revolution”

Lisa decided that by using technology, she would try and figure out a way to create a store that could be shared by unlimited charities whilst being branded as their own and with a soft launch in November 2018, My Charity Marketplace was born. Whilst there are other fundraising platforms out there, she found that none of them give as much as 7% on every sale, and none of them are providing charities with their own online store completely free of charge, making the business completely unique.

Lisa Dickinson - Director of My Charity Marketplace

My Charity Marketplace are setting attainable targets, with a goal of getting as many small businesses as possible to get on-board to sell, giving them the opportunity to partner with a lot of good causes. Most recently they have just heard back that Together for Animals will be joining them, a particularity exciting charity that supports animal welfare.

The business worked with The Women’s Organisation through Greater Manchester based Excelerate Labs Programme. Receiving coaching and support from Senior Business Advisor Mike Marsden, Lisa told us: “I’ve really benefited from the support I’ve received. Running your own business can be a very lonely place especially in the early days when you can so easily lose your confidence or have so many thoughts and ideas it’s difficult to make meaningful progress.”

“It’s good to have someone who lets you off-load but doesn’t allow you to stay still for long. I have always been motivated by goals and I am the sort of person who needs feedback, so having someone who is very experienced and is willing to tell me things straight has been very valuable.”

Outside of the business, Lisa has a busy family life as a mother, grandma and foster carer to 2 children in high school. She believes the key to her success has been recognising the importance of separating business and personal life “I have learned that I need to work hard but that the business will always be there to pick up tomorrow, don’t miss out on the important things in life and always prioritise your family, the mobile and emails can sometimes wait!”

With her business growing rapidly, she still finds the time to be a charity trustee for Salford’s Women’s Aid and run a branch of ‘Who Let the Dad’s Out’ a church community group where dads and male carers can spend quality time with their kids. 

Taking a leap into self-employment can be a scary decision to make, but Lisa believes that if you have the focus and right attitude, it can be the best decision you'll ever make.

“I am quite entrepreneurial and focused but starting a business at the age of 50 something has been a huge challenge, I’m very proud that I’ve managed to create something unique that hasn’t been achieved before. I think that everyone has a business inside them whether they act on it or not.   Every day is a new day, you will have to learn to take knocks but years of working in charities taught me that every crisis is an opportunity, if you have that attitude you won’t go far wrong.”

If anyone is interested in My Charity Marketplace and would like to get in contact with Lisa you can get in touch below or you can email her directly on 

you can follow their progress on twitter at @mycharitymp and Instagram @mycharitymarketplace

If you would like to benefit from the support received under the Excelerate Labs programme, then please contact: or 0161 327 0967

If you're thinking about starting a business in Greater Manchester, 'Start Your Business' training course is coming up soon. Get your FREE tickets over on Eventbrite

Monday, September 2, 2019

Guest blog: How can we encourage more women into the construction sector?

Ever fancied yourself as a builder? Kelly Friel is a Product Manager with industrial tool supplier Zoro. Here, she discusses why it's time more women were encouraged into the construction sector, and what employers can do to help attract female talent.

According to the latest figures from WISE, the sector is almost entirely dominated by men, with just 11% of roles taken by women. And, that doesn’t take into account the sort of work that women are doing in these roles, many of which are likely to be secretarial or administrative, rather than actually out on site. The Guardian even estimates that as many as 99% of on-site workers are men, making construction one of the most heavily male-dominated industries out there.

With a nationwide shortage of skilled construction workers and tradespeople set to get even worse after Brexit, employers are starting to wake up to the fact that we desperately need more women to join the industry. So, just what can be done to make construction roles more appealing to women? Here, I'll discuss what employers, site managers and educators can do to bring about a change.

Employers need to embrace inclusive policies

One thing which is sure to put women off a job in construction is the fear that they won’t be accepted by their colleagues on site, or that they could even be subject to harassment or discrimination. No one should face this treatment at work, and it's not just a matter of telling women to "toughen up" or accept that it's "part of the job". Employers and site managers need to commit to changing the workplace culture which makes such behaviour acceptable.

Workplace policies need to outline what is and isn't acceptable during working hours, and all staff should be fully trained on how they can create an inclusive workplace culture. Every site also needs to have reporting system in place, so that women can be confident that their concerns will be listened to and addressed. This is already standard practice for most other sectors, so there's really no reason it shouldn't be the same for construction. 

Employers should offer equal access to facilities and equipment

Another key concern is providing equal access to on-site facilities and equipment, which is sadly often overlooked when hiring women. For instance, many sites don’t even have female changing rooms or toilets, because there are rarely ever women on site. Likewise, the majority of safety equipment and construction wear — like hard hats, hi-vis wear, boots and gloves — is designed for men. So, employers need to ensure that they have ample facilities and equipment for women before they welcome them to the site.

Raising the profile of women in the industry

It’s much easier for women to imagine themselves in a role if they can see others like themselves are already succeeding. So, the industry needs to raise the profile of female construction workers, perhaps by asking women to visit schools and colleges as guest speakers. Celebrating the trailblazers who have already carved out a successful career in construction will help to encourage other women to follow in their footsteps, and it will show that it’s not exclusively a boys' club anymore.

Educating and empowering girls and young women

Many employers are already keen to diversify their workforce, but often find that the talent pool for female candidates is very small, meaning it's harder to find qualified women. This is likely because young women learn that construction isn't a "girl's job" from an early age, and so don’t decide to pursue this as a career. Educators and employers need to work together to change this misconception, preferably by working in schools with young people before they’ve decided what they'd like to do for a living.

There are also a number of myths around physical strength which educators need to dispel. Thanks to modern technical advancements, many building roles don’t involve as much demanding physical labour as they once did. Additionally, lots of on-site roles, such as surveying and site management, aren't very physical jobs. So, it’s a myth that you need to be physically strong to work on a building site, and it’s important that girls and young women realise this before they dismiss it as a career option.

Additionally, girls and young women need to be made more aware that there's a lot of room for progression. Site management roles involve a high degree of emotional intelligence and strong interpersonal skills, which are the types of jobs women are often more drawn to. If more young women were aware that these qualities are sought after skills, they might consider pursuing construction as a career.

A career in construction can be rewarding and lucrative, so it's only right that women are given the support and encouragement they need to build a career in the sector. By working together, employers and educators can change attitudes and pave the way for women to succeed in construction.

Guest blog: The Chairman of Merseyrail Ladies FC on the rise of women’s football

Following a major Summer season for women’s football, Neil Lancaster, Chairman of Merseyrail Ladies FC, has penned us a guest blog on the rise of the sport.

He takes a look back at the sport’s potted history and shares his hopes for the future.

 Merseyrail Ladies FC 

This summer’s FIFA Women's World Cup has well and truly shined a spotlight on women’s football, with the sport receiving masses of media attention for what seems like the first time.

But did you know… Women's football matches once pulled bigger crowds than most men's games - sometimes more than 50,000!

In the 1920s the sport flourished with around 150 women's teams in England. There was a huge growth in women's football during the First World War when women were called upon to do factory jobs left by the men who had gone to fight.

And when (Dick Kerr's) Preston Ladies played St Helen's Ladies on Boxing Day 1920 they pulled in a crowd of 53,000 at Everton's Goodison Park, with thousands more fans locked outside.
Everton men's attendance today has a capacity of 39,572.

In December 1921 the women's game was effectively banned, with the FA at the time saying the game of football is "quite unsuitable for females". This ruling stood until 1971.

Over the last decade, women’s football has been the UK’s biggest growth sport in the UK.

In June 2019, England's 3-0 win over Norway in the World Cup quarter-final set a new peak TV viewing record for women's football of 7.6million.

Stephanie Frappart became the first female referee to officiate a major men's European match when she took charge of the UEFA Super Cup. Along with her all-female team of assistant referees, Manuela Nicolosi of Italy and Michelle O'Neill from the Republic of Ireland.

However, as in the US, our focus here in the UK at grass roots level is on getting - and keeping - girls and women on the pitch.

Here in Liverpool, Merseyrail Ladies FC are one of the clubs striving to make a mark at a local level.

Having previously played under the banner of Bootle Men’s FC, they have now moved to their own ground at Admiral Park in Liverpool 8 and there's no affiliation to a men’s team - a decision that sees this team of women striving their own path. 

Maybe, history could repeat itself for women’s football?

Neil Lancaster Chairman of Merseyrail Ladies FC

You can find Merseyrail Ladies FC on Twitter and Facebook.

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

📢 LINE-UP ANNOUNCEMENT: Enterprise Hub's Start Up and Grow Week 2019

Enterprise Hub are excited to announce the line-up of events for Start-up and Grow Week this September!

Running from 16th - 20th September 2019, this week long programme of training, workshops and events is designed to equip you with the skills and know-how to start or grow your business. 

You can follow all the action using #StartUpAndGrowWeek on Twitter!

For the full line-up so far, visit the Enterprise Hub blog by clicking here.


Friday, August 23, 2019

Neuroscience in Marketing– what neuromarketing is and how it can boost your marketing return on investment

The following is a guest blog written by Founder and Managing Director of Cheshire-based marketing management consultancy, Think Beyond.

What do neuroscience and marketing have in common?

A solid foundation for marketing success is to have a marketing strategy. This strategy is founded on a clear understanding of your value proposition (your differentiators) and your market, customers and competitors with the aim of aligning your marketing activity to what customers need.

Neuroscience contributes to marketing and is a fast-developing field looking at the function of the human brain and nervous system. It helps you understand how people think and react.

What is neuromarketing? Neuromarketing, sometimes called ‘consumer neuroscience’, studies the brain's responses to advertising and branding, considering how to fine-tune those messages based on data and feedback.

According to the Harvard Business Review, “neuromarketing has been bolstered over the past five years by several ground-breaking studies that demonstrate its potential to create value for marketers”.

How businesses can benefit from neuromarketing

Neuromarketing includes scientific, evidence-based study of physiological and neural signals via sensors to help gain a deeper insight into preferences and decisions, which can in turn influence advertising campaigns, products and services.

How do I use neuromarketing? The sensors used are EEG (electroencephalogram) on your head, eye tracking cameras and fingertip sensors for BVP (blood volume pulse – heart rate/tension) and GSR (galvanic skin response – skin conductance/sweat). These are used to monitor a person’s state during a human-computer interaction where they are exposed to stimuli.

Put simply, you can measure and record data on responses to your marketing activity, before you commit to the spend. This dramatically reduces the risk by removing the educated guesswork involved in predicting the response of prospective customers.

Neuroscience is a game-changer in marketing campaigns

The initial scepticism around neuroscience marketing has long since subsided and as an increasing number of neuroscience PHDs leave university and move into the private sector, marketing is set to benefit.

Imagine launching a new product to market that your neuromarketing research suggests has a very high probability of a positive adoption rate, confident that you have understood customer preferences, what decision they are likely to make and how it will make them feel. You can literally see the reaction to your latest development before committing the resources to making it.

According to the Harvard Business Review, Google, Microsoft and Facebook all have some form of neuromarketing division, an in-house ‘neurocapability’.

Is neuroscience market research replacing traditional surveys?

Traditional methods of gauging reaction to advertising and branding may involve focus groups, surveys, interviews and PR trends. The main problem with the traditional methods is the potential for bias, error and withholding the truth.

Take two examples. First, we all know that unconscious bias can affect our decisions and someone who has a preference for urban living might not give an appropriate response to a campaign to visit the great outdoors. Second, we know that some people may have motivations or a powerful compulsion to lie, such as someone responding to a product to help them quit smoking.

Before committing to spend your hard-earned money on marketing activity that may not yield the response you expect, you could take a further step and leverage neuromarketing research for a more reliable result.

You may require specialist advice before proceeding and a marketing consultancy, such as Think Beyond in Cheshire, could provide the advice you need to successfully deploy neuromarketing in your business.

An innovative, successful, Chartered Marketer and former Marketing Director with a career history of developing marketing strategies, growing revenue and driving profitability, Mercè garnered a series of awards across a successful career including: Employee of the year 2013, Exceptional High Performer 2014, award winner 2015, talent programme 2016, board member in 2017 and founded Think Beyond Group in 2018.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Enterprise Hub business expert set to take up residency in The Atkinson to help drive local business growth

An Enterprise Hub business expert is set to take up a weekly residency at Southport Library, in The Atkinson, to help Sefton residents start and grow their new businesses.

This fully-funded business support is aimed at helping those in the Sefton area who are looking to start a business, or those who are looking to grow a new business which is under three years old.

Enterprise expert Jacqueline Daley will be offering a number of 1-2-1 appointments every Thursday between 10am - 12pm at Southport Library in the iconic Atkinson building. Appointments should be pre-booked by those wishing to register onto the Enterprise Hub programme.

Enterprise Hub is Liverpool City Region’s “one front door” access point for business support, offering clients a programme of 1-2-1 business support and advice, as well as access to training courses, to help develop their ideas and learn core business skills.

To find out more, visit the Enterprise Hub blog by clicking here