Tuesday, July 31, 2018

#WeAreInternational - Meet The Team! (Part Two)

July at The Women’s Organisation is a month dedicated to our worldwide reach. Whether it’s our international projects and partners, the diversity within our own team or our merchandise popping up on all corners of the globe, we’ll be celebrating the marvels of internationalism! 

Our office is a proud workplace for people from all backgrounds and cultures and we’d like to pay homage to that. You’ll already be familiar with many of these faces, who have been working with us for as many as 19 years. Take a read of their international experience and find out just how they ended up with us here at The Women’s Organisation ..

 Thiri Mo Soe – Finance Manager

“I grew up in Yangon, Myanmar until 1993. After I met my husband, we moved to Liverpool in 1994. We chose Liverpool because of Soe family already settle in Liverpool last six years ago, they moved from Evesham.

When my first son was two years old, I saw advertisement about a one-year Business Studies course at Trade Union Centre which was across the road from Blackburn house, Train 2000’s original office. After one-year of my course, my co-ordinator arranged a work placement at Train 2000 for one month, after that I volunteered and then started a part-time Finance Officer job that was December 1999. And now, 19 years later, here I am still at The Women’s Organisation.”

Suzanne Allen - Administrator

“I’m born and bred Northerner from Sheffield. My mum is from Sheffield and my Dad is from Manchester but lived in Sheffield since college age.

I moved to Liverpool when I was 18 for university and stayed! I was working when I graduated and felt settled here. I find it similar to Sheffield in the size of the city centre and the friendliness of the people. The diversity of culture and heritage here is fantastic, and with so many independent businesses there’s always something going on.

I was looking for a new work opportunity in an organisation with a charity or strong engagement focus (my background is in arts/charity administration, applied for a job opening, was lucky to be accepted and I’m still here 2 years later!”

Sandra Sipaviciute – Facilities Manager

"I was born in Lithuania in a small town in the north of the country (so I am a northerner at heart). We are one of the two Baltic countries and have a very small population of three million people and you can drive across the country in 5 hours or so. I grew up in rural surroundings, but always dreamt living in a city and this dream came true!

I first came to the UK as an exchange Erasmus Socrate Student (studied in Manchester though yuk!) back in 2005, and had a seasonal job in Liverpool where I met a certain someone, fell in love and that was that. Unfortunately, soon after the love has ended, I remained in the country and slowly started building my little life here.

A friend mentioned about Train2000 in 2008 that they offer FREE courses for women and I was eligible for their Lighthouse project back then, so attended a 2-day personal development course with Pat Shae-Halson which made me feel 2 meters above the ground and I had a burst of confidence and was amazed that such organisation exists and offers services for Free. At exact same time (2008 summer) there was an advert in the Echo for Admin role at the Organisation and I thought I will give it a go. Pat gave me a massive advice on how to complete an application form as I had no clue and would not been selected for interviews. Luckily I won the hearts of Laura Anderson and Sharon Dinsmore who interviewed me back then and here I am now, almost 10 years working for the company."

Monday, July 30, 2018

Pack & Send Goes The Distance With Excelerate Labs Support 📦

As Excelerate Labs continue to support businesses looking to grow around Greater Manchester, we’re able to take a step back and look at some of the fantastic businesses we’ve had the pleasure of supporting over the years, We caught up with Deborah Dudley, owner and manager of packaging and logistics franchise Pack & Send Salford Quays to find out how our support has helped her and what it takes to keep a business successful. 

Based in Salford Quays, Pack & Send is a rapidly growing business that specialises in packaging and delivering any fragile, awkward and large packages to anywhere! with a business growth of 39.21% last year and 3 staff members on the books, the business is going from strength to strength.

Prior to starting her business in October 2014, Deborah was the Chief Financial Officer for a ground stabilisation company that had a multi-million-pound turnover but the need to start her own business started to grow “it was always my passion to run my own business, raising two children as a single parent did limit my ability but I waited until they grew up to pursue my dream”

Born in Bolton and proud of her Lancashire roots, Deborah was never one to shy away from hard work, being the head girl in her secondary school and being on the chair of governors for over 10 years. With these achievements under her belt already, she lists her main achievement as bringing up two small children as a single parent. “alongside running my business, I’ve been able to see my children grow into fine young people, and that is what I’m most proud of”

Deborah has been supported by our programme manager, Mike Marsden from Excelerate labs, we asked Deborah about the guidance and help she'd been receiving “Mike has provided me with invaluable business support and I have found the services extremely beneficial”

Pack & Send are currently working on the development of their new website which they will be launching in late July and with Manchester thriving with new businesses, Deborah thinks focusing on a key selling point is important “Salford and Manchester are very cost driven cities and competition is high. My advice to other local businesses would be to look for a key selling point that would distinguish you from the rest”

But what is unique about the services that Pack & Send can offer? “Devising packaging solutions to ensure fragile and valuable items arrive at destinations safely”

Deborah views starting her first business as a platform for developing other businesses and we couldn’t let her go without asking what she believes is the key to success for current and future business owners “Dedication, self-belief, determination and a good sense of humour!”

Thanks for sharing your story with us Deborah, and we wish Pack & Send all the best for the future! You can find out more information about Pack & Send you can contact them over on their website

If you are in Greater Manchester and would like to find out if Excelerate Labs can support you and your business, then get in touch with us today! Email us on exceleratelabs@thewo.org.uk

You can find out more information about our Excelerate Labs programme here.

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Antonia Brings A Taste Of Her Heritage to Castle Street

Liverpool’s architectural haven, Castle Street, is renowned for its vast array of eateries, bringing international flavours, delicacies and cultures right to our doorstep. If you’re a regular of Castle Street’s food quarter, you may have spotted its latest addition, Heritage, which prides itself on serving up a range of ‘made from scratch’ recipes from around the world.

Founder of Heritage, Antonia, grew up in a family of food-lovers where quality homemade cooking was the way of life. Her father owned a pizzeria and Antonia became accustomed with an appreciation for culinary from a young age.

Pursuing a different career path, Antonia continued to dream of owning her own restaurant but the time never felt right:“My husband and I always wanted to open a restaurant, as he has been a chef in Liverpool for 20 years. However, with having a young family and a career in teaching, it never felt quite the right time”.

With the support of her family, Antonia decided to step back from her 11-year position as a primary school teacher and take the leap of faith. This gave her the time and space to develop the business idea before contacting The Women’s Organisation and Start-Up Direct for additional support.

Working alongside our Business Adviser, Yan Miao, Antonia was able to get the guidance she needed to make Heritage a reality, “My sessions with Yan were great, sometimes, you just need a little bit of reassurance that you are on the correct path. At times it was nice just to move away from the madness and speak to Yan in a neutral place”.

Having looked at several premises around Liverpool, Castle Street seemed like a natural fit for Heritage, which hosts the daytime workers of Liverpool’s commercial district as well as a high volume of tourists and socialisers. And what makes Heritage stand out? Heritage is unique in terms of the food it offers, everything is made from scratch using traditional methods such as brining chicken for greater tenderness and curing their own bacon in-house for breakfasts.

With a degree in textiles, Antonia has an eye for design and took control of building the brand of Heritage itself. The name ‘Heritage’ means a tradition or set of values passed from preceding generations, and this seemed fitting for the family-run business inspired by the cooking of fathers, grandmothers and friends.

Taking on the role of Project Manager and overseeing the development of the business, Antonia credits never losing sight of her vision: “we have continually reverted to reminding each other that we must stay true to our product ‘Heritage’ – the reason why we opened our restaurant. So far, this mantra has worked. We have seen our business grow, especially over the past two months and we are continually evolving.” 

This large-scale venture took Antonia on a whirlwind journey to entrepreneurship and Heritage officially opened its doors early February. The eatery prides itself on having a small but extremely talented team, "With our business growing we now have 12 members of staff, some of which have been with us since the start of business. For us, as our business develops, it's extremely important to maintain quality service, standard of food and a great experience. Therefore investing time in our staff is key."

Six months from opening and Antonia has only just begun to acknowledge her own successes: “there is no denying how stressful a big venture like this is. Now, as our business is starting to bed in and become more established, we’ve had a little bit of time to think about the amazing achievement to date – we are four very proud business owners.”

Despite the twists and the turns along the way, the biggest reward for Antonia is “seeing customers enjoying our food and drink and gaining fabulous feedback”. about what she learnt along the way, Antonia urges aspiring-entrepreneurs to preempt diversions from the original plan and gain advice and support from others with experience, such as The Women’s Organisation, where possible.

If you want to find out more about Heritage, you can contact them directly on hello@eatatheritage.co.uk / 0151 236 8554 or visit their website on www.eatatheritage.co.uk.

Be sure to stay connected by following them on Facebook and Twitter! #ThisIsOurHeritage


Tuesday, July 17, 2018

#WeAreInternational: Meet the Team!

July at The Women’s Organisation is a month dedicated to our worldwide reach. Whether it’s our international projects and partners, the diversity within our own team or our merchandise popping up on all corners of the globe, we’ll be celebrating the marvels of internationalism! 

Our office is a proud workplace for people from all backgrounds and cultures and we’d like to pay homage to that. You’ll already be familiar with many of these faces, who have been working with us for as many as 19 years. Take a read of their international experience and find out just how they ended up with us here at The Women’s Organisation .. 

Huda Mamoun – Senior Business Adviser

“I grow up at the banks of the River Niles city, Khartoum in Sudan, and had also lived in Ethiopia and Kenya, during my teen years. Coming from a mixed cultural background of African origin and Arabic language speaking as a mother tongue, it has been a privilege for me to understand cross cultural heritages and become so open to the world. 

For education, career development and family commitment, I then moved on and lived for years in other countries (Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Australia and UK).   The times I lived on those counties, have been the accumulative wealth and treasure that I cultivated throughout my living. Meeting different people and living in various and different cultural places and communities have enriched my live all round in many aspects, which I’m grateful for.

Having graduated from a Law school and practiced for some years.  I’ve always, from early years, have strong interest in women development and I chose it as part of my MBA research studies. Afterwards, I had the opportunity to work in Liverpool for main Academic institutions and large-scale regeneration programmes involved in women development projects.
In late 1990s, I found about Train 2000 (now The Women’s Organisation). I became very fond and interested in what they do and started following them and got involved in voluntary activities with the Organisation on different level. Several years after, I joined Train 2000 as a Trainee Business Adviser, have learned and developed skills and become a senior business adviser at The Women’s Organisation. 

Looking at the bigger picture, I can see my life and professional career was painted well beforehand, may be form my early years, to marry my interest and what I love doing with previous work opportunities that I have had in my life and the job I’m working on at The Women’s Organisation today.”

Lacra Aciobanitei – Finance Officer

“I was born in Romania in a small town in the eastern part of the country, called Husi. Moved to Bucharest at 19 to attend university and lived and worked there for 6 years before moving to the UK.
In 2009, my partner and I wanted to explore life a little bit and decided to try and live abroad for 12 months and our adventure has been on for 9 years now.

I applied to be a volunteer with an international charity and choose London initially, but as they had no vacancies we were encouraged to try Liverpool and turned out to be the best decision ever. We were and still are fascinated by the home of the Beatles. A friend of mine was already working for The Women’s Organisation and encouraged me to apply and the rest is history!”

Cynthia Bosafola – Trainee Business Adviser

I was born in Democratic republic of Congo and moved over to east London when I was 4 years old! So, I would say I am a Congolese Londoner!

I moved to Liverpool 10 years ago to study at John moors university, previously to this I had never been to Liverpool, but I wanted to study somewhere different, be away from London but not too far away! But when I came up for my university audition, I had such a great experience and there was something magical about the city!

My background is mainly in television, but after my contract ended in my last job, I was looking for something different – something that would challenge me. I did an internship at a co-working space and at the same time was looking into starting my own business. Future Boss Club did an event at Launch 22, where I was working and so when I looked into them I found out they were linked to The Women’s Organisation and really loved their beliefs and what they stood for.

A few months later a vacancy came up as a trainee business advisor and I jumped at the chance. I wasn’t sure if I would get the job, but here I am! I’m so glad I have the opportunity to work in this organisation! 

We're not done just yet .. stay posted for part TWO of this blog! 

Monday, July 16, 2018

#WeAreInternational: Celebrating our international reach

This July is all about celebrating our international reach here at The Women’s Organisation and so we couldn’t pass by the opportunity to highlight the fantastic work undertaken by our Enterprise Evolution team.

Our consultancy services take the Enterprise Evolution team all over the world helping businesses and entrepreneurs to reach their full potential through mentoring, evaluation and enterprise education, to name just a few.

Since the launch of Enterprise Evolution, our principal consultants Alison Price and Lisa McMullan have travelled far and wide, including notable trips to Asia visiting teams in Thailand and China. They have also travelled across Europe, visiting Brussels, Spain and Norway, as well as Slovenia, Bulgaria, Lithuania and Ireland. Not forgetting Edinburgh, Wales and London at home in the UK.

Transnational Partnership Meeting in Drammen, Norway, 2015
Another meeting in Maribor, Slovenia, 2016

Most recently, Alison’s work took her back to China, where she was asked to share her approach to staff development with the Shanghai Customs College.

Shanghai Customs College – Uniformed staff and Alison, 2018

 The question as to whether entrepreneurs (like leaders) are “born or made” is often asked.  But after some years of debate, this discussion is finally settled as UK Universities and Colleges embrace enterprise education into their teaching to support the future ambitions of their students.  But the next question is then, who is this for? …surely not every student needs to be enterprising?

Alison feels that her work in China answers this question clearly, having been asked to share her approach to staff development with the Shanghai Customs College.

With 2000 students focused on their ambition to work in customs, the Shanghai Customs College invited Enterprise Evolution to develop a staff workshop that would help staff develop an entrepreneurial mindset within their learners.

Graduates from Shanghai Customs College typically work in airports and commercial shipping, but with many supporting private companies with trade and export, recognition of the need to be enterprising is clear, and the opportunities to set up consultancy services are increasing.
Staff welcomed the opportunity to work with Enterprise Evolution to experience entrepreneurial approaches to teaching and consider how to adapt these for their own teaching.

With strong links between The Women’s Organisation and partners in Shanghai (and Liverpool and Shanghai being “twin” cities) this work deepens the connections between the two cities and supports the enterprising spirit.

Alison was also invited to open the 2nd International Conference ICEEE (International Conference Entrepreneurship Education Ecosystem) speaking to 200 educators about the need to embed entrepreneurial teaching methods into their subjects.  Sharing case examples and practical experience, Alison shared the latest approaches from UK and Europe, such as QAA (2018) Guidance (translated into Chinese) as well as Entrecomp (see other blog) before providing support and resources to delegates by showcasing ETCToolkit www.etctoolkit.org.uk

She was joined from the UK by keynote speaker, Emma Robinson, Head of the Centre for Entrepreneurship at Liverpool John Moores University who provided an overview of their institutional growth and experience of supporting students to start, followed by a 2-hour workshop, that shared the realities of LJMU practice. 
Emma said: “As my second opportunity to address this conference, I was delighted to seek the progress made in creating a clear direction for enterprise education.  It is brilliant to share the LJMU story in order to support others as develop their own approach and I applaud the organisers for their focus and vision in supporting colleagues on this journey”.

There was also an opportunity to run the CEO course “Creating Entrepreneurial Outcomes” providing a 2-day structured programme of staff development and support.  Working directly with staff to change their teaching is one of Enterprise Evolution’s specialisms. 

Alison said: “It’s great to share “tried and tested” approaches with colleagues around the world and see how they can bring entrepreneurial teaching techniques into their own teaching.  I have worked with a whole new range of subjects since working in China (Maoism and Customs to name two and I thought I had worked with them all before that!) so it is great to how enterprise can be embraced by educators to help all learners”.

To find out more about Enterprise Evolution, visit: www.enterpriseevolution.org.uk/

You can also follow our international experiences and find out more about what The Women’s Organisation’s team have been getting up to on Twitter using #WeAreInternational  

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Time Travelling 100 Years for Emmeline Pankhurst's Birthday

A hundred years ago this year women who were over the age of 30 just received the right to vote.  This was a great victory for women in Britain and for all the suffragettes that made it possible.
But travel back a little further in time to July 14, 1858 where one of the most influential and important figures in the suffragette movement was born; Emmeline Pankhurst.

On what would have been her 150th birthday we explore just what made this notable woman a figure that would be remembered in history.
From the start of her life it seemed Emmeline would always be involved in the spider’s web we call politics.  Born into the Gaulden family who had a history of radical political views, she married her husband Richard Pankhurst in 1879, a lawyer and supporter of the women's suffrage movement. He was the author of the Married Women's Property Acts of 1870 and 1882.
This background and built-up frustration with discrimination led her to founding the Women’s franchise league to fight for the right to vote for married women but only in local elections.

However, this group was not enough to combat the views of the time and in October 1903 she aided in founding the first suffragettes, the militant group WSUP (Women’s social and political union).
WSUP over the course of its history gained controversy and gained the title of being a “radical” party due partly to its extreme methods of protest, smashing windows, damage of public property, starting fires and the famous hunger strikes.
Like many other activists at the time Emmeline was arrested on multiple occasions and when Pankhurst was arrested with a 9-month sentence for throwing a rock at the prime minister’s house she took part in hunger strikes. Luckily, for Emmeline she escaped being horrifically force fed and was freed shortly after.

However, it wasn’t all about ‘violent’ protest as Emmeline led many marches and performed countless speeches, but during the war years she actively encouraged WSPU members to put a hold on the demonstrations in order to take up jobs in factories to support the men that where fighting which greatly benefited the war effort.
Then a hundred years ago on the 6th February 1918 women who owned property and was over the age of 30 where given the right to vote. Unfortunately, Emmeline did die a few weeks before the voting age would be lowered to be equal to that of a man’s (21).

It is safe to say that Emmeline Pankhurst certainly had her impact on women’s rights movement and will forever be remembered as a figurehead for the suffragettes. While the right to vote was a big step we still have a way to go and I’m sure Emmeline’s great granddaughter, Helen Pankhurst, agrees.
If you want to hear her opinion, then you can check out our interview with her here.

Friday, July 13, 2018

Meet The Team: Sarah Brown

Our Marketing Team has had quite a shake up recently, with two new faces joining the squad. As always, we want you to get to know them as well as we do. First up is Sarah, our Marketing and Engagement Executive! Sarah is a digital whiz, with a wealth of experience in social media, PR and marketing and we're feeling pretty lucky to have her with us. Take a read of Sarah's guest blog to find out more about her ..

What’s your name and where are you from?

I’m Sarah Brown and I’m originally from Durham, but I moved to Liverpool in 2012 and have never wanted to leave!

Tell me how you first found out about The Women’s Organisation and become part of our team?

I first heard about The Women’s Organisation whilst studying at the University of Liverpool and have always known what an important role it plays for women across the city region. Working for a charity has always been on my dream job list, so when I saw that The Women’s Organisation were recruiting for a marketing and engagement officer I knew I had to apply!

What kind of things have you done prior to coming to The Women’s Organisation?

I graduated from the University of Liverpool in 2015 with a degree in Classical Studies and I had no idea of the route I wanted to take. I started a public relations internship and soon got my first “proper” role as a PR account executive and absolutely loved working with the media and getting to put my writing skills and creativity to the test. I spent the next three years working in agencies with clients in all kinds of sectors, from education, property and legal clients, to those working in innovation and tech. And now here I am!

What has surprised you about working at The Women’s Organisation?

Coming into The Women’s Organisation it’s been eye-opening to see just how many women have new business ideas on a daily basis, and that’s just in the Liverpool City Region. We take calls from so many women every day looking for support to launch their new venture - there’s definitely a lot of entrepreneurial spirit in the city!

What’s the best thing about working at The Women’s Organisation?

The best thing has got to be the people. It’s a real privilege to get to work alongside women who are so passionate about what they do. I’ve been completely taken-aback by the sheer level of support here too, both between colleagues and between the amazing women who come on our courses and programmes and share their stories with each other. It’s very inspiring.

Could you describe one of your typical workdays?

No two days are the same at The Women’s Organisation - and that’s a great thing! A typical day would start with checking in on the social media channels I manage to make sure that we have content ready to go for the day. I would then usually dedicate some time for writing content, whether it be for a blog sharing our top business tips, a press release with our latest news and events, or a case study celebrating one of our clients’ success. I’ll also spend time designing new social media cards, posters and flyers. As a team we like to stay creative too, so plenty of time is set aside to come up with fresh ideas to promote our services and values.

What might (someone) be surprised to know about you?

In primary school I came first place in a painting competition (despite a severe lack of artistic talent!) and got to present Blue Peter’s very own Matt Baker with my masterpiece. He told me he was going to hang it in his bathroom, but I doubt he ever did…

What do you do when you aren’t working? 

When I’m not in work I can usually be found eating - I love food - or making the most of Liverpool’s bars and music venues with my friends. I’m originally from quite a rural area, though, so I do like to get back to the countryside as much as I can. I spend a lot of time outdoors going on hikes, camping and visiting new places.

Thanks Sarah, and welcome to The W.O family! 

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Helping Katie to Get Her Word Out

With 18 years’ experience in marketing communications under her belt Katie Crozier decided it was about time to take the plunge and set up on her own, all with a little help from The Women's Organisation.

After leaving her full-time job, and a stint upcycling furniture, Get Your Word Out was born. Offering copy-writing and proof-reading services for marketing materials, from websites and blogs, to leaflets and brochures, Get Your Word Out is all about helping businesses to communicate with their clients more effectively.

Katie says: “I’m a big fan of plain English and getting to the point. No one has the time or inclination to read much these days, so what you have to say needs to be delivered quickly, clearly and authentically”. And this is the mantra on which her business is built.

“I would recommend that if you can, give yourself a good 6-12 months of planning your new business and networking with potential clients, while you’re in full time work, before making the leap.”

Katie soon approached the Enterprise Hub to find out what support was on offer and she was set up with our business advisor, Jo Mountfort, to help get her business off the ground. It wasn’t long until Katie was ready to take on Enterprise Hub’s range of courses, from social media training to help understanding tax and national insurance.

She says: “I had the works! I attended every course and met with a business advisor regularly and can heartily recommend it - it’s essential to have that support because quite unknowingly you can have some really silly ideas and indeed, miss the really obvious ones!”

To read this case study in full, head to the Enterprise Hub blog! 

If you would like to find out more about Get Your Word Out, you can visit www.getthewordout.uk  

Enterprise Hub is part funded by the European Regional Development Fund and offered FREE to residents of the Liverpool City Region. For more information on how to get support to start your business call 0151 706 8113 or email enterprisehub@thewo.org.uk

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Expand Your Mind Whilst Expanding Your Business: 5 Easy Steps to Create Freedom in Your Empire

With a background in Psychology and having working in the mental health sector, our Volunteer Lexine has penned a guest blog on the importance of mind over matter when running your own business! 

When creating your business, it's important to remember that this a time for your mind to be tested. This does not incur a pass or fail as such but knowing the best mechanisms to handle the emotional and mental roller coaster building a business can take you on. 

A business can be extremely rewarding when managed well. The sense of achievement and reward can override feelings of stress when a business is successful, but it does not eradicate the feelings all together. These four simple steps can be to make your journey all the simpler.

This easy guide is here to provide you with a little more clarity of what to incorporate into your lifestyle and what you can benefit from to make the journey all the simpler.

1. Fight and flight awareness:

A simple awareness that most of us fail to integrate into our personal life, let alone professional. As humans, we tend to look for threat in situations that can harm us, which is great to keep us out of danger and ensure we stay alive. However, in our current climate on earth most 1st World citizens do not need to fear imminent death (the prospect of being eaten by lions and tigers) and most of our fears are due to the ones we create in our minds (how will I create more customers, am I going to lose profit). Being aware of this can prevent the emotional response of stress and anxiety from escalating (chest pain, headache, sweating), and we are able to find solutions. Yes, this threat could be real (in terms of loss of earnings, needing new customers), but hyperventilating is not going to lead you closer to finding a solution.

2. Shake your brain: 

Remember this in that moment (of anxiety/low mood) shift your mindset. This could look like listening to music, running/walking in fresh air, dancing, and anything that will challenge the mind to shake out of its intensity of negative mood. Challenge your brain to change by physically shaking your senses (so to speak).

 3. Present over past: 

This is a Debbie downer that keeps your mind in the woes of all the bad that’s happened in the past. Reliving negative thoughts not only induces all the same negative feelings that are associated with those events in the past, but also reduces the enthusiasm to want to do much about it. This can keep your mind locked out of the present, which is where all your magic and productivity happens. Equip yourself by becoming aware of your thought when your mind trails back further than 5 minutes ago, and ask do I really want to be falling down the rabbit hole?

4. Mini goals and rewards: 

Who doesn’t want a hyper successful business? Shooting for the stars is great ambition, but don’t forgot about the small stars and successes. Give yourself small achievable goals and record these also: spreadsheets, pin boards, vision boards, diaries. Reward yourself accordingly, whether this be a trip to the cinema, a new set of pyjamas, lunch and coffee for yourself at your favourite bistro - whatever your vision of treat looks like do that to give yourself a pat on the back for what you’ve achieved (preferably weekly/fortnightly).

5. Shut down mode: 

By this it means have a period in your day where you will shut everything down. Ideally for at least 30 minutes but aim for a solid hour. Bask in the glory of turning mobile, desktop, laptop, iPad, television, (you get the picture) and just relish in the real world. Place a timer onto an hour and reconnect back with the real world and out of your business and technical mindset. In this hour do whatever you please. If you have a million and one things you realise you want to do, write it down, make a bullet point list, and leave it to start after the hour is up.

This is a quick and easy guide to add fullness to your life. Try it before you deny it, as you may read this and think how could this help? But, realistically big change happens with small steps, and don’t ignore the greatness that comes with small changes. You heard the saying, Rome wasn’t built in a day.

Thanks Lexine! Find out more about our Lexine on her 'meet the team' blog here.

And if you are in the planning stages of starting a business, find out how the Enterprise Hub programme can help via 0151 706 8113 enterprisehub@thewo.org.uk

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

A business growth story: It’s a family affair at Lewis Howes Signs & Engraving Ltd

Lewis Howes Signs & Engraving Ltd have been providing a quality service to the people of Liverpool since 1988 and it’s safe to say that the business has come a long way in that time. Run by husband and wife duo, David and Fran Lewis, with a little help from daughter Becky Sheen and her husband, Graham, Lewis Howes Signs & Engraving is well and truly a storybook family-run business. With Becky and Graham preparing to take over the family business, the team needed a stellar transition strategy to help pave the way for a new era of growth and success.

The team approached The Women’s Organisation for business development support under our growth programme; New Markets 2. We sat down with Becky to find out how our business advisor, John Jones, helped the family to prepare a business valuation and transition strategy...
Lewis Howes Signs & Engraving as its known today

The team approached The Women’s Organisation for business development support under our growth programme; New Markets 2. We sat down with Becky to find out how our business advisor, John Jones, helped the family to prepare a business valuation and transition strategy.

So, what’s Lewis Howes Signs & Engraving all about? Sign manufacturing is the bread and butter of the business, which specialises in high quality engraving on a range of materials. From nameplates and badges, to memorial plaques and switch plates, the team have seen it all. Over time a complete sign service has been developed, now offering a full service from design through to manufacture, installation and maintenance.

Perhaps the biggest change came in 2006 as Lewis Howes diversified in to digital printing, a change which managing director, David, dubs as ‘the best move we ever made’. Proof that businesses need to keep up the times and embrace new technologies. The firm has also recently invested in a state of the art new Rowland printer, as well as a laser cutting machine, allowing them to offer much quicker delivery times.

With a strong service offering that has proved the test of time, we asked what makes Lewis Howes unique? Becky says: “Reliability, speedy service and quality, bespoke products. Everything that we do is bespoke - there’s very little we can’t turn our hand to.”

Formerly David Lewis Signs, the past 28 years have seen a lot of change within the business. Originally based in Wallasey on the Wirral, David Lewis Signs was born in 1988, before merging with J & J Howes just two years later to becomes Lewis Howes Signs & Engraving. More change was still to come and in 2001 Dave and Fran Lewis bought out John and Jackie Howes to take sole ownership of the business.

David Lewis' first shop in 1988
Over this time, the firm has built a stellar, dedicated team of 15 staff - 8 of which were there on the very first day of trading in 1988 - enabling them to grow and develop the business into the respected name it is today.

By the mid-noughties the business was thriving and trade was strong. When the recession hit in 2008, the management team went to great lengths to keep the business going and admit that they still feel the effects of it 10 years later. Becky says that “this time has been the most difficult for the business, but also a great achievement” to weather the crash. After a number of hard and turbulent years, the company is now starting to slowly progress and grow.

After approaching The Women’s Organisation for support in taking the business to the next phase, the team was set up with business advisor, John Jones, under the New Markets 2 dedicated growth programme. Becky commented: “John has been excellent for us, offering advice and in constant contact.”

What would Becky say to those looking to grow their business in the North West? “The region is fairly robust at the moment. For those looking to grow I would say: provide high quality products, on time and at competitive prices.” Great advice!

Becky Sheen will be taking the reins of the family business

Becky and her family received growth advice through our New Markets 2 Programme, which is aimed at women who are running a business focussing on business to business activity in the Liverpool City Region (Liverpool, Sefton, Wirral, St Helens, Knowsley and Halton) are who are ready to take their business to the next level, either by expanding their team or significantly increasing turnover. For more information, contact us on hello@thewo.org.uk or ring us on 0151 706 8111