Friday, December 20, 2019

Guest Blog: Women in Business: Steps to a More Equal Workplace

Several industries in business continue to be male-dominated. For instance, statistics show that only around 12% of engineers in the UK are women. Engineering is a growing industry that offers a rewarding career path. By not considering engineering roles, girls are missing out on some of the most exciting career opportunities available. Fortunately, there have been several successful campaigns in recent years to encourage women to consider careers in less traditional fields such as STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Maths). With this in mind, here are some of the key ways that women are breaking stereotypes within traditional male lead industries.


As mentioned, there have been many recent campaigns designed to encourage women to pursue less traditional career paths. Wise Campaign is a nationwide campaign which seeks to ensure gender balance within STEM. The campaign stresses that gender diversity offers many benefits to both employees and employers. It means that employees have access to a wider selection of rewarding jobs and can gain in-demand skills to enhance their career prospects. For employers, gender diversity can offer better customer service, improve productivity, and increased profits. Fortunately, there has been a huge increase in women entering STEM industries in recent years. According to Wise, there are now 50,000 women in engineering professional roles, which is almost double the number 10 years ago. Other popular campaigns include the International Women in Engineering Day which takes place annually in June. This event was designed to promote and celebrate the incredible achievements of female engineers across the globe. Every year, many exciting events take place across the UK to connect and support female engineers.

Inspiring female leaders

Celebrating the inspiring work of females within male-dominated industries is an excellent way to encourage more women to pursue careers in these fields. Ada Lovelace Day is an annual event that takes place every October to celebrate the achievements of women in STEM industries. The event aims to increase the profile of women in STEM, thus creating role models for young girls considering a career in STEM and supporting women currently working in related industries. Made with Code is another excellent resource that features inspiring female leaders in STEM. The site features a variety of short interviews with women who work in tech and explores how these women are using their coding skills to change the world. In the interviews, the women explain how they got into tech and the benefits of working in the industry. This helps encourage other women to consider a role in the exciting field of coding.

Accessible education

Technological advancements have made education far more accessible and convenient. For instance, there is now an extensive range of online courses that can teach women the skills needed to secure a role in STEM. Many qualifications are fully-flexible and can be completed at home during your spare time. This makes it easy for women to retrain and change careers in later life, even when their have work or family commitments. There is also a number of specialist recruitment agencies that can help women break into male-dominated industries. For example, engineering recruitment consultants can use their expert knowledge and connections to help women secure their dream job in the exciting field of engineering.

School visits

One of the key reasons why less women are studying STEM subjects at university, is because they did not take the right GCSE or A-Level subjects to be accepted on the courses. For that reason, girls must be educated on the benefits of STEM careers from a young age. This will allow girls to make an informed decision about which subjects they want to study in school to support their future career goals. Many universities are now going into secondary schools to speak with girls about STEM courses and the career prospects they offer. This is helping to attract more girls into taking STEM courses in higher education.

Final thoughts

There have been massive improvements in the number of women entering male-dominated industries in recent years. However, women continue to be underrepresented in several fields including STEM. The government needs to continue supporting campaigns designed to encourage girls to pursue careers in STEM and support women already in the industry. These diverse fields can offer many interesting and rewarding career paths, so women should not be discouraged from pursuing a job in a workplace that is traditionally dominated by men. 

 Thanks to our guest blogger Chloe Walker. Chloe is a freelance writer who’s main focus is on working life and the business world. When she isn’t writing Chloe can be found curled up in front of the fire with the newspaper.

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Helping Aleksandra get to grips with the beauty of business

Alexsandra Calka’s business journey is testament to the importance of hard-work, determination and staying focused on your goals, when it comes to succeeding in those all-important early years of starting a business.

Alexsandra Kasprzyk, Owner of CoCo Beauty Clinic

It was always a dream of Alexsandra’s to open her own salon, having previously worked as a beauty and massage therapist, but the timing was never quite right. It was only upon moving to their new home in Southport and falling in love with the hustle and bustle of the local area that she started to see the potential, launching CoCo Beauty Clinic last year.

Alexsandra approached Enterprise Hub at The Women’s Organisation to find out what support was available to help grow her new business. She was soon paired with business advisor Yan Miao for 1-2-1 advice and support, alongside access to a range of courses to equip her with the marketing and business skills needed to grow the business.

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Restaurant business owner “proud” to share ceremony with female graduates

Restaurant business owner Nisha Katona said she was “so proud” to receive an honorary doctorate alongside a predominantly female cohort of graduates at Edge Hill University.

Nisha Katona MBE
As founder, CEO and executive chef of Mowgli Street Food, Nisha was conferred with the title Honorary Doctor of Business Administration at one of three graduation ceremonies held on Saturday, 7th December.

A keen ambassador for women in business, she commended the University, which was the first non-denominational teacher training college for women, for continuing to appeal to young women in areas like nursing, teaching and business.

“I was so proud to be here today,” she said. “I found it really moving to be sharing this moment with so many young women, particularly the nurses, because they’re doing the most incredible, compassionate job. They have an expertise in compassion, that’s the best thing you could have in life.”

Nisha referred to her own experiences in the male-dominated food industry and urged women not to be discouraged.

“It’s a surprise, a real sadness to me, that there are still only a handful of women at the CEO and owner level in the restaurant industry,” she said.

“In the Fast Track 100 I think there’s still only 20 women and in the FTSE 100 it’s similar; that’s why I think it’s really important that I tell my story, so women like me, and particularly women who think the next horizon is the menopause, know they can do it.”

Edge Hill University Vice-Chancellor John Cater presents Nisha Katona with her honorary doctorate

Best known as a successful restauranteur, food writer and broadcaster and friend of The Women's Organisation, Nisha, was previously a barrister for 20 years.

But her entrepreneurial spirit would not let her sleep and she took the plunge into the business world, of which she had no prior experience.

“Entrepreneurism is like a disease, it becomes a monster, it will not let you sleep until you bring it alive. The minute it enters your head that ‘this isn’t represented on the high street’ and ‘maybe there’s a market’, the minute that enters your head it becomes a living creature.

“I didn’t want to give up the Bar but I had to because this thing was alive.”

Nisha opened her first Mowgli Street Food restaurant in 2014, serving contemporary Indian cuisine, and she now has 10 restaurants across the country, with her eleventh due to open in Bristol before the end of the year.

In 2018 Mowgli was listed in The Sunday Times Fast Track 100 Businesses, and this year Nisha was appointed by the Cabinet Office as Ambassador for Diversity in Public Appointments and recognised with an MBE in the 2019 New Year Honours list for services to the food industry.

Nisha inherited her love of food from her family and cites the poverty of her Indian ancestors as a driver for her passion.

“Where food is precious and scarce it is really well-loved. I come from a background in India that’s quite poor; my mother describes how they used to have one chapati between 6 kids.

“So, I was taught you don’t waste food; every single meal is a precious, amazing thing, it’s a real family event.”

That ethos is reflected in the buzz and warmth of every Mowgli restaurant.

Nisha Katona MBE with Edge Hill University's Iona Horsburgh, Deputy Director of Student Services who nominated Nisha for the award, and Rachel Boyle, Senior Lecturer in Primary Education. 

Another central pillar of the business is Nisha’s dedication to charitable giving through The Mowgli Trust.

“The most important thing about The Mowgli Trust is it’s there to make my staff more outward-facing so their lives are enriched, and the way we do that is by getting them engaged with the Trust.”

The initiative has, with the help of customers, raised thousands of pounds for charities including The Clatterbridge Cancer Charity, Claire House and Birmingham Children’s Hospital Charity.

Described as an outstanding role model, Nisha’s honorary doctorate was given by Edge Hill University in recognition of the values she embodies, which the University endeavours to represent.

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Business Growth Tips: How the Right Team Can Make/Break Growth Strategy

Once your business is off to a good start, you have a steady flow of clients and you start to consider growth, it is vital that you have the right team on board to support that journey, but how do you check that your team suit the needs of the business?

Here are some key considerations for ensuring you have a team that will make not break your growth strategy:

Capacity Planning
First and foremost it is important to look carefully at what growth will mean for your capacity.  Based on the new customers, workload and revenue streams you are projecting, how much capacity are you going to need in terms of time and which areas will feel the most impact?  If your team are already stretched (and it's important to check to see where there is scope to add extra tasks, and who is already feeling the pinch) then you may need to recruit.

Are the Right Players in the Right Roles
All too often firms recruit, train and keep staff in roles failing to review if with the changing landscape of the business the staffing or skill set needs have shifted.  While you may have given someone the same job description and job title for the last 5 years, if the needs of the business have changed, you may need to look again if that job title and description are in fact what the business needs.  If making changes always ensure you are complying with employment law regulation, but don't just leave things as they are just because they always have been.

Get Your Team on Board
The growth of a business can be exciting, but it will also bring with it a time of hard graft and change.  This can really throw a team off if you don't play it right.  Communicate with your team what your ambitions are, and the opportunity the growth of the business presents for them.  Be clear that to achieve this common goal it will take some hard work and adaptability, but make clear the why.  Why should they care? Why is it good for them as well as you? What will be the benefits.  Ensure that you have plans in place for managing change (who will be responsible for training new team members, how will workload be divvied up, how will we ensure all staff are clear about their role and responsibility) so that you are ready to support your team through the transition. 

Remember Customer Experience
One of the risks in growing is keeping the same quality of service as when you are small.  Putting training, processes and systems in place to replicate the care you give to customers is key.  You can't assume your team that you are building around you will just know how to replicate you and the value you bring, so make a way for it to be explicitly understood and reward those who keep to that model. 

If you are a woman running a business in the Greater Manchester area that is working through these dilemmas and other business growth pains, our Excelerate Labs team may be able to help.

Part funded by European Regional Devleopment Fund Excelerate Labs can link you with a local adviser to explore growth strategy and help you to get all your ducks in a row.

Contact for more information.

Monday, December 2, 2019

CASE STUDY: Macy’s Café is serving up big social impact for the Halton community

For many years, Amanda McDonald had a dream of running her own café. This dream became a reality when she opened the doors to Macy’s Café back in January, with support from the Enterprise Hub programme.

Based in The Grange Community Centre in Runcorn, Amanda has created an authentic space at the heart of her local community. Along with serving fresh, quality cooked food at affordable prices, Macy’s café has a strong social objective and provides free hot meals, drinks and essential supplies to those in need.

Amanda McDonald is the face behind Macy's Cafe

The impact which Amanda and the team have been having on the local community hasn’t gone unnoticed and they were recently announced as winners of the Social Impact Award at The Women’s Organisation’s Enterprising Women Awards.

Click here to read the full case study.

Double award success for our growth clients ADHD Foundation 👏

Dr Tony Lloyd, chief executive of Liverpool-based ADHD Foundation - the largest user-led ADHD agency in Europe - is celebrating two award wins. Dr Lloyd is listed in the prestigious OUTstanding LGBT+ Role Models List 2019 for the third consecutive year and also takes home a Northern Leadership Award.

Dr Lloyd has been named by diversity champion, INvolve in their OUTstanding LGBT+ Role Models List 2019, supported by Yahoo Finance. The lists celebrate the work being done by LGBT+ and ally leaders across the globe in both the private and public sectors, promoting LGBT+ diversity and inclusion in the workplace. It is the third consecutive year Dr Lloyd has featured on the list.

As CEO of the ADHD Foundation, an NHS provider and consultancy for government and national agencies, Dr Lloyd has embedded inclusion across all aspects of the Foundation. He actively champions local and national charities and community groups through the Foundation and its staff, including the LGBT+ charity, the Michael Causer Foundation, Liverpool City Region Pride, anti-racism charity the Anthony Walker Foundation and Sahir House HIV and Aids charity. Dr Lloyd states that ‘Diversity is Inclusion’ and is also a champion of ‘neurodiversity’- advocating for the one in five people who have dyslexia, ADHD, autism and dyspraxia. He also supports a number of LGBT+ organisations and networks outside of his role and acts as a mentor to young LGBT+ people, supporting them through school and careers.

Dr Lloyd also won the Public & Third Sector Leader 2019 award at the Northern Leadership Awards, which celebrates the people and organisations across the north who are role models for their teams and raise the bar for their competitors. Held at the prestigious Queens Hotel in Leeds, the awards showcase the best qualities of modern leadership - of inspiration, collaboration and empowerment.

Speaking about his OUTstanding LGBT+ Role Models List 2019 accolade, Dr Tony Lloyd, chief executive, ADHD Foundation, said:

“I am truly honoured to be recognised alongside so many amazingly talented and dedicated people, whom I hold in such high esteem. Awards are significant as they give inspiration to others, and for others to see an LGBT+ person being celebrated shows that it is ok to be out at work. It is so important to promote diversity and inclusion in workplaces to ensure everyone can live up to their full potential.”

Commenting on his Northern Leadership Award, Dr Lloyd added:

“My work comes from the heart and I passionately strive to ensure that the neurodiversity conversation is promoted on a local and national level and that the gifts, intelligence, talents and employability of neurodiverse people are understood and celebrated. It is particularly encouraging to see neurodiversity being discussed, supported and welcomed in the business community and that so many more leaders are wearing their neurodiversity with pride.”

Founder and CEO of INvolve, Suki Sandhu OBE, said:

“We’re delighted to be celebrating another fantastic group of people from across the globe who are collectively driving cultural change and creating workplaces where everyone can succeed. LGBT+ discrimination is still prevalent in a lot of the world’s biggest economies, but highlighting the work of successful role models changes people’s perceptions. They demonstrate that you can be successful and out at work, but most importantly inspire the next generation of LGBT+ leaders.”

The accolades come after a record year for ADHD Foundation, who just last month, welcomed experts from across the globe to its Annual Conference at ACC Liverpool, the largest multidisciplinary conference of its kind in the UK with over 700 delegates, and for the first time staged the first SEN (Special Education Needs) conference exclusively for 600 parents and carers.
ADHD Foundation is a charity that over the last 12 years has grown to become one of the global leaders in the neurodiversity movement that is campaigning to change our outdated views on intelligence, ability and employability so they are relevant to our 21st century economy, communities and schools.

The charity’s iconic national campaign, the Umbrella Project, attracted the patronship of Patricia Ward Kelly, wife of the late Gene Kelly earlier this year after Patricia became enamoured with the dazzling array of colourful umbrellas at Heathrow Airport T5.

The Umbrella Project is part of an initiative to raise awareness and celebrate ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder), autism, dyslexia, dyscalculia, dysgraphia and dyspraxia - which all sit under the "umbrella" term of neurodiversity. The project aims to flip the disabling perception of neurodiverse individuals on its head and, instead, celebrate cognitive differences.

The project launched on Church Alley in Liverpool in 2017, where it has returned every year since; it debuted at BBC North, MediaCityUK, Salford Quays in 2018 and returned again this year; and launched at Heathrow this summer, marking the first time the artwork has been available to view in London or at an airport.

For further information about ADHD Foundation visit You can also follow on Twitter @ADHDFoundation, Facebook @adhdfoundation and Instagram @adhdfoundation. 

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Thousands of entrepreneurs across the Liverpool City Region are set to benefit as Enterprise Hub launches a second phase

Liverpool City Region’s “one front door” access point for business support is extended and expanded in a significant step forward for driving entrepreneurship across the region.

Today  (26 November) saw the official launch of the second phase of the Enterprise Hub programme, marking the continuation of support available to those who are thinking about starting or growing a business.

Maggie O'Carroll, CEO of The Women's Organisation (left) with
Julia Sweeney, Director of European Programmes and Local Growth and MHCLG (centre)
and Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram (right) 

The launch event took place here at The Women’s Organisation, which is the lead and accountable body for the Enterprise Hub.

The launch was attended by special guest speaker Julia Sweeney, Director of European Programmes and Local Growth at the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG), along with the Lord Mayor of Liverpool, Cllr Anna Rothery, and Metro Mayor of the Liverpool City Region, Mr Steve Rotheram.

Over 100 people joined Enterprise Hub to mark the occasion
Since launching its first phase in December 2015, Enterprise Hub support has helped to create over 1,060 new businesses so far. In a change to the first programme, this second phase of support now includes the provision of business growth support for those in their first three years of trade.

This move comes in response to the successful first phase of the programme which showed that there was real entrepreneurial spirit across the region, resulting in the creation of over 1,000 new enterprises. This second phase is now able to ensure the sustainability of those businesses through an ongoing programme of support.

During the launch event reflections were made on the importance of investing in entrepreneurship and developing core entrepreneurial skills to grow our local economy.

Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram speaking at the event

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Guest blog: Encouraging male allies in the workplace

Kirsty Hulse, founder of Roar Training, is on a mission to level the professional playing field with her confidence, communication and allies workshops. She's penned us a guest blog on how male colleagues can better navigate the nuances of what it means to be a "good ally" to women in the workplace...

Kirsty Hulse, founder of Roar Training

It is no secret that the number of women in power is significantly less than men. In fact, according to the 2019 Female FTSE Index, only 8.6% of executive directorships in FTSE 250 companies are women. Meaning, that ultimately, over 91% of these positions are held by men. What this means, is that whilst women continue to take up space in business and boardrooms, we need additional support from our male allies to increasingly free up space at the table.

This, however, is no easy feat. Often women (myself included) resist reaching out for help for fear of being perceived as weak or vulnerable and likewise, well meaning men can often have a lack of clarity when knowing what to do in order to better support their female coworkers.

Over the course of my career, I have interacted with dozens, if not hundreds, of well-intentioned individuals who struggle to navigate the nuances of what it means to be a “good ally” in the workplace. In other words, there doesn’t seem to be a universally accepted answer to the question how can men best professionally support women, trans and non binary individuals.

In a world where over half (54%) of women actively feel as though their gender has negatively affected their career progression and 31% of men have experienced a female co-worker being treated unfairly because of their gender, this question is as pertinent today as it was half a century ago.

About a month ago, I noticed a spate of sexism happening in the tech industry and the social response to this varied hugely from person to person. Some people called out the behaviour, intentionally outing and shaming the perpetrators. Others defended the perpetrators as it being old mistakes, stipulating it best to focus on positive change. Others shrugged and said it happens. Some women felt as though we were being spoken on behalf of, others felt supported, some men were outraged, others felt attacked.

The main thing that stuck out to me was that those contributing in the conversation were, for the most part, well meaning, but it was a mess, and the differences in discourse were making it messier.

Roar Training began to research the topic of what it meant to be a good ally for all people, in practical terms. In other words, we tried to define evidence based guidance we can collectively draw upon, when navigating the often complex and nuanced challenge of gender parity in the workplace.

Our findings were both surprising and simple (you can read the full report here) though the key findings were that:

There is a disparity between women who feel as though their gender negatively affects their career and men’s perceptions on inequality. 54% of female respondents believe that their gender has negatively affected their career progression. 65% of male respondents believe that their female co-workers are treated equally in the workplace. In support of this, over half (51%) of female respondents report a general sense of wanting to “be believed” when they discuss or report inequality. This is a pertinent issue that needs to be addressed first and foremost. If men are not believing our stories, then how can we encourage them to become our allies and stand up for us in the face of inequality? We need to support one another in raising our voices and being heard. Create groups and processes where women, collectively, can share their stories, seek support and get advice and help.

Several respondents reported that the “open sharing of salary information” would help gender parity. Whilst most companies continue to keep salary information a black box, it becomes harder to be aware of, and consequently, police, the gender pay gap. Companies need to get increasingly comfortable talking about money, through paying all employees fair and equally in accordance with their experience level and their skillset, and have ways to communicate this effectively, we can take tangible steps to ensuring men and women are paid equally for the same work.

Wanting progression to be primarily “merit based” is cited as important. Most women (and men) were not in favour of quotas or box ticking. We want to be seen and awarded for our merit, we want to be hired because we are as good at the job as our male counterparts and we want to be respected and rewarded for the value that we add. This, however, can only really come to play if we have an “awareness of bias” and openly understand and discuss the inherent differences in perception.

Some female respondents think direct action, for sexist behaviour to be “called out”, is a positive route to gender equality. Others respond preferring to “handle it ourselves”. Based on this, the recommendation for male coworkers is to ask female coworkers how best they can support the individual, based on her preferences and nearly all (92%) of female respondents report wanting an open dialogue, where issues can be addressed together, discussed on a case by case basis.

The first step to achieving true gender parity in the workplace is through open conversation. As women, we can share research and statistics on the inequality, discuss our experiences and ask others to work with us, to allow us to bring all our knowledge and unique perceptions to the table, because it is with fostering a wide range of diverse voices, that businesses will continue to grow and succeed.

Author bio

Kirsty Hulse is the Founder of Manyminds, a marketing agency working with clients such as Virgin Atlantic, Claire’s and IBM and has recently founded Roar Training, confidence, communication and allies workshops that level the professional playing field. For nearly ten years, she has travelled around the world speaking at conferences to audiences of thousands, and is a seasoned stand-up comic who ran a sold out one woman show at the 2017 Edinburgh Fringe.

She has trained with ICF accredited Neuroleadership Institute, to apply the fundamentals of neuroscience to enable better conversations, grow self belief and regulate nerves. She believes, passionately, that a recognised, empowered workforce improves collaboration, creativity and internal and external communication. She is a bestselling author of the award nominated "The Future is Freelance" and lives in Devon with her husband and their baby daughter, Amazon Alexa.

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

From Start Up support to Scholarship Win: How Entrepreneur Liz is Changing Lives

Entrepreneur Liz Forshaw

Care leaver and entrepreneur Liz Forshaw has recently embarked on the next chapter of her journey in “empowering, encouraging and inspiring children.”  
The 31-year-old, who is studying BSc (Hons) Psychology at Edge Hill University, founded a business in 2010 to help build children’s confidence and resilience in a creative way, drawing on her own experiences as a teenager in care in the north Liverpool area.
Liz, who is from Aintree but lives in Warrington, said: “I only have one goal in life and that is to empower, encourage and inspire. Having this as a child is so important, so it’s become what I’ve dedicated my life to doing.”
Through confidence sessions and workshops at Best Self Club, ran by Liz herself – a qualified business and personal life coach – children are encouraged to explore their own identities, focusing on confidence and resilience through a growth mindset.
Having initially received funded advice and support from local enterprise support charity The Women’s Organisation, Liz’s business turned into a nationwide franchise, raising more than £100,000 for children’s charities along the way. She now intends to grow Best Self Club across schools in the Merseyside area and further afield.
Liz, far right, with some of the children she has helped empower, encourage and inspire
Still celebrating the news of being granted a scholarship, Liz has also recently been guaranteed a place on a volunteering trip to Ghana, Africa in December.
“I’ve always wanted to volunteer in an orphanage or a school so the news of this on top of the scholarship is just wonderful.
“Being able to take what I’ve learned from my time at Edge Hill, and from running my own businesses, across the world to another continent and empower children over there will be amazing.”
Since studying at Edge Hill, Liz has become a volunteer at the National Youth Advocacy Service for looked after children and supports others studying Psychology as a peer mentor.
She left school without any GCSEs and was recently diagnosed with dyslexia but is looking towards a bright future, hoping to graduate with a PhD and become a lecturer, passing on her knowledge to another generation in a dyslexia-friendly way.
Liz also hopes to open a creative school and to publish a collection of workbooks to help people through challenging times.
To find out more about  more about scholarships at Edge Hill visit
And if like Liz you've got entrepreneurial ambition and would like to receive advice and support to get started, give The Women's Organisation a call on 0151 706 8111 or drop a line to 

Monday, November 11, 2019

Supporting MM Business Services through Excelerate Labs

Double M Business Services Ltd provides Business saving advice from business energy experts offering brokerage support to help all sizes of businesses save money and maximise energy efficiencies.

Many SMEs have all intention of saving energy and reducing energy costs, but the truth is that they simply don’t have the time, expertise, resources or relationships to pursue strategic energy portfolio management. This is why it’s beneficial for businesses to use the services of an energy broker such as Double M Business Services Ltd. Through tailored advice, it’s the  Company's  mission to match each of their customers with the best possible contract for their needs. They do the legwork, with the customer  doing the saving.

  • Help your business save time and money
  • No additional fees for using the service
  • Fast and easy quoting service, with a whole-of-market price comparison
  • Help secure better rates with your current supplier
  • Sells in an ethical and compliant way

As Third party Broker, Double M have long-standing relationships with reputable suppliers. As Brokers they  are able to negotiate, procure, and compare energy quotes on your behalf and ensure contract terms best-suited to your needs. With their  industry knowledge and expertise, brokers can secure the most affordable energy contracts. They can also advise on other energy-related services such as smart metering and invoice validation.

Double M  brokering  can assist you in setting up a strategy to monitor and manage your gas and electricity. They  will implement best practices for on-going benefits and energy savings, helping you rollout energy-efficient measures sensibly and strategically.

Along with reducing energy tariffs, businesses can also look to reducing actual energy consumption within the business environment

We discussed Double M Business Services business growth pains mainly . They did not have a Business growth Action Plan. We, therefore, set about to put together a plan for improving the business process in the supply chain and increasing clients on the books as well as developing key relationships with key partners. We worked with Sue Chatton in strategic planning all aspects of the growth areas of the service thoroughly, which was put down into a 3-year action plan and SWOT analysis of the business.

  • To scale up the offer, there is need to for Double M to
  • Increase the staffing resource.
  • Utilise an improved CRM system to be able to cross-sell and upsell services.
  • Work in partnership with a variety of stakeholders
  • Secure retainers and preferred provider status to build unrestricted funds
  • In implementing major strategies to grow the business, they will see sales revenues of over quarter a million by year 3. 
  • Any business looking to take up on savings advice can quote DP1 for a discounted rate.
If you would like to benefit from the support received under the Excelerate Labs programme, then please contact:

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Smiles all round for Julie and the Dental Hygiene Studio

After over two decades working as a dental hygienist, Julie Fisher decided it was time to take the plunge and launch her own studio.

Working with our team of advisors through the Enterprise Hub programme, Julie launched The Dental Hygiene Studio earlier this year – Wirral’s very first drop-in dental hygienist studio!

Julie celebrating the launch of
The Dental Hygiene Studio
They do things a little differently at the Dental Hygiene Studio.

A recent change in the law means that you no longer have to see the hygienist at your own dental practice - you can see a hygienist of your choice anytime, anywhere.

This was a business opportunity Julie didn’t want to miss out on. She says: “With today’s busy lifestyles, it can be quite difficult to book and appointment with the dentist, then wait for another appointment with the hygienist, so we wanted to do things a bit differently.”

Enterprise Hub caught up with Julie to find out more. Click here to read the full case study.

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Celebrating Enterprising Women 2019

Small businesses are at the heart of our local economy, creating jobs, solving problems and shaping our communities and culture. It isn’t easy to start a business. Those who dare to are risk-takers, innovators and driven by their passion and desire to do something differently. 

Our annual awards were set up to congratulate the very best of women-led businesses across the Liverpool City Region, and the powerhouses operating them.

Our 2019 award-winners!

We know that awards applications can be costly and time-consuming, but here at The Women’s Organisation, we like to do things a little differently. That’s why we decided that our awards would have no shortlists and no gracious loser faces. Simply, our awards are an opportunity to celebrate twelve stand-out businesses and the ambitious and determined women who lead them.

Joined by nearly 100 of our clients and friends, this year we took Celebrating Enterprising Women to Oh My Oh My for an afternoon of highlighting the stories and successes of local women who are impacting our local economy.

Welcome from our CEO, Maggie O'Carroll

This whole event was made possible by our headline sponsors, Lewis Evans Accountants, who through the leadership of another inspiring woman, Rosie Evans, are showing what’s possible when you have entrepreneurial spirit. Their unwavering support to women-led businesses across the Liverpool City Region and beyond does not go unnoticed. Find out more about their services here.

Another thank you goes to our incredibly talented host of the afternoon and long-time friend of the organisation, Eithne Browne. Eithne truly is the star of any show!

Lewis Evans Accountants team

And now onto our 2019 award-winners:

Training and Development Business of the Year, in partnership with The Isla Gladstone
Winner: The Make-Up Academy – Jane Clappison

Social Impact Award, in partnership with Arriva
Winner: Macy’s Café – Amanda McDonald

Best New Business 2019, in partnership with MSIF
Winner: Ava & Harrison – Joanne McCormick & Sara Burgess

Women in Business Champion, in partnership with The Women’s Organisation
Winner: Natalie Hughes

Retail Business of the Year, in partnership with Home Carers Limited
Winners: Mohokini – Serene Papafio

Construction Trades Business of the Year, in partnership with Whitesides
Winner: Gecko Interiors – Caz Jackson & Amy Burgess

Young Entrepreneur of the Year, in partnership with NatWest Business
Winner: Connect Studios – Kelly Phillips

Professional Services Business of the Year, in partnership with Aabyss 
Winner: Xact Payroll Solutions – Jennie Size & Tricia O’Rourke

Campaign of the Year, in partnership with LCR Activate
Winner: InnovateHer – Chelsea Slater & Jo Morfee

Health & Well Being Business of the Year, in partnership with Kays Medical
Winner: Ell&Dee – Claire Morton

PR & Marketing Business of the Year, in partnership with Lewis Evans Accountants
Winner: Pink Media – Nicola Pink

Empowering Others Award, in partnership with Privilege HR
Winner: Ametrine Enterprise Solutions – Irene Afful 

Inspirational Woman of the Year, in partnership with Lewis Evans Accountants
Winner: Poppy Belle Florals – Carmel Donohue

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Back Her Business: Supporting female entrepreneurs starting new businesses through crowdfunding

We’re excited to welcome Crowdfunder for this ‘Back Her Business’ event here at The Women's Organisation, to show you how together with NatWest, they can help you raise money for your new business through crowdfunding.

What's more, if you're a new female-led business which has not yet crossed an annual turnover of £1,000, then you could be eligible for a special grant funding opportunity from NatWest to receive up to £5,000 for your business!*

**Please see below to find out if you're eligible for this session**

Join us to hear from Samantha Mauger, Head of Coaching at Crowdfunder, to:

  • Understand the crowdfunding process and how it can help you raise the funds to start your business
  • Find out how you can access donations or rewards-based funding through Crowdfunder’s platform
  • Hear about exciting grant funding opportunities from NatWest, up to £5,000*
  • Discover the wrap-around business support available through Back Her Business

What is Back Her Business?

Crowdfunder have joined forces with NatWest to help more women get started in business.

Together they can help you raise money for your business through crowdfunding, and will also provide free wrap-around support, including coaching, mentoring and opportunities to meet like-minded women.

What’s more, NatWest may also choose to offer successful projects up to 50% of their fundraising target (max. £5,000) in grant funding!*

How does the process work?

  • Those wishing to apply should set up a crowdfunding project (with a minimum target of £1,000) and complete a short application.
  • If your application is approved, Natwest may then choose to give your project match funding of up to 50% towards your crowdfunding target, up to a maximum of £5,000.
  • To receive a pledge from Natwest, your project must have raised at least 25% of your initial target from the Crowd, from at least 10 unique backers.
  • This will take the Project to up to 75% funded, and the Project Owner can then use the message that they have received NatWest support to drive further support.
  • Projects must go on to achieve 100% of their initial funding target to receive the NatWest funds


A project has a target of £2000, with a campaign length of 28 days…

  1. The project raises £500 from 10 backers in 16 days ­
  2. NatWest pledge of £1,000 applied (assuming the full 50% match funding is granted) ­
  3. The Project raises a further £750 from 14 backers in remaining 12 days
  4. The project closes successfully after 28 days having raised a total of £2,250 from 25 backers.

Who is eligible?

  • Women-led businesses based in the UK
  • Must be a new trading activity i.e. not growing an existing business venture
  • If the business is already up and running, it must not have crossed an annual turnover of £1,000 at the point of application
  • Must be able to satisfy Crowdfunder’s due diligence checks
  • Please note - this session is aimed at those based in the Liverpool City Region. If you're outside of this area, then please click here to see what support Back Her Business has in your area. 

 *Please note: There is no guarantee that a project will receive NatWest grant funding, the decision to fund is at the discretion of the programme management.

If you'd like to find out more, or book directly with us, then please contact our team on 0151 706 8111, or via e-mail on

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Think you're ready to GROW your business? 📈

So, you think you're ready to GROW your business. But how do you really know? 

Growth can mean different things to different businesses. For some, it can simply mean that they want to increase their sales turnover, profits, or their share in the market. For others, it might look like taking on more staff or even expanding into offering new products or services. Another example of a growing business is one that's ready to increase its physical presence with more premises or shop outlets, while those selling online might look at increasing their virtual presence.

As you can see, growth can take many forms.  

But how do you know you are ready to grow YOUR business? Head over to the Enterprise Hub blog for expert tips and advice on taking those next steps...

Here's our client Cheryl Grogan, founder of AJ's Playdays, on how we helped her to scale-up her business...

Monday, September 30, 2019

Kiddy Cook on Evolving and Expanding a Franchise

McDonalds, Pizza Hut and Marriott International are some of the worlds biggest companies that have moved to a franchise model in order to successfully grow. We spoke to Nikki Geddes – Founder of local franchise Kiddy Cook about her business journey and the learning curves she’s overcome. 

Nikki Geddes

Launching in 2005 with the dream of inspiring children to have fun with food, Kiddy Cook works by delivering award winning school workshops, after school clubs, classes and parties to encourage healthy choices and to give young people the knowledge and skills they need to thrive in a challenging world. Nikki Geddes started the business before deciding to franchise, she told us “I really enjoyed baking with my daughter and as a new mum frequenting every toddle group going, I recognised a gap in the market when it came to teach small children about food and cooking. The more I thought about Kiddy Cook, I got excited about the positive impact it could have”

Nikki spent a large part of her career working in corporate roles. She started her working life as a freelance journalist for BBC Radio Leicester, moving on to a role at British retailer Freemans and most recently she spent 12 years working for a high-profile marketing agency in London. Relocating to the North West with her family, she started to think about the possibility of starting a business that would involve making a difference to kids lives, as well that of their parents.

“I’ve always had a franchise model in mind because I knew there were other entrepreneurs out there who felt as I did about kids and learning”

Franchising allowed Nikki to expand her business without big financial costs. With money tight and a family at home, it was important for her to keep costs to a minimum... something which at the start of her journey was a struggle. “I tried to do everything myself without having a real understanding of how to franchise my business. I wasted a lot of money. Furthermore, my business was not as robust as it could have been. I recruited the wrong people for my business, I didn’t take the time to see if they were right for me and the Kiddy Cook brand and some of these franchisees proved unqualified to run a Kiddy Cook franchise resulting in some real lows and a business that remained static for a long time”

If Nikki could offer a piece of advice for anyone looking to start a franchise - Invest your time and money into talking to a franchise consultant right from the start!

Kiddy Cook is now evolving and expanding with 7 areas covered across England and Wales. They continue to collaborate with partners who share the same commitment to causes which encourage health, wellbeing and education and are now in conversation with one of the biggest school sports providers discussing the possibility of partnership to deliver the Kiddy Cook Food Foundation Programme to more schools across the UK.

The business worked with The Women’s Organisation through Greater Manchester based Excelerate Labs Programme. Receiving coaching and support from Senior Business Advisor Mike Marsden, Nikki told us: “The Women’s Organisation have been absolutely fantastic, and my mentor Mike Marsden continues to be a real asset to the growth of Kiddy Cook. From the free courses I’ve attended (How to get your Business seen on Google was my favourite) to the continued support and networking opportunities, they have been a real motivator for me moving forward.”

“It’s still early days for me, but I have no doubt that the work I am doing with The Women’s Organisation will be a contributing factor to my business growth and profit. I have spent the last couple of months evaluating my business model and processes and I have been able to add real value to the existing franchise network.”

Kiddy Cook are currently looking for an entrepreneur to deliver their programme of workshops in the Liverpool and North Wales areas. Kiddy Cook presents a fantastic opportunity and one that can be a great way to build a business using an existing company as a foundation.

If you’d like to find our more get in touch 

Tel: 07976 619 648 e:

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

Friday, September 20, 2019

Grow & Thrive Business Masterclass Series - for women with a business ready for serious growth 📈

We're excited to announce a brand new series of business masterclasses with Enterprise Hub, designed especially to support women with high-growth businesses. 

This series of expert-led training sessions has been developed to support women-led businesses with high growth ambitions.

Two fully-funded sessions will be happening throughout October at 54 St James Street, including:

**This training is fully-funded under the Enterprise Hub programme for female-led businesses under 42 months in the Liverpool City Region. Please see below to find out if this training is right for you at this stage** 

Visit the Enterprise Hub page for full details, click here

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Case study: Breaking down barriers with Helen Clarke Autism

Helen Clarke Autism is a specialist autism training and consultancy service, dedicated to improving the lives of autistic children, in particular autistic girls. With support from the Enterprise Hub programme, Helen is taking her business from strength to strength. 

Helen provides educational and consultancy services for schools, parents, health services and other organisations that support autistic children.
As an autistic woman herself and having previously worked with autistic children for over twenty years as an Art and Design teacher, Helen is passionate about sharing her own life journey to improve the experience of others.
Her mission is now more important than ever, with recent reports suggesting that the number of autistic women and girls may have been severely underestimated due to historic gender biases.
Experts explain that early assumptions of the condition meant that it was predominantly thought to affect men, with the real ratio in fact coming in at approximately 3:1. This means that the number of girls and women with the condition has been vastly underestimated with thousands going undiagnosed.
As might be expected, this has taken its toll on the mental health of many girls and women across the country as living without a diagnosis often means that people are not accessing appropriate support in terms of health and education.
Thankfully, there is now a growing recognition of the issue and Helen is one of the professionals at the forefront of this battle to help autistic women overcome the barriers they face and improve the services available to them.With such an important task at hand, Helen decided self-employment was the best way for her to reach and support as many girls as possible – and so she founded Helen Clarke Autism consultancy services.

Click to here to visit the Enterprise Hub page and read the full case study.