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. 

Monday, September 2, 2019

Guest blog: How can we encourage more women into the construction sector?

Ever fancied yourself as a builder? Kelly Friel is a Product Manager with industrial tool supplier Zoro. Here, she discusses why it's time more women were encouraged into the construction sector, and what employers can do to help attract female talent.

According to the latest figures from WISE, the sector is almost entirely dominated by men, with just 11% of roles taken by women. And, that doesn’t take into account the sort of work that women are doing in these roles, many of which are likely to be secretarial or administrative, rather than actually out on site. The Guardian even estimates that as many as 99% of on-site workers are men, making construction one of the most heavily male-dominated industries out there.

With a nationwide shortage of skilled construction workers and tradespeople set to get even worse after Brexit, employers are starting to wake up to the fact that we desperately need more women to join the industry. So, just what can be done to make construction roles more appealing to women? Here, I'll discuss what employers, site managers and educators can do to bring about a change.

Employers need to embrace inclusive policies

One thing which is sure to put women off a job in construction is the fear that they won’t be accepted by their colleagues on site, or that they could even be subject to harassment or discrimination. No one should face this treatment at work, and it's not just a matter of telling women to "toughen up" or accept that it's "part of the job". Employers and site managers need to commit to changing the workplace culture which makes such behaviour acceptable.

Workplace policies need to outline what is and isn't acceptable during working hours, and all staff should be fully trained on how they can create an inclusive workplace culture. Every site also needs to have reporting system in place, so that women can be confident that their concerns will be listened to and addressed. This is already standard practice for most other sectors, so there's really no reason it shouldn't be the same for construction. 

Employers should offer equal access to facilities and equipment

Another key concern is providing equal access to on-site facilities and equipment, which is sadly often overlooked when hiring women. For instance, many sites don’t even have female changing rooms or toilets, because there are rarely ever women on site. Likewise, the majority of safety equipment and construction wear — like hard hats, hi-vis wear, boots and gloves — is designed for men. So, employers need to ensure that they have ample facilities and equipment for women before they welcome them to the site.

Raising the profile of women in the industry

It’s much easier for women to imagine themselves in a role if they can see others like themselves are already succeeding. So, the industry needs to raise the profile of female construction workers, perhaps by asking women to visit schools and colleges as guest speakers. Celebrating the trailblazers who have already carved out a successful career in construction will help to encourage other women to follow in their footsteps, and it will show that it’s not exclusively a boys' club anymore.

Educating and empowering girls and young women

Many employers are already keen to diversify their workforce, but often find that the talent pool for female candidates is very small, meaning it's harder to find qualified women. This is likely because young women learn that construction isn't a "girl's job" from an early age, and so don’t decide to pursue this as a career. Educators and employers need to work together to change this misconception, preferably by working in schools with young people before they’ve decided what they'd like to do for a living.

There are also a number of myths around physical strength which educators need to dispel. Thanks to modern technical advancements, many building roles don’t involve as much demanding physical labour as they once did. Additionally, lots of on-site roles, such as surveying and site management, aren't very physical jobs. So, it’s a myth that you need to be physically strong to work on a building site, and it’s important that girls and young women realise this before they dismiss it as a career option.

Additionally, girls and young women need to be made more aware that there's a lot of room for progression. Site management roles involve a high degree of emotional intelligence and strong interpersonal skills, which are the types of jobs women are often more drawn to. If more young women were aware that these qualities are sought after skills, they might consider pursuing construction as a career.

A career in construction can be rewarding and lucrative, so it's only right that women are given the support and encouragement they need to build a career in the sector. By working together, employers and educators can change attitudes and pave the way for women to succeed in construction.

Guest blog: The Chairman of Merseyrail Ladies FC on the rise of women’s football

Following a major Summer season for women’s football, Neil Lancaster, Chairman of Merseyrail Ladies FC, has penned us a guest blog on the rise of the sport.

He takes a look back at the sport’s potted history and shares his hopes for the future.

 Merseyrail Ladies FC 

This summer’s FIFA Women's World Cup has well and truly shined a spotlight on women’s football, with the sport receiving masses of media attention for what seems like the first time.

But did you know… Women's football matches once pulled bigger crowds than most men's games - sometimes more than 50,000!

In the 1920s the sport flourished with around 150 women's teams in England. There was a huge growth in women's football during the First World War when women were called upon to do factory jobs left by the men who had gone to fight.

And when (Dick Kerr's) Preston Ladies played St Helen's Ladies on Boxing Day 1920 they pulled in a crowd of 53,000 at Everton's Goodison Park, with thousands more fans locked outside.
Everton men's attendance today has a capacity of 39,572.

In December 1921 the women's game was effectively banned, with the FA at the time saying the game of football is "quite unsuitable for females". This ruling stood until 1971.

Over the last decade, women’s football has been the UK’s biggest growth sport in the UK.

In June 2019, England's 3-0 win over Norway in the World Cup quarter-final set a new peak TV viewing record for women's football of 7.6million.

Stephanie Frappart became the first female referee to officiate a major men's European match when she took charge of the UEFA Super Cup. Along with her all-female team of assistant referees, Manuela Nicolosi of Italy and Michelle O'Neill from the Republic of Ireland.

However, as in the US, our focus here in the UK at grass roots level is on getting - and keeping - girls and women on the pitch.

Here in Liverpool, Merseyrail Ladies FC are one of the clubs striving to make a mark at a local level.

Having previously played under the banner of Bootle Men’s FC, they have now moved to their own ground at Admiral Park in Liverpool 8 and there's no affiliation to a men’s team - a decision that sees this team of women striving their own path. 

Maybe, history could repeat itself for women’s football?

Neil Lancaster Chairman of Merseyrail Ladies FC

You can find Merseyrail Ladies FC on Twitter and Facebook.

#BusinessGrowthTips: Capacity Planning

Over the last month we've been asking our Excelerate Labs business growth advisers to offer us some key tips on how to maximise your business potential.  If you follow @ExcelerateLab over on twitter you will catch our series #BusinessGrowthTips

Capacity planning is a key part of strategising for growth.  Without the right team and resources your business with soon grow out of hand and beyond your control.  Below are some key tips from our advisers looking at this element of growth in more detail.

  • Let Go to Grow
"As you grow, you need to let go" says business adviser Mike Marsden. "Eventually your staff will reach their limits and your will outgrow some of your connections.  Just make sure the next people on your journey are better than the last".

Sometimes in business we can get sentimental about both our staff and those in our network.  But actually when capacity planning it is crucial to identify what roles and connections we need for the next phase of the business and be honest as to whether those we already have in our circle match the business need.  If not we may need to let go in order to grow. 

  • Systems Give You Space
"Systemise your business. Get your business working for itself, creating money.  If the business is reliant on you, you have a job" says Mike.

Unpacking this tip from our growth adviser Mike, it shows that you need to give yourself space away from the business in order to grow.  If you are basically the engine that keeps every cog turning then you essentially work for the business instead of having it work for you.  You need to be able to step out without everything falling apart or how can you ever have those essential meetings and strategy hours to move it on? Putting systems in place, which can be everything from handbooks that ensure staff know what to do, digital tools, automation etc. that will keep everything running while you aren't there is the best way to do this.
This is a massive part of capacity planning.  List everything you do, and everything that relies solely on your expertise.  Then plan and research ways to fill these gaps to ensure you can free up enough of your time to get the business growing.  Some of these systems may have a cost attached to implement, so these should factor in your business growth budget planning. 

If you are a woman running a growing business in the Greater Manchester area and would like support with capacity planning or any other area of business growth, please get in touch with our Excelerate Labs team.  Part funded by European Regional Development Fund the programme is FREE for your to access (subject to eligibility) and will offer advice and support tailored to your business need.

Drop a line to to find out more.