Wednesday, October 26, 2016

70% Of Women Leave The Workforce Due To Inflexible Jobs – Martha Hawkins Decided Not To…

Did you know that up to 70% of women leave the workforce after having children because they find it impossible to combine their careers and their family life? Martha Hawkins, Founder of Green Ginger Social was determined not to be a part of this statistic, and found out that starting her own business and becoming self-employed was the perfect solution. 

Green Ginger Social is a new social media marketing agency that Martha launched in June which helps small and medium sized businesses and charities make their social media work for them by advising, developing strategies or managing.  Prior to setting up her business Martha had worked within the marketing sector for the past 20 years, firstly cutting her teeth in theatres and then progressing to work for publishing houses in London, managing marketing and circulation for book and magazine portfolios. 

‘Then, following an amazing 18 months voluntary work and travelling in South America, I came to Liverpool to pick up my early arts career and was lucky enough to spend the last decade working within the city’s vibrant arts scene,’  Martha explains.

But, like so many women that we interact with here at The Women’s Organisation on a day to day basis; things began to change after Martha had children. Following redundancy, Martha was disheartened to discover just how difficult it is to find marketing roles at a senior level that offered part time or flexible working. ‘Rather than become part of that 70% statistic, I decided to work for myself,’  she explains.

And this is where Digital Mums comes into the mix. What is Digital Mums you ask? Well…It’s pretty much, exactly what it says on the tin! Digital Mums – train mums with in-demand digital skills to help them create stimulating, flexible careers that fit around family life. And that is just what Martha needed. 

‘Although I am a qualified and experienced marketing professional, once I came across Digital Mums, I realised that specialising in social media marketing would offer me a flexible and interesting area of work,’ Martha says.

‘Digital Mums take the natural talents and skills of mums, adds some innovative social media training and produces high calibre social media managers. They then match them to SME’s and charities that need help with their social media.’ 

This was the perfect training for Martha as she was able to take all of her previous knowledge and experience and add even more value with these extra specialist skills. 

Martha was able to learn while running live campaigns with Digital Mums. This gave her the hands on experience of managing social media campaigns as well as teaching her how to work with clients; ‘This was really useful as previously I’d always been the client,’  she says.

As well as the formal training and support she received from Digital Mums, Martha also got in touch with The Women’s Organisation as she discovered that the logistics involved in setting up a business to be daunting at a first glance. She says, ‘It was brilliant to have the support filling in the gaps in my knowledge.’ 

And as her business was gearing up to launch, Martha continued to work with Business Adviser, Francine Taylor to ensure that everything about Green Ginger Social would run smoothly once it was off the ground. 

‘Francine was a great help firming up my business plan. She asked some insightful questions and gave me some fantastic suggestions which really helped to clarify my thoughts. I’ve also attended several training courses at The Women’s Organisation and have joined Business Club and attended my first networking event. As I now work from home, I’m really appreciating the opportunity to get out and meet new people.’ 

Now Green Ginger Social is alive and kicking, it’s safe to say that Martha has achieved what so many women would love; ‘The holy grail of work/life balance,” says Martha.  ‘It has allowed me to continue to work in a fulfilling career but the hours are flexible enough that I can still spend time with my children and pursue other interests.’ 

Since setting up Green Ginger Social, Martha has already advised several organisations on the best strategy for the businesses and has been advising Social Business Trust, an organisation based in London. Her clients now stretch across Europe from London to Devon to Madrid. ‘I am really proud of what I have achieved so far. Although I have worked in some amazing organisations in my career, working for myself has brought a new set of challenges and an even better set of rewards.’

If you would like to find out more information about Green Ginger Social and the type of services that Martha can offer to a business’s social media – then head over to the website or use the contact details below.
Twitter: @MainlyMartha
Phone Number: 07828704168

And if you’ve been inspired by Martha’s story and would like support and advice starting your own business, get in touch with us! Contact The Women’s Organisation on or ring us on 0151 706 8111

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

DIGA Project Holds Dissemination Event in Brussels, Introduced by Alessia Mosca MEP

October is proving a very international month at The Women's Organisation with project work in Asia and across Europe! Our CEO Maggie O'Carroll and Principal Consultant & Project Manager Lisa McMullan headed to Brussels to hold a special event on 12th October as part of the DIGA (Digital Innovations for Growth Academy) project. 

The event invited MEP's and enterprise experts from across Europe to meet together and hear about the findings of the DIGA project, and to look at the learning programme that has been developed to enable enterprise trainers and educators to effectively support entrepreneurs to think digital while growing their businesses. 

The event was opened be MEP Alessia Mosca who introduced Anna Danti, Policy Officer with European Commission DG for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs giving an overview of how the European Commission is committed to supporting women entrepreneurs. 
Opening Speech from MEP Alessia Mosca
Dr Briga Hynes from DIGA partners Kemmy Business School at the University of Limerick presented the key findings from the initial research conducted through the DIGA Project, reflecting on how that has influenced the project development so far.  Click here for a summary of those findings presented by Briga. 

Next up was DIGA Project Manager Lisa McMullan from The Women's Organisation.  Lisa talked through the learning modules that have been developed through the project which have recently been pilotted across Europe with Enterprise Trainers and Educators, upskilling them in key digital competancies related to enterprise so they can better advise the businesses they are working with.   The modules cover:

Dr Briga Hynes Discussing DIGA Research Findings
1.Enhancing digital awareness and knowledge
2.The role and use of digital technologies and their benefits to business
3.Making digital deliver for the start-up and small business
4.Enabling and supporting the development of an entrepreneurial digital strategy

5.Designing integrated digital competence entrepreneur support/programmes

Once the DIGA Programme had been presented, female entrepreneurship specialist Madi Sharma Hosted a panel discussion around 'Digital Innovation to Promote Entrepreneurship'. Joining the panel were:

• Theresa Griffin, MEP European Parliament, UK
• Martha Ivanovas, Government Affairs Manager Dell
• Janne Elvelid, Policy Officer DG CONNECT, European Commission
• Maggie O´Carroll, Chief Executive Officer, The Women´s Organisation (DIGA Partner)

• Caridad Martinez Carrillo de Albornoz, CEO Inercia Digital (DIGA Partner)

Panel Discussion

Key themes arising from the discussion included:

  • The importance of using our practical research from DIGA and the experience of the expert organisations involved to influence European Policy, and connecting with our MEP's to help influence the policy agenda.
  • The need for digital economy policy and initiatives to be gender-proofed to strengthen and improve the sustainability of more small businesses It was interesting to see good practice examples from the private sector highlighted by colleagues from Dell around supporting start up s and women entrepreneurs.

It was great to connect with other EU Projects as part of the event, finding out a bit more about 'WEHubs' a European Project aimed at supporting Women Web Entrepreneurs. 

The event concluded with a round up courtesy of Eva Fabry, Director of DIGA Partners European Centre for Women and Technology. 

We'd like to thank our UK MEP's Julie Ward and Theresa Griffin for supporting the event. 

To find out more about the Erasmus Plus funded project 'DIGA' please click here

Monday, October 24, 2016

Enterprise Hub Start-up Conference Came to Sefton with 3 Inspirational Entrerpreneurs in Tow

Jo & Sabah from The Women's Organisation
Last week we took our FREE 'Business Start-up Conference' to Sefton. This event is offered as part of the Enterprise Hub project, a European funded programme offering expert advice and support to start in business through a consortium of delivery partners including: The Women’s Organisation, SAFE Regeneration, St Helens Chamber, Granby Toxteth Development Trust, Everton Development Trust, Alt Valley Community Trust, The Prince's Trust, Merseyside Expanding Horizons and Franchising Works.

The conference took place on Thursday 20th October at the new fantastic conference centre within the Hugh Baird campus, L20 Hub.  A huge thanks to InvestSefton who assisted us in organising a fabulous morning, and arranged the delicious refreshments served- warm crispy pastries accompanied by hot tea and coffee, perfect on a cold day!
InvestSefton is an enterprise, business support and inward investment service of Sefton Council. This aims to make Sefton an attractive and easy place for new and old business to thrive. Kris Swift and Julie Swarbrick from Invest Sefton were on hand at the event to encourage budding entrepreneurs to keep in touch with their team throughout their business journey to receive help and advice.

The morning was hosted by Jo Austin from Enterprise Hub Partner The Women’s Organisation who gave all attendees a quick introduction into Enterprise Hub and how it is a great time to access free support to get started.

Cheryl Grogan was inspirational
Our first inspirational speaker of the morning was Cheryl Grogan who has recently set up a soft play centre, AJ’s Playdays, which is due to open on Stanley Road in Bootle, later this month. Cheryl spoke about choosing self-employment to enable her to create a job for herself that fits around her children. Cheryl also emphasised that ‘market research’ was very important in the process of setting up and that she literally wouldn’t have got to the point of launch if she hadn’t tapped into advice from Yan Miao, business advisor at The Women’s Organisation.  She also said not to listen to those close to you who might worry about self-employment not being a steady income as they will soon be positive when they realise what you have achieved.
Jack & Julie offered real insight

Next, Jack Foster from Crosby Coffee was interviewed by Business Growth Adviser from Invest Sefton Julie Swarbrick, who had helped him to get his business off the ground and growing.  Jack started roasting coffee at home in a popcorn machine as a hobby, but soon found friends were asking him for his coffee and he built a demand testing the market by taking his product to a local farmers market in Sefton.  He received advice and support to build on his idea and now has a unit in Sefton with staff, and is getting help from Sefton@Work – partners of InvestSefton, to recruit more staff through a scheme they have that helps to fund initial cost of wages. Jack also highlighted the importance of market research, and advised that social media is one of the best platforms to promote business.

Kevin Murphy's practical tips were great
Our third impressive entrepreneur was Kevin Murphy from Rentaspace who spoke about how he built his storage empire from 2005 to a nationwide venture turning over £5mil+. He then sold it and started again in 2015 with Rentaspace which is a flexible storage facility on Dunningsbridge Road in Sefton.  Kevin is keen to support other entrepreneurs so has set up a hot desk space within his facility that he welcomes small businesses to use free if they want somewhere to hold meetings or just have desk space for a while. Kevin’s advice is that you only get out what you are prepared to put in and that it is essential to build a network around you to take away the loneliness of self-employment.

Our key event partners were Startup Direct, an organisation that provides government-backed funding, mentoring and support to small businesses as part of the UK governments Start Up Loans Scheme. Ali McGrath from The Women’s Organisation spoke on behalf of Startup Direct stepping through the benefits of the scheme and offering advice about getting yourself investment ready.

The programme also included activities which explored the 'Pros and Cons of Self Employment' and understanding why businesses fail so we can avoid making mistakes early on. This was highly enjoyed by attendees and gave them an insight into self employment.

Below are some comments received as part of the feedback:

“I have found this session really inspiring and don’t feel as scared of making the jump into working for myself.”

“I think it’s amazing the amount of help Invest Sefton and Enterprise Hub have to offer, I feel my knowledge and conference has grown just rom attending this workshop today.”

“Absolutely fantastic, didn’t know it existed will attend further workshops.”

“Really helped with my confidence in moving forward with my business.”

“Highly recommended the course for anyone with an idea.”

“Positive and good introduction for individual considering self-employment.”

It was great to see representatives from the Local Growth Hub also supporting the event and helping to raise awareness that there is support for every business no matter what stage via

It was a busy morning but we are glad that it benefitted so many attendees. Don’t worry if you missed out because we are hoping to deliver similar sessions across the boroughs within Merseyside, so keep an eye on @MerseyEntHub on twitter and contact our team on 0151 706 8113 to find out how to join the programme. 

Thursday, October 20, 2016

The Women’s Organisation Consultancy Arm Expands to Work in Thailand!

Enterprise Evolution, the consultancy arm of The Women’s Organisation is continuing with its international work, having just completed a British Council Funded project in Thailand.

Enterprise Evolution, which aims to embed entrepreneurial approaches in individuals and organisations, has been working with Grwp Llandrillo Menai (GLLM), a Further Education college in North Wales, to develop entrepreneurship curriculum in Thailand’s vocation education sector.
Photos from Enterprise Evolution's latest Thailand trip!
Our team were commissioned by GLLM to work with the British Council in Thailand and OVEC (the Office of Vocational Educational Commission) in Thailand who are responsible for tailoring vocational education and training to the needs of the labour market. They were tasked with undertaking research and making recommendations for strengthening student entrepreneurship.

Photos from Enterprise Evolution's latest Thailand trip!

Enterprise Evolution first visited Thailand back in March, again in June and have recently returned this month. On their first visit they met with key policy makers and influencers including entrepreneurship educators, entrepreneurs, employers and students. Here they were asked for their recommendations on how to strengthen the entrepreneurial activities that were taking place in colleges and help develop a curriculum similar to the quality of those we have in the UK.

When they returned to Thailand in June, Enterprise Evolution presented their findings to OVEC and began to look at how their recommendations could be implemented into the curriculum. And on their latest trip the team worked with 30 enterprise educators introducing the new curriculum and building the teachers capacity to teach in an entrepreneurial way.

Photos from Enterprise Evolution's latest Thailand trip!

Lisa McMullan, our Project Manager and Principal Consultant of Enterprise Evolution told us; ‘It’s been great to work with policy makers, teachers, directors and leaders of the colleges in Thailand to develop and deliver new approaches to entrepreneurship education. There is a real commitment and desire to increase the number of businesses started in Thailand and to support young people in particular to be more entrepreneurial – through self-employment or when working for others.’

The proposals and recommendations made by the GLLM and Enterprise Evolution are now being taken forward by OVEC with a view to introducing the new approach by the end of the year! 

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Excelerate Labs Join the Northern Enterprise Conference 2016

Janine Hyland & Ameena Ahmed from Excelerate Labs
Our 'Exelerate Labs' team (the Greater Manchester business growth support project of The Women’s Organisation) were thrilled to support the Northern Enterprise 2016 Conference last week, held at Victoria Warehouse in Manchester.

The event, organised by Social Enterprise Network, aimed to shape and drive the devolution agenda in the north, and provide enterprising and socially minded businesses with an opportunity to explore partnerships, and collaborative opportunities that create positive social impact. A number of influential speakers joined the event including Rt Hon Hazel Blears, Philip Blond (Managing Director of Respublica), RT Hon Rob Wilson (MP Minister for Civil Society) ,Cliff Prior (CEO Big Society Capital), and Chris Murray (CEO Core Cities).

The fabulous awards dinner concluded the conference

During the conference a variety of master classes took place, showcasing innovation and best practice in the social sector.  Exelerate Labs own Enterprise Enablers Ameena Ahmed and Janine Hyland delivered a master class on ‘Top tips for growing your business’. This was attended by 10 local social organisations and SME businesses, who had opportunity to work interactively with our facilitators, taking lots of useful hints and tips to scale their work.

Ameena Ahmed present 'Female Entrepreneur' Award
The conference culminated with the Northern Enterprise 2016 Awards, which recognise the achievements of individuals and businesses that are shining beacons of social value best practice. The Women’s Organisation sponsored the ' Female entrepreneur of the year award’ which had a number of brilliant nominees put forward. On the night the worthy winner was Gina Jones, CEO of ‘Always Active’ , an organisation set up to support dementia sufferers. Gina has been a recipient of The Women’s Organisation's support in previous years and has set up a diverse range of businesses spanning from golfing to children’s entertainment. Excelerate Labs Business Growth Adviser Ameena Ahmed presented the award on behalf of The Women’s Organisation.

Ameena with Female Entrepreneur winner Gina Jones

During the conference a number of connections were made between Exelerate Labs and infrastructure bodies such as social investment companies like Big Society Capital and support groups such as GMCVO, so it was a great networking opportunity.

Excelerate Labs is a new business growth programme aimed at businesses in Greater Manchester and part funded by European Regional Development Fund. If you are working in a B2B sector in the Greater Manchester area and are looking for support to grow your business, the expert Excelerate Labs team may be able to help you FREE! Drop a line to to find out more. 

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Helen Pankhurst Asked The W.O 'What Would Our Great Grandmother's Say?'

In continued celebration of The Women’s Organisations 20th Birthday, we recently welcomed Dr Helen Pankhurst through our doors for a very special event. Dr Helen Pankhurst is very much following in the awe-inspiring footpath of her great Grandmother Emmeline Pankhurst, a British political activist and leader of the suffragette movement who helped women win the right to vote.

Dr Helen Pankhurst is a women’s rights activist and senior advisor to the humanitarian and development agency CARE International, a Board Member of ActionAid, and a Visiting Professor at the LSE and at Manchester Metropolitan University. She works partly in Ethiopia supporting the development of programs focused on the interests and needs of women and girls. In the UK, she is a public speaker and writer on feminist issues.

Women have come a long way since the Suffragette movement, but the fight for economic equality continues – nowhere more so than here at The Women’s Organisation; the largest developer and deliverer of enterprise support targeting women in the UK led by our CEO, Maggie O’Carroll. 

So what happened when we brought together two of the pioneers leading today's women's rights movement? We looked back at just how far we have come over the past 20 years in improving women’s economic development, considering the changes in women’s lives over the last century and of course, we asked Helen – What would your Great Grandmother say?

Helen spent a moment reflecting on her great grandmother, Emmeline Pankhurst, identifying the three crucial motives of the Suffragettes. This began with institutional and legal change in allowing women the right to vote, “but there were two other phenomenally important elements, the first is agency; women standing up and doing something in their own lives – looking at things differently and conceiving of the world differently”. The women’s rights movement exists because a single person has classified attitudes towards women as oppressive and dared to imagine a different world. 

The last and most crucial element of the Suffragette movement was moving from agency to action and actively challenging social norms, “changing the white society’s views about what women could and couldn’t do”. Helen argued that these three crucial elements can still be applied to any women's work that takes place today; such as what goes on right here at The Women's Organisation in striving for economic equality - recognising something as problematic and doing something to change it. 

Helen paid particular attention to the critical importance of role models – people who teach and inspire us to see the world in a new light and who are often prone to being teared down by the media, “We need to raise them up when we see them and support them when the media then turns on them. For every woman that is brought up, the media will have a field day in cutting them down … Social media has a tremendous opportunity to hold to account main media”

Social media was a running theme of the event and Helen encouraged us to reclaim the internet as a source of power by engaging in ‘call-out culture’. Furthermore, to contemplate how we can use social media as a platform to reiterate facts and statistics and remind people that there is still a need to fight for gender equality, “a lack of data causes a problem, we’ve seen in a referendum just how dangerous a lack of facts can be … One of the things we can really do through social media and in other ways is to get those facts out there”.

The event taught us that social media is encouraging us to break down the barriers of not only gender, but also race, class, religion etc.; “these simplistic schisms, blow them away and let’s see who people are and who they want to be. Once we allow people to be who they want to, things become a lot more interesting”

The brave and courageous actions from the Suffragettes prompted a feminist movement that we continue today. When asking Helen just what her Great Grandmother would say, she told us that each success no matter how big or small is a mark of victory and indeed a step in the right direction.

Feedback of the event left from the attendees included:

“Greatness at its best – what amazing conversations”

“Language … How impactive and potentially negative. Language such as ‘you guys’, ‘grow a pair’, ‘man up!’”

“A room full of power and inspiration – thank you”

“Fabulous, thought-provoking and inspiring”

“Great questions and a very useful reminder that we are all role models”

“Helen is a brilliant woman who speaks our language”

“A call to action. Time to think big thoughts again. What a great event”

“A privilege to be a part of this discussion – inspiring”

If you would like to be kept up to date with our future events, then head over to the events page of our website

Cheryl Grogan Noticed A Gap In The Market And Filled It With AJ’s Play Days!

Cheryl Grogan found her passion which she turned into a business after noticing a gap in the market! This month her new business; AJ’s Play Days is launching!  AJ’s Play Days is a soft play centre aimed at children under the age of 5 with a specific focus on the development needs of babies and toddlers through play. It will help parents bond with their children by offering bay and toddler yoga, positive parenting classes, hypnobirthing and a relaxation area.

Twenty-something Cheryl told us; ‘Whilst I was on maternity leave I noticed that there were not many places where a mum can take their smaller children without being uncomfortable and feeling out of their depth, especially parents with more than one child.’

‘When I was later offered redundancy I jumped at the chance of starting my own business. I have always wanted to be my own boss and the flexibility of having 2 small children was a must. I wanted to be able to spend time with my children and hopefully offer other parents a comfortable, relaxing place where they could take their babies and toddlers.’

But as AJ’s isn’t just an ordinary soft play centre, it’s clear to see that there was another area of interest that Cheryl took into consideration when imagining her business up and running…Developmental Psychology and Cheryl told us that after having her two children she used the techniques that she had studied; ‘I found that I enjoyed watching my boys reach a higher potential than I could imagine’ – and this was the aspect that she wanted to share with other parents and families.

To get started Cheryl contacted The Women’s Organisation and began working with our Business Adviser; Yan Miao. One of the biggest aspects that Cheryl considered before starting her business is something so many other business start-ups undervalue – Market Research. ‘I conducted questionnaires within children’s centres and nurseries to find out exactly what people wanted from a baby and toddler soft play.’ And Cheryl also was able to use her skills as a trained baby and toddler yoga instructor when she was thinking about classes for AJ’s Play Day’s ‘My part time job is teaching baby and toddler yoga classes so I used this to my advantage as I could ask opinions of other parents about design options. I also tested out the yoga classes on my two boys.’

Working alongside Yan, Cheryl began to get her business set up, but like all entrepreneurs faced a few barriers along the way – for Cheryl it was difficulties with her premises; ‘I had to undertake a change of usage for my property which was really long and drawn out, it took almost 16 weeks to complete! And at one point I faced losing the property I had set my heart on. Now that part has been approved all of the other legal steps are the next daunting part.’  
‘Each step along this journey has been scary but exciting. It has taken a long time to get to where I am and at each hurdle it was hard not to give up, but now I am so close to completing everything, I’m extremely happy knowing I have made the right choice.’

And working with Yan has been that extra support and guidance that Cheryl needed; ‘I have received tremendous amounts of advice from The Women’s Organisation. I found the extremely helpful and I feel I would not have had the confidence or knowledge to have set up with business if I didn’t have the help of Yan, my Business Adviser.’

Now AJ’s Play Day’s is open for business and Cheryl couldn’t be happier – she has finally succeeded in her dream of working for herself and is relishing in the benefits that self-employment can bring; ‘I now have the freedom to make my own choices and spend time with my children. I feel so confident and proud that I have come this far. I didn’t think I would ever be able to run my own business, or even reach the point where I am at – but here I am!’

If you would like to find out more about AJ’s Play Day’s and maybe pay them a visit, you can do so by using the contact details below!

Phone Number: 077409540409
Address: 72 Stanley Road, Liverpool, Merseyside, L5 7QQ

And if you’ve been inspired by Cheryl’s story and would like support starting your own business, then get in touch with us! Ring us on 0151 706 8111 or email us on

The Skills and Opportunities Fund is one of the many ways that the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) is contributing to the communities they live and work in. In 2015, they committed £2.5M to fund projects in charities, social enterprises, community groups, state-funded schools and colleges across the UK and Ireland, and they have allocated a further £2.5m to be spit across two round in 2016.

At Just 26 Anna Slater Is Building Her Business Empire - North West Linen Services Ltd.

At only 26 Anna Slater is a force to be reckoned with. She is the founder of North West Linen Services Ltd – a business that has already created 5 jobs within the past 2 years with a view to take on another 2 members of staff this year. 

North West Linen Services Ltd is described by Anna as; ‘A family run laundry business dedicated to serving clients throughout Lancashire, Merseyside and the Wirral, with a range of customers from well-established hotel/restaurant chains to independent hotels, to catering companies, event dressers and wedding venues.’

Prior to starting her own business Anna had worked in the industry for the best part of 10 years but had also spent time working as a teaching assistant and an outdoor education instructor. Anna says; ‘I was bored of the jobs that I had been doing and wanted something new and exciting’. Self-employment is clearly in her blood as her father ran his own business so Anna had seen first-hand the benefits that working for yourself can bring. 

‘I had always envisioned being self-employed but I didn’t think it would happen.’ And like most people who are considering self-employment there was always the fear factor; ‘Leaving a job where I knew I had an income and taking the risk on setting up a business was a scary prospect, especially at 24!’

The opportunity to set up North West Linen Services Ltd. came about after Anna was approached by a former client of hers and asked if it was possible for her to provide the  laundry services for the company he worked for and says that; ‘I thought, this is worth a shot.’ 

Although she then realised at only 24 with no previous track record of running a business, that financing this would be the next challenge. ‘I was then introduced to Merseyside Special Investment Fund (MSIF) by a former employer’, Anna secured a loan in 2014 and went onto secure a further loan through The North West Fund for Micro Loans, which MSIF manages, which she used to set up commercial premise, invest in equipment and take on new staff.

‘MSIF have been so supportive. Without them there is no way I would have been able to launch the business. The fact that they have had the faith to provide follow-on investment has really spurred me on and fuelled my ambition to continue to grow the company.’

As well as working closely with MSIF, Anna was directed to The Women’s Organisation via her local growth hub. ‘I had help putting together my original business plan and since then have received growth support. My Business Adviser Francine has been wonderful in helping me to focus on where I want to be and how I can get there. She has made me realise that I don’t have to stick the same things and that I can branch out.’

But of course the last 2 years haven’t been smooth sailing for Anna as with most business start-up stories – it’s been a challenge! At the start of North West Linen Services Anna still held down a full time job and worked on her business during the evenings. ‘At the beginning I had no life at all! I didn’t see my friends or much of my family. But once I left my full time job and now fully focus on the business I have managed to find time for myself again!’ 

Anna has also taken something that others might consider an obstacle and channelled it into something positive and motivational; ‘I’m dyslexic and was diagnosed later on in life. If anything this diagnosis made me want to become self-employed even more!’

‘I haven’t got the right mind-set to sit in a classroom and get the degree that would have enabled me to get a job that could provide me with the financial means to have the freedom I want. So I decided that working for myself was the way forward!’

And does Anna have any advice for others who are thinking about working for themselves? Well, yes – she has quite a bit! ‘My key piece of advice would be to try and get a good mentor – someone impartial who can give you honest views. Also research your market until you can’t research it anymore! And this is a cliché but it works – Always follow your gut.’

We have no doubt that North West Linen Services will continue to grow and grow as Anna aims to double her turnover within a year and gain new customers throughout the North West. ‘I’m only 26 and if you’d have asked me 5 years ago did I think that this was possible, I would have said no! It’s been one roller coaster journey, but I wouldn’t change it for the world'

If you would like to find out more about Anna's business you can do so by visiting their website here!

And if you've been inspired by Anna's story and would like support starting or growing your business, then get in touch with us! You can ring us on 0151 706 8111 or email us on