Monday, August 20, 2012

Women in Business: Finance for Growth - Meet the Panel

The Women's Organisation in partnership with MSIF, Natwest and Liverpool Vision are bringing together a panel of experts to support local female entrepreneurs. The 'Finance for Growth' master class will take place on Friday 21st September 1pm-5pm at 54 St James Street, the brand new Women's International Centre for Economic Development - home of The Women's Organisation.

The event will be open to women who have been trading in business for at least 12 months, are seeing real success and are ready to expand. The expert panel of speakers at the event features a mixture of successful female entrepreneurs who have used growth funds to boost their business and representatives from local parliament, finance funds, banks and business support services. Below are details of the panel who will be offering talks at the event:

Welcome from:
Maggie O’Carroll, CEO The Women’s Organisation
In 1996 Maggie founded The Women’s Organisation to address issues hindering female enterprise policy and development. It is now an award winning women's economic development agency and social enterprise and it is the largest and most successful dedicated Women’s Economic Development Agency in the UK. Maggie is a Business graduate with a Masters in Community Enterprise from the Judge Business School, Cambridge University and is an Entrepreneurial Scholar in residence at Simmon's College Boston. She also lectures part time at Liverpool University and is chairperson of Knowlesy Housing Trust Services.
Contributions from:

Sharon Hilditch MBE, Crystal Clear
Crystal Clear International was co-founded in 1995 by entrepreneur Sharon Hilditch and is now established as one of the leading brands in the global beauty industry. The company manufactures a unique range of microdermabrasion and oxygenisation machines which are designed to make skin appear more rejuvenated and youthful. Crystal Clear has also developed a range of skincare products and the brand has become a favourite with A-listers such as Victoria Beckham. Products are sold in upmarket department store Selfridges and respected beauty salons across the UK. The company is now also making waves at an international level.
 Luciana Berger, MP Liverpool Wavertree
Luciana Berger is the elected Member of Parliament for the Wavertree area in Liverpool. Coming from a family legacy of small business owners, Luciana understands the day to day hurdles small businesses face on the path to business growth. As a Kensington resident Luciana has a greater understanding of enterprise on a local level and is keen to show the community “what doors to bang on to make change. Going into bat for Liverpool when it’s threatened, or when there might be opportunities, at the national or international level.”
  Jo Copoc, Boomerang Business Solutions
Boomerang Business Solutions Ltd provides specialist training designed to boost the sales and profits through bespoke training through customer service excellence, sales skills and people development programme. The business has a growing number of clients in the corporate, sports, hospitality and media industries, including 7 Premier League football clubs and media giants BSkyB. Jo was recently successful in receiving a business loan from MSIF which will be used to take on new staff and grow the business across new markets.
Maria Fraughan, Nat West
With over 20 years of experience in the banking sector Maria has worked with hundreds of businesses to organise their finances. She is currently a senior business manager for NatWest covering Liverpool and Wirral area and is keen to help businesses understand how to build a successful relationship with their bank. Working across the SME market with business turning over up to £1million, Maria is able to access a wide range of facilities to help customers achieve their ambitions.
  Chris Walters, MSIF (Merseyside Special Investment Fund)
Chris has been providing funding to businesses for over 25 years and has particular expertise working with small companies. MSIF, where Chris is an Investment Manager, provides finance from £3,000 to £2million+ and is always looking for new businesses to support. At this event you can find out how MSIF funding can help you grow your business and achieve success.
     Lisa Ashby, Liverpool Vision
Lisa’s background of business banking, business support and change management has given her a wide range of experience working with businesses across different sectors. As Business Growth Manager with Liverpool Vision’s new Business Growth Team, Lisa can assist with funding applications, recruitment support, advising on business plans and premises relocation. Lisa primarily works with businesses based in, or moving to, the city centre. Her colleagues focus on other areas across the city and the knowledge sector. Lisa is keen to work with businesses to make their growth plans a reality and help them create new jobs in the
Information on 'We Mentor' a mentoring project for women entrepreneurs will be presented at the event. Women who have been in business between one and four years who could benefit from being linked with a business mentor will be invited to sign up to the programme.

To find out more about the event or the We Mentor programme please contact

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Business Enterprise E-Learning Tool From HMRC

HM Revenue & Customs have recently launched a new e-learning tool that advises on the tax and National Insurance issues involved in starting your own business.

The package can be completed in bite size pieces and covers subjects including:

• Starting in business

• Registering your self employment

• What records should I keep?

• What can I claim against my income?

• VAT registration

• Becoming an employer

Incorporated into the package are learning checks and videos as well as links to further advice on Business Link website. You can access the online learning package here.

Liverpool Woman Turns Redundancy into Business Opportunity: Emily's Story

Redundancy was turned to opportunity for Liverpool resident Emily Ross, who created her own job by setting up her business ‘EAT Landscape’. Having been employed for four years as a Senior Landscape Architect at a large multi-disciplinary architectural practice in Liverpool, Emily fell victim of the current economic climate, being made redundant in 2011 as the business were finding their workload had dramatically reduced. Although her experience and qualifications were quality, Emily found the job market a tough road to navigate.

Emily said “I spent about three months looking for work however there were very few positions for landscape architects advertised in the northwest and I didn’t want to re-locate due to my husband having a secure, local job that he enjoyed. At the same time I started to think about taking on freelance work, working for landscape and architectural companies who may have just won a large project and needed some additional resources on a temporary basis.”

Emily found comfort chatting to close friend Helen, who had been successfully working as a freelance consultant in a similar environmental field for about a year and really enjoying it.

“I asked her loads and loads of questions about whether I should be a sole trader or a limited company, insurances, did I need a Business Plan, business cards, websites, getting clients etc. I was also very keen to get some kind of business training, having had no experience of running my own company before. Through ‘Googling’ about business courses in Liverpool and the local area I came across the Women’s Organisation and found out about all the amazing services that they offer to help women set up in business.”

Although Emily had determination, she found niggling doubts her biggest barrier to achieving her goal “The only thing that stood in my way was simply my own fear and lack of self-belief. I worried about how to go about the whole process, entering the unknown and doing something completely different. However once I had met an advisor from The Women’s Organisation and starting talking things through and making an Action Plan, the fear turned into excitement and enthusiasm about getting started.”

While setting up her business Emily proved her ideas to be award winning! Having kept busy by volunteering with Family Refugee Support Project ( charity in Toxteth, Emily helped them to produce a garden at the RHS Flower Show Tatton Park to showcase their work which went on to win the silver medal. She is keen to keep the link there even while running her business through joining the Friends group that they are currently setting up, to help with future fundraising events and projects.

Having completed the courses and receiving advice from The Women’s Organisation, Emily was awarded a £200 grant to help her set up her business which she decided to call ‘EAT Landscape’.

“The business is called EAT Landscape because I am really interested in using creative ways to incorporate edible planting into designs for public and private spaces. This includes mixing delicious fruit, herbs and vegetables with more traditional planting. The result is a unique and beautiful landscape, which not only looks good but that you can EAT.”

Feeling proud of her achievement, Emily is positive that she has made the right decision going self-employed.

“I was feeling at a bit of a loss when I was made redundant last year but since then I’ve met so many interesting people and learnt so much, I definitely wouldn’t turn back the clock. My confidence has definitely increased and I think it has done me a lot of good to be pushed out of my comfort zone and doing new things all the time.”

Her advice to other women considering taking the brave step into business is “Go for it! Get some really good business training (preferably from the Women’s Organisation!) and definitely put together a Business Plan, even if you’re not looking for a business loan. All the services I have received from the Women’s Organisation have been a huge help to me setting up my own business. The staff I have met have all been very knowledgeable, professional and very warm and friendly. I have also enjoyed meeting other women setting up in business during the courses I attended, sharing stories and swapping useful tips. It’s also good to talk to friends and family, particularly ones that work in a similar field, who are running their own business to get their advice and hear their positive experiences and the negative things too. It’s good to go into business with your eyes wide open!”

EAT Landscape provide landscape design services for, 1) Commercial landscape projects e.g. schools, nurseries, hospitals, housing projects, parks and open spaces, community gardens, play areas, care homes etc. and 2) Private garden clients. To find out more about the services Emily offers through her business visit or contact Emily via 0151 494 3478

And if like Emily you are a woman looking to turn redundancy into an opportunity, contact The Women’s Organisation on 0151 706 8111/ to find out what help you can receive.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Knowsley's Sharon Turns Passion for Pets into a Business

Mother of two, and owner of two excitable dogs, Prescot resident Sharon Parr already had a juggling act on her hands managing her busy household. But even with these responsibilities, ambitious Sharon decided to take on a new challenge setting up her own business ‘Beauty and the Beasts Groomers’ in Knowsley.

Speaking about her new business Sharon said “Beauty and the Beasts Groomers is a dog grooming salon based in Whiston, Knowsley. I provide a quality grooming service for all canines and am also qualified in parasite management and specialist skin treatments for dogs. We also sell quality dog accessories in store for pet owners to treat their furry best friend to something special.”

Reflecting on her journey to self-employment Sharon told us “I had previously worked as a retail manager but I wanted to make a fresh start. A lifelong passion for animals drove me forward” said Sharon, “and as my children left for University, I found that I now had time to chase my own dreams, so took the step away from retail to give myself time to look into the option of self-employment.”

Sharon went on the hunt for business premises and contacted her local council to find out if there were any grants or support available to help her with starting her business. She was interested to learn that The Women’s Organisation is working with Knowsley Housing Trust to offer free support to women in her area and called up to find out more.

“I was linked with a business adviser who helped me every step of the way, with not only planning but also helping me to attend relevant workshops such as ‘Planning for Success’. I found the financial aspect of the business particularly daunting at first, as I had never managed accounts in this way before. I was apprehensive about the start up at first, but the Women’s Organisation workshops helped a great deal.”

Sharon received a £200 business start grant from The Women’s Organisation and £800 from Knowsley Council’s Fresh Start scheme to help her with the initial start-up costs to get her business going.

She said “I am immensely proud of what I have achieved, and I can only hope it continues this way.”

Having tasted business success Sharon is not prepared to let her business go stale.

“Now the salon is set up I don’t want to stop there. I am hoping to eventually expand into puppy day-care and boarding and perhaps finding bigger premises. I have even considered expanding into a pet shop as well as a grooming salon.”

To find out more about the services on offer from Sharon and Beauty and the Beasts Groomers contact: Shop Phone: 0151 426 0008 or Email You can also visit their website:

And if you are a woman in the Knowsley area who would like some support to start your own business contact The Women’s Organisation on 0151 706 8111 or to find out more.

Sharon’s advice to other women like her is “I would definitely advise any woman with an idea to seek help from the Women’s Organisation as they helped me with everything and I couldn’t have started my business without them.”

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Women’s College Dean Says Same-Sex Education Is Better for Businesswomen

This week the Wall Street Journal published a report announcing that the dean of the all-women Simmons College School of Management said that "women have a better chance of succeeding professionally without men around."

In coed academic environment “male leadership roles remain unchallenged, and women are left with ‘play the game our way, or go home,’” 65-year-old colleage dean Cathy E. Minehan told the Wall Street Journal. Simmons College is a small Boston college which launched the first MBA program designed for women in 1975.

Challenging her theory the Wall Street Journal asked Cathy "Why is it better to address those systemic issues in an all-women environment when so much of the business world is dominated by men?"

Minehan response was this: "[At Simmons, students] can develop tools to navigate better in the business world because they understand the subtleties of a male-dominated culture in a way that they might not understand in classrooms that are dominated by men."

She gave this example "Women don't negotiate the same way that men do. We teach classic negotiation theory, classic negotiation practice, but we also teach about the situation women will find in [the outside world] and then how to deal with it."

The Women's Organisation who have forged strong links with Simmons College support the dean's claim having found that their gender focussed services to support women's economic and personal development are reaching women who often wouldn't put themselves forward as entrepreneurs and business leaders.

CEO of The Women's Organisation UK and Entrepreneurial Scholar in residence at Simmons College Boston Maggie O'Carroll said:

"It is no secret that the economy is struggling to level out at present. The figures speak for themselves when you look at gender balance in terms of business owners and those who represent organisations at the highest level, women are still falling behind. There is an untapped multi-billion pound opportunity which growth from female-led enterprises can bring to the economy. Every woman is different, but there are common themes that contribute to the barriers women face in their path to success. By providing a tailored service we can face those issues head on and start to see a shift in women's economic positioning.”

To find out more about how the The Women's Organisation link with international partners to support women's economic development visit

For further details on the breaking story click here.

Monday, August 6, 2012

How to Get the Job You Want!

The Women's Organisation are offering training on 'How to Get the Job You Want' to support local women.

This new 2 day course is FREE to women based in the Liverpool City Council area who are not currently working, or are employed for less than 16 hours per week.

Focussing on how to identify your skills & qualities, and how to use them to build a personal profile. Learn how the application process works, and how to market yourself to potential employers on an application form.

This interactive 2 day course also explores how to plan and prepare prior to interview, as well as tips on how to respond a variety of ...questions that may be asked on the day.

HELD AT: The Women's Organisation, 54 St James Street, Liverpool, L1 0AB

HELD ON: Monday 13th & Tuesday 14th August 9.30am-1pm


Wednesday 5th & Thursday 6th September 9.30am-1pm


Thursday 27th & Friday 28th September 9.30am-1pm

Booking is ESSENTIAL so please reserve your free place now via or 0151 706 8111

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Freshfields Children's Centre & The Women's Organisation Link to Support Sefton Women

Freshfield Children's Centre have teamed with The Women's Organisation to raise awareness amongst women in Sefton of support available to them to help them with their next career step.

Children's Centre staff have set up a 'Back to Work' club to support parents to job search and type up CV's, and this month they have invited The Women's Organisation to join them to support women considering self-employment. A business adviser from The Women's Organisation will be available for women to chat to over a free cuppa about grants, business plans and everything else that goes hand in hand with setting up a small business.

If you are a woman based locally to Formby, come and meet our staff for an informal chat on the FREE support The Women’s Organisation can offer new businesses at our COFFEE MORNING.

At: Freshfields Children’s Centre, Watchyard Lane, Formby, L37 3JT

On: Thursday 9th August

Between: 9.30am and 11.30am

If you are unable to make that session, but would like more information about The Women’s Organisation, please visit or call 0151 706 8111