Thursday, October 30, 2014

After Being Made Redundant, Family Mediator Jackie Roberts Decided to be Her Own Boss

Self-employment had never occurred to family mediator and experienced counsellor Jackie Roberts, but after being made redundant and changes in her family circumstances, being her own boss offered the flexibility she needed.

Credit: Magical Moments Photography
After a relationship has ended, there are a lot of decisions to make and things that need to be resolved. Family Mediation helps supports ex-partners to come to arrangements about issues such as who the children will live with, how often they will see the other parents and financial decisions, such as what happens to the house, debts and savings.

Through her business Taylor Roberts Family Mediation Services, Jackie supports people to make these important decisions.

‘My role as a Family Mediator is to meet with ex partners who are in conflict to help them sort out their disputes.  ‘Conflict’ and ‘dispute’ are strange words to use when talking about people and ‘relationships’.  Maybe it’s more helpful to say that I help adults who have fallen out and can’t communicate, or adults who ‘fight’ every time they attempt to meet or speak.’

If issues are taken to court, the judge makes all of the decisions regardless of what both parties want. Mediation allows people to stay in control. Jackie helps find a solution that works for all involved.

With her business going well, the family mediator reminisced on her start-up journey: ‘I was at a loss as to what to do and I was more nervous than excited. I think the biggest barrier was me. Whilst I am a confident person and I have the skills to be a Mediator/Counsellor, I soon found that I didn’t have the same confidence and skills when it came to setting up my business and marketing myself. I didn’t have a clue and that was scary.’

Jackie knew she needed help, and after a friend told her about the services The Women’s Organisation offer to women starting up a business in Merseyside, she quickly contacted them.

‘There are some great women and men who have your best interests at heart at The Women’s Organisation. John, my business advisor, gave solid advice to get my business plan written. The business planning course helped me create a realistic action plan.’

‘I also did Twitter for the Terrified! It wasn’t actually called that, but that’s how I felt. However, Jo ‘Queen of Twitter’ whipped me into shape.  The Women’s Organisation are not just ticking boxes and getting bums on seats. They are going ‘all out’ to make a difference for your business, and ensuring you make the right choices.’

Jackie believes that sometimes everyone else needs ‘someone else’s vision, input and encouragement to get you going.’ If you surround yourself with people who inspire, challenge and encourage you, then you are part of the way to where you want to be.

If you are looking for advice or guidance that a Family Mediator can offer, contact Jackie on

And if you want to take your career in a different direction, The Women's Organisation can support you to become your own boss - 0151 706 8111 / -

By Beckie Kinsella

Women's Voices @HomotopiaFest

Homotopia Festival are holding a plethora of cultural events across the city throughout November that will both entertain and offer opportunity for debate.  The festival organisers are keen to hi-light key events that may be of particular interest to local women, with great discounts available. These interesting events providing a platform for women giving their voice to key issues include:

Diva Debate: You Gotta Have Faith 12th Nov Unity Theatre
Join Diva editor Jane Czyselska and veteran human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell to discuss faith with Christian commentator and musician Vicky Beeching, Rose Neelam, a Muslim and Project Director of Safra, and lesbian Rabbi Ariel Friedlander. Half price tickets available for Mojisola Abebayo if you also book for this event. 

Mojisola Adebayo 15th Nov at Unity Theatre
Performer and playwright Mojisola presents excerpts from her work including a monologue from the powerful ‘I Stand Corrected’ which was created with support of the British Council South Africa as a response to so-called ‘corrective’ rape of lesbians and takes place at a wedding between two women.  She will also perform readings from two previous works, ‘Moj of the Antarctic’ and ‘Muhammad Ali and Me’. Her plays address black history, trans history, equal marriage, climate change and boxing!  Come and meet Moj and take part in the questions and answers after the performances and find out how she creates theatre for social change. Half price ticket available for this event when you also book a ticket for Diva Debate. Just mention when booking at Unity box office
Hi Anxiety by Debs Gatenby 20th Nov at Lantern Theatre
Hi, Anxiety explores one person’s (actually, two people’s…) experience of mental illness. With one in four of us estimated to experience mental illness, Debs Gatenby’s one woman show is a laugh out loud funny yet wistful look at how mental illness affected her. And her mum. As Deb says: “It’s two breakdowns for the price of one, an emotional meal deal.” Quote The Women's Org when booking for concessionary tickets. 

If you would like to know more about what is happening throughout the festival check out 

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

The Great Big Charity Bake Off!

Do you love to bake? Would you like to show off your baking skills while supporting a worthy cause? Or do you just love food and would enjoy a good slice of cake?

The Women’s Organisation are delighted to host ‘The Great Big Charity Bake Off’ in aid of Teenage Cancer Trust’s Merseyside appeal.

AT: Siren CafĂ©, 54 St James St, 
Liverpool, L1 0AB
ON: Monday 3rd November 
from 3pm

Enter your cake for just £5

Categories  to be judged on will be:
1) Showstopper A cake with the wow factor
2) Most Tasty Truly moreish
3) Best Effort  May have a ‘soggy bottom’ but a valiant effort

Contact or 0151 706 8111 for details.

Event is FREE to attend & cakes will be available to try from £1 per slice.  Just bring your cake and your £5 to enter on the day. 

Prestigious judging panel to be announced….

Teenage cancer trust offer great age appropriate support to young people who are battling cancer. Next year they are hoping to launch a new special unit in Merseyside and have asked local businesses to support them. If you would like to donate to this worthy cause, but cannot attend the event you can so via:  

Friday, October 24, 2014

Egg Freezing is Not the Way to Break the Glass Ceiling

“This is not the path to positive progress” said Maggie O’Carroll CEO of The Women’s Organisation in response to reports that Facebook and Apple are offering to support female employees to freeze their eggs in order to attract more women.

It has been suggested that the perks offered by Apple and Facebook could be seen as an attempt to rectify the gender imbalance. Apple said in its diversity report this year that its workforce was 70% male, while Facebook reported its workforce was 69% male.

It is often suggested that the gender pay gap and ‘glass ceiling’ women encounter when trying to progress their careers can be attributed to the idea that women are more likely to take time out to start a family.  In response Facebook now apparently offers up to $20,000 (£13,000) for egg freezing for female employees.

Maggie O’Carroll challenged this idea saying “Instead of this bizarre proposal it would surely be better for the likes of Facebook and Apple to provide proper family leave, flexible working patterns rather than this offer, which is frankly rather offensive! Supporting families is the key to fairness in the workplace, not messing with women’s biological clocks.”

The Women’s Organisation themselves have supported staff to manage their working patterns offering flexible working to those trying to juggle a number of commitments.  Their tailored programmes for women to start out in business are also focussed on the key challenges that effect women trying to pursue business while managing family responsibilities.

Gender bias is rife in the workplace with women in the Northwest of England recently being reported to be earning as much as 17.6% less than their male counterparts, and women still vastly underrepresented in business. 

The Women’s Organisation would challenge business owners world over to think more carefully about their policies relating to growing families and ensure that real solutions are on offer. 

Speaking to Sky News at the weekend Maggie explained that she is not against women making the choice to freeze eggs, simply companies using this as a way to shy away from supporting flexible working practices for families. 

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Social Media Wiz Ann is Hoping her Business Success Will Make her the 'Talk of Manchester'

 Manchester’s Ann Davies, founder of social media training and consultancy business Bizwizuk, is feeling “Very humble, proud and excited!” upon discovering she has been shortlisted for an award.

Having built a successful business for someone else for 10 years Ann Davies decided it was time to do something for herself and launched ‘Bizwizuk’ in October 2011.  Starting from scratch was a challenge Ann was ready to face head on and has since built up a client base of over 100 businesses  ranging from SME’s to banks and hotel chains, linking with an additional social media manager allowing her to focus on the consultancy side of the business.

Feeling ready to expand Bizwizuk this year Ann approached The Women’s Organisation upon hearing that they could offer free support to women in Greater Manchester with ambition for business growth.

Ann said “I have found the support incredible. My mentor has helped me to understand and create a clear vision for the growth of my business.”

Ann who also runs The Working Mothers networking group in Manchester while juggling her life as a working mum of two teenage daughters was excited to learn that her hard work had been recognised being shortlisted for ‘Best Social Media Company’ at the ‘Talk of Manchester’ awards.

Showing why she deserves to win Ann told us her top 3 tips for businesses thinking about using social media are:

1 – Choose your platforms carefully; think about where your business sits in the social media space.

2 – Set the right tone, your on-line voice should reflect the business voice that your clients hear when face to face. 

3 - Keep track of your impact.  Once your social media strategy is up and running you will want to know what impact it is having, which involves measuring what is working and what isn’t - of course changing what isn’t working

If you appreciate Ann’s tips and have enjoyed reading a bit about her journey then she would greatly appreciate your votes for best social media company. 
Voting for Talk of Manchester Awards closes Friday 31st October at 5pm so click here to vote for Ann:

Now celebrating her 3rd business birthday Ann’s advice to other women who are trying to grow their own business is “If you feel passionately about your products or services and genuinely enjoy what you do then don’t let anyone put you off”.

To find out more about the services Ann and BizWizuk offer to support businesses to succeed on social media visit and follow @bizwizuk on twitter.

If like Ann you are a woman who has built a successful business in Greater Manchester which you are now ready to expand, contact The Women’s Organisation to find out how the Venture Accelerator programme can offer you FREE advice to build a strategy for growth.  Email project manager Mike on and follow @TheWomenOrgManc on twitter. 

Monday, October 20, 2014

The Women's Organisation & LMH Show Women How to 'Sell Online'

Liverpool Mutual Homes and The Women's Organisation are linking together to offer a FREE 'Selling Online - From Ebay to Etsy' workshop to support local women to understand what's involved.  Whether as a hobby or looking at how to develop selling online into a business, this basic workshop gives an overview of different online sites.  Find out:

  • What sells best on which site
  • The guidelines for selling on sites like Etsy, Facebook and Ebay
  • How to get the best price for your items
  • Understanding your buyer
  • Understanding when a hobby becomes a business and what the implications are

Book your FREE place now for this informative event held

ON: Thursday 23rd October 12pm-3pm
AT: LMH South Office, Unit 1 Montrose Business Park, L7 9NB

Call 0151 706 8111 or email to reserve a place. 

Drop in to our #StartUpAintScary Events

Have you got ideas for business, but feel nervous about what is involved when going self-employed?

During the last week of October The Women's Organisation team will be on the road to talk to women about their business ideas and show them how they can get help to start up. Advice will be on offer to show women everything they will need to consider if setting up a business, and how to get help to understand the legalities and logistics that don't need to be scary. 

Drop in to one of the sessions listed below. 

Monday 27th October - Start-Up Ain't Scary Sefton
10am-11.30am Crosby Library
12pm-1.30pm Formby Library
2.30pm-4pm Maghull Library

Tuesday 28th October - Start-Up Ain't Scary Liverpool
9.30am-11.30am The Interesting Eating Company, Allerton
1pm-3pm Norris Green Library

Wednesday 29th October - Start-Up Ain't Scary Knowsley
10am-11.30am Huyton Costa Coffee
1pm-2.30pm Poco Coffee Shop Prescot 

Thursday 30th October - Start-Up Ain't Scary Wirral
9.30am-11.00am Wallasey Library
11.30am-1pm Rock Ferry Library
2pm-3.30pm Prenton Library

Friday 31st October - Start-Up Ain't Scary Liverpool
10am-12pm Liverpool Central Library
1-3pm The Florrie, Toxteth
1.30pm-3.30pm The Women's Organisation, 54 St James St, L1 0AB

No need to book, just pop along, or contact our team on 0151 706 8111 

The Women's Organisation are delighted to be offering support to local women with funding from RBS Inspiring Women in Enterprise. 

Friday, October 17, 2014

Start Up Ain't Scary with The Women's Organisation

October can be a spooky month, but The Women's Organisation are here to tell you this October that starting a business doesn't have to be scary! 

Taking a few simple steps when starting your business can make the whole process much less daunting.  Here are some of our top tips for taking the fear out of following your business dreams.

  1. PLAN! One of the top causes of business failure is lack of or poor business planning. Just by taking time to put together a plan of what you are hoping to achieve, identifying possible threats to your plan and being realistic about the costs can help to avoid headaches later. 
  2. GET ADVICE! Free advice is on offer, so take it! Ask your family and friends for their input, but do remember that they will always give you a slightly biased opinion.  Asking other business owners you know about their experiences is a good start, but remember that FREE professional business advice is available through The Women's Organisation. 
  3. SHOW ME THE MONEY! Beyond your own finances, there are options to help you find the money you need to start up. A £200 grant package is available for women in Merseyside through The Women's Organisation and start up loans are available for up to £10,000 through local providers.  Additional grant funding or lending options may be available to you, just finding out about them is the tricky part.  Here is where advice comes in again. 
  4. GET LEGAL! Do some research on the legalities that go with your industry.  Are their certain qualifications you will need? What type of insurance will you need? Remember to ask your adviser for help with this. Registering as self employed with HMRC is one of the biggest things that new businesses fear. It doesn't have to be scary though. It is a great thing to make your business official and simply means you will be asked to complete a form once a year to declare your earnings. If you haven't made more than the current tax threshold that year then you may not need to pay any tax at all! A free half day course is available at The Women's Organisation to help you to better understand tax and national insurance. 
  5. GET MARKETING! As soon as you have your plan in place and think you are ready to get going, start spreading the word! You can use social media as a free way to start, and look online for free networking events. 
  6. GET EXCITED! Never forget the reasons that you considered the idea of working for yourself.  Whether it be the flexibility of choosing your hours, not having a big bad boss to answer to or just pursuing something you love, be proud of yourself for your achievements along the journey. 

There are lots of things to think about when starting up, but help is available to help you, so why not ask for support. 

During the last week of October The Women's Organisation team will be on the road to talk to women about their business ideas and show them how they can get help to start up. Drop in to one of the sessions listed below. 

Monday 27th October - Start-Up Ain't Scary Sefton
10am-11.30am Crosby Library
12pm-1.30pm Formby Library
2.30pm-4pm Maghull Library

Tuesday 28th October - Start-Up Ain't Scary Liverpool
9.30am-11.30am The Interesting Eating Company, Allerton
1pm-3pm Norris Green Library

Wednesday 29th October - Start-Up Ain't Scary Knowsley
10am-11.30am Huyton Costa Coffee
1pm-2.30pm Poco Coffee Shop Prescot 

Thursday 30th October - Start-Up Ain't Scary Wirral
9.30am-11.00am Wallasey Library
11.30am-1pm Rock Ferry Library
2pm-3.30pm Prenton Library

Friday 31st October - Start-Up Ain't Scary Liverpool
10am-12pm Liverpool Central Library
1-3pm The Florrie, Toxteth
1.30pm-3.30pm The Women's Organisation, 54 St James St, L1 0AB

No need to book, just pop along, or contact our team on 0151 706 8111 

Monday, October 13, 2014

Things to Consider When Buying into a Franchise

Recent figures have shown that more and more people are choosing to become a franchise owner, with numbers increasing hugely over the last 5 years. If you are someone thinking about buying into a franchise, here are some things to consider.

Whilst becoming a franchisee is technically starting up your own business, some see it as a less daunting transition as they are buying into an already proven brand. There are many reasons why people purchase franchises. They may not be able to get a job or have been made redundant. Some have jobs but are unhappy and some simply have savings they wish to invest into something rewarding. Regardless of the circumstances, the underlying reason tends to be that they want to be in control of their own career.

If franchising is growing in popularity, there must be some benefits right? Of course there are! Both for the franchisor and the franchisee.

The fee’s that you pay to the franchisor allows them to expand on their own business, as well as fork out for further marketing and promotion.

As a franchisee, you will benefit from working with an established brand that is ready to share its experience with you. Taking the name of a ready-made brand can offer instant recognition dependant on the scale of the core business. If it is well known, business will come in much more quickly.

However, the brand is only part of it. You should always find out exactly what support is offered as part of the deal. Many franchisors offer support with the initial structuring of your business and marketing support.

It’s important to remember that all franchisors are different, but they are all in a position where they should be able to offer some support to franchisees as they have been in the same situation before. When buying into a franchise, it is crucial to know what support is available so here are some questions you may want to ask:

  • What help will be available to guide you through all the aspects of your new business?
  • What processes are in place and how can these help franchisees adapt to operating procedures?
  • In order to market the business, does the franchisor deliver any online marketing or public relations support?

As well as the support that the franchisor will offer, there is extra support available from external organisations. If you are considering buying a franchise, The Women’s Organisation’s free business start-up programme is an extra avenue of support to access, to give your new franchise the best chance of success. For more information, visit or contact us directly on 0151 706 8111 /

By Beckie Kinsella

Monday, October 6, 2014

The Women's Organisation Named Digital Champions @SENTogether Awards!

"Being short listed for an award is a great privilege. We were thankful for that. We are over the moon and still in shock that we actually went on to win!" said Jo Austin Digital Marketing Coordinator at The Women's Organisation in the wake of their victory at SEN 'Powerful Together' Awards.

The Women's Organisation were among a number of local social enterprises nominated as Digital Champions at the prestigious event held at the Town Hall, and were shortlisted alongside Sandbox Digital. 

The organisation have worked hard to build digital inclusion not only into their support programmes, but throughout their staff development and everything they do.

Through The Women's Organisation's business start-up programme women are invited to take advantage of free training around 'Selling Online - From Ebay to Etsy', shown how to use Excel for 'Basic Book Keeping' and introduced to the idea of using Social Media for business with 'Building a Social Media Strategy'.  Upon launch of their business they are invited to further build their confidence through master classes on Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, Mailchimp, Hootsuite and Blogging. 

Jo said "Digital literacy is crucial for businesses.  The fear of social media and online trading can be a massive barrier for people.  We have worked hard over the last few years to develop a full training programme to show people that e-marketing, social media and ICT practices don't have to be terrifying and complicated."

Maggie O'Carroll, Helen Millne &
Jo Austin collecting their award
And removing the fear of digital doesn't just translate to the clients of The Women's Organisation. Jo and team have been regularly supporting the staff at the organisation to grow in digital confidence and they now are awarding 'Social Media Star of the Week' for the member of staff who has boldly put some of their new found digital courage into practice. 

"From our front of house admin team right through to senior management, everyone is working to keep developing their skills so we can all be confident ambassadors of digital practices, and in turn offer brilliant support to the women who approach us for help" said Jo.

Over the last few years The Women's Organisation's digital reach has gone international, as they worked alongside partners from Slovenia, Ireland and Norway to develop a range of training modules through 'E-Business Enterprise Learning' (E-BEL) Project. Through E-BEL The Women's Organisation took the lead on developing a number of training resources and webinars that can be used by women entrepreneurs across the world to develop their e-marketing skills and understand key principles of Social Media Marketing.

The Social Enterprise Network's Awards event held on Friday 3rd October and gave recognition to the amazing work carried out by local Social Enterprises with 16 awards being presented on the night.  Host Paul Corcoran of Agent Marketing told the audience they were at the "best party in town" and the rapturous applause showed they were in complete agreement. 

The Women's Organisation would like to thank Social Enterprise Network for this award and their ongoing encouragement. 

To find out more about the work of The Women's Organisation and why they are 'Digital Champions' please visit 

Friday, October 3, 2014

Hester Cox’s Business is Cruising Along Nicely with the Addition of a Second Boat to Star Narrowboat Holidays

Many people work from home, but successful business woman Hester Cox decided to take that one step further by turning her home into a business.

Credit: Jessica Lang Photography
A 57ft narrowboat called Gloria was home for Hester but with growing frustration of often being mis-managed and undervalued, and a long term desire to run her own business, she realised to set it up as a holiday hire boat was a reasonably low cost, low risk way to start-up.

‘I have always had an inkling to run my own business, often I would see how businesses were run and I thought why are they doing it like that? I would do it like this. So coupled with the want to be in control of my own work, career, day to day life, as well as realise my own ideas, I got started with my own business.’

Star Narrowboat Holidays offers excellent quality and reasonably priced canal boat hire. Now with 2 lovely boats to choose from, Gloria and Queenie, Hester and her business aim to create a memorable experience to all who stay aboard.

Bridgewater Marina at Sunset
Based at the Bridgewater Marina just outside of Manchester City Centre, near Manchester Airport, it is a perfect location for people across the UK and abroad. The marina offers a rural retreat that often feels like it is a world away from city life.

Since setting her sails in 2012, the business has been hugely successful which has allowed for the purchase of a second boat and further growth. It is now at the point that people are having to be turned away because the dates wanted are already booked and the boats are receiving excellent reviews from guests.

‘I feel proud of my efforts so far, I have the press coming to me asking if they can include my business in their latest article or review which is amazing. I have learnt so much about business, decision making and myself.’

‘I like that it has given me so much more confidence, I love that I am in control of my own life, and I love it when my hirer's cruise into the marina on return from their holiday and I can see in their faces that they have loved their time aboard. That’s when I know I’m doing my business well.’

In the beginning, many people questioned what Hester was trying to do and didn’t believe it would work. However, now with 2 boats, her business is sailing along nicely.

Hester believes part of this success is down to surrounding herself with a network of strong business women, via The Women’s Organisation’s Business Club. This helped to balance the negativity received by the people who doubted she could achieve a successful business.

‘I was nervous to attend my first business club event, but felt quite at ease and cared for afterwards because The Women’s Organisation staff and other business women in the club are relaxed and helpful. I came away buzzing and feeling far less isolated than I did to begin with.’

She continued: ‘Their support is invaluable and has saved me hundreds of pounds. I have received on-going business support from The Women’s Organisation, it has been really useful. They have helped me decide what direction to take and allowed me to identify my strengths and weaknesses to move forward. Ruth gives me business advice sessions in my caravan, the one I bought to use as my office, it really helps to have someone connected to the organisation that has seen behind the scenes of my business. ’

If you would like to know more about what Star Narrowboats has to offer, the website has all the details, including more lovely pictures and specifics of each boat – and if you fancy having a look in person,  Hester is happy to give a personal tour.

And if you would like to gain support to grow your own business, you can speak to The Women's Organisation about the help available via 0151 706 8111 / or visit for more information.