Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Kate Williams Got Her Creative Spark Back When She Set Up Her Business

Kate Williams has her hands full at the moment as she grows her young business Kate Williams Photography, especially now as the summer season has started which means one big thing for photographers, lots and lots of weddings!

Kate is a Wedding and Portraiture specialist who describes her style as a mixture of ‘Fine Art and Reportage’ She says; ‘I am passionate about capturing real moments as they happen, but also love creating those stand out and unique shots that people will remember’ as her fantastic portfolio on her website (kate-williams.co.uk) clearly shows.
As well as running and growing her business, Kate is also a part time Art and Photography teacher at Byrchall High School two days a week, leaving every other day, minute and hour spare to run her business. ‘For the most part of my working career, I’ve been a teacher and my creative energies have been fuelled towards developing that spark and practice in others. This has been incredibly fulfilling, but I reached a point for a variety of reasons where I knew I couldn’t ignore my own creativeness any more,’ This is when Kate made the decision to start exploring the possibilities of running her own business, and delving back into her photography and using this to be able to make a living; ‘It’s weird, but not having that in my life made me feel slightly incomplete, and it took me a while to realise what was missing!’ Kate says that she wanted to have more energy, and to feel more balanced, she needed to make a change.

Rather than jumping head first into this decision as you may expect a typically creative person to do, Kate very much thought through her decision and spent a great amount of time preparing herself and getting the ball rolling. ‘I tried to fully re-immerse myself back into the world of art and photography. Obviously I had never really left it, but I needed to do things to get back in tune.’ Kate did this by attending lots of exhibitions, taking her own photographs and creating her own work. 

Next she researched the areas of photography she knew she wanted to specialise in and made sure she brushed up own her own skills that she knew needed improving; ‘I undertook some training to develop in areas that would enhance my skill set, things like working with light in a studio environment and specialist editing techniques’ as well as researching her competition in the local area. Only when she had ticked all of these tasks off of her to-do list did she feel totally ready to make the leap!
After photographing many of her friend’s weddings over that summer, building her own website ‘A massive learning curve!’, and signing up to every Social Media platform that she could, Kate began to get bookings for her business.

To balance starting her own business with still being a part-time teacher has been something of a juggling act for Kate, as she gradually reduces the time spent at school as she gets more and more work. ‘It’s been hard in terms of sharing my time, and I have to be quite disciplined about when I work on the different parts. I still absolutely adore working with young people, and have found that doing both jobs gives me more energy in both areas!’

But for Kate it wasn’t the balancing act that she found most difficult about starting up her own business, it was, in fact, more of a psychological barrier that she faced. As she moved away from her five days a week secure job, and took the risk, it was something that she found quite daunting, as many women who start their own businesses do. ‘I guess it was the fear of failure’, as well as the confidence that she needed to put herself out there, and show her work to others; ‘I think when you work in the creative industry, it feels very personal to share your work, and this can be quite hard to overcome at first. That was a leap of faith and it meant that I really had to try and build up lots of confidence. I was lucky to have the support of an amazing husband and supportive friends.’

As well as having the support of family and friends, Kate also got in touch with The Women’s Organisation and has been working with Senior Business Advisor, Claire Pedersen; ‘Initially being able to talk through my ideas with my advisor was really helpful, and that little bit of reassurance and direction went a long way. More recently Claire has been helping me to organise my ideas and think about the future with planning strategies.’ Kate has also attended our courses on Tax and National Insurance and Bookkeeping which have helped her with the practicalities of business management. ‘The support from The Women’s Organisation has been absolutely fantastic. People are always amazed, as I was, when I first found out that this level of support is there for women who are trying to start their own business. I also just find being at The Women’s Organisation and being around other women who are doing the same thing really inspirational’.

At the moment, Kate says she is loving running her own business, especially the flexibility that it gives her. ‘I have time to think and reflect. But I can also be integral to my own creative intentions and there is a great sense of satisfaction from when I see people’s reactions when I deliver the work!’ Kate already has lots of weddings booked for next year which she is looking forward to, being a self-confessed wedding lover herself! ‘I’m so excited at the thought of working with more amazing couples. I’m a total sucker for a wedding and I always cry during the ceremony! It’s such a joyful and happy experience to be a part of!’

And finally, Kate’s advice to any women out there who are looking to start up their own business! One of our firm favourites; ‘Do it!’ Kate says; ‘I think a lot of women, understandably, feel really nervous about doing something different, or about taking the risk, but I believe it’s all about confidence and there is no reason why women are any less capable – it’s all in our heads! Get involved with The Women’s Organisation and speak to other women who are doing the same things.’

To find out more about Kate and her photography, you can use the contact details below! And if you were inspired by Kate’s story and want to find out more about starting up your own business, please get in touch with us by emailing hello@thewo.org.uk or telephoning 0151 706 8111.

T: 07930270138

Twitter: @KateWillPhotos

Photography by Kate! (Please check out her other fantastic photographs that Kate has taken of our clients like; Joanne Finnerty, Nicola Cookson and Erica Wildflower

Thursday, June 25, 2015

After 20 Years Working in Recruitment, Joanne Finnerty Made The Leap To Start Her Own Business

Joanne Finnerty has the perfect strapline for her business, JF Recruitment, it’s punchy and snappy and would definitely make you stop and listen if you met her at a networking event; ‘I’m Joanne Finnerty, and I help companies make more money by recruiting the right staff for them.’ – And she does, and has done since she launched her business in June 2013. After working for 20 years in the recruitment industry, and at companies like Adecco and Kelly Recruitment, Joanne finally took the plunge (after much pestering from her husband), and started her own business.

‘I kept saying yes, yes, I’ll get around to it, but you just carry on and you think it’s going to be easier just to stay safe and not take the risk. But I really wasn’t happy and I wanted to do my own thing.’ – So after returning from a holiday, Joanne handed in her notice and that very evening wrote the business plan for JF Recruitment. She had clear ideas about what running her own business was going to be like, saying she wanted to work Monday to Thursday only, play golf on Friday and get a dog, joking; ‘I’ve always wanted a dog, one of the main reasons I started my own business was to get a dog!’. But it soon became clear the JF Recruitment wasn’t going to be a 4 day-a-week, work from home business.

‘Within the first year, I realised that I had so much business that I needed to recruit staff to help me. I’d attended the opening of every envelope across Liverpool and the Wirral; and networked like crazy. I was starting to have to turn away business, and that’s when I knew, I needed to take staff on, and if I have to take staff on, then I’m going to need premises!’

Something that has always stayed with Joanne throughout her working life has been the idea of having her offices in Hamilton Square in Birkenhead, as she lives in the Wirral and has always liked the area. Fate was on Joanne’s side, as one of her business networks let her know that there was an office available on the ground floor of a building in Hamilton Square. ‘I had a look, and it was beautiful!’ Now, settled into her office in Hamilton Square, with enough space to grow, Joanne took on her first member of staff, Julie in October 2014, and her second member of staff, Natalie in February 2015. In the future Joanne is looking to grow her own consultants from scratch and take on an apprentice. But is still incredibly careful, and forward thinking; ‘I won’t be in debt, I don’t want to owe any money, so I will only take a member of staff on when I know there is enough money in the bank to cover 6 months of wages.’

Being in the office is a great step forward for Joanne, after working from home at the inception of the business, which she found to be one of the more difficult parts of setting up the company. ‘It can be quite lonely, working from home, even though I am in the ‘people’ business. I’m constantly speaking to clients and candidates, but to actually run the business on your own, and make all of those decisions, can be quite lonely.’ The things that helped her through this first year were, she says; ‘The Women’s Organisation, BNI (Business Network International), Wirral Chamber of Commerce and Liverpool Chamber of Commerce.’

Joanne heard about The Women’s Organisation about four months after she started the business and came to see Senior Business Advisor, John Jones. She took advantage of the courses available such as Building a Social Media Strategy, Understanding Tax and National Insurance and Basic Bookkeeping, all great resources for women who are newly starting up their own businesses or want to brush up on those skills.

As well as getting support and advice from The Women’s Organisation, Joanne is a business owner who thrives on surrounding herself with other business owners, in particular; ‘people who are doing better than you are.’ Joanne says; ‘You have to meet with those people and surround yourself with them. Because you will learn so much, I’m like a sponge, I will sit with people and listen to what they’ve done, and the struggles they’ve gone through, and how they have got to where they are.’

By using these support networks, and running a tight ship, Joanne’s business is growing and growing and she has big plans for the future to expand into other areas of recruitment!  Joanne also met James Caan from Dragon’s Den, who was interested in helping Joanne make this growth vision a reality.
Although, she is clear to point out, that, although her business is very important, she wants to be able to live her life, and show her team that it’s possible to do this too. ‘Recruitment can be seen as quite a ruthless industry to get into and stay in successfully, long hours, late nights and weekends. But it doesn’t have to be! I want to have the ethos that you can work 9-5, 5 days a week with an hour for lunch and still provide a great service to candidates and clients – and make money!’, Joanne is keen to show her team that if a job becomes more than a job, then you can start to resent it and end up not enjoying it, which is the last thing she wants for her team!

So as her business grows, her team grows, but her working hours will stay the same, has Joanne Finnerty got the ultimate work/life balance figured out? We think she might have!

To find out more about JF Recruitment, please use the contact details below. And if you are a woman starting up your own business, or growing your business, then get in contact with The Women’s Organisation by ringing us on 0151 706 8111 or emailing hello@thewo.org.uk

Joanne Finnerty Recruitment Limited
49 Hamilton Square, Birkenhead CH41 5AR
T: 0151 601 5288
F: 0151 601 5299
M: 07952139740

Monday, June 8, 2015

Nicola Cookson Runs Charlton Recruitment With Teamwork At The Forefront Of Her Business

Nicola Cookson, founder and director of Charlton Recruitment enjoys her job and that’s easy to see from the smile on her face as she talks to us at our PR Day back in March. Charlton Recruitment is a hospitality recruitment agency that supplies staff, whether these are waiting-on staff, bar staff, Event Managers or chefs to clients around Liverpool.  Nicola has branched out with Charlton Recruitment and has been working also in Manchester and London too as the business grows month by month.
She is well versed in the management and organisation of staff as she was Staffing Manager at Compass Group for 15 years and says ‘I wanted a change, and thought, let’s give it a go!’, Leaving the security of a job you’ve been in for such a long time was never going to be easy, but at that point Nicola had a good group of contacts and networks and was able to start up contracts when she began Charlton Recruitment.

It wasn't until January 2015 that Nicola came across The Women’s Organisation on the internet after being ‘nosey on the internet’, and rang to see what we could do for her. After meeting with Senior Business Advisor; John Jones, Nicola was able to attend our fantastic Planning for Success Course and spend many hours with John speaking about her plans for Charlton Recruitment.

At the moment the system is simple for Charlton Recruitment and Nicola. She has a book of staff that she sends out the events to and those that can make it get back in touch with her and attend the events. But running a recruitment business isn’t as simple as it looks on the surface, and a lot of work goes on behind the scenes. As well as recruiting the staff and interviewing the staff, Nicola trains the staff to and ensures they are fully briefed on what they will be asked to do.

But one of the most important parts of running a successful business for Nicola is making sure the team that she sends out to events are happy and work well together. She says; ‘Team mentality is important. It’s great because a lot of the teams become friends, they work together and socialise together.’ Nicola likes to send the same team to the same client time after time, whenever possible and has received great feedback from her clients about her team. ‘I always pass this onto the team, it’s really important. It’s not me the client should be thanking, I just got them there, and they did the work!’

One of the things that Nicola did find a struggle when starting Charlton Recruitment, was the hard selling that is involved in recruitment; ‘You’ve got to be quite motivated to get onto the phones and continue to interact with new people. But you’ve got to do it, because when you meet a new potential client, that’s the moment that you get excited and carry on.’

As well as juggling the many roles of heading up Charlton Recruitment, Nicola also has an 8 year old son, but has found becoming self-employed has made juggling these roles easier. ‘Having the flexibility is great. When I worked at Compass, if there was ever a race on at the weekends, then I had to be there. So I did miss quite a few things when he was younger. Now it’s great, I can pick him up from school which I was never able to do, and work from home.’

And for the future? Nicola is currently securing more contracts, always looking for staff and growing her business step by step; ‘It would be great to take someone on in the next year or so, and in the long term get a premises if I had more staff.’ The Women’s Organisation are sure the future is bright for Nicola and wish her the very best of luck with Charlton Recruitment!