Friday, September 26, 2014

Are You Ready to Venture into Growth?


The Women's Organisation are challenging Merseyside women in business to step their business up to the nest level through The Venture Accelerator (TVA) programme.  Venture Accelerator brings together a dynamic partnership of The Women’s Organisation, Downtown in Business, Agent Marketing and High Performance Consultancy to deliver a highly innovative and effective business growth and business incubation Programme, which is part funded by the European Regional Development Fund.

The programme is aimed at enterprises that have the potential to grow by bringing innovative products and processes to market, scaling up, and internationalising.

The programme is available to SME's across Merseyside and provides funded consultancy to enable businesses to prepare for growth, it runs to June 2015.  

If your business is looking to expand through taking on new staff or significantly increasing turnover through accessing new markets, The Women’s Organisation can offer free advice such as:

•         Developing Growth Strategy
•         Accessing Markets
•         Building Strategic Sales & Marketing
•         Developing Effective Leadership
•         Gaining Support with Financial Management, Procurement, Bids
•         Linking to Networks & Develop Strategic Partnerships
•         Measuring & Understanding Corporate Social Responsibility
Or building your business in another way.

This is a High Growth funded programme, so eligibility criteria will apply. Women based in Merseyside who are working business to business and are ready to significantly grow should contact or call 0151 706 8111 to find out more. 

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Dipping Your Toe in Business Before Taking the Full Dive

The Guardian published an article this week called 'Bit on the Side: How to Set up a Successful Side Project' looking at examples of entrepreneurs who began their companies as a project on the side of their 'regular job'. 

Did you know that Twitter and Scotchtape are both businesses that were started in this way?

At The Women's Organisation we understand that not everyone has a business idea along with a financial buffer sat in their bank account allowing them to put all their eggs straight into their business basket.  Often the most sensible route to business is to get planning and practicing while working in another role and gradually reducing hours to build focus on your business venture. Your journey to business can be taking gradual steps instead of a wild leap. 

The Guardian article showed how actually while in employment you can often use your networks and resources to the advantage of your business idea.  Who are you currently working with? Are there lessons you can learn from the business you are working for? What apps and tools can you utlise to build your business?

Click here to read the full article

There are many women who have come to The Women's Organisation for help to pursue their business dream while working for another firm or needing to split focus at the start. Here are some of their stories:

Dalbinder Baines
Dalbinder found her passion for naturopathy and nutrition while working in a corporate world as she looked for support for her mother who was taken ill.  She started to study while still working so she could make the transition to working for herself.
Read more of her story here...

Siobhan Noble
Siobhan was working for a bank when she decided it was time to stop suppressing her creative side. Having come to The Women's Organisation for support she gradually transitioned to leaving her job and now runs two companies, a vintage fashion business and Lantern Theatre in partnership with her mum.
Read more about Siobhan's journey here...

Pooja Saini
Speaking last year at a Business Club event at The Women's Organisation Pooja shared openly about how her business has taken a front and back seat at different stages in her journey to fit around her growing family and other commitments. She told women to not feel like they are failing if their business is not yet their full time job. Successful businesses don't just happen over night. They take hard graft and being realistic.
Read about Pooja's business Bollyfit Uk here...

If you have ideas you would like to pursue and want to look at the best way to manage your transition from employment to self-employment, contact The Women's Organisation on 0151 706 8111 to book an appointment with one of our business advisers.  Services are offered free to women living in Merseyside. 

Monday, September 22, 2014

Help Your Little Ones’ Develop with Little Lamb Phonics

Little Lamb Phonics is a poetry based resource that aids the teaching of phonics. It can be used by teachers or parents and is made up of poems that follow the Government document Letters and Sounds. The poems are divided into 3 phases which are available on 3 CD’s and now available via the Little Lamb Phonics app, which currently covers the first CD.

Credit: Magical Moments Photography

The phonic app has been written by Jude Lennon, a former Key Stage One and Early Years teacher with 18 years’ experience. Using her self-penned poems as a starting point, the app encourages children to identify certain sounds within words. Using a mixture of pictures and words it can cater for different abilities.

The app also includes interactive games with ‘Lamby’ as the central character, which ensures the children have fun while learning. It is a great tool to support the teaching of phonics and can be used on mobile or tablet, by parents and children in any setting.

‘I’ve always written poems and stories for children. For many years I felt there was a gap in the market for a fun, child and parent friendly resource to help with the teaching of phonics. Following a conversation with a former colleague, I felt inspired to write some poems that would actually make phonics fun! Having written the poems I tried them out on my class with great success and then with encouragement from family and colleagues, decided to put the resource into production.’

As Jude’s expertise was routed in education, she had no knowledge of running her own business and found starting up challenging. Her partner learned about The Women’s Organisation’s free Accelerating Women's Enterprise programme and shortly after an appointment was arranged to see a business adviser in Allerton Library.

The Women’s Organisation was very supportive and helpful. I found their help with completing the business plan invaluable. Yan offered me lots of encouragement and explained everything to me clearly so I could understand. I wouldn’t have had a clue where to start with my business plan.’

‘It’s because of this excellent business plan that I have been able to approach the Merseyside Special Investment Fund and secure additional funding to make the app a reality. I can’t thank The Women’s Organisation enough for their support.’

Jude is very happy with how her app has been received. Despite only being live 2 months, there has been lots of downloads worldwide including Australia, Russia and Hungary. The next step is to expand the app to feature the next 2 CD’s.

Little Lamb Phonics is doing so well that Jude has now started an offshoot business called ‘Little Lamb Tales’, through which she offers storytelling sessions to schools. So far Little Lamb Tales has reached schools as far as London, Yorkshire, Lancashire and across the North West.

‘I am proud of what I have achieved so far. In just over 6 months I have written and produced a product, written a business plan, secured a loan from the MSIF, launched an app, set up an off-shoot business and I’m still smiling!’

She continued: ‘My advice to anyone looking to start on their own would be to get in touch with The Women’s Organisation and Merseyside Special Investment Fund (MSIF). Ask as many questions as you can and never be afraid to give out your business cards.’

Now self-employed, Jude tackles every day with a new enthusiasm due to her passion and belief in her product. She thrives on getting to decide what is important and what is necessary, and although it is hard work, she finds it incredibly rewarding.

For information about Little Lamb Phonics or Little Lamb Tales visit the website and if you would like to contact Jude directly emal

You can also follow Lamby on social media:
Twitter @lambyphonics

And if you've been considering a change in career or would like to move forward with a hobby you're passionate about, contact The Women's Organisation on 0151 706 8111 / or vist for more information. 

By Beckie Kinsella

Portrait photo by Magical Moments Photography

Friday, September 12, 2014

'Is Self-Employment For You?' FREE Business Start-Up Conference for Merseyside Women

This free business start-up conference for Merseyside women is an empowering event that will help you to discover whether self-employment is for you.

Credit: Lucy Hannah Photography

              At: The Women’s Organisation, 
54 St James Street, L1 0AB
On: Thursday 2nd October, 9:30am – 12:30pm

Hear from other local women who have successfully set up their own business with the support of The Women's Organisation and will be sharing their tips and advice.

Enjoy a group workshop to understand the key elements involved in self-employment, which will help you determine whether self-employment is for you.

Network with our team and other women who are considering self-employment.

The conference will be beneficial if:

  • You have ideas/skills that you would like to explore turning into a business.
  • Want to know what you would need to do and think about to start a business.
  • Interested in finding out what funding/loans and support is available.
To book your place or for more information, talk to our team on 0151 706 8111 / 

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Self-employment Support & Personal Development Events in Knowsley

The Women's Organisation are working in partnership with Knowsley Housing Trust (KHT) to support local women in starting up their own business and developing confidence.

Whether you are looking for a confidence boost or support opening a business, The Women's Organisation can offer advice and guidance. Below are upcoming dates of events we are running in Knowsley for women to access our support. 


During September The Women's Organisation's engagement team will be travelling to venues across Knowsley to give free advice and support to women who are considering self-employment as part of a Business Roadshow. If you have a business idea or hobby you would like to explore further and turn into a business but don't know where to get started, we invite you to pop into one of our drop in sessions. With a cuppa on us, you can have an informal chat to our team about what free support and advice is available. Dates can be found below.

Tuesday 9th: Huyton Costa Coffee, Huyton Town Centre, Derby Road, L36 9YG - 10am - 11:30am

Tuesday 9th: Poco Coffee Shop, Prescot Town Centre 30 Eccleston Street - 1pm - 2:30pm

Tuesday 23rd: Poco Coffee Shop, Kirkby, Norwich Way L32 8XY - 2:30pm - 4pm

Friday 26th: Huyton Family Parish Coffee Morning, Blue Bell Lane, L36 7SA 9am - 12pm

Selling Online: From Ebay to Etsy

This 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. Next date:

On: 17th September, 1pm - 3pm
At: Eden Children’s Centre, Kirkby

Recognise Your Potential

If you would like to feel more confident about yourself, know what skills you have that could shape your future and find out about further personal development support, this short workshop is the perfect taster session. 

On: 23rd September, 9:30am - 11:30am 
At: Jubilee Children’s Centre, Huyton

On: 25th November, 1pm - 3pm
At: Hilltop Children’s Centre, Huyton

If you would like to find out more information about any of the above events, contact our team on 0151 706 8111 / 

Monday, September 8, 2014

Liverpool Events for Women Thinking About Self-Employment

In Liverpool The Women's Organisation are proud to be working in partnership with Liverpool Mutual Homes to support women to build their confidence and set up their own business.

This month and next we have some special events running for women who are thinking about their options to come along to find out more. 

#BusinessRoadshow September 2014:
During September The Women's Organisation's team will be travelling to venues across Liverpool to give free advice and support to women who are considering self-employment as part of a Business Roadshow.  Whether you have a hobby, previous work experience or a skill that you are thinking you could turn into an income, pop along for an informal chat to get an idea of what grants and support would be available to help you. Roadshow events are drop in, so no need to book, just turn up to have a chat. Dates and venues available include:

Tuesday 9th 1pm - 3pm:        Allerton Library, Allerton Road L18 6HG     
Thursday 11th 10am - 12pm:    Granby Children's Centre, Eversley Street L8 2TU   
Friday 12th 10am - 12pm:         Let's Eat Cafe, 37 Allerton Road L25 7RE      
Friday 12th 10am - 11am:         Walton Library, Evered Ave L9 2AF        
Thursday 18th 1pm - 3pm:    Central Library, William Brown Street L3 8EW        
Friday 19th 1pm - 3pm:         Old Swan Library, Prescot Road L13 5XG       
Monday 22nd 1pm - 3pm:    Everton Children's Centre, Spencer Street L6 2WF     

Thursday 25th 1pm - 3pm:    Tesco Costa Coffee, Mather Avenue L18 6HF              

Become a More Confident You:

Could you do with a confidence boost to give you space to think about your future? This interactive Personal Development workshop is focused on:
  • Building confidence and self-esteem
  • Creating a more positive outlook
  • Helping you to make a positive plan for your future.

By the end of this session, you will have identified what qualities and capabilities you have and be more confident in deciding where your future lies.  Held at The Women's Organisation, 54 St James Street, Liverpool, L1 0AB you can book on either of the following dates:

Thursday 9th October 10am-3pm
Wednesday 5th November 10am-3pm

Selling Online - From Ebay to Etsy:

Are you thinking of selling something online?
Got a hobby that you may be able to turn into an online business?
Confused by the options, and don’t know where to start?
Want to know the legalities and logistics of trading online?

The Women's Organisation invite you to attend our FREE 'Selling Online' session to gather all the information you will need to know to get you started. Sessions available locally include:

On: Tuesday 7th October 2014 (9-12pm)
At: Smithdown Primary School, Chatsworth Drive L7 6LJ

On: Monday 20th October 2014 (12-3pm)
At: Everton Children Centre, Spencer Street L6 2WF

On: Thursday 23rd October 2014(10-1pm)
At: LMH, South Office, Unit 1, Montrose Business Park, L7 9NB

If you are interested in any of the above events please contact our team for more information via 0151 706 8111 or  

Friday, September 5, 2014

Understanding Etsy Tips: Setting Up Your Etsy Shop

Etsy, based in the US, is the leading online marketplace for craft and creative businesses. It can be used to sell handmade items, vintage pieces or craft supplies, making it a perfect business tool for your craft businesses.

As with anything, it can be a little confusing starting out on a new website. Here is my step by step guide to opening your Etsy shop and getting things started.

To start your Etsy journey, you first have to register as a member. Don’t worry there aren’t any costs involved in this!

To get started, click Sell at the top of the site. Review the Sell page and click Open Up an Etsy Shop at the top of the page when you're ready.

Language and Currency

You'll be asked if you want to choose your language preference and currency in which you list items. Clicking 'no, I want to choose' will show more language and currency options.

The language you choose will be your shop's default language. You won't be able to change it later, although you will be able to enroll in other languages after opening your shop

You'll be able to change your currency, but only after you open your shop.

Be sure to select the correct country for your shop. Some seller tools are only available in certain countries.

Setting Up Your Shop

After selecting your language, it's time to start setting up your shop. You can go back and edit your shop at any time, before or after opening it.

Choose Your Shop Name

Shop names can contain up to 20 letters and numbers. They cannot have spaces or punctuation.
Listing an Item
After choosing the name of your shop, it’s time to list your first item! 

Fill in the appropriate fields to list your item. Remember to use as much detail as possible. This will increase the chance of it showing up in search results, as well as making it more attractive to potential buyers. 

For a more in depth guide on how to list an item, see our Listing an Item blog.


Select the payment methods you want to offer in your shop.
Direct Checkout: The main way to get paid on Etsy. Offer your buyers the ability to pay with their credit/debit cards, Etsy Gift Cards, and select international payment methods.

You can also receive funds from buyers using these additional payment methods: 
PayPal: Enter the email address associated with your PayPal account. 

Cheque or money order: If you use a payment method that needs to be mailed to you, like cheque or money order, enter your mailing address.This address will only be shared with a buyer who purchases from you and chooses this method. 


Almost done! You'll need to enter your billing information before you can open up your shop.
Depending on what country you are in, you may need to enter a credit card to open your shop. The card should be a Visa, Mastercard, American Express, Discover, or Carte Bleue (France). Both credit and debit cards with these card company logos will work. 
Your card information is secure with Etsy, and you are welcome to pay your bill via PayPal if you’d prefer.
Members in some countries outside the US can open a shop with a PayPal account. If you can do this, you'll see an 'Authorise PayPal Account' button.

Open your Shop
When you finish all the sections and enter in your billing information, click 'Open Your Shop' on the right side of the last section. You'll still be able to edit your shop after it's open.  

Congratulations, your shop is now open! 

The web address to get to your shop will be:
·         https://www.etsy/shop/yourshopname  

 You can now start sharing your shop & listings via your social media channels. Happy selling!

 by Beckie Kinsella 

@54StJamesStreet Celebrate Full House! #TeamBaltic Proving the Place to Be

“The passion for business and entrepreneurial spirit of The Women’s Organisation keeps businesses feeling proud to be part of 54 St James Street” said Jo Copoc Director of Boomerang Business Solutions, explaining why she thinks the Baltic Triangle based business centre is receiving such demand for office space.   

The Baltic Triangle area of Liverpool is fast becoming the trendy place to build your business with new developments continuing to enrich the area.  54 St James Street, a £5.3mil development created by The Women’s Organisation which is at the heart of the area, has been so overwhelmed by demand for office space that they are literally full to bursting!

Having opened the doors to the new development in 2011, 54 St James Street quickly filled with local women led businesses and social enterprises wanting to take advantage of the hi-spec business incubation facilities.

When two of the early 54 tenants, High Performance Consultancy and Constructing Equality, began to expand, they were keen to find a way to stay within the vibrant Baltic Triangle business community that they had come to love. The Women’s Organisation took measures to adapt event space within the building to accommodate the growing teams, allowing them to expand in house and freeing up their previous office spaces.

54 St James Street barely had time to advertise the vacant spaces before they were snapped up by local businesses keen to join the buzzing Baltic Triangle.

Taking up the last available office space at 54 St James Street this August was Hana Awwad of design business ‘Chocolate Envelope’. 

Hana told us “It is a lovely light and airy new building, I just liked everything about it from the location, the beautiful building, the fact that The Women’s Organisation Team were around and all the Business Club events that go on in the same venue. It's hard to put it into words but when I was shown the room I felt I could exhale and feel relaxed! (Which is great because it can be quite stressful running a business!). The office manager made the transition from working from home to moving into my first office happen very easily and speedily which was fantastic.”
Although the Baltic Triangle has been dubbed the ‘creative quarter’ by many in Liverpool, 54 St James Street have gathered interest from a range of sectors, particularly health and well-being businesses who are moving from the traditional Rodney Street to try out pastures new.
One of the more recent businesses to make the move were Psychological Therapies Unit, whose director Steve Flatt said “Our move to St James Street has made a considerable difference to our well-being as a team. It is a light, airy and ultramodern building. The access for all our clients is ideal and many have expressed their delight at coming to a building that does not have any connection with medicine or traditional mental health services, something we have embraced in our attempts to reduce stigma.”
54 St James Street are now keeping a waiting list of those who continue to express interest in taking up offices as demand has been so high. 
Building Manager Laura Anderson wanted to encourage local businesses who have missed the boat in snapping up physical office space  that they can still be a part of the 54 St James Street community by taking up virtual office packages starting from as little as £18 per month inclusive of VAT. 
Laura said “There is a great buzz around the building which businesses can join in with from popping into Siren cafĂ© and utilising the free wifi, to using our flexible meeting rooms which are available to hire from as little as £10 per hour.  We want to bring as many businesses to the Baltic Triangle area as we can so whether that be holding a one off event in our top floor conference space or becoming one of our valued tenants we are delighted to offer you a warm welcome.”

To find out more about 54 St James Street visit

Just Months After Launching, Mercer Travel Has Really Taken Off

As the holiday season comes to a close, it’s about that time of year when most of us are already thinking ahead to next year. If you’re anything like me, you probably get stressed even at the thought of planning a holiday that suits everyone and would much rather someone else organise it for you. Lucky for us, long time banker turned travel consultant Ann Mercer recognised that need and has opened up her own bespoke travel business.

Mercer Travel offers fully protected long and short haul holidays, trips and cruises, and the best bit about it is that it’s all based around what you, your partner, friends or family want!

Ann told The Women’s Organisation: ‘After over 25 years in banking, I wanted the freedom and opportunity of doing things my way, be my own boss and do something different.'

Global Travel presented Ann with the opportunity she was looking for. They offered her the chance to buy a franchise and provided all training prior to the business launching, culminating in an intense certified two week training course.

‘This was an exciting prospect as I had wanted to leave the Bank for a while and was just looking for the right opportunity and timing. I started progressing the purchase of the travel franchise before I left, so because I already knew about the role and work of The Women’s Organisation through local networking, I decided to arrange an appointment to get the ball rolling.’

As part of their business start-up programme, through the Big Enterprise in Communities (BEiC) initiative funded by European Regional Development Fund, Ann was paired up with a business advisor who she met with regularly. She also accessed free business workshops including Basic Bookkeeping, Tax and National Insurance, Building a Social Media Strategy and a 2 day business planning workshop, Planning For Success.

‘The business courses were invaluable and certainly helped to put the business on the right track. I received help with my business plan, which was really useful, and supported with a small grant package.’

Now further down the line, Mercer Travel is in full flight. Ann has quickly increased her client base through networking and referrals, and is providing regular quotes, recommendations and bookings for customers.

‘I have recently partnered with The Wirral Wedding House to provide overseas weddings and honeymoons. In fact I have just booked a honeymoon for one of my colleagues who attended the same courses as me with The Women’s Organisation!’

After changing direction from Retail Banking and Wealth Management to travel, there is no looking back for the travel consultant who is enjoying the flexibility, freedom and challenge of working for herself.

Thinking about her journey, Ann commented: ‘I feel proud, accomplished, invigorated and ready to look forward to the regular monthly income again.’

Ann’s advice to those considering a change of career would be: ‘Do something you love, with me it was travel. Your passion will shine through and you will want it to work. Get advice from the right places and people, networking and persevere!’

So, if you’re ready to plan that dream holiday and would like the support of an expert, contact Ann on 0151 722 2286 or 07446 943838 or e-mail – and you can also search 'Mercer Travel' on Facebook to keep up to date with what's on offer.

If you feel you're ready to start your journey to self-employment, call The Women's Organisation for a chat about how they can support you 0151 706 8111 / 

By Beckie Kinsella

Portrait photo by Magical Moments Photography