Friday, April 29, 2016

Should I Open a Business Bank Account? Advice from an Expert

While it may be tempting to start your new business venture without a bank account dedicated to your business activity, this might not be the smartest choice. As your business grows and expands, it’s extremely important to separate your business finances from your personal day-to-day living.

New start-ups and part time business owners have a habit of co-mingling their finances with their personal money, and while it may seem to be the easiest, most convenient and cheapest way of operating, it can have its drawbacks – especially further down the line. 

Many people already in business will vouch that keeping your business spending completely separate to your personal account ensures better manageability. While many of the business current accounts available charge you for their services, there are others that waiver the charge for the first 2 years, and some will as long as you pay in more than a certain amount each month. Make sure that you shop around for the best options to take advantage of the best deals – don’t assume that your personal banking provider will be the smartest choice for business use. 

If you’re still convinced that incorporating your business finances with your personal money is a good idea, here are 3 reasons why you may want to think again.

1.The concept of a hobby business
It can be extremely difficult to prove to the government that you are trying to run a legitimate business if your finances don’t reflect this. It’s a rule that only true businesses can deduct business expenses – running your business with your personal account may seem as though it’s more of a hobby business (i.e. not-for-profit) and you may have to prove otherwise.

2. The time of the tax return
Trying to get your taxes in order can be a pain at the best of times, let alone when you’re trying to navigate your way through your personal finance statements to find the business-related expenses. Personal transactions have to remain completely separate from business ones, which is bound to be more complicated if you’ve combined them.
It would be easy to miss deductions if you’re searching through your personal current account. Whether it’s you or an accountant completing your tax return, tidier, well-kept records will ensure that you can claim back every penny you are entitled to. If you operate from a separate business account, you’ll be able to provide a clear audit trail too.

3. Professionalism
If your business operates from its own separate business account you will be demonstrating a level of professionalism too – definitely a plus point when working with clients and attracting new business.

By shopping around for the best deal, you shouldn’t have to worry about spending extra each month on an account that isn’t completely suitable. Remember, your business is a business, no matter how big it is, and treating it as such will give it the best chance of flourishing.  To make the most of your free banking period and to ensure you are getting the best deal for you it is worth seeking advice while you are in the planning stages of your new business.

If you are living in the Liverpool City Region (Liverpool, Knowsley, Wirral, Sefton, St Helens or Halton) and thinking about setting up a business, you may be eligible for additional FREE advice and support through Enterprise Hub.  Get in touch with our team on 0151 706 8113 or to find out more.

by Enterprise Enabler Ali McGrath 

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

DIGA Partners Meet in Maribor

Last week some of The Women's Organisation team headed to Maribor in Slovenia as part of the DIGA Project. DIGA brings together expertise from organisations in UK, Ireland, Slovenia, Norway, Bulgaria, Lithuania and Spain to develop an innovative ICT and digital training programme for staff delivering vocational education and training in the fields of entrepreneurship and business development.

The purpose of the meeting in Maribor was to deliver a knowledge transfer workshop to ensure programme delivery staff from each partner organisation have a shared understanding of the draft programmes and resources available so far. The DIGA collective also shared trainer case study examples for final evaluation report and the essential messages and stakeholders to be targeted for dissemination in the next six months including a Brussels multiplier event. Following the progress of the meeting a pilot of the training will now go ahead early summer 2016 to test the learning and development so far achieved on the project. 

Operations Manager for The Women's Organisation Laura Anderson felt the visit to Maribor was great for the learning of the team particularly for "personal learning, expanding our knowledge of new online tools such as Google Garage".

Laura went on to say the highlight of the trip for her was "Sharing knowledge and expertise" and said of the transnational meetings as a whole "I always come away with some interesting facts or programmes I had never heard of and come away thinking I will look into that further once home. As well as knowledge its also really nice to build relationships with external partners."

From the photos taken it also looks like sampling the local cuisine was a big plus of the visit! (The way to our hearts is definitely through our stomachs).

We'd like to thank our partners from Economic Institute of Maribor, Human Resource Development Centre for their hospitality and we look forward to catching up following the delivery of the pilots. 

For more information on the DIGA project including latest news and findings please visit 

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

54 St James Street Tenant of the Month - Bold Online Marketing

So, Tenant of the Month is back! Each month we will be publishing an interview with one of our lovely tenants in the building, asking them what they like about the building and finding out what their business is all about!

So far we have spoken to Siren, Dobson Welch, Barrette, and  A Quiet Place! And this month we sat down with Bold Online Marketing! 

So here's what our lovely tenant had to say!

What is your business name and what do you do?

Bold Online Marketing is a Digital Marketing agency who specialise in Web design, development, strategy and branding along with things like SEO, Email Marketing and Social Marketing etc. Our team is continuing to grow and between us we have over 40 years experience in the industry. We thrive on meeting new people and businesses and helping them achieve their aims whether that’s launching a brand new product or service, redesigning their websites or setting up a marketing campaign to engage with their audiences. 

What did you do prior to setting up your own business?

Our MD has been in IT for over 25 years and worked for Computer Sciences Corporation as one of their European Directors.

What made you decide to set up in business?

We wanted to be more in control of delivering a service to clients. Especially working with SME’s providing the same level of innovation, service and quality that the large corporates take for granted

Where have you been working from previously?

We were in a Regus office space in Liverpool.

What made you decide to move to 54 St James Street?

Love the building, its facilities (Siren is fab) but especially the great team at the Women’s Organisation. We feel part of something exciting with great support, advice and friendship always on hand.

54 James Street is an ideal location for Bold. Not only does it hold a variety of businesses within the building but the support it provides to women is something we are truly passionate about and are keen to help with as a business. 

Start up business is something we specialise in and we want to help those wanting to launch their businesses by offering them an affordable digital marketing service that they can use to kick start their business into success.

Judith O'Brien, Managing Director of Bold Online Marketing

How have you been working with The Women’s Organisation?

Bold has the same values as The Women’s Organisation so we try to work with them as much as we can. We regularly attend panel sessions at their fantastic networking events and we also offer advice for those starting their own businesses. Not only that but we have also had the opportunity to design some of the women’s organisations signage, so if you do come to the building then you may walk past one of our designs!

What is it that you like the most about 54 St James Street?

What’s not to like about 54 James Street? The building itself is beautiful, the mirrored exterior, the views off the balcony and Siren the cafe and one of our clients has food to die for! Try the halloumi wrap it’s the best.

Did we mention how fantastic the team are as well!!!

Find out more about Bold by checking out their website, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter!

Bold have also just launched their brand new BOOST package for businesses, so be sure to find out all about that too! 

The #IAmEnterprising Competition Comes To A Finale And We Have A Winner!

Wow! What an exciting 6 months we’ve had with the second annual #IAmEnterprising competition and last week marked the final hurdle – The Championship Finale! Our City of Liverpool College students had been building up to this all important day for weeks and weeks and finally it was upon them!

The 7 students in the final were Matt Lawson with Matt Lawson Bass, Francezka and Gabriella Bell with Choux Box Bakery, Vladislav Siksnian with his Liverpool Baltic Community Centre, Lauren Woodcock and her online business, Calamity LOL, Paul Simonsen and Furniture from Design, Kath Heavyside and Wellness with Kath and Lisa Stambuli as Lisa Stambuli Photography.

This year the #IAmEnterprising Championship Finale was held at The Women’s Organisation HQ, 54 St James Street in the Baltic Triangle. Our seven finalists were invited here to pitch their ideas in a presentation to our competition judges. 

The difficult task of judging was down to Donal Bannon, partners of headline sponsors of the competition, Morecrofts Solicitors, Jackie Williams, Enterprise Director at The Women’s Organisation, David Melvin, Relationship Manager at Natwest Bank and Joanne Austin, Digital Marketing and Engagement Coordinator at The Women’s Organisation.

The finalists had previously all attended our #IAmEnterprising Business Bootcamp back in March where they spent a full day working with a team of business experts on their business plans, looking at marketing, market research, financial forecasting and pitching, so they were all fully prepared to give great presentations to our four judges!

The day flew by as our nervous finalists waited for their turn to pitch their businesses and tell the judges why their idea was worthy of the £3000 prize package! Each finalist had 10 minutes to speak about their idea in whichever format they liked and were then grilled by the judges in a question and answer session! We couldn’t believe the incredibly high standard of these presentations, it was clear that the students knew their businesses inside and out and were prepared to tell the judges why they should be the winner!

But of course, there can only be one winner! So once the finalists had finished their presentations it was time for the judges to deliberate, all marking and decisions were made using a strict matrix style approach to ensure fairness and transparency, but even so, the decision was a difficult one to make with sure close competition.

As the students were called back into the presentation room to hear the results, the tension was palpable. Donal Bannon and Jackie Williams made the announcement. The winner of #IAmEnterprising 2016 was crowned…Matt Lawton of Matt Lawton Bass!

Matt’s idea was to develop a website providing lessons to those wanting to learn bass guitar through courses, eBooks and other resources. He gave a great presentation and had a clear business plan which he conveyed extremely well!

Matt told us: ‘I am delighted to have won #IAmEnterprising! Going through this process made me sit down and actually think about how my online following could convert into a business model. I actually said to my girlfriend, even if I didn’t win the competition that I should do this anyway. It was the first time, I’d actually sat down and wrote a Business Plan and thought about 12 month financial projection. I’ve spent a lot of time over the years being involved in music and learning about the industry, winning this competition is hopefully going to help me develop a successful and profitable business.  

Runners-Up were also awarded a £100 cash prize and the runners up were; Gabriella and Francezka Bell of Choux Box Bakery, Lauren Woodcock with Calamity LOL and Paul Simonsen with ‘Furniture from Design’

It was a tough day for the finalists, but we know that they all got something out of the process, whether that be experience of pitching, getting to know their business idea better or receiving help and support from business experts along the way.

Donal Bannon, Partner at Morecrofts Solicitors who are the headline sponsors of the competition said; ‘I do hope that all the finalists, particularly those who did not win the prize, will not be discouraged from pursuing their business ideas; after all Alan Sugar and Richard Branson both started their businesses working from home and they didn’t win any prizes!’

All of the finalists in the #IAmEnterprising Competition will continue to be supported by The Women’s Organisation and City of Liverpool College’s Enterprise Club to continue with their dreams of launching their businesses.

The #IAmEnterprising Team would like to say a big thank you to all of the finalists of the competition, our fantastic judges and our sponsors and partners; Morecrofts, City of Liverpool College, Bold Online Marketing, Pink Media Ltd and Lewis Evans Accountancy for their support throughout the competition!

Friday, April 22, 2016

Business Club Member Lucy Byrne Brings Back Liverpool Art Fair For It's Fifth Year!

The fifth annual Liverpool Art Fair will take place from 29th April – 2nd May at The Gallery Liverpool in the city’s creative hub the Baltic Triangle, showcasing the work of over 60 artists based within a 25 mile radius of the city. Liverpool Art Fair is an open submission, selling showcase, designed to provide a public platform for the region’s artistic talent and give the public access to high quality, affordable art.

Liverpool Art Fair is free to visit and takes place over the early May bank holiday weekend, aiming to showcase a wide range of affordable original art, break down barriers and develop the art market in the city region. It provides a unique insight into the area's creative talent and offers the opportunity for everyone, from seasoned collector to first time art buyer, to own their own piece of the Liverpool art world.

Earlier in the year an open call was put out to artists based in the region to submit their work and take part in this exciting event. 

Organiser Lucy Byrne said: “We had a record number of works submitted for inclusion in this year’s fair so our selection panel had to make some really tough decisions. We have ended up with a fantastic selection of works, not only covering a wide range of media and price levels, but also from very established artists as well as those just starting out on their careers.”

Panel member Angela Samata, freelance arts professional and former project manager, John Moores Painting Prize, added: “It is always an enjoyable but difficult task to select the work to be included in Liverpool Art Fair and this year was no exception. The panel were excited to discover some fantastic new talent who we hope will find a new audience for their work and I’m really looking forward to seeing all the selected work come together for the

Liverpool Art Fair 2016 will be open to the public 11am-6pm from 29th April – 2nd May, at The Gallery, Liverpool, Stanhope Street, L8 5RE and is free to visit. The popular “Under £200” section will return, and as always all work will be for sale under £2000.

More info here!

Baltic Schmooze Takes Over 54 St James Street Next Week

If you live, work or frequent The Baltic Triangle and haven’t heard of Baltic Schmooze, have you been living under a rock for the past six months? Worry not, we’re here to tell you all about it and the exciting event that is happening next week right here in our own HQ – 54 St James Street.

Baltic Schmooze in its own words is…

‘Creative. Industrious. Pioneering. The Baltic Triangle, home to Liverpool’s emerging cluster of creative and digital industries, start-ups and entrepreneurs. Schmooze is the Baltic’s new quarterly networking event which aims to join up the dots and bring the community together to foster collaboration and become a catalyst for business.’

Thursday 28th April makes the third Baltic Schmooze networking event, and it will be held here at 54 St James Street in the lovely Siren CafĂ©, it’s free to come along and network and you can register your spot over on Eventbrite!

And what’s going to be going on…

‘It’s all about branding! – Meet the brains behind two pioneering visual businesses based in the Baltic Triangle. Schmooze welcomed Independent Liverpool and Black & Ginger to give an exclusive insight on how they got to where they are today and their plans for the future. As always, there will be extra time for Schmoozing with folk from the inside and beyond the Baltic Triangle.

So, what are you waiting for! Register here and we’ll see you next Thursday, at 5pm (Talks start at 6) for some schmoozing…

Schmooze is supported by Baltic Triangle business hubs – Elevator Studios, Ninety Squared CIC, Baltic Creative CIC, Wordscapes, 54 St James Street and The Women’s Organisation

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Lorraine Bedwell Took The Road Less Travelled When It Came To Starting Her Own Business; ChuseMe CV

Do you have a business mantra that you live by? A few words or pearls of wisdom that stick with you through the thick and thin of running your own business? Or was there ever a time when you heard a mantra or saying and it applied to your exact situation, just when you needed it?

For Lorraine Bedwell, this is exactly what happened when she was weighing up her options to take the leap and dive into self-employment. Lorraine now is the Director of ChuseMe CV which offers CV writing, interview coaching services and CV templates. Lorraine says; ‘Finding a job can be daunting and we are here to help you along the way. With 14 years professional recruitment experience, we are well positioned to help you with your job search.’

Previous to starting her own business, Lorraine was a Senior Sales Manager for a recruitment company, but says she was always wanted to start her own business, and felt she had gone as far as she could with her previous role. Once she had decided to start her own business, this was where the real decisions had to be made.

‘It was difficult to begin with because I was tempted to continue with what I know and start an educational recruitment business. However, I knew there were constant changes within education and I didn’t want to make any hasty decisions. I decided to take my time and consider the pros and cons and also look at alternatives, giving myself 3 months to make a decision.

It was within that time I began to explore recruitment avenues and look for inspiration. I also revisited many of the entrepreneurial books that have inspired by over the years. As my three month deadline approached, I thought about a piece of advice that James Caan’s Father gave to him. It was;

“Observe the masses: Do the opposite”

And suddenly, things began to drop into place for Lorraine as she thought about this little mantra; ‘I decided then to do something different. Rather than focus on the client side of recruitment, I wanted to focus on the candidate side” – And ChuseMe CV was born….

Once she had made this decision, the ball was rolling and Lorraine got in touch with The Women’s Organisation, taking full advantage of our range of training courses and also pairing up with Senior Business Adviser; John Jones. ‘The Women’s Organisation has been really great for giving me a greater understanding of things like Accountancy and Social Media for business. John has been particularly helpful, he’s given me lots of useful information and has been readily available to answer any questions I’ve had!’

But as with all new businesses, there has been a lot of new skills that Lorraine has had to get stuck into! And not all of these are easy! Lorraine told us that the most daunting aspect to setting up her own business was getting to grips with all the things she didn’t have any previous experience of like Accounts, Website and Social Media Marketing. But with help from The Women’s Organisation, Lorraine is building up her skills as her business launches and grows.

‘ChuseMe CV is going really well so far. Right now it’s in its embryonic stage! The website has just gone live and I have been spending lots of time setting up Social Media and trying to get to grips with the website and creating content’

‘Running my own business is great. It’s about the excitement of creating something new, the extraordinary learning curve and the new people that I get to meet!’

And what does the future of ChuseMe CV hold? Well Lorraine has some big plans in the pipeline for the business! She intends for ChuseMe CV to be the ultimate one stop shop for graduates seeking employment. ‘Right now I’m really keen to speak to employers that offer student employment internships or graduate vacancies. We’re going to have a section of the website called Featured Employers page where people can go and find out more about employers. There wouldn’t be a charge to employers so it would be great to hear from anyone with graduate vacancies!’

So there you have it! How those 6 little words sparked something in Lorraine Bedwell and helped her make the decision to take the road less travelled when it came to her journey into self-employment!

If you would like to find out more about Lorraine and ChuseMe CV then head over to their website here or you can also email at

And if you’ve been inspired by Lorraine’s story and are thinking about starting up your own business, then get in touch with The Women’s Organisation for advice, support and training! You could access FREE support to get started through our Enterprise Hub programme.  Email or ring us on 0151 706 8111

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

The Women’s Organisation Business Club Met The Media At Last Week’s Event!

Wow! we are only just recovering from last Thursday’s fantastic Business Club event, Meet the Media. We had over 50 business women join us at 54 St James Street for this annual event. The evening was sponsored generously by Skyline (IT Answers) who spoke about their cloud based software and also raffled off a Kindle to a lucky guest!

On the night we had our expert media panel from radio, television, newspaper and PR join us and our guests were prepared to give them a grilling on how to get their businesses noticed by the media. On our panel was Tony McDonough from Liverpool Echo, Jennie Lewis from YB News & PR,Jimmy McCracken from BBC Radio Merseyside and Louise Martin a Political Journalist who is currently working with The One Show.

With such a fantastic panel, it was great our Business Club members and other guests take this great opportunity to ask them questions and we heard from so many different businesses. Our panel were invited to speak for a few minutes at the start of the evening about their tips for how to get their businesses noticed by the media and what kind of stories would make them take notice!

From tips such as making sure to put your press release in the body of the email, to knowing the name of the person you want to speak to you before you ring a Press Office, there were so many insider hints and secrets that our guests got to take away with them and will use in the future to help their businesses meet the media. And the feedback that we got from the event showed just how much it was enjoyed;

‘Fab! Such a great insight, given me a new perspective. Thank you’

‘Very informative! A great panel and some actionable advice’

‘Brilliant tips and hints for direct contact with the media’

‘Welcoming and informative’

‘I loved hearing all the stories. It was like being in my own personal newspaper. Really good event’

We’d like to thank everyone who came down to the event, and we know that so many of the business woman present got lots out of the evening as they stood up and introduced their business to the panel. Great connections were made and we are sure that the national news is going to be filled with stories that the panel got to hear on the night!

Be sure to keep an eye on our Facebook page as we will be posting the fantastic photos from the evening as we were also joined by photographer Paul Waring from Humble Pie Creative who documented the evening, making it feel very media-esque indeed!

Once again, thank you to the event sponsors Skyline for the great support of the evening, and also thank you to Business Club’s headline sponsors Mitchell Charlesworth. We’d like to thank our fantastic panel who we couldn’t have done without, our event photographers and everyone who joined us for 2016’s Meet the Media!

Monday, April 18, 2016

Writing on the Wall Takes Over May 2016 With A Festival Line-Up Full Of Inspiring Women!

Established in 2000, Writing on the Wall is part of the National Arts Portfolio and is the longest standing literature festival in Liverpool and is an important part of the cultural landscape of the North West. Writing on the Wall will be celebrating its 17th festival which will run for the whole of May and typically hosts around 35 events. WoW Fest 2016 hosts local, national and international writers, performers, artists and commentators whose work provokes controversy and debate. We are unique in that we provide the opportunity to both high profile national and international guests as well as local talent and communities to promote and share their own writing, art and talent.

This year, Writing on the Wall’s Festival Line-Up looks out of this world! In keeping with their theme of exploring the future, past and present. We’ve spoken to WoW Fest and got the low down on what their events focusing on women, their lives and their journeys, with some very special guests!

Packing a powerful poetic punch with the return to Liverpool of the pioneer of Dub poetry, Linton Kwesi Johnson, performing together for the first time with rising star Holly McNish, the first poet to record at Abbey Road Studios and 2013 UK Slam championship winner. Hosted by the inimitable Levi Tafari.

2015 was described as the year transgender went ‘mainstream’; the popularity of drag performance has risen and the silence around intersex broken. Queen of Teen and multi award-winning author, Juno Dawson, formerly James, award-winning author, Abigail Tartellin (Golden Boy), and The Vivienne, Liverpool’s own UK Ambassador for Ru Paul’s Drag Race, discuss gender identity today, asking the question: mainstream or minority?

What is this thing that we call sci-fi? Where did it come from, why do people read it, and who writes it? Andy Sawyer, librarian, Science Fiction Foundation Collection, Liverpool University Library, and multiple award-winning sf writer Pat Cadigan will point to some of the treasures of the collection to explore their place in the history of sci-fi. What does this history mean?

Join Isy Suttie, award-winning Peep Show actress, comedian, writer and songwriter for her brilliantly funny new show about that moment in your late 20’s when you suddenly realise that all your mates are growing up without you. Expect quirky songs, readings and laugh-out-loud comedy.

Who writes what matters? In music media, women face sexism and underrepresentation - male voices still make up the majority of white noise. Laura Snapes, contributing editor at Pitchfork & NME, and a panel of the finest feminist brains from the regions’ music media, tackle these mis - and under-representations. Ft. live performances from riot grrrl art poppers Pink Kink.

Tim ‘Teething’ Wells, Salena Godden and Ginger John bring Ranting poetry to WoW. Accessible, protesting, diverse, political, working-class, funny yet deadly serious, Ranting poetry is the vibrant precursor of today’s spoken word scene. It's for the people, by the people. Blue Saint and WoW’s Young Writers Alia Boquash & Amina Atiq.

In a world where beauty is centric, what the hell do you do if you’re, gasp ... DISABLED? Award-winning and wonderfully ‘wobbly’ comedian, writer and actress Francesca Martinez (Grange Hill, Extras) invites you to answer one of life’s great questions ‘what the **** is normal?’ A night not be missed!

Refugees, red doors and wristbands: is this penchant for labelling survivors an echo of a darker past? Join exiled Syrian poet Maram Al-Masri, academic Linda McDowell CBE, Gambian exiled journalist Pa Modou Bojang to explore personal experiences and the western political/social response to the current refugee crisis.

And there’s so much more too! Visit the Writing on the Wall Festival website to see the whole programme of events…Now we can’t wait for May!

Friday, April 15, 2016

Looking To Raise Finance? Join Wirral Chamber of Commerce For Their Start-Up Loan Workshop!

Would some start up advice and funding help kick start your new business or help you shape that business idea you have always wanted to pursue?

If the answer is YES! Come along to Wirral Chamber of Commerce's workshop on Thursday 28th April at The Lauries Centre, 142 Claughton Road, Birkenhead CH41 6EY between 9.30 am and 4.30 pm.

Whether you want feedback on your business plan or would like to run through some numbers in your financial forecast, their team of experienced Business Advisors are waiting to help you. Just bring along your draft business plan, draft financials and any other information you have. You can do this!

Call in and meet with them between 9.30 am and 4.30 pm. If you have anything specific you’d like to discuss, then please email them to arrange an appointment

At the session they will also go through a StartUp Loan as a funding option. Wirral Chamber are proud to be a delivery agent for Virgin StartUp in and around Wirral and the Liverpool City Region.  Virgin Start Up are a delivery partner on the government’s Start Up Loan Scheme which provide advice, funding and mentoring to aspiring and trading entrepreneurs.

A Teacher, Then Bookkeeper, Now A Coffee Shop Owner – Samantha Carney’s Journey Into Self-Employment

What exactly do a Barber Shop and a Coffee Shop have in common? You’d be forgiven for thinking not very much! But, on County Road, Liverpool – they share the same space! At Sweeps Coffee House the building is shared with Sweeps Barbers and it seems it’s a match made in heaven! Owner of Sweeps, Samantha Carney spoke to The Women’s Organisation about her journey into self-employment and what Sweeps is all about!

Samantha told us; ‘I’m a Mum of two, and I’ve lived in North Liverpool all of my life. After leaving school with bad exam results, I got a job in Lewis’s Coffee Shop where I worked for a few years.’ Later in life Samantha decided to take the big step and return to school to get the A Level results that she had always wanted and continue on with education by enrolling in University as a mature student. ‘I went onto University and completed my degree whilst also working part-time’ It was all worth it at the end as Samantha graduated with a First Class honours degree and embarked on what would make up a large part of her working life…A ten year teaching career.

‘I spent over ten years working as an early years teacher in schools across Liverpool and it was great! Then in 2013 I left teaching and with the help of The Women’s Organisation I set up my first business as a bookkeeper in 2014.’

Samantha still works on a part time basis as a bookkeeper supporting Sole Traders with their accounting and self-assessment, but a lot of her time is now based around Sweeps which opened in February of this year. Samantha says; ‘In 2015 I was approached by a friend and local business owner, John May who owns Sweeps Barber Shop and he suggested that we go into partnership to open a Coffee Shop in the unit that adjoins the barbers.’ And so they did, and what a success it has been.

Sweeps Coffee House
The one and only Independent Liverpool in their interview with John May described it as ‘An elegant 1920’s styled coffee house that will hit you right in your sweet tooth. Freshly roasted coffee, loose leaf teas and treats – a place to grab a coffee before getting our ears lowered.’ In February 2016 when Sweeps had their grand opening, they knew it was going to be a great success with so many people joining them and launching their business with Leanne Campbell Power of Radio City and Boxing Champions, The Smith Brothers cutting their red ribbon. Now employing five staff and having built good links with local independent suppliers like Joe Black Coffee, it seems like Sweeps Coffee House is right at home on County Road.

Sweep Coffee House Opening
With the seemingly relentless influx on coffee shops and restaurants in the city centre of Liverpool, we think it’s great that new places are opening outside of the square mile of L1 
and Samantha thinks the same! ‘I love owning a business in North Liverpool, this is the area I grew up in and I am proud to have a business in the area. The area has had its problems over the last few years but there is a strong group of local business owners trying their best to regenerate the area, to support each other and to bring new business to the area.’

Sweeps Coffee House Opening
In terms of support, Samantha of course received support from The Women’s Organisation, both when setting up her bookkeeping business and when starting Sweeps. She told us; ‘The support I received from The Women’s Organisation has been invaluable. When I initially set up my bookkeeping practice I was given 12 hours of support including one to one sessions, courses and help with business planning. And when I was starting Sweeps, the advisors at The Women’s Organisation were again always on hand with advice, signposting me in the right direction of funding, helping with business planning and answering my questions.’

So what has been Samantha’s key to success? ‘I would say definitely team work. John and I work really well together. We both have our strengths and weaknesses, but our different skills complement each other. I’ve learnt so many new skills from Sweeps from food hygiene qualifications to payroll. Every day brings something new and it’s been a huge learning curve.’

If you want to find out more about Sweeps Coffee House and barbers, there is a great interview with them on the Independent Liverpool blog, or you can visit their Facebook page here! Sweeps is located on County Road in Liverpool, so pop over and say hello!

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Cyberfrog Sue & Liverpool Girl Geeks Chelsea Inspire Women's Business Start-Up Conference

This week saw the return of our 'Women's Business Start-up Conference', and we were counting ourselves lucky to have twisted the arm of the fab Sue Flannery from Cyberfog Design and the lovely Chelsea Slater from Liverpool Girls Geeks to join us. 

Both Sue and Chelsea shared their story of how they got started in business, the things they have learned along the way, and what they would advise other women to think about if starting a business.

Sue Flannery Cyberfrog
Sue Flannery speaks

Sue Flannery who built her business from starting it as a part time activity on the side of her other 'day job' to a full time thriving business that has expanded and now has a full team kicked off with her tips:

  • "Learn how to say no" so important to avoid getting busy with lots of things that are not productive.
  • "Protect the quality" Sue talked about protecting your product by not under selling, over working, losing sight if what your business is about
  • "Build a network" admitting self-employment can get lonely if you don't build a strong network around you
  • "Step back regularly and look at the business" saying how working on your business not always in your business is important for growth.

Sue admitted she still worries that she will be "caught out", facing that imposter syndrome that so many women feel when running their own business.  But the women attending could certainly see that this inspiring woman is far from an imposter, and actually a very powerful woman in business. 

Liverpool Girl Geeks Chelsea Slater who has also recently launched herself as a freelancer in the digital marketing sphere was very clear about her key lessons:

Chelsea Slater Liverpool Girl Geeks
Chelsea Slater sharing her story

  • "Don't let people get in your way" - so many people can discourage you or you can worry about others when taking a leap for yourself
  • "You will have down days" and it is important to know that and learn how to pick yourself up in those moments
  • "Learn how to quit". Chelsea explained how it is important to know when to quit and how you have the power to change your work situation if you are not happy. She talked about finding the "room to make change" rather than just accepting things the way they are.
  • "Think about you" find time for work life balance. 

Jo Austin from The Women's Organisation rounded up with some workshop activities to help the women attending to work out if self-employment is really for them, and let them know that FREE support is available for those in Merseyside who are starting a new business through Enterprise Hub.

The women went away buzzing with ideas and inspiration.  Just some of the feedback from the morning was:

"Really great morning. Lots of inspiration and dissipation of barriers. Thank you"
"It was a great session.  Time flew by, really enjoyed it. Thank you"
"Hearing from Sue and Chelsea was very inspirational"
"The informal down to earth atmosphere created helped me to feel welcome and believe that I could be a part of what The Women's Organisation has to offer"
"Thoroughly enjoyed the session and look forward to facing the fear and move forward with ideas/plans"
"Meeting Sue and Chelsea was great, to hear two different points from someone just starting to someone who has established a business"
"Useful event.  I will definitely recommend"
"I thought Sue's presentation was very empowering and encouraging"
"Very good course - will look forward to further contact with the organisation."
"Very good event, always something new to learn"
"Very enjoyable, lots of food for thought"
"A BIG THANK YOU for such a positive session!"
"Really useful and informative morning"
One woman took away that "Fear is natural, but it should not control my actions or stop me from pursuing my goals", and another said she most benefited from "Knowing that other women feel like how I feel".

We would like to offer a big THANK YOU to Sue and Chelsea for their contribution and to all the women who came along and made it a great morning.  We look forward to seeing how your business progresses.

If you missed this event, but are thinking of starting a business and would like to take advantage of the free support on offer via the Enterprise Hub programme, contact the team on 0151 706 8113 or