Monday, June 24, 2019

'Just Get Started!' - Social Media Experts Share Tips and Stories on Boosting Online Followers!

It’s reported that 3.2 billion people use social media, making it clear to see that if you want to get your voice heard, you should probably be online. With that in mind, we rounded up some of Merseyside’s most savvy social media users to come and share their tips on how to get ahead and start building a following online. 

Hosted by The Women's Organisations Training Co-ordinator, Bernie Cox, our panellists included; Head of Communications at Sefton Council, Nicky Speed, Producer and presenter, Ben Osu and Founder of multi award winning blog 'Mini Travellers', Karen Beddow. With the room full of people ready to start conquering the world of online communication, we eased our panellists in with the question on everyone’s mind.

“Do I have to be on every social media platform to reach my audience?”

In short, the answer was no with all panellists in agreement that it's more important to focus on finding out what social media platform is going to work for you and your business, from here you will be able to find where your audience are. For anyone unsure about what platforms to try first, Karen had a top tip

“Even if you don’t know if you’ll use that platform, I would still go on to register your username. If you decide to use it in the future, you will have an official username that everyone can recognise you by”

Successfully campaigning to bring the MOBO awards to Liverpool in 2010 and again in 2012, Ben shared some of his insights on how to make a campaign work.

“I worked tirelessly, constantly calling promotors” 

He spoke about social media playing a key element in his campaign

 “Social media can really compliment the work you’re doing. When I started campaigning, I used Facebook groups to get an audience together. At the end of the day, it’s all about engaging content. Once you got that in place, the audience will start to build itself”

At the heart of the Sefton Borough, Nicky spoke about how the community spirit influences her marketing team at Sefton Council. “Our biggest strategy for promoting our key messages is engagement. You need to be listening to what your audience wants. We work with different partners and organisations, so we like to share other people’s content and get involved in the conversation online”

The main message to come out of the night, JUST GET STARTED! Social media can take practice, but don’t be afraid to get it wrong!

A massive THANK YOU to everyone who attended our event and our guest panelists! a special thank you to Hala Saeed for taking photos of the event!

Feedback included:

“Really interesting, informative and funny! I have noted somethings I’m going to look at when I get home”

“Really informative! Picked up some great ideas & tips. I’ve been alerted to some things I was unaware of!”

“Fantastic, informative and well-chosen mix of speakers. Can’t wait for the next one!”

If you enjoyed Building Your Social Media Influence, we have TWO more networking events throughout summer. Join us on 17th July, 6-8:30pm for some Summer Collective, and on 21st of August, 6-8:30pm for Speak Out to Stand Out

Alternatively, contact us on 01517068111 or for more information.

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

LCR 4.0 set to generate £31m GVA and 955 jobs over next three years

LCR 4.0, a part ERDF funded business support programme for the manufacturing sector, has created 80 new jobs and added £2.6m GVA to date. These figures were revealed at its Technology Showcase event which took place at Sci-Tech Daresbury last week. 

It is now predicted that LCR 4.0 enabled SMEs will go on to add an additional 955 jobs and £31.1m GVA to the local economy in the next three years.

Working collaboratively with local businesses, the project has given almost 300 SMEs the tools and resources to explore the opportunities and challenges of Industry 4.0 technologies, such as big data, systems integration, Internet of Things (IoT), augmented reality (AR) and 3D printing. In using this advanced technology, SMEs can increase productivity, reduce costs and pioneer first-of-its-kind innovations.

The Technology Showcase event was a celebration of the success and impact of the LCR 4.0 programme, as well as a platform to highlight the additional support and funding available to SMEs across the North West.

Event attendees were welcomed by Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram as he praised LCR 4.0, its partners and the SMEs it works with for their contribution in positioning Liverpool City Region as a global leader in advanced manufacturing.

“There is a truly entrepreneurial spirit running through Liverpool City Region,” Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram said. “Because of this, the region can become, and in my opinion is becoming, a manufacturing global hotspot. Programmes like LCR 4.0 are making that possible, establishing innovative and dynamic manufacturing communities across the six boroughs.”

Several LCR 4.0 enabled SMEs took to the stage to give real life examples of advanced manufacturing in situ and there were several thought leadership talks from businesses including CNC Robotics which spoke about the ethics of robotics.

A recent survey by LCR 4.0 found that 82 per cent of SMEs say the programme changed their understanding of Industry 4.0, while over two thirds of businesses said it helped them to bring a product to market quicker. Innovative capacity was also enhanced in 82 per cent of respondents and three quarters were encouraged to be more ambitious as a result of the project.

Commenting on the survey results, Dr Andy Levers, technical director at the Virtual Engineering Centre (VEC) and technical lead for LCR 4.0, said: “These figures are real testament to the impact of the LCR 4.0 programme to date and that, if a business starts to operate in a more innovative way, they will generate better results quicker.”

SMEs are now being encouraged to get involved with Made Smarter UK – a new £20 million initiative set to engage with 3,000 manufacturers across the North West to embed advanced digital technology across the sector. With this new programme, it is thought the region’s manufacturing sector could generate a 25% increase in productivity and add £115m to the North West economy. 

“We’re well on our way to fulfil our potential as a hub of advanced manufacturing,” Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram continued. “What we need now is to collaborate and embrace new techniques and processes which will drive growth. The £20m Made Smarter initiative will follow in LCR 4.0’s footsteps and offer hundreds of SME manufacturers the chance to do just that, backed by a programme of guidance, advice and grants.”

The LCR 4.0 project, which is due to come to close later this year, has been delivered by partners University of Liverpool’s VEC, Liverpool John Moores University, Sensor City, STFC Hartree Centre and the Liverpool City Region LEP.

In 2018, the LCR 4.0 programme was hailed as an ‘exemplar project’ in the Made Smarter report and featured in the Top 100 European Digital Champions list by the Financial Times.

Event SME case studies:

- Quanovo:
- Glow New Media:
- CNC Robotics:
- Pulse Systems:
- EV Range:

For more information or interview opportunities, please contact:
Amy Cantrill at Active Profile on 0151 556 7050 or email

Thursday, June 6, 2019

Enterprise Hub: Wirral Chamber help AJ & Friends get their business off the ground

Our Enterprise Hub partners at Wirral Chamber have been working with Beverley Williams to launch AJ & Friends - a domiciliary care provider for children with additional needs. Following her experiences with her own son, AJ, Beverley founded AJ & Friends out of the need for high quality support for families like her own. Working with business advisor Paul Rittenberg, Beverley got to grips with the practicalities of accountancy, bookkeeping and business planning, as well as core skills around marketing and social media.

Watch what happened when Paul caught up with Beverley about her business start-up journey...

Or you can watch the video on YouTube, here.

For more information about the support available from Enterprise Hub please contact 0151 706 8113 or

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Businesses asked to Give an Hour to inspire young people

Liverpool City Region Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) has launched a new campaign to encourage businesses to make a difference to the futures of young people in Liverpool City Region. 

The Give an Hour campaign calls for employers and employees to offer an hour of their time to help young people prepare for the fast-changing world of work.

The initiative- run jointly by Liverpool City Region LEP and The Careers & Enterprise Company - highlights that in as little as one hour, organisations can help to transform a young person’s future by bringing to life different career opportunities and providing insight about the skills young people need to be work-ready and successful in the workplace.

Sally Beevers, Careers Hub Lead at the Liverpool City Region LEP said: “This is a great opportunity for local business to help support our young people to establish their career path, prepare them for the world of work and raise their aspirations. Having local businesses directly involved in careers education lessons brings local job opportunities to life and exposes career options they may have not otherwise considered.”

Sally added: “I would encourage all employers and employees in the City Region to support this campaign - you could be the person who changes the life of a young person, just by showing them what is possible.” 

The Give an Hour campaign emphasises the importance of tapping into the career opportunities, skills and knowledge of businesses. Activities can include interview practice, mentoring or working with a teacher to bring a lesson to life.

Evidence shows that regular and meaningful engagement with employers while at school can significantly increase young people’s employment prospects and future earnings.*

Claudia Harris, Chief Executive of The Careers & Enterprise Company, said: “We know that hardworking small business really want to support young people in their local community but finding the time can be difficult. 

There are many ways to make a difference to a young person’s future – and with as little as one hour these dynamic small firms can help a young person discover more about the world of work and open up career paths they didn’t even know existed.” 

Employers of all shapes and sizes are encouraged to visit to find out more and register to support a school or college in their area.

Natasha Whips Up Gluten-Free Goodness for Liverpool with The Gildergreen

Having lived a gluten-free lifestyle for five years, Natasha wanted to use her passion for baking to show people that eating gluten-free doesn’t have to compromise on taste and quality. 

Natasha inherited a love for baking cakes through her mum and grandparents, but a change in diet meant that she had to rethink how she prepared food and the ingredients she so often used: “I started to research the science behind gluten and what steps you had to take to recreate the properties. I experimented with my own flour mixes and eventually started to make delicious cakes again.”

Feeling unhappy in her office job and with the support of her family, Natasha decided that setting up a business was now or never.

The business-planning process made Natasha feel slightly overwhelmed, but after contacting The Women’s Organisation, Business Adviser Jo Mountfort helped to simplify the process and break it down into small tasks: “I started to feel really excited, motivated and believed that I really could do this.”

Jo helped Natasha to streamline her idea through regular meetings and access to training and courses: “Enterprise Hub has provided me with countless resources, spreadsheets and tools. Jo has been incredibly helpful, I come out of every meeting feeling empowered”.

Used to working in an office environment, Natasha considered herself a hard-worker and good at time-managing but worried about being the only person responsible for her own success – would she be as motivated under her own leadership?

But motivated, she was.

The Gildergreen is a gluten free bakery that sells fresh handmade cakes online and to local businesses. All cakes are made to order and catered to the customers vision, what Natasha believes is more special and unique than supermarket-bought treats.

Natasha told us it’s early days, but she is slowly and surely building up her social media presence and building the Gildergreen brand. She has several regular stockists including a space at Woolton Farmers Market and the university square farmers market who are keeping her busy. Natasha has most recently launched an online cake subscription service, sending out monthly letterbox-friendly selection of bakes alongside tea sourced from The Liverpool Tea Warehouse.

Now running her own business, Natasha is proud of the journey she’s taken to reach today and is relishing having the freedom to make her own decisions and work at her own pace.

And what does the future hold for Natasha? As the gluten-free industry continues to develop with variety, Natasha hopes to fly the flag for gluten-free treats across Merseyside and beyond.

She said: “I hope to have stalls at festivals and markets throughout the summer. Do come and have a taste of the Gildergreen bakes – even if you aren’t gluten free, you may be surprised!”

Natasha added: “The support from The Women’s Organisation has been invaluable and I don’t know what I would have done without it!”

If you'd like to try out Natasha's desserts, head to here website:

If you'd like to contact Natasha directly, email:

You can also keep up with everything Gildergreen through Facebook or Instagram!

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

From corporate to conscious: how Enterprise Hub helped Laurie Stewart leave behind her corporate roots and develop a conscious fashion platform

Leaving behind a ten-year career working with some of the fashion industry’s biggest brands, Laurie Stewart hasn’t looked back. Now focusing on her new online platform for conscious fashion with business partner Eva Makin, this conscious pair needed help to grow their new venture.

Having recently completed Enterprise Hub’s business growth programme, we 
caught up with co-founder Laurie to find out where Mindless Mag’s journey began 
and how things are going so far…

Laurie Stewart, Co-Founder of Mindless Mag

Head over to the Enterprise Hub blog to read the full story by clicking here

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Keeping Employees Happy - What You Need to Know

The following is a guest blog penned by Ruby Clarkson

Keeping employees happy is an essential part of running any business. After all, happy employees are likely to be more productive. A happy workforce also makes a good impression when it comes to working with customers or hiring additional staff. It's also true that people are more likely to remain working for your business if they are happy with the environment and the job that they are doing.

This is why it's so important to make keeping employees happy a priority. The good news is that there are some simple changes that you can make in order to ensure that you have a happy workforce.
Making sure the location is right

The location of your offices is something that you need to consider carefully, if you want people to be happy working for your business. For instance, if you are choosing an office space in London, there are certain factors that you need to think about when it comes to keeping staff happy such as:

  • Is there suitable parking in the area?
  • Are there good public transport links?
  • Are there amenities such as shops and cash points close by?
  • Are the offices close to parks or other green areas where employees can spend their lunch break?

Having a great location, that takes into account all of these factors, helps to keep employees happy.
Considering co-working as an option

Co-working is an option that is often used by people who are self-employed as an alternative to working from home. It can also be an option for small businesses if they want to share office space.
Sharing office space in this way can make for happier employees. This is because they are in an environment which has life and vitality as there are several people located in the space. Even though these people may be working for different businesses, their energy can help your employees to be happier and more productive.

Making sure that training is an ongoing process:

A few days of on the job training when an employee starts working for your business is not good enough. You need to make sure that you provide them with the training that they need to do their job and to be happy in their work. This training provision needs to be made on an ongoing basis.
It's important to note that providing training and development opportunities for your employees does not just benefit them it also benefits the business as a whole. After all, a well trained workforce is likely to be more efficient and more productive. Listen when your employees ask for training and development and make sure that you provide them with what they need.

Providing employees with the tools that they need:

If your employees do not have the tools and equipment they need to do their job they are never going to be happy. This is partly because not having the right equipment makes the job harder. It's also partly because they feel as though you do not care about their wellbeing because you are not providing the necessary tools and equipment.

This is why you should not settle for having outdated equipment just to save money. For instance, you may be able to save a few pounds by using computers and software that are not up-to-date, but you will lose money when it comes to productivity because the employees who are using these computers are unhappy and frustrated.

Communicating in the right way:

It's vital that you have good communications in your business, if you want your employees to be happy. This is because people become frustrated if they feel that they are not being kept up to date. You need to have an effective communication strategy and plan in place to make sure that this does not happen.

Different methods of communication are best suited to different businesses. For instance, you may want to create a monthly newsletter for the business or you may want to hold weekly or fortnightly meetings with employees. However you choose to communicate, the most important thing is that you do it openly and well.

You also need to make sure that the communication is two-way. You need to pay attention to what your employees are saying, answer any of their questions and respond to any of their criticisms. Doing this effectively helps to keep your employees happy.

It does not take much effort to make the necessary changes to improve the happiness of your employees. Doing so provides you with a more motivated workforce that is likely to be more productive.

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Filmmaker Sofie Wolthers on Directing A New Society, Social Justice, and Changing Careers

Sofie Wolthers is a filmmaker and photographer living in Amsterdam, Netherlands. She is the director of the documentary A New Society, following a collective of over 300 social experts who are using research to address the world’s most pressing crises, from gender inequality to economic injustice. Today, she is sharing her experience as an independent filmmaker and how she sees documentary as a tool for women’s empowerment.

Tell us about your experience using media for social justice – what drew you to using film compared to other mediums?

When I was younger, I remember asking my mom how she chose her career path (she was a midwife at the time). She told me that she wanted to help others, and this was the way she knew how. For me, documentary is the best way I know how to help others. I believe that information has the power to change people's behaviors or thoughts, and documentary is a vehicle for information to reach a large amount of people in a short period of time. Documentary film can transport people to a different country, show them life in a different time period, and even place them in someone else's shoes for a moment. It is this ability to explore the world through the perspectives of others that creates empathy, and for some, film is their only means of travel.

Sofie Wolthers and Columbia University sociologist and woman's rights activist Saskia Sassen

How did you come to find the International Panel on Social Progress? 

This is quite a funny story. Back in 2014 when I was still a journalism major in college, I had a social justice blog called Chi People's Rights where I’d post weekly about human rights issues in Chicago, Illinois. One week, I remember feeling like I wanted to post about something a bit more global. While doing some research on social justice initiatives, I somehow stumbled onto this strange PDF document by the International Panel on Social Progress, who at the time didn't even have a website. I found what they were doing revolutionary and decided to post what I thought at the time was a very professional broadcast about their work (you can see a snippet of this broadcast in A New Society).

When I received an email from Princeton University economist and IPSP co-founder Marc Fleurbaey I was really confused, but next thing I knew, I was on a plane to Princeton and interning for the IPSP as their social media and outreach person. I eventually became their head of social media until I finished University in 2016 and moved to Amsterdam. Then, in 2017 I was contacted by filmmaker and journalist Eileen Jerrett (owner of Wilma's Wish Productions) to direct a documentary about the IPSP. I decided to take on the challenge and together we made A New Society, a film aiming to spark dialogue between activists, academics, and policymakers.

How does the IPSP view the role of women’s empowerment in achieving social progress?

From what I've gathered in interviews with panelists and through my own experience, the IPSP's research dissects where the world is today, what got us here and what we can do to avoid future catastrophe. They’ve shown that gender inequality ties to almost every major threat we’re facing today, from climate change, to extreme poverty, to systemic oppression. We simply can’t target these issues as a society while women around the world are still earning less for the same hours of work, laws failing to include women are excluding them, and they’re underrepresented in almost every position of power in every country on earth. Giving women access, resources, and a voice through groups like the Women’s Organisation is a central part of the IPSP’s vision for social progress.

What did the process of directing A New Society look like?

A New Society is the first feature-length documentary I directed in my life, so of course that came with its challenges. I owe many thanks to Eileen Jerrett, my producer and mentor, for believing in me and taking me through the process of directing a documentary from beginning to end. We worked together as a two-woman team while oceans apart (Eileen in Seattle and I in Amsterdam).

The 9-hour time difference didn’t make things much easier, but we were both so passionate about the project we made it work. Once we picked the panelists to interview, I researched each person, visited them in their homes, and took part in their daily lives for a few days. The toughest part was cutting all 8 authors down to one 56min film. For several months, I painstakingly transcribed the 2-4 hour interviews with Eileen, then I’d edit each interview to about an hour and send the cut over to her for further notes. We’re both incredibly happy with how the film turned out, and I'm thankful for the experience of directing A New Society and all the lessons it taught me.

As a part of a 2-woman filmmaking team, what was the transition like for you making this career change? 

Eileen and I did our best to empower and encourage each other while making this documentary. The hardest part was working together while we were thousands of miles apart. It was also a huge transition for me because I had recently moved to Amsterdam, a city completely foreign to me, and was working from home. I had to really make an effort to meet people and assimilate because I didn't have the luxury of meeting people through work. Now that I’ve been self-employed for about two years, I absolutely love the freedom it gives me and I’m very used to collaborating with people internationally. It's opened many doors for me because I am no longer confined to working with someone in the same city as me, and technology allows me to work with others on personal and intimate projects while being oceans apart.

Do you have any advice for women looking to go into film-making or to dedicate their careers to social justice?

My advice to other women going into filmmaking, social justice or any career is that hard work pays off. Don't expect to start at the top, there’s really no such thing as an overnight success. If you want something, fight for it, then fight for it some more and I promise you’ll achieve your goal eventually. You also don’t have to go through the journey alone: find your mentors early on to guide you and keep you grounded. Don't let the patriarchy get you down, and don't compete with your fellow woman. There is room for all of us to succeed, and there is strength in our solidarity.

What’s next for you?

Filmmaking has become a part of who I am, and I want to continue using it to shed light on underrepresented issues that affect women in particular. I'm currently developing a documentary series called Period Piece, which will be dissecting the role of menstruation in Western society today. To keep up with our developments, follow @periodpiecedoc on Instagram!

Author’s Bio: Mously Lo is studying Economics at Princeton University. She is passionate about women’s rights, economic inequality, and racial injustice. With the International Panel on Social Progress, she aims to bring together activists, academics, and policymakers to redefine social progress.

Monday, May 20, 2019

Building Your Social Media Influence

Being on Social Media is now more critical than ever if you're looking to build a following for your business. Social media is now one of the main forms of communication used to reach an audience and it's becoming more and more important to establish yourself online with a strong brand presence.

Here at The Women’s Organisation we are holding an event to help you build up your own social media presence. We have 3 social media experts who have worked over the years to build a successful following and establish strong relationships with their online audience. You will take home tips and tricks to build your following and be inspired to be the next social media influencer for your business!

Join us Tuesday 18th June, 6pm-8:30pm at 54 St James Street, L1 0AB

Our Panelists 

Ben Osu - Content Producer and Presenter

Ben set up his own community forum, giving young people of the city a voice and soon became a youth leader working with multiple agencies across the city on youth policy and service design and provision. After a social media campaign in 2009, Ben was successful at bringing the MOBO (Music of Black Origin Awards) to the city and back again in 2012.

Karen Beddow - Founder of multi-award winning travel blog 'Mini Travellers'

Karen left her full-time role as a commercial litigation solicitor when she had her children to concentrate on her Family Travel blog Mini Travellers. Karen has used her skills to create and then turn Mini Travellers into an established creative business, that has meant she can work from home and spend more time with her three children. Karen also has a social media consultancy Aster & Fern. 

Nicky Speed - Head of Communications Sefton Council

Influential communications leader Nicky Speed has over 18 years' experience in the industry, working in a variety of sectors from local government and higher education to housing, transport and health, with a proven track record in building organisational profile, reputation and brand.

Building Your Social Media Influence will be held at 54 St James Street on Tuesday, June 18, from 6pm to 8.30pm. Tickets are available over on eventbrite:

Business Club

The Women's Organisations Business Club is an exclusive women's only networking group which is open to female business owners.

Membership is open to female business owners only and is per individual not per business. Additional staff members can be booked onto individual events as you go. Our events will mostly be held at our flagship building, 54 St James Street in Liverpool but members are welcome to join from anywhere.

Friday, May 17, 2019

What can your business do to help close the Gender Pay Gap?

This week, the experts at Sage Advice have taken over our guest blog to explain what small business owners can be doing to help close the gender pay gap...

With the most recent Gender Pay Gap (GPG) reports showing that 78% of companies have a pay gap in favour of men, many companies are left asking what actions they can take to close the gap within their workplace.

GPG reporting itself is an important first step to tackling the gap, so while small businesses are not currently legally required to report on this figure, if you’re serious about the GPG it’s vital to first identify any gap within your firm. Up to 15% of GPG reports this year had errors so make sure you take the time to understand and follow the process correctly, for example, take a look at this guide to gender pay gap reporting by Sage which helpfully breaks it down step by step.

After identifying your gap, you should also analyse the gender balance at all levels of your company:

        Are there more men than women within senior roles? How about your junior roles?
        Does your current working culture encourage employees of all genders to apply for roles?
        Would offering benefits such as flexible working, childcare or shared parental leave help encourage a more gender equal workplace?

Another concern for small businesses should be unconscious bias. People often base their decisions based on subconscious biases due to culture, background and personal experiences and this can result in them favouring employees who are similar to themselves. Any such prejudices can be combatted through awareness, training and creating a workplace where both genders are equally valued and respected. Consider providing mentorship and leadership training to all staff to help boost their confidence and motivate them to progress. Then when shortlisting employees for advancement, you should encourage decision makers to set aside any gender biases and actively encourage women to apply for more senior roles.

Additionally, if your business is within a sector which is typically male-dominated then promoting female-orientated events and advertising will help encourage more female applicants.

Overall, there are a large number of factors which impact the GPG but businesses of all sizes can make positive changes to the way their company is run to help close the gap.

Find out more about the Gender Pay Gap at Sage Advice.

About the author: Sage Advice

Sage is the market leader for integrated accounting, payroll, and payment systems, supporting the ambition of the world’s entrepreneurs.

Monday, May 13, 2019

Space is open for business! Funding and support from The European Space Agency

Is space technology on the radar for your business? The European Space Agency’s Business Applications could be the ideal platform to help launch your concept.

ESA Business Applications offers funded support programmes to help businesses integrate space data and technology into commercial services.

Put simply, think of ordering a takeaway on popular mobile phone apps like Just Eat. This platform uses satellite technology from space to track location and get your food to you. It is this space data which is changing and simplifying business, not to mention our everyday lives on earth.

Whether you’re developing a mobile phone app, or work in industries from construction, to the insurance sector or lifestyle industry, businesses big and small, space applications could fuel your business.

The European Space Agency’s team are looking for innovative ideas which use space assets like human spaceflight technologies, satellite communication, satellite navigation, earth observation and space weather.

Does this sound like something your business could use support with? Then ESA Business Applications could have the support you need.

If you have an idea for space technology in your business, you can apply for ESA Business Applications support and funding anytime through their open call system. There are also regular opportunities for competitive tenders which follow specific themes. You can find out more about the application process here:

If you’d like to find out more about what space has to offer for your business, then why not join the European Space Agency’s Business Applications Regional Ambassador for ‘Your Business Powered by Space’ – a free event to introduce you to how your business can utilise space and what support is on offer for you.

Taking place on Thursday 13th June, 9am – 5pm at Concorde Hangar in Runway Visitors Park, Altrincham. Full event details can be found here:

For more information, you can contact the ESA Business Applications Regional Ambassador (North West England & North Wales), Alan Cross by e-mail via

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

In the Media: Enterprise Hub addresses enterprise gender gap across Liverpool city region

In its first phase The Liverpool City Region Enterprise Hub helped more than 6,000 would-be entrepreneurs, 60% of them women, and is now looking to step up that effort. Tony McDonough reports for LBN
Enterprise Hub
Sara Burgess, left, and Joanne McCormick, founders of ‘child-friendly’ Liverpool hair salon, Ava & Harrison

Investing in more women-led businesses could boost the UK economy by £250bn, a report claims, and Liverpool city region’s support programme for fledgling entrepreneurs is doing its bit to the address the enterprise gender gap.
Published in March, The Rose Report revealed that just 6% of UK women run their own businesses, compared with 15% in Canada, almost 11% in the US and more than 9% in Australia and the Netherlands.
Since launching the Enterprise Hub in Dec 2015, a single-door access point to advise and support people who had started, or had ambitions to start, their own business, The Women's Organisation have supported women led businesses to access more than £1.7m in business finance. 
One, now thriving, business to benefit from that assistance was Sara Burgess and Joanne McCormick, founders of ‘child-friendly’ Liverpool hair salon, Ava & Harrison who benefitted from £30,000 of start-up loans.  Celebrating their first birthday Joanne McCormick says they "couldn't have done it" without the support from Enterprise Hub and their business adviser. 
Enterprise Hub is part funded by European Regional Development Fund.
For the full article on LBN click here.

Thursday, May 2, 2019

From creative side-project to landing a book deal, Caz Finlay is writing her own future

With a novel nearly three years in the planning, it wasn’t until recently that Caz Finlay switched on to the possibilities of turning her creative outlet into a fully-fledged business. Today, Caz has a Harper Collins book deal under her belt and is about to launch her debut novel, “The Boss”.

Approaching Enterprise Hub, Caz received the business advice and training, alongside support from the project’s community partners Writing on the Wall, to realise the potential and become self-employed.  

As WoWFEST 2019 gets underway this month, we thought it was the perfect opportunity to sit down with Caz to find out where it all began and what her journey to becoming self-employed looked like…

Tell us about your novel – what’s it all about and what’s the inspiration behind your work?

The Boss is a gangland crime thriller set in Liverpool. He’s inside. She’s running the family. But now he’s back and only one can boss the streets of Liverpool. Ultimately, it’s a story about family, loss and betrayal.

My inspiration for writing The Boss, was undoubtedly my beautiful baby boy, Finlay, and I use his name as my pen name as a tribute to him. It sounds odd to say that a tiny baby inspired me to write a gangland thriller, but he did. We found out Finlay was ill at my 20 week scan. He had a condition called Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia (CDH) which meant that his diaphragm hadn’t fully formed, resulting in some of his organs moving up into his chest and restricting his lung growth. Like all babies with CDH, he was given a 50% chance of survival.

Finlay was born on 11th August 2016. Although he was a whopping 10lb 14oz and initially seemed to be doing well, he died just over two days later at Liverpool Women’s Hospital. The days after his death passed in a blur. There was nothing quite as surreal as walking out of that maternity ward with no baby and knowing that he would never come home. I really don’t know how me and my husband functioned, except that we had to maintain some normality for our other son, Jude, who was two and a half at the time.

It was the day after Finlay’s funeral, and Jude was in nursery for the day. I was trying to keep myself occupied and decided to have a bit of a clear out. I found my old laptop in a box in our conservatory. It was the one I’d used to do my degree but it had stopped working properly and I’d intended on throwing it out. I turned it on and it seemed to spring to life. It had never been the fastest of machines even when it did work, so I was startled. It even connected to our wifi – something that had always taken at least a dozen attempts. At that moment I just remember thinking to myself, I’m going to write a novel. And so I did. 

You can read the full story over on our Enterprise Hub blog, here.

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Picture Perfect: Creative Moose Celebrate 10 Years of Growth

Video is now the number one form of content on the web and organisations are using it to connect and engage with their customers, relying on specialised businesses like Manchester based Creative Moose to help them out. Offering full-service video production and securing National and International clients, Creative Moose are entering their 10th Birthday with much to celebrate. 

Starting out in stockport in 2009, Creative Moose support organisations to discover the power of video, with services ranging from aerial filming to 360 virtual tours.  They aim to be able to offer a video for multiple platforms including websites, social media channels and presentations.

Prior to setting up the business, founders Scott Heslop and Anthony Beswick held positions in television for BBC and ITV, but with the rise in online video content, they noticed a huge opportunity to produce video for web and help organisations meet this demand. They told us: “We wanted to take the production values of TV and apply them to the web, ensuring that our clients can produce videos that they can be proud of”

Scott and Anthony both live and breathe storytelling with their passion for film and photography playing a huge role in the success of the business today. They now have offices in Stockport and Manchester City Centre, allowing them to offer their services to the wider Greater Manchester area which has given them the chance to work with businesses like The Northwest Air Ambulance Charity and The Christie NHS Trust. They are particularly proud of the relationship they've developed with the Northwest Air Ambulance Charity, telling us:

“We enjoy working with lots of charities of this nature and it’s great for us to help them use video to promote the life changing work they do”

Creative Moose is one of few companies offering medical video production in the UK and being HEMS passenger certified means they can film onboard helicopters to capture dramatic footage at the scenes of accidents. Looking to build a video strategy specialised for the medical and healthcare sector, they approached Excelerate Labs for support.

Working with senior advisor Mike Marsden, they have developed a long-term strategy to increase visibility in new markets “We really enjoyed using The Business Model Canvas, which helped us segment the business into key areas and set some achievable targets to grow in 2019”

Manchester is bursting with video production companies, but by offering the best storytelling through using the latest technology, producing 4k and HD video and only using industry standard equipment, Creative Moose stand miles ahead of their competition. Creating a lasting impact with their productions is also top of their agenda, Anthony explained:

“We place a huge focus on the story we are trying to tell and the emotional response that we want to create within audiences, we love the challenge that video production presents. It's a great feeling to craft a piece of video content that can that directly influences what people 'see', 'hear' and 'feel'. It's this unique focus that makes us stand out within the Manchester video production scene.”

This year Creative Moose are extending their services and launching 'The Moose Video Club', a service making it easier and affordable for organisation to produce regular videos throughout the year. We asked Creative Moose for advice to anyone looking to grow their business successfully

“My advice for others who want to grow their business would be to firstly establish a clear vision and a clear outcome of what they want to achieve and why? It's then about implementing the actions that you need to take to get your desired result.

Many times, businesses may need to change some of their actions in order to get move closer to their desired outcomes. That's certainly something that we've been working on, the 20% of actions that provide 80% of results.”

To learn more about Creative Moose and its video and photography services, you can visit their website For specific information regarding Creative Moose's video production services, click here

Anthony is happy to speak with anyone that is interested in learning more about the power of video and storytelling. You can drop him an email on or connect with Anthony on Linkedin

If you would like to benefit from the support received under the Excelerate Labs programme, then please contact:

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Maggie O’Carroll Celebrated in BQ Live Social Entrepreneur Index

BE Group has officially launched the UK Social Entrepreneur Index sponsored by UBS, a campaign designed to celebrate those entrepreneurs doing things a little differently to make our world a better place.

The inaugural UK Social Entrepreneur Index celebrates the social impact, creativity and innovation of 29 of the UK’s most inspiring social entrepreneurs.

We are delighted that our CEO, Maggie O’Carroll, has been recognised as an entrepreneur actively running a business with social purpose, promoting good practice and inspiring the next generation.

The campaign focuses on the entrepreneurs behind the businesses; telling their story and providing inspiration to thousands of others in the process.

BE Group’s commercial director Bryan Hoare, explained: “Over many years, BE Group has been celebrating and inspiring entrepreneurship across the UK.

“As part of this focus, we’ve launched the UK Social Entrepreneur Index - a celebration of entrepreneurs running businesses with social purposes who we hope will also act as beacons of inspiration for others to encompass positive social impact."

“We’ve been delighted with the response and quality of entries in this first year and we hope to grow the UK Social Entrepreneur Index in future years.

“Alongside the digital campaign, we held roundtable debates about the future of social entrepreneurship, the global challenges and how we can improve. The entrepreneurs are excited about the index and the opportunity for open discussion and we look forward to continuing the conversations at our celebration event in May and beyond.

Unique commercial space available to rent in L8’s Kuumba Imani Millennium Centre

An exciting new commercial space has become available for rent in the cornerstone Kuumba Imani Millennium Centre.

Ideal for growing businesses or community projects, 2,633sq ft is available on the ground floor of this multi-cultural, multi-purpose hub at the heart of the Liverpool 8 community.

Previously in use as a children’s nursery with outside play area, the space lends itself to another commercial or community use, or as a large office space.

The space comprises of a large central space with four additional smaller rooms, along with a kitchen, laundry, store room and toilets. To the exterior, there is an enclosed outdoor space plus parking area with additional on-street parking available.

With its own private entrance, there will be full access to the tenant.

Located on Princes Road, the centre is just a ten-minute walk or short taxi ride to Liverpool City Centre and its train stations, along with excellent bus links to the area.

The Kuumba Imani Millennium Centre was founded in 2000 by Liverpool Black Sisters – a pioneering charity with a vision to improve the lives of women in their L8 community.

It’s mission is to provide a resource to support and encourage the economic development, health and wellbeing, regeneration and sustainability of a neighbourhood, which has suffered from years of under investment and social exclusion.

Today, the centre provides an integrated community training, meeting and resource centre for residents of Liverpool 8 and Merseyside, particularly for members of Black and Racial Minority (BRM) communities.

Available from 1st August 2019, a discounted monthly rate is available for community projects and start up businesses.

For more information please contact Michelle Charters on 0151 708 5278 or by e-mailing

Friday, April 12, 2019

My internship at The Women’s Organisation

After my first year studying Events Management at Liverpool John Moores I realised my passion for marketing so set out to gain some real life industry experience in my second year. After looking through the University careers website I found an internship here at The Women’s Organisation advertised and then went on to do some research into the organisation. After a quick google I realised The Women’s Organisation is a social enterprise that I would love to be a part of, as a proud feminist myself and seeing the amazing work they do I knew their core beliefs aligned with my own. After an interview in January I received the news I got the role and would start a couple weeks after.

On February the 5th I began my first day at The Women’s Organisation, having never worked in an office environment before and in a job,  I wanted to do in the long term, so I was quite nervous. After the first day I felt so at ease and already had learnt so much and put skills I have learnt in lectures to real use, being in an office full of such inspirational women is really something special and unique.

As cliché as it sounds, every day is different. My role mainly includes content creation which can include blog posts, where I have completed case studies about the women we have helped and it’s so inspiring to hear how the women have overcome so much to better their lives. I have also helped run the Instagram and twitter platforms and have really enjoyed finding content to post for these.

My favourite day of my internship was International Women’s Day as we organised a talk with Marnie Millard and Sue Grindrod who are two inspiring women in business. Hearing their stories of how they have got to where they are, the obstacles they have had to overcome and having them offer me advice was a perfect way to spend my International Women’s Day.

The 12th of April marks the end of my 10 week Internship and all in all I’ve had a blast. I’ve learnt so much and I have grown in confidence with the help of the Marketing team and really believe in my own ability now which I’ll take forward to my future projects.

I am currently looking to work a year in industry starting next semester to give myself some more experience and to be honest I’m not ready to go into my 3rd year and having to write my dissertation. I am also going on a 5 week expedition to Fiji in June which I’m so excited for, to help and (aim to) inspire children through education and sports projects.

I just want to say a big Thank You to everyone at The Women’s Organisation for being so welcoming, helping me learn so much and overall, teaching me to stand up for what I believe in always.

Monday, April 8, 2019

How to attract more women to senior roles

It’s comes as no shock that the proportion of men in senior roles greatly outweighs the number of women, but what steps can recruiters take to attract more female candidates to senior positions? 

Chris Stappard, Managing Director of Edward Reed Recruitment, has taken to the blog to give us his best advice on the small changes we can make to attract more female applicants to senior roles.

Currently, there’s a record number of women in senior positions on FTSE 100 boards. But, this record number is still only 29% ( Clearly, there’s still more we need to do internally to attract more women to our senior positions and promote gender equality throughout the workplace. In this article, I’ll be sharing my best advice on how to encourage more women to apply for your senior positions.

Check your job adverts

The first thing that could be prejudicing your recruitment process is your job advert itself. It’s certainly no secret that certain words evoke specific feelings, and research from the American Psychological Association published on the Heriot Watt University website has found that including gender-biased language in job advertisements can make positions less appealing to women.

When writing your application, you might already have an indication in your mind about what kind of person you want to hire for the role, which means you’re going to write your advert based on this. But be careful, because certain words such as “dominant” and “lead” are more likely to attract male applicants to the role.

To make the process fair, try to go for more neutral language in your job adverts and ask for qualities which are more likely to be attributed to both men and women. If you’re not sure if your advert is unconsciously prejudicing your recruitment process, you can run it through this handy online language checker.

Be upfront about salaries

One thing that female applicants are very put off by when it comes to applying for jobs is the gender pay gap. Even women in senior positions suffer from the pay gap, so it’s important to do your part as an employer to rectify this when hiring. Data collected by the World Economic Forum states that the UK is ranked 52 out of 144 countries in regards to wage equality for similar work.

When recruiting, be upfront about pay. Many recruiters are still in the habit of asking candidates about their previous salary but doing so only worsens the pay gap and is off-putting to female talent. If women have been underpaid in their previous role, this just makes it more likely that they’ll be underpaid in their new role, too. Make sure you pay your female candidates based on their knowledge, skill set, and what they bring to the company, and be transparent about pay at the very beginning of the recruitment process.

Offer flexible working hours

It’s important to remember that our staff, especially those with families, have other important responsibilities outside of work, so employers need to make allowances for this. Giving employees the option of flexible working hours means that they can easily work their career around their family and personal lives, and female applicants will be more attracted to your company because you give them the opportunity to achieve a better work-life balance.

In fact, offering flexible working hours is great for your business because it also improves the general wellbeing of staff. Research conducted by the Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT) found that 38% of people report feeling happier at work and 35% reported lower levels of stress due to flexible working hours. 38% of respondents also agreed that flexi-hours gave them more time to spend with their families.

Train your employees

Training your staff is essential to a productive work environment but it can also increase employee confidence levels. Offer training opportunities to your current staff to improve their skills and encourage your female staff to apply for more senior roles within your company.

Not only will training improve the expertise of your employees, but a company made up of highly trained women is going to attract more female applicants from outside the business. It shows that you value your female employees just as much as their male counterparts.

There’s still a lot to do to truly achieve equality in business, especially in senior roles. But just some small changes to our work culture and recruitment process can make a big difference in the long run. By removing any unconscious sexism and offering useful employee benefits, we’re taking a step in the right direction.