New Year – now to get organised!

What do you start the New Year with? For me buying a new diary is almost cleansing…as a bit of a stationery freak I love the choice and believe me it does take a while to choose the right one, with the right amount of space and also one that I will take pride in so that it isn’t left to the side of the desk unloved.

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Support for Women in Business

There’s been a lot of discussion recently about support for women, and mumpreneurs, and what support is needed to help women in business. Having just had 2 weekends of supporting other women in business, I felt I’d share my thoughts, then stand back and listen to the discussion!

The Bra Lady team

Bra Lady team at Conference

Last weekend was fantastic. I held the first Bra Lady Conference. This was a mixture of training and support for the Bra Lady team to help them develop their businesses. The feedback was very positive, with by far the most important part of the session, being, “I really valued being able to meet the other Bra Ladies and spend time getting to know them.”

On Sunday, the group attended the Mumpreneur Conference, and all got a lot out of the event. The motivational speaker Miriam Staley talked about “Belief is Everything”, and “Walk in a positive way”. Just the things the Bra Lady team, a group of newly self-employed women, needed to hear. The group have never run their own businesses before, and need support from each other, and their wider networks to help them through when times are slow, and they lose their self-confidence. The 2 conferences they attended certainly boosted their motivation levels and gave them some tools to help them grow their businesses with a new vigour.

Yesterday I had a stand at the Business and Baby Show, an exhibition designed to support parents who want to start their own business. The seminars were run by fabulously successful business people, and the people who attended the show were serious about starting their own businesses. Some of the ladies I spoke to about becoming a Bra Lady were impressed with the training and ongoing support we offer. But we also discussed that being a Bra Lady may not be right for them at this time.

All this has strengthened my knowledge, that one size of business support does not suit all! Some people need a lot of hand holding to begin with, and if this is provided within a franchise opportunity, this may be right for them. Others will hate being tied to someone else’s support structure as they’ll already have their own support network around them.

When you start a business you need to have the support of those around you in your home life. This much is key to your success. And after that? Well, it’s very much down to what skills and abilities you’re bringing to your business, and those that you need to develop to create the success you want.

  • If you need to network to get referrals for your business, you can also use it to get support for your business from other business owners.
  • If you need to be constantly reviewed and given actions to complete, then having a coach, or someone acting as a support buddy may work for you. Or being part of a franchise may be the answer, depending how it’s structured
  • If you need motivation, then surround yourself with motivational speakers, books & people. Learn from them, but put your actions INTO action
  • If you learn by watching, go to seminars that will help you develop new skills
  • And don’t be afraid of researching, all the time. If you don’t know what’s out there, you don’t know
  • BUT, don’t spend all your time doing these things, as you need to put your learning into practice!

So, all in all, I believe there’s a place for all kinds of support for businesses. Business women, mumpreneurs, dadpreneurs, men in business. We all want and need different things, and support. Sometimes it takes time to work out what type of business and personal support works best for you, and how you need to be supported by your networks, but it’s worth spending time working this out.

Without a strong support network, you will surely fail.


Mums in Business – Have you been inspired?

Well, I certainly have! What a busy month we’ve had here, with 25 posts on our theme. Thank you to all those who took part and shared their story, tips, or just simply an insight into what it’s like to be a Mum and run your own business.

I don’t know about you, but I need time to reflect and go back over them all again – I’m sure I can pick up some more tips about juggling, priorities, and keeping focused, even when the going gets tough.

I’m also delighted with all the support for the Business Mums Blog Carnival – a regular monthly roundup of posts, hosted on various Business Mum’s blogs. This month we had an eclectic mix of personal and business stories, but it all tied in very well with our very own theme. I’m exhausted by all the activity we’ve had, but I guess that’s one of the themes that has come through isn’t it? We’re all very busy women, but very determind in our own ways to get what we want for our families and our businesses.

I’ve certainly been motivated by the stories of others, and been humbled by some of the open tales told during the month.

What’s motivated, inspired, touched a nerve with you? I’d like to know. I’d also welcome your feedback on whether we had too many guests this month, or was it great to see so many stories in one place that you could compare, contrast and relate to with your own story?

I’m at the end of the first week of the school holidays – a time of major juggling, scheduling & guilt challenges with the needs of the family and business both needing my attention. Hope you have a great summer being a Mum/parent/partner/carer, and enjoy your life to the full.

Tomorrow – we start our holiday/relaxation month! Couldn’t have timed it better! :-)


Business Mums Blog Carnival

I’m delighted to host this month’s Carnival. An eclectic mix of posts from a wide group of Business Mums across a   range of sectors. The only thing we have in common is that we’re Mums, and we run our own business. Some of these are large, some are quite small. It’s my first time hosting the carnival, so I’d welcome your feedback. My main question is “How was it for you?”, and “How can I improve?”, which I guess are key questions in our family and business lives too.


With no theme to the carnival, I think you’ll be delighted, challenged and motivated by the posts that have been entered.

Let’s start with the challenge shall we?

Libby Hill, from SmartTalkers asks us “Are young offenders really born bad?“. Having spent 9 years with The Prince’s Trust I know my answer to this question. But read the text. Is there anything you can do in your area or work to support people (not just young people), who may struggle with life?

Joanne Dewberry who runs Charlie Moos has an interesting post. It’s titled “Coming to a High Street near you“, but challenges us as buyers of goods. Where do you shop & why? Are you prepared to pay for the service you get? I’m very interested in your comments on this one as I work in retail myself!

Some more personal challenges are talked about by Helen Royle. She tells us about her daugther’s first hangover, and how she dealt with it. Whilst Donna Pinnell, Little Lilypad, talks about her SPD (Symphysis pubis dysfunction) and how she’s coping with the pain & joy of growing a baby.

The entry from Become a Mumpreneur is a personal & business challenge. Sometimes we use all sorts of excuses for not doing things don’t we? So they’ve challenged us to think about this. Are you using being a parent as an excuse to stay within your comfort zone? This may be personally, but it may also be professionally. What other excuses do you use? Bet you’ve got some good ones. Please do share them so we can add them to our lists too (so that we can cross them off of course!)

Bronwyn, JupiterJasper, challenges us business owners to target the market for our niche products. Hands up those who’ve answered “Everybody” when asked who your target market is. Yep, quite a few out there! Read this and challenge the way you think about the market you’re targeting.

Starting to move onto Motivated, but still with a foot in Challenge, Ipshita Chatterjee of Minor Edition tells us about a Time Audit. I really like this concept. We’re often challenged as parents and business owners with our time aren’t we? But how better to review our time than thinking of auditing it? Once we’ve done our audit we can then move one can’t we?

When we become pregnant we often wonder how we’re going to cope financially don’t we? Claire Meredith, Zest Payroll, tells us the ins and outs of maternity pay, and how we can benefit, even if we’re self employed, or only worked for a short time. Tie this together with Becky’s, Baby Budgeting, vlog about How to earn money running a franchise and you’ll be starting to get yourself motivated about staying in control during pregnancy and beyond of your finances.

Whether you run a franchise, or decide to set up your own business whilst you’re pregnant, on maternity leave, or just want to, these next 2 entries will be helpful. Helen Lindop, who set up the Business Mums blog carnival, runs Business Plus Baby, helps those of you considering an online business. How do you start to sell things? Helen’s Online Shop guide is a great start to help you understand the pros and cons of each avenue available.

And once we’ve got our online business, what do we need to do? Tell people we exist! Ace Inspire talk about online marketing. If you’re not motivated now to get on with your business & your family life, I don’t know how else to support you!

Maybe just by reading this post of mine. It’s a personal one about Achieving Goals, but I think what we learn personally needs to be put into practice in our business life too. What do you think?

I hope this month’s selection of posts challenges, motivates and delights you. I look forward to hearing of your progress this next month from the articles you’ve found here and beyond. Thanks for reading, and please do leave your comments to help us all learn.

You may also be interested that this month the theme on this blog is all about Business Mums. Lots of lovely Mums in business are sharing their story and/or tips. They’d all love to hear from you too.


Be Inspired by anything – it’ll help

I’ve had a tough time on all sorts of fronts recently, which regular readers will be aware of.

But, I feel like this darkness has also brought a disproportianate amount of lightness into my life.

So, overall I, now, feel up on the deal. FANTASTIC!

But where has all this inspiration come from? Can I convert it into personal motivation? These are my top places/people who have inspired me over the last few weeks, and how it’s affected my motivation:

  • the Bra Lady team – their enthusiasm and motivation to get started and develop their own businesses with my support has encouraged and inspired me to deliver new ideas and resources to supporting them
  • a new team I’m involved with who support people running their own businesses. They’ve helped me discover new CDs and books to help me develop personally. A particular site I’ve found helpful is Knowledge is King
  • My cheerleaders, including my Action Learning Set colleagues, my informal and formal cheerleaders, including @Cambridgemummy, @Fired4u, @Lifftslings. Some of you won’t even know what you’ve done, but just by being there, at the end of an email or text is sometimes all that’s needed
  • My sons. They’ve both made me very proud with their school reports this term. Their sporting achievements amaze me. And the love they give me, and their cuddles are second to none. I’m working hard so we can do wonderful things, and at the end of the day they inspire me with their love of life and thirst for knowledge
  • My husband. I may give out about him, but overall he supports my whims, my working 7 days a week. But he’s been there to talk things through with these last few weeks. And I know that he’s behind my businesses, and in the way I’m growing them. Even when times are tough
  • Seth Godin – his daily emails are thought provoking. I’m currently reading, amongst other things, his newest book “Linchpin“. It’s fab! I’ll be writing more about it. But it’s helping me understand why I don’t feel like I fit into a ‘mould’. Read it…I’m sure it’ll help you too.
  • I was fortunate to hear Chris Gardner, of “In Pursuit of Happyness” fame recently. What an inspirational man! He had a dream, knew he could achieve it, but also wanted to be with his son (14 months old, not 4 years as in the film). He did it. He was part of the working homeless population and has achieved great wealth and happiness for himself, his family and his community and church. He didn’t give up. He had days when he wondered if he could do it, and his son hugged him. And it made his challenging life all worth while. What an inspiration!
  • My friends and family – sometimes just being with other people doing family things. Drinking, eating, sharing laughter and life is inspiring. Sharing with our friends and their 1 year old twins this weekend has inspired and motivated me.
  • And the sunshine. How can we fail to be inspired by the warm days and growing seedlings on the window sill? New growth of spring, warm days and the smiles of people around you.

And if I can’t be motivated by all these amazing people, words, smiles and cuddles, then what can I be inspired by?

This list isn’t exhaustive, and so many people and things have helped me over the past few difficult weeks. These are the ones I want to share with you. But I want to thank everyone online and offline for their support and encouragement. I’m looking forward to the new dawn of bras4mums, bras4all and the bralady network. It’s exciting! :-)


Are you working towards your goals yet?

Are you near to your GOAL?

Mums the Boss are encouraging us to look at GOALS in their new business blog carnival for 2011, which ties in with our GOAL SETTING theme for January.

We had some great guest posts:

Weight loss goal setting

Daily business goals and targets

Marketing & PR plans are as important as business plans

4 things you need to learn to start earning money

plus our own contributions about my own goals for 2011 (business and personal), and also about motivation.

This is all very well, but are you working towards your goals yet? Mine have altered even in the last couple of weeks. I’ve been forced encouraged to enter the 5km Race for Life to achieve my running goal 6 months earlier than anticipated. I’m looking forward to the challenge.

And then, I got pointed to an article today, “Do you have a vision, or are you a dreamer?”, and it brought back some conversations I’ve had with people over the last few weeks. People who HAVE vision, but may not have quite focused on how they’re going to go about achieving it. I was also prompted today by @barefoot_exec asking the question “Do you want a business or a job?”. So many people go into self-employment because they think it’s an easy option to getting a job for life! It’s not the case in my experience!

So, are your GOALS written down? Even just the outline of what you want to achieve over the next 6-12 months? And write down the MOTIVATION as well (the motivation meme may help you think this through). And who have you told about your goals? Who’s going to keep you on track and ask you  how you’re getting on and how they can help you?

If you’ve all these things in place, like me, you’ll be progressing through your list by now. But I’m so pleased my word for this year is FLEXIBILITY! Opportunities have come my way that I didn’t expect that have taken time to pursue, and obstacles have also crossed my path. Typical! But I’m working towards a clear vision, and can confidently say “I’m working towards my goals”. What about you?


Meme: What motivates you?

Hotly on the heels of my first meme, comes this new tag from Mamma McCann. She’s been inspired by the goal setting posts this month. And, you know, she’s right – we may set our goals, but what’s our motivation for achieving them?

Here’s mine. Apart from those people I tag (to keep the meme moving and being shared around the world), it’d be great to see what motivates you in your life. Is there a common theme? I wonder.

1. Caring and sharing with/for others – the more I can do for other people, the more I get spurred on to do more. It may be family, customers, community/fundraising. But if I can give to others, I’m happy. For example, my business started when I got bad advice about bra fitting when breastfeeding – I wanted to share my knowledge with others, so that they didn’t suffer like I did!

2. Wanting to leave the world a better place, or not affect it detrimentally in my lifetime – I choose fairtrade products if available. I’d prefer to use public transport, but often the cost is prohibitive, and for my work, this just wouldn’t be efficient. Bringing my children up to love other people for who they are, and communicate differences rather than fighting over petty things. Guess this ties into no.1!

3.Running is motivating me to do more. I’m loving being out in the fresh air, and I’ve been pushed by @thymedeli and @crukwalton to do the RaceforLife this year. It’ll give me something to work towards having said I want to be able to run 30 minutes without stopping by the end of the year, these 2 ladies seem to think I can do it in half that time!

4. If I can earn enough to be able to have more time off with my family, travel more, and I’d love to go sailing more, then I’ll be happy with my lot. Good food & wine, and being in a lovely part of the world, being with people I love, all the time, I guess are my ultimate motivators…

And if you think these aren’t very business like, then maybe I’m not. My focus is on customer satisfaction and education – not high profits. But if I can achieve profit from providing excellent customer service with a wide range of products then aren’t we all better off? Please feel free to challenge me, these are my perceptions of myself!

I’m easily pleased aren’t I? What about you?

I’ve tagged you 5 particularly, as I think your motivations in life will be marvellous to hear about during this goal setting month. Thanks in advance!

@jennyflintoft @melissatalago @emmawimhurst @motivatingmum and, a guy @benbloggerdad, oh, and @thymedeli & @CRUKWalton you can chip in as well please, as you’ve got me into 1 of these!


Running is the new Gym

As a Mum, small business owner and a person who is always busy with something, it’s been difficult to find a way to exercise, But, I’ve found a form of exercise that is fitting in well with family life, is not costing money I don’t have, and is only letting me down if I don’t go. The benefits I’m getting are numerous, including a smug grin on my face when I’ve been out!

I never saw myself as a runner, or advocating it as a way to exercise without going to the gym, but here I am. A person who enjoys running up to 3 times a week, and suggesting it to others as a way of getting into exercise instead of costly gym sessions. Continue reading