Thursday, February 23, 2017

Want To Grow? Ask Yourself These Questions!

It is important to think about the finance your business will need in order for you to make sure it not only survives the potentially difficult first few months, but also that you have the best possible chance to grow in the future. 

The following questions are a useful starting point when you are looking to access finance for business:-

How much finance is required? 
It is only when you have sat down and listed all the things you would want to get your business off the ground that will get an idea of the potential costs. It is useful also to have some ‘contingency’ i.e. in case additional costs are incurred that you hadn’t thought of. If you are looking to raise finance for business development the same rule applies.  Look at the project you are looking to raise finance for and list every cost involved.

Where can I go to access funding? 
This really depends on the amount of funding needed. For example, if your venture needs less than £10,000 and you are in the early stages of business development then a good place to start would be the Government Start-Up Loan Scheme. If you need more than £10,000 it may be a combination of potential lenders. It helps, however, if you have some money to put into the business yourself (or perhaps some backing from friends and/ or family).

How long will the funds be needed? 
If you take on a loan from The Start Up Loan Scheme you can repay this over 1 to 5 years. For larger projects it may be possible to repay loans over 10 or more years. It very much depends on both the amount of the loan and what the monies were needed for.

What if things change and I need additional finance? 
As long as you can demonstrate that you are running the business well, you may be able to access further finance to assist your growth plans. This is why it is important to have a good business plan in the first place and also to monitor how well you are doing compared against your plan. 

How can I make my finances better? 
This can be difficult to answer, but there are some common sense principles that cover most types of business. For example, keep on top of your credit control (make sure your customers pay you promptly); try to keep stock levels as low as possible (but making sure you don’t run out of stock!!); keep up-to-date with the latest opportunities (for example when local councils may be inviting companies to tender for work). 

If your business is looking for debt finance then a well-written business plan is definitely a must. This will demonstrate how your business will be able to meet the interest charges and repay the capital element of any loans.

Whether you are looking for finance to start or grow an existing business, The Women's Organisation are experts in helping businesses to develop a business plan and access finance.  For advice around the best financial options for you and guidance to build a robust business plan contact our team on 0151 706 8111 or

If your business is looking to expand through taking on new staff or significantly increasing turnover through accessing new markets, contact our team to find out about support and eligibility for our 'Women's Growth Accelerator' New Markets 2 Programme in Merseyside or Halton, or the 'Excelerate Labs' programme in Greater Manchester. Contact us on 0151 706 8111 or email 

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

CHANGE IT: Reflecting on Our Current Programme and Looking Ahead to the Next ... 💪💪

Earlier this month we launched a brand new confidence-building programme for the women of Merseyside. As our first 4-week ‘Change It: Progress to Success’ is coming to its end, we thought this would be a good time to catch up with the current cohort, see how they’re getting on, and look ahead to the next programme due to start on Monday 20th of March at 54 St James Street.

“Change It: Progress to Success” is a personal development course that aims to inspire women to feel more confident about what they can achieve. Our trainers will encourage you to think about what it is you want to change, and then help you believe that you can do it.

The programme covers many topics including becoming more assertive and breaking negative thinking habits in order to develop a more positive outlook in all aspects of life. Throughout ‘Change It’ our trainers will help you to learn more about yourself, set achievable goals and plan for a future that you want.

Jenny Wallwork, our Training and Development Specialist, is leading the 4-week programme from 54 St James Street, home of The Women’s Organisation. We caught up with Jenny and the women on her programme to find out more about what they’ve took from the past few weeks.

'Change It' Trainer, Jenny said: "My first ‘Change it’ course’ has been inspiring to myself, working with women from many different backgrounds, who have for some, experienced many challenges in their lives.  Being able to be a part of their journey of change and witness the growth in their confidence and self-esteem, has been a privilege and I look forward to meeting the next cohort."

 Comments from women on the programme included;

“Jenny is a very enthusiastic and knowledgeable trainer who has been welcoming and informative”

“The course is called ‘Change It’, but together we are changing ourselves”

“Feeling empowered”

“I did a ‘one-day’ confidence building course a few years ago and wanted to do more but at the time there didn’t appear to be anything between that and business start-up courses – so thanks for listening” 

“The course and Jenny left me feeling empowered, supported and able to make the changes I want”

“’Change It’ is boss! Jenny is great, very friendly and approachable. Positive thinking and assertiveness modules have helped me already in my day to day – I don’t want the course to end!” 

Over the next three years, we intend to work with over 500 women developing confidence and helping women to see their true potential. We’re thrilled to have such great feedback from the programme and we’re now already preparing for our next. So if you missed our last cohort – it’s not too late to book your place onto the next, which will begin on Monday 20th of March, at The Women's Organisation.

If you are a woman who would like to book a place or find out more about the programme, please contact our engagement team on 0151 706 8111 or email

Monday, February 20, 2017

Sarah Wilson-Gibbons Is Provided Support To Grow Her Business; Hey Little Cupcake

Cupcakes are hugely popular and to satisfy the nation’s appetite lots of new businesses are baking, decorating and supplying them to local cafes and shops. Hey Little Cupcakes, Sarah’s business has been creating cupcakes and been part of this success for the last five years. 

Hey Little Cupcake can produce everything from simple celebration cakes right up to the most elaborate wedding cakes. At all stages from enquiry and design to delivery, they offer a personal and friendly service.

The Women’s Organisation provided business growth support to Sarah and working with an Adviser Sarah was given a sounding board and expert advice on how to prioritise her business growth needs. Working with Business Adviser; Ameena Ahmed

Sarah has created a three-year strategic business plan and has a clear plan to move forward and continue generating income, expand her staff team and purchase new equipment for the business. 

Excelerate Labs, our business growth programme for Manchester, is part funded by European Regional Development Fund and offers FREE business growth consultancy to businesses registered in Greater Manchester who are operating in a business to business sector and ready to grow.

Excelerate Labs expert Business Growth Advisers can support you with:

• Developing Growth Strategy

• Accessing Markets

• Building Strategic Sales & Marketing Plans

• Developing Effective Leadership

• Gaining Support with Financial Management, Procurement, Bids & Tenders

• Linking to Networks & Developing Strategic Partnerships

• Measuring & Understanding Corporate Social Responsibility

Or building your business in another way. 

If you are interested in receiving support contact our team via 

Elizabeth Forrest Turned Her 'Plan B' Into a Business - Forrest Talking Therapies

Elizabeth Forrest had always dreamed of running her own therapy practice, so when her situation changed in 2015, it was the opportunity that she needed to take the leap into self-employment and set up her own business; Forrest Talking Therapies.

Forrest Talking Therapies describes itself as ‘A professional and confidential service in Crosby providing Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) to individuals experiencing anxiety and/or depression.’ As well as this Elizabeth also offers clinical supervision for other practicing CBT therapists. 

Prior to setting up her own business Elizabeth worked for 4 years as a person-centred counsellor in various settings, including the NHS, Age Concern and Sefton Choices where Elizabeth gained experience helping people to overcome a range of problems including bereavement, relationship difficulties, depression, anxiety or sexual abuse. As well as this, from 2006-2010 Elizabeth worked as a Referral Officer for Sefton Council’s Creative 
Alternatives on a prescription programme, providing support for depression and anxiety. 

It was in 2015 when Elizabeth reduced her hours working within the NHS to 4 days per week that she began to think about setting up her own business; ‘I’d had a difficult time in my personal life, and things had also been difficult in my role in the NHS after the service I worked for went through a re-contracting process and my job was put at risk.’

‘This made me realise that I couldn’t 100% rely on this work and a Plan B would help if I ever found myself in this position again.’ But Elizabeth found from reducing her working hours, the extra time that she had to herself was really helpful for her and began to feel she had the energy to take on a new challenge.

‘It was at this time that a colleague, who had set up his own practice, asked me to supervise him. To do this I had to go through the process of getting insurance, so I thought that this was the perfect opportunity to set up my own business.’ 

At this point Elizabeth asked her colleague for advice and also contacted The Women’s Organisation, as well as researching online and reading around the topic of setting up a therapy business. Elizabeth says; ‘I felt slightly daunted by all the work to do but also excited about the new adventure.’ 

Over a period of 6 months Elizabeth worked with Senior Business Adviser; Huda Mamoun on her business plan and was guided along the process of becoming self-employed. ‘The meetings with Huda were really helpful in getting me to focus on what needed to be done and give me set deadlines to work to.’ As well as this, Elizabeth attended our training courses with Bernie; Planning for Success and Building a Social Media Strategy. 

And throughout the process of setting up her business there were many things that Elizabeth had to juggle continuing to work 4 days a week in the NHS and working with 2 colleagues to set up the Liverpool Branch of the British Association for Cognitive and Behavioural Psychotherapists which provides networking and training events. 

As well as this when setting up her business and over the last few years in general Elizabeth became very aware of her emotional well being and made sure she was looking after herself. She told us; ‘This is part of what motivates me to have my own business as it gives me control over my workload.’

In fact, having the control, flexibility and independence of being the boss is what Elizabeth enjoys most about being self-employed, as well as the variety that each day offers. ‘It allows me to make time for the things that rejuvenate me such as going to the gym, practicing mindfulness, reading and spending time with my loved ones.’

So far, Elizabeth says that she is happy with the way that Forrest Talking Therapies is going and told us; ‘I have taken on a contract from an organisation that provides CBT online so I’m getting regular work through them. And I’m regularly seeing clients for face to face work and continue to supervise.’

And what advice would Elizabeth give to a woman who was thinking about starting her own business; ‘Contact The Women’s Organisation, this was so valuable to me! Also, make lots of time for planning before you launch as you’ll be surprised how much you need to think about and put into place before you start earning an income.’

‘Allow yourself to dream about where you want to be in 5 years’ time and then start setting yourself small goals to move towards tis. Before you know it you’ll be living your dream!’ 

If you’d like to find out more Forrest Talking Therapies or access the services that Elizabeth offers, you can use the contact details below!

Phone Number: 07926 485 362

And if you’ve been inspired by Elizabeth’s story and would like to see how The Women’s Organisation can help you with your business idea, get in touch with us. Email or ring us on 0151 706 8111

Friday, February 10, 2017

'If It Needs Writing, We Can Do It!' - Copy Media On Starting Their Business...

When interviewing women for our case studies, it’s not often that they tell us that interviewing others is at the very centre of the skill and craft of what they do, but that was certainly the case with Janet Tansley and Dawn Collinson, the two halves of Copy Media. So you might say that we felt slightly daunted when heading down to their offices in Liverpool’s business district one crisp morning. But we needn’t have worried because Copy Media were fantastic interviewees and have a brilliant story of their journey into self-employment that we want to share with you!

‘If it needs writing we can do it’ Janet Tansley told us when asked to describe the business Copy Media. ‘Our business, in essence, is copywriting - writing features for magazines and national newspapers, press releases for PR companies, website content, ghostwriting books - we can turn our hand to most things.’

Dawn Collinson continued: ‘We write copy for individuals as well, so if people need papers preparing, business pitches or sponsorship applications writing, then we can work with them on those too.’

Between them Dawn and Janet have more than 60 years’ professional experience. Both have journalism backgrounds and actually trained together at the University of Central Lancashire back in 1983. Janet says: ‘We’ve been in the business a very long time. I first worked on a weekly newspaper in Stockport as a crime reporter and then joined the Liverpool Echo, where for 28 years I was a news reporter, women’s editor, features editor and ultimately a features writer.’

Dawn’s career followed a similar path also, starting out with weekly newspapers, evening newspapers and then lifestyle and fashion magazines. ‘I also worked in America for a short time, as the Echo used to own papers there, and then I joined Janet in the features department. We worked alongside each other for 18 years on human interest stories, fashion, beauty, showbiz and topical news features.’

After working so closely together for so many years, it seemed only natural to consider joint projects when they were offered redundancy from the Liverpool Echo. ‘We had previously talked about starting our own business,’ said Janet, ‘and when redundancy was offered to us we saw it as an opportunity to stick with what we are good at and enjoy, and develop that while working for ourselves.’

The first thing they did after deciding they wanted to set up on their own was … contact The Women’s Organisation!

Through their journalistic experience, Dawn and Janet were familiar with our work and also liked the idea of accessing support from an organisation that empowers females. They were paired up with business adviser Jo Mountfort and took full advantage of the courses we have on offer.

Dawn said ‘Our regular meetings with Jo were great, it was nice to have somebody reminding us that our skills were worth having.’ Janet agreed: ‘It made something that could seem like a minefield going forward, so much easier. We were given a path and we could see from A to B quite clearly.’

Now they have launched Copy Media, Janet and Dawn have been overwhelmed with the support that they’ve had from the strong network of contacts built up during their careers. Dawn says: ‘We have a wide network and people were good to us so we didn’t just walk out of the door into nothing. Even if it was just moral support, it was all support and it was nice to have.’

Everything is going extremely well for Janet and Dawn and they now combine copywriting with all the other aspects which come with running a business, such as bookkeeping, procuring work and running their social media channels. Janet says: ‘As journalists we were always encouraged to be self-motivated, we don’t sit around and wait for things to be handed to us. This has helped our transition from working for somebody else to working for ourselves. We are quite strict with ourselves and obviously we’re used to working to deadlines so that’s been helpful.’

The pair are now enjoying the benefits of being their own bosses and the flexibility that brings, which extends to the different types of work that they are now asked to do, such as proofreading and ghostwriting books, aspects they hadn’t previously considered. ‘We can now choose what we do and there are so many different elements. It’s fresh and like starting all over again,’ said Janet.

The New Year saw them evaluate how the past six months had gone, since they launched their business in June 2016, and plan for the year ahead. Dawn explained: ‘We’d been quite fortunate as a lot of work had come our way through people we knew, so we hadn’t had to actively target businesses or gone out promoting ourselves. Now we know what we’re capable of and we have the confidence to go out and pitch the range of services we can offer.’

They both agree that taking redundancy and going out own their own has been the right decision. Dawn says: ‘Every week and every month have confirmed that we’ve done the right thing. We’re happy about what we’ve done and increasingly confident about the future of Copy Media.’ Janet added: ‘We’re really grateful for all of the help that we’ve had because it’s made a huge difference. That wave of positivity behind us has really pushed us on.’

We wish Copy Media the best of luck for the future with their business and are delighted to have been able to support them!

If you would like to find out more about Copy Media and their services, you can use the contact details below:

And if you’ve been inspired by Janet and Dawn’s story and would like to find out how The Women’s Organisation can support you to start your own business, then get in touch with us! Email us on or ring us on 0151 706 8111

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Edes Educational Centre, Offering Individual Assistance, Is A Great Success!

Victoria Toby Lade’s Business; Edes Educational Centre is going from strength to strength after the support she has received from The Women’s Organisation helped her to get started. Victoria told us that; ‘The centre allows children of a primary and secondary school age the opportunity to enjoy the facilities of a supplementary educational services.’ Edes Educational Centre runs small group sessions in Maths and English during term time as well as school holidays and covers the Key Stages 1 through to 4 as well as also teaching GCSE Maths and English.

Prior to setting up her business, Victoria has worked in the educational sector for many years, both in the UK and overseas and teaching children of both primary and secondary school ages in mainstream and special schools, with her subjects being Maths and Science. Victoria told us; ‘My passion is helping children of all ages and abilities to learn. This became the driving force that propelled me forward to establishing a business in the educational sector.’

When thinking about starting a business, it was very important to Victoria to consider how best she could support the children she was teaching with personalised techniques. ‘I wanted to be able to meet the needs of the individual child who found the core educational subjects challenging. Edes Educational Centre was set up in response for the need for a high quality, affordable study centre within the local community.

The centre is located on the corner of Belmont Road and Rocky Lane in Anfield, Merseyside and aims to serve the neighbouring communities of Anfield, Tuebrook and Kensington. Victoria says; ‘These are deprived areas and there are children there who are able to get extra support from the centre to improve and boost their grades.’

Victoria completed a Master’s degree at Liverpool Hope University and became aware of their enterprise department; Hope Business Gateway that supports enterprise and new businesses. Victoria approached them to discuss her idea and firstly received support from them before referring her to The Women’s Organisation.

At The Women’s Organisation, Victoria began working with our Business Adviser; Yan Miao who she met over several months with Yan helping Victoria to develop her business plan. ‘Yan was able to provide me with advice and assistance, she also sought out relevant courses for me to undertake and helped with things like keeping financial records, taxation laws, insurance regulations, guidelines and standards. She’s a fantastic business adviser with a very lovely personality!’

One of the biggest barriers that Victoria faced was that running a business was entirely new to her and she says; ‘I know there is a huge difference in one having a business idea and the practicality of its operation, but one thing I found particularly daunting was how to maximise the Social media to meet the targeted market.’

With a plan to continue learning and developing her social media skills and continuing to grow her business; Victoria is looking forward to the future of Edes Educational Centre. She is also now beginning to see the rewards of being self-employed and is enjoying being able to achieve what she set out to do, help each child learn.

‘The best thing about running my own business is being able to plan the teaching and learning sessions that are personalised to meet the needs of the individual child, thereby positively impacting the child with the right skills to achieve their set aims and objectives. Seeing the children make such a remarkable progress gives me such delight!’

We wish Victoria all the best of luck with the future of her business; Edes Educational Centre.

If you’d like to find out more about Victoria’s business; you can use the contact details below:

Phone Number: 07722331570 / 0151 3529001

And if you’ve been inspired by Victoria’s story and would like our support with your business idea, then get in touch with us! Email us on or ring us on 0151 706 8111