Tuesday, January 28, 2014

New Year, New Business: Selling Online With Etsy

Did you promise yourself you’d start something new this year? A new business, perhaps? Finally get those handmade products out there for the world to see (and buy)?

The Women’s Organisation’s introductory level ‘Selling Online: From Ebay to Etsy’ workshop provides an overview of the different online marketplaces available. This allows women to assess the relevance of each platform to their individual business idea. The course also explains the legalities of trading online and offers consideration to the next steps available to women who wish to set up an online business.

Here’s what some of the women had to say on the workshop:

‘Informative, interesting, inspiring.’

‘Now feeling confident enough to pick the right market and selling online!’

‘The comparison of all the market places and their target markets was great. Especially Etsy and Facebook.’

Next Course:

On: Thursday 13th February 2014
At: 54 St James Street, L1 0AB


If opening an Etsy shop was your new year’s resolution, Etsy wants to help you realise those ambitions right now!

By going to Etsy.com/Promotions and entering the code NEWYEARNEWYOU, you can get started on your Etsy shop right now and place the first 20 products online for free! The offer is valid for the entire month of February (so better hurry!) and is valid for one use per new seller.


If you would be interested in our Selling Online: From Ebay to Etsy course, or have a business idea you would like to explore, contact The Women’s Organisation today for FREE support and advice 0151 706 8111 or info@thewo.org.uk

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Business Structure – Picking The Best One For You

So! You’ve come up with a cracking business idea, done your research, spoken to your adviser at the Women’s Organisation and attended their courses.  You’ve finished your brilliant business plan and are raring to get going! There’s a million things to organise and make decisions on and one of the key decisions you will now need to make is which business structure is the best one for you.

There are a number of different business structures you can choose from, including sole trader, limited company, partnership and LLP. As no two businesses are the same this can make it a confusing and often tricky decision to get right. We have examined some of the pros and cons of the two main structures below, being sole trader and limited company status.

Sole trader
This is the simplest form of business to start with.  You run your business as an individual and get to keep the profits you make after income tax and class 2 and 4 National Insurance deductions. Although the official title is ‘sole trader’, you can still employ people.  You are personally responsible for the costs of the business and any losses the business makes.

Sole trader pros
·         It is straightforward to get started and easy to convert to a different structure later down the track.
·         Losses made by the business can be offset against other income to reduce your personal tax charge, which is not possible with a limited company.
·         It is often a good structure to choose whilst your business is growing and profits are low.

Sole trader cons
·         You take on all the business risks and liability and so if the business fails, you personally will be liable to pay the business debts.
·         Generally, for a sole trader with no other income, once your profits exceed approximately £15k per annum, your take home income will be higher if you run your business through a limited company.
·         Depending on your business, your clients and customers may require or prefer to trade with a limited company because of their insurance requirements or because a company can appear more credible to them.

Limited company
You could choose to run your business through a limited company, which is a separate legal entity from you as owner.  The company is owned by its shareholders, of which there must be at least one. There must also be at least one director who does not have to be a shareholder (but often the directors will also be shareholders).  Directors will be treated as employees of the company, although it is not a requirement for them to be paid a salary.  The company pays corporation tax on its profits and you can extract income from the limited company via salary and dividends.

Limited company pros
·         As above, once profits reach a certain level, significant tax savings can be made by running your business through a limited company. 
·         The liability of the shareholders is limited to the amount of the share capital issued and so offers protection to the shareholders' personal assets.
·         A company can appear more credible and established than a sole trader and have better borrowing potential.
·         Ownership is more flexible as share capital can be split into different proportions and types of share.
 
Limited company cons
·         The company’s annual accounts and annual return have to be filed at Companies House and are publicly available. 
·         As a sole trader, you may well be able to complete and file your personal tax return yourself. If you run your business through a limited company, however, you will most likely need an accountant to help you to prepare the accounts and corporation tax return. 
·         Companies and Directors are subject to greater regulations and can be fined or found guilty of a criminal offence if they fail to comply.
·         Losses made by the business can’t be offset against your other income to reduce your personal tax charge.

Which structure is the best one for me?
This depends on your individual circumstances and what is important to you and your business.  If you’d like to have a chat with us about the best structure your business, please contact me and I’ll be happy to help. As a new business ourselves we understand the need to support local start-up businesses and there won’t be any charge for our initial guidance.

Guest blog by:

Rosie Evans FCA
Partner

 


0151 625 2250


Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Meet Tilly, our new @54StJamesStreet Mascot

We are delighted to introduce you to our new Mascot at 54 St James Street, Tilly the dog.  





Tilly will be showing you around the building in the coming months to show you the fabulous spaces available for you to hire throughout the building and to let you know about the amazing inspirational women who we have paid homage to here, naming rooms after them.

You can follow Tilly on her travels via our twitter Hashtag #WheresTilly and following @54StJamesStreet.  

For more information about 54 St James Street contact our team on 0151 706 8100 or venue@thewo.org.uk 

Who Benefits from 'Benefits Street'?

On Monday 6 January Channel 4 broadcast the first episode in its series ‘Benefits Street’. The programme purports to ‘reveal the reality of a life on benefits’, but in reality it reflects a minority of benefit claiments experiences, and not in a favourable light instead of addressing the real issues faced by families in this tough economic climate. 

Women's Budget Group (www.wbg.org.uk) informs us that ‘Benefits Street’ has now provoked over 100 complaints to Ofcom and even resulted in death threats being aimed at the participants in the programme because of its sensational and extreme content. 

WBG are taking action and are encouraging anyone in agreement to join with them. How can you get involved?


Action 1:  Sign the petition

WBG's petition calls on Channel 4 to review how they commission programmes like this. Add your voice to put pressure on broadcasters and help hange the debate on benefits at: <http://goo.gl/FT9odS>

Action 2: Promote the petition

Email your own supporters, post on twitter and use your facebook pages to get as many people as possible talking about this and sharing the story with their friends and family. 

Action 3: Tweet during the next episode

Channel 4 will air the next episode in the series on Monday 27th January,
9 - 10pm, with a repeat on the same day on Channel 4+1, 10 - 11pm.
During this time we would invite you to join in a mass tweet to Channel
4 to share experiences of what it’s really like to need support from benefits.
Channel 4 are on Twitter at: @Channel4 .
Here are some examples of tweets to get you started:

I’m signing the petition calling for Ch 4 to ensure its portrayal of people supported by benefits is fair & accurate:
goo.gl/FT9odS<http://goo.gl/FT9odS>

Please sign this petition goo.gl/FT9odS<http://goo.gl/FT9odS> to send a message to Channel 4 that programmes like #BenefitsStreet<https://twitter.com/search?q=%23BenefitsStreet> are damaging.

Watch C4's
#BenefitsStreet<https://twitter.com/search?q=%23BenefitsStreet>? Are your experiences of benefits different? Sign this petition goo.gl/FT9odS<http://goo.gl/FT9odS>  to make yr voice heard.

Join @weallbenefit<https://twitter.com/weallbenefit> to tell the other side of the story if you think programmes like #BenefitsStreet<https://twitter.com/search?q=%23BenefitsStreet> just reinforce negative stereotypes.

Where possible please use the Who Benefits? campaign hashtag #weallbenefit. The Benefits Street programme hashtag is #BenefitsStreet


By joining in to tweet and signing the petition you can help to tell Channel 4 that these kinds of programmes do real harm not just to those who are filmed but to the majority of people who need the support of benefits.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Mother of 3 Fowzia Makes Modest Clothing for Women Fashionable

Prior to starting up her business, Mother of 3 Fowzia Suleman was a youth worker for 15 years. Although she really enjoyed this, the time came when she felt that a change was needed.

Photo: VGGVart























‘I always wanted to have my own business, I just didn't know what. All I knew was that I wanted to be self employed.’

After having her children, she found it increasingly difficult to find modest yet fashionable clothing. Finally, Fowzia found a niche gap in the market for modest clothing, this became her idea for a business that she was genuinely passionate about. The result of this is Maryan.

Currently Maryan offers bespoke, fashionable and modest clothing for women, handmade by Fowzia herself. However, the business is looking to have designs manufactured due to the overwhelming demand. 

The Liverpool resident sat on the idea of self-employment for over a year, giving her time to do ‘lots of research and connections with individuals in the industry because it is vital to the success of your business.’

‘After years of watching my mother sewing, I discovered that I had unknowingly been absorbing those same skills when I started taking classes.’   

These natural skills, a supportive family and lots of market research made the journey into self-employment very smooth. Knowing her market inside out meant that she didn't encounter any barriers whilst starting up. Fowzia also received further support and advice from The Women’s Organisation to ensure that the journey was as smooth as possible, 

‘My business advisor was really helpful. She gave me so much information and it was all relevant to my business. I also sat on the courses, Business Planning, Tax & National Insurance, E-marketing and Basic Book Keeping, which were so easy to understand and made things simple.’

Almost a year on, Fowzia is really pleased with the progress her business has made and is excited for the coming year. She has already been part of a few fashion shows and at present is working on showcasing her latest designs online, as well as plans to do more work in London.

‘There is a very big Muslim community in Liverpool and they are very loyal customers of my business. I am really enjoying it, it’s so rewarding to do something you’re so passionate about.’

When asked what advice she would give to someone considering starting up their own business, Fowzia replied: ‘Go for it! Do plenty of research and make sure that you learn your market inside and out. I can’t tell you how much those months of research helped me.’

The mother of 3 one day hopes to expand her business and open up a shop here in Liverpool, and later on in London, where she already has an established customer base. For now she is working on a website to showcase her work for next year.


To find out more about Maryan, email Fowzia directly on fowzia_suleman@hotmail.com

And if you'd like to move forward with an idea you've been working on for a while or would like to know more, contact The Women's Organisation on 0151 706 8111 / hello@thewo.org.uk or visit www.thewomensorganisation.org.uk





By Beckie Kinsella

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Bollyfit UK: Three Years On

Three years after starting her Bollyfitness business, Pooja Saini tells us how her first few years as a business woman have been and what she hopes for the years to come.

Photo: VGGVart























Bollyfitness is a Bollywood dance based work out, combining the artistic elements of Bollywood film dances with classical styles, designed to keep you fit.

Inspired by the dance moves seen in Bollywood movies and shows, Pooja has always been very passionate about dance. When unable to find a place that ran Bollywood dance classes, she saw the opportunity to do it for herself. She trained as a choreographer and fitness dance instructor, equipping her with the tools to move forward with her vision. She also received help from The Women’s Organisation in the initial stages of setting up her business.

‘The Women’s Organisation helped me to put a business plan together and allowed me to focus on my marketing and run a business.’

The mother of 3 began running the classes by herself, but the business has since expanded and is now offering Bollyfitness training and licences to instructors across the UK. 

‘I approached gyms across the country and took the criticism and positive feedback on board and worked on it. As it was a new business, I was in a learning process and there is still so much to learn.’

Bollyfitness now has 5 licenced Bollyfitness instructors, both independent and gym based, who Pooja has personally trained up. Anyone who attends a training workshop and passes the assessment will receive full brand training, choreography, music and a starter pack. So far, the licenced instructors include Francesca MacDuff-Varley, from BBC’s hit show The Apprentice.

‘I offer on-going support for all of my instructors who did pass the assessment, but also for the ones who didn’t. I plan to bring all of the instructors together and do a giant master class session to build the brand and offer further support where I can.’

For those who are interested but unsure on whether or not to start the training, Pooja runs regional master classes which allow those interested to find out everything about Bollyfitness first hand. It is also a great opportunity to meet other potential and current instructors, to ask for advice and share experiences.

‘I’m aware that Bollyfitness isn’t for everyone, so I designed these master classes as a taster to help instructors make an informed decision. I try to support new instructors as much as I can, by helping them find venues and giving them access to branding and merchandise.’


BollyFit UK is expanding every day and Pooja has now introduced 4 other areas to the company: Bollykids, Bollymoves, Bollyoga and Bollyhealth. The company is a sponsor and will be exhibiting at the MOVE IT 2014 dance event this year. You can pop along and try out the Bollyfitness master classes which will be running twice daily and learn more about the dance moves and props used in these unique classes.

On International Women’s Day 2013, Pooja attended a Business Club Networking event at The Women’s Organisation and left feeling inspired by the guest speakers. ‘I left thinking that I want to be one of those women presenting. Since then, I have done 6 presentations, including one at The Women’s Organisation.’

Along with growing her own role, Pooja has managed to expand her business whilst working full time in health research and raising a family. She explained: ‘It can be hard to balance both at times. I am a mum with 3 children so I have to be really organised. I have very good support from my family and husband, and it also helps that my job is flexible.’ Surprisingly, she is most relaxed when working on her business. ‘It is still my hobby and passion, I love what I do so for me that is relaxing.’

However, after feeling like she has taken on too many things at once, the Liverpool resident hopes to include all things under one umbrella, by including her business into her research. She plans to incorporate Bollyfitness into a government project to improve health and well-being in ethnic minority communities. For this she has received a £10,000 project grant from The Big Lottery Fund.

‘I want to use my own cultural identity and education to empower and educate others. I want to find out why Asian people in particular don’t come forward to get health treatment and take part in exercise activities on offer to them. Most of all, I want to do good through my work and make a difference to people’s health and well-being.’

If you are interested in taking part in Bollyfitness classes, or would like to know more about becoming a licenced instructor, visit http://www.bollyfituk.co.uk/ for more information. You can also contact Pooja directly on pooja.saini@bollyfituk.co.uk or 07946 169 335

And if you'd like to take your first steps into self-employment, contact The Women's Organisation on 0151 706 8111 / hello@thewo.org.uk or visit www.thewomensorganisation.org.uk for more information on the FREE business support, training and £200 grant available to women in Merseyside 

Pink & Powerful: A Celebration of Entrepreneurial Liverpool Women. All Proceeds Go To Breast Cancer Care
















Pink and Powerful is an annual event run by North Liverpool Academy to celebrate female achievement, empowerment, fashion and beauty. Women of all ages from the local community attend to raise money for Breast Cancer Care.

Local female entrepreneurs who would be interested in having stalls or potentially speaking at the event are invited to get in touch.

The event involves a main catwalk show of local designers, speeches by inspiring women and a health and wellbeing zone, which includes a mixture of pampering and advice on women’s health issues. There will also be a marketplace of local entrepreneurs promoting their business and talking about their journeys.

The event will be held on Thursday 12th February 2014 6pm – 8pm

If you are interested in being involved please contact Rebecca Jones on r.jones@northliverpoolacademy.co.uk


Monday, January 6, 2014

Forget 12 Days of Christmas, Think ’14 Days of January’

Merseyside women looking to kickstart 2014 taking positive strides forward are invited to join The Women’s Organisation’s ‘14 Days’ events.



Over 14 days between 14th and 31st January (Mon-Fri) The Women’s Organisation will be holding a range of events and courses supporting local women to grow their confidence, consider their career options and to start or grow their business.  

Ways you can get kickstart the new year with #14Days includes:

‘Meet an Adviser’ – drop in coffee mornings across Liverpool, Knowsley, Sefton and Wirral to have an initial chat about your business idea and find out about The Women’s Organisation’s free programme. 


Free Training Workshops including:

‘Become a More Confident You’ – A one day course for women to grow their confidence, gain a positive outlook and think about their next steps. Next available dates are:

Thursday 16th January 10am – 3pm, The Women’s Organisation, 54 St James Street, Liverpool, L1 0AB

Wednesday 22nd January 10am – 3pm, Tomorrow’s Women, Beckwith St East, Birkenhead, CH41 3JE


‘Planning for Success’ – Two day business planning course for women with a clear business idea to get a clear understanding of everything involved and build a business plan.  Available dates to book:

Tuesday 14th & Wednesday 15th January 9.30am-4.30pm, The Women’s Organisation, 54 St James Street, Liverpool, L1 0AB

Monday 20th & Tuesday 21st January, The Women’s Organisation, 54 St James Street, Liverpool, L1 0AB

Wednesday 29th & Thursday 30th January, The Women’s Organisation, 54 St James Street, Liverpool, L1 0AB


‘14 Steps Forward’ event – including workshops around positive thinking, identifying your skills, hobbies and abilities, networking with The Women’s Organisation and local employment support agencies to understand your career options.

Tuesday 28th January 9.30am-1pm, The Women’s Organisation, 54 St James Street, Liverpool, L1 0AB


Business Club Networking Coffee Morning – Informal networking for local women in business.  Drop in, grab a coffee at Siren café, network with other women and chat to our team about our Business Growth support if you are thinking of taking on staff or looking to massively increase your turnover this year. Slots are available for you to offer your 60 second business pitch too.

Thursday 23rd January 9.30am-11.30am, Siren Café, 54 St James Street, Liverpool, L1 0AB

All events are free and open to women in Merseyside looking for support to take not one, but fourteen steps forward in 2014. Join one or more events and start your year with our support.

To get more information about any of the events visit www.thewomensorganisation.org.uk or contact our team on 0151 706 8111 or hello@thewo.org.uk

You can also follow events and information via our Twitter hashtag #14Days and @TheWomensOrgLiv