2007 National everywoman Conference
2007: Maximise Your Business Growth
everywoman’s seventh national conference saw an attendance of over 350 women business owners, with some of the country’s top women in business, including Martha Lane Fox and Dame Mary Perkins, offering inspiration, skills and strategies for growing businesses.
Martha Lane Fox,
NED: Channel 4 Television and Marks & Spencer Plc,
Founder: Lucky Voice Private Karaoke and Antigone.org.uk
Martha's top tips for business success included:
- Raising more money than you need
- Changing your environment: work from a professional office
- Hiring people better than you
- Investing in the right technology
- Always getting customer feedback
- Establishing credibility to ensure that you are taken seriously
- Being disruptive
- Knowing when it's time to leave
- Being relentless in focusing on the customer
Panel Discussions: Making Your Business Work For You
Four inspirational entrepreneurs: Mandy Nickerson (Bales Worldwide), Christina Vaughan (Image Source), Katy Geddes (Belgravia Florist), and Elaine Fairfax (Animal Friends Insurance), revealed how they developed their businesses through passion, persistence and perseverance, creating their own success stories.
Building a Brand
Delegates found out about building a recognised brand from those women in business who have built the leading brand in their industry sector: Dame Mary Perkins (Specsavers Optical Superstores), Sharon Hilditch (Crystal Clear International), Alice Shreeve (Belle and Bunty), and Hilary Devey (Pall-Ex Group).
Delegates attended one of four workshops given by women who have made successful businesses as a result of their skills. These female entrepreneurs shared experiences and industry knowledge and gave real life examples of what works well and what doesn’t, in addition to tips for growing a business.
High impact, low-cost marketing
Tamara Gillan, Managing Director and Founder, SPF15
Effective PR for you and your business
Jackie Cooper, Vice Chair and Creative Director, JCPR / Edelman London
The power of telesales and telemarketing
Liz Jackson MBE, Founder and Managing Director, Great Guns Marketing
Build a successful online business
Hilary Andrews, Founding Director, Mankind
Finally, Lee Bannister (Founder, Complete Relaxation) led a session based on the principles of trance and hypnosis.
"Stimulating discussions. Well organised. Good networking opportunities. I was able to tick some of the boxes and say 'yes, I'm already doing that' and importantly, find out what I should be going."
Hilary Gander, Level Vision
"It is nice to be reminded that I am not alone and that there are many other women un business creating successful enterprise - thanks for bringing us all together".
Tania Watson, Creative Coaching
"Great to realise that the issues in Cornwall, an extremely rural area, are very similar to London!"
Jenny Atherton, SMART Women Project
"It is always an inspiration to meet such amazing women in varied business."
Karen Tranter, Fileworks Ltd.
The Voice of everywoman 2007
Women in Business and the Influence of Female Celebrity Entrepreneurs
In 2007, everywoman and NatWest polled 1,887 women in an attempt to reveal from where women derive their business inspiration and how great an influence the new phenomenon of “celebrity entrepreneurs” has upon them.
Of the total number of women surveyed, over half either run or intend to run their own businesses. Those who had already launched businesses had done so 4½ years ago and now claimed an average annual turnover averaging £1.3 million.
Catalyst for Starting a Business
The most popular reason for venturing it alone was women wanting to be their own boss (58%). Over half wished to have more flexibility (57%). Personal spirit and endeavour was also a popular motive. 37% of those polled wanted to boost their sense of self-worth, whilst a similar number wanted to prove to themselves that they could achieve the goal. Approximately one third were motivated by the lack of satisfaction in their previous employment, or the wish to escape the corporate life. Other catalysts cited for setting up in business included widowhood, divorce and becoming a mother.
Welsh residents most desired not having to answer to anyone else with 78% stating that as a reason to set up in business. In Scotland, 64% of women sought flexibility whilst in the South East of England, women want to achieve a better work-life balance (51%). In the South West, women are looking for a greater sense of self worth (50%)
Celebrity Role Models
86% of participants agreed that celebrity entrepreneurs play a positive role in encouraging women to set up in business. Age-wise, the under-25s are more likely to be influenced by this phenomenon (90%) as are women living in Belfast, Cardiff, Liverpool, Nottingham and Sheffield (91%). Pin-ups and popstars join politicians in everywoman’s definitive list of business icons:
- JK Rowling – author
- Anita Roddick – founder of The Body Shop
- Margaret Thatcher – first female Prime Minister
- Jacqueline Gold – CEO Ann Summers
- Martha Lane Fox – co-founder of lastminute.com
- Karren Brady – MD of Birmingham City Football Club (youngest MD of UK plc)
- Delia Smith – cook, author, broadcaster,
- Michelle Mone – founder of Ultimo lingerie
- Nicola Horlick – founder of Bramdean Asset Management
- Dame Stella Rimington – first female director of MI5
- Katie Price (aka Jordan) – model, author and business woman
- Deborah Meaden – Dragon’s Den panelist and business investor
- Chrissie Rucker – founder of The White Company
- Stella McCartney – fashion designer
- Tamara Mellon – founder of Jimmy Choo shoes
- Clara Furse – first female CEO, London Stock Exchange
- Victoria Beckham – performing artist, author and designer
- Elle Macpherson – model and business woman
- Kelly Hoppen – interior designer
- Rebekah Wade – editor of The Sun
The challenges faced by women entrepreneurs as they established their businesses were varied, but they highlight that more advice and resources (and less red tape) is needed to encourage entrepreneurial activity. Winning clients, cashflow, finding the right staff and keeping them, self-motivation, IT and discrimination were all cited as barriers to establishing a successful business. Participants acknowledged that there was a great deal of information available from organisations such as everywoman and Business Link, but that often it was too hard to negotiate the red tape around grants and that applications were time consuming.
The traditional reasons for women setting up in business remain consistent, but on another level, small businesses have been boosted by programmes such as The Apprentice and Dragon’s Den, which, alongside household names such as Anita Roddick and Martha Lane Fox, bring entrepreneurs into the public eye. In addition, the likes of Victoria Beckham and Elle Macpherson are also inspiring younger generations of would-be entrepreneurs. Their glamour and pin-up status belies a savvy business sense that has seen both of them achieve phenomenal success thanks to hard graft and their sheer determination to succeed.
- “With a good business plan everything is possible.”
- “I now feel the need to achieve that little bit more to prove that it is possible to be successful as a woman in business.”
- “I’m hopeful of real personal achievement and financial success on my terms.”
- “My motivations were negative, positive and practical. Negative in that I hit the glass ceiling twice; positive in that I could see my strengths and how they would reap rewards; practical because I needed to have greater flexibility to bring up my child in the way I wanted.”
Quotes on Struggles
- “Government red tape. Lots of people tell you what’s wrong, but don’t give advice on how to correct things.”
- “Many women cite access to finance as a struggle and blame the banks. It never occurred to me that I might not getting the backing of the bank because I was a woman.”
- “It’s the struggles that make you stronger. If you can’t deal with it, do something else!”