Independence Referendum – Women Voting No

Lesley Riddoch wrote a while ago about this issue and I wanted to add my own thoughts, as I am a female business woman working and growing a business in the UK, based in Scotland.

http://www.newsnetscotland.com/index.php/scottish-opinion/9018-yes-needs-to-do-more-to-persuade-scotlands-women

The issue she discussed in her article was why women are lagging behind in the rush to vote Yes. As a female entrepreneur, the notion articulated by Professor John Curtice that “women lack the hunter-gatherer instinct and tend to be home-makers not risk-takers” is a view that belongs quite firmly in the man-cave that the Professor must occupy. Seriously, are we STILL debating whether women’s brains are up to it? Surely, we have evolved beyond that? Well, we have but it seems some of our fellow men have not.

Lesley’s view is one that I support wholeheartedly….”I’ve argued women fear independence might only mean limitless power for the unreconstructed dinosaurs that sadly still abound in Scotland – self-important, puffed up men (and women) who are hostile to minorities, social change and non-hierarchical ways of working”.

Having started-up my business over five years ago, survived the recession, grown and then restructured the business for future growth, I have earned my entrepreneur wings. Female entrepreneurship is an economic issue not a “female” issue and is one the other countries like the US have embraced. The US now has supplier diversity laws that require a certain percentage of supply chain purchases to come from female-owned businesses. We need both men and women to support women to start-up AND grow businesses.

Sadly, some of the so called business leaders that I have come across in Scotland belong firmly in the “unreconstructed dinosaurs” camp, with name-calling, belittling, sexist put-downs the norm. And woe betide letting any one know you might be a female entrepreneur that is also a MOTHER!! Then all respect goes right out the window. When I won Mumpreneur of the Year in 2010, the Chairman of a well established business networking group in Scotland congratulated me in a public forum but then went on to suggest that I might also go for the “Dumbpreneur” award next time. What astounding ignorance.

Is it any wonder that I chose to network and grow my business in London/Europe/US rather than look to my own country for that support? And that is a currently devolved country. As for what it would be like as a fully independent country, it makes me shudder.

So, Professor Curtice, it is not that my brain is wired to knit scarves and cook up a storm in the kitchen. It is actually wired to be courageous, brave, creative, intelligent, innovative and most of all entrepreneurial and believe me, if you want to be a female entrepreneur in Scotland, you are going to need all of those attributes.

The Mama working with Resolve to celebrate women on International Women’s Day

The Mama is working with social enterprise, Resolve to celebrate women on International Women’s Day!

International Women’s Day is on Friday 8 March 2013 and thousands of events are being held throughout the world to inspire women and celebrate achievements. One such event is being hosted by the Edinburgh Social Enterprise, resolve.

Speaking about the event, resolve business manager Wendy Bates explained how, for many women, juggling is a fact of life.

“Home, work, relationships, the school run, family, friends, partnered-up or single, it can often feel like it’s all go and all down to you”, she said.  “We want to encourage women to focus on themselves for a while, be inspired and above all else, have some fun.”

The event will be held in the Merchants’ Hall in Hanover Street, Edinburgh from 10am until 3pm.

As well as being treated to a glass of bubbly and a delicious lunch,  women will hear from local ‘Mumpreneur’ Anna Louise Simpson, as she shares her fascinating journey from Corporate Lawyer to Oil Painter to full time mum and founder of her award winning herbal tea company, Mama Tea Limited.” www.mamatea.com. In particular, Anna Louise will discuss how she manages to ‘juggle it all’, within the wider context of a consideration and celebration of women internationally.

It will be a relaxed atmosphere with plenty of opportunity for proper “me-time”, whether it’s chatting and sharing experiences with fellow guests, having a pamper at one of the beauty stations or benefiting from the coaching and wellbeing experts who will be on hand running workshops and providing expert advice.

For further details and to book, please contact support@health-in-mind.org.uk or call 0131 718 6003. Group discounts are available for parties of 6.

resolve works with individuals and businesses to manage stress and promote wellbeing and was set up by mental health charity Health in Mind with funding from the Scottish Government Enterprise Growth Fund.

Ladies Leaders Lunch – Influential Scottish Women meeting to debate the Union

Ladies Leaders Lunch 

The descriptor for this fabulous event is “Stylish, Sassy and Scottish” – sounds right up my street! This event is taking place on Friday 8th February 2013 in a central Glasgow location and the object is to gather a host of Scotland’s high profile female industry leaders, creatives, academics and emerging talent who support a United Kingdom. Now I am not a political creature by any means but I believe in a unified Britain for both personal and business reasons. I also enjoy a good debate and a little glamour into the bargain sounds like my cup of tea.

Organised by the fabulous Tess Hartmann of Hartmann Media, we are all in for a great event.

If you are a strong women who also believes in a United Britain, then this may be the event for you. Networking with other ladies with real intellectual debate on the menu! May also be some tea in the goodie bags……

If so then contact Tessa Hartmann on tessa@hartmannmedia.co.uk

Mamapreneur Business Woman

Is Diversity the key to Innovation?

Last week was a week of exploring diversity. I attended the Women’s Business Forum in Harrogate as a guest of RBS. This was a conference exploring diversity in the corporate world and looking at some of the practical solutions to help more women get to the top and get on to boards. Later in the week, I met with the Chief Executive of Corporate Banking, Chris Sullivan and other senior members of RBS, as well as some inspiring Scottish female entrepreneurs to discuss female entrepreneurship in Scotland.

To my mind, the low numbers of females in the board-room and the low numbers of female entrepreneurs are linked. These are two sides of the same coin. Lack of confidence is a recurring theme for both females in business and females in the corporate world. I am a confident woman but I have had my confidence severely knocked both in the corporate world and as the CEO of my own business. That doesn’t mean to say there is something wrong with me or that I have to act like one of the boys to get on. No, I think it is linked to a much deeper issue. It is one of CULTURE.

Don’t get me wrong. I am not a bra-burning feminist. I am not bemoaning my lot. I am not using this as an excuse because I can’t be bothered working hard. Far from it. I need my bra, I have a brain and I work extremely hard. But I am also a mother. Yes, women have the babies. And a lot of women feel that they should put their family before their career and their business. That is exactly natural. But WHY should we have to choose? We have to choose because of CULTURE.

We have a culture in the Western world that does not accommodate diversity. Often it is dominated by white males. Whether that is in our board rooms or on the investment panels of the people I am hoping to impress for an investment. It is not a culture that supports the flexible working/creative working/confidence building building bricks that we need to have a truly diverse culture. We have a diverse society. Women and men, we are all from different backgrounds, straight or gay, white or black. The human race is diverse. It has to be. This is not about bashing white males, we need them! We just need everyone else too!We HAVE a diverse society already – we just need to support it in a DIVERSE CULTURE.

Sylvia Ann Hewlett( President of the Center for Talent Innovation in New York) talked a lot about the link between diversity and innovation last week. She also spoke about the problems caused by no diversity of thought – “group think”. She has participated in studies showing that a diverse board affects the bottom line as diversity of thought leads directly to innovation.

Looking at diversity of thought, I think we see a fantastic argument for chipping away at the lack of diversity so prevalent in our culture. Diversity contributes to ideas and there is a real connection between diversity and innovation. Creativity and innovation are key to growing our economy, creating entrepreneurship and growing sustainable profitable companies. If we can only start to see more diversity across the whole of our culture, then what will the future look like? Innovative, creative, expansive and exciting. This isn’t a “women’s” issue. It is an evolutionary issue.

5 Business Tips for female entrepreneurs

1. GET STARTED

Plan, do your business plan and work out your financials, but the most important of all of these is actually STARTING! EXECUTE, GET GOING. START!!!

2. DEVELOP THE ENTREPRENEUR MINDSET

Enjoy that first “glow” of success with the first big orders but never lose sight of the bottom line and your goals. Don’t let your ego get carried away and stay focused. Above all, HAVE FAITH AND CONFIDENCE IN YOURSELF. You can do it.

3. FEEL THE BURN AND START TO FEEL SUCCESS

The first “burn” or failure or fall is not BAD. Once you pick yourself up from the mistake and start to learn from it, you have the makings of success!

4. FIND YOUR USP

Find your unique selling point and then hammer this home to all and sundry. Use every marketing tool available and become an expert on social media marketing. It is your biggest FREE tool!

5. ALWAYS, ALWAYS BE INNOVATIVE

Entrepreneurs always look for the next opportunity and your business has to be innovative and agile to survive. Be a social ninja. Be curious and have fun with it!

Using social media in your business

CONNECT

The internet could be called “The Connect”. We are all connected 24/7. Your business can no longer afford to stand apart from the digital revolution. Social media is here to stay. The conversation will go on, with you or without you, so be part of it and get connected.

I have included links here to getting started with a business account/account on each of the main social sites. Get started with TWITTER, FACEBOOK, TUMBLR, LINKED-IN, and PINTEREST and see where connections take you and your business! There are lots more articles on MASHABLE, TECHCRUNCH and HUBSPOT for further information.

CHAT!

The old ways of marketing are dying. Brands and businesses still need to think about their values and the “tone of voice” of the brand but of supreme importance in this new digital world is the TRANSPARENT, HONEST and AGILE voice of the socially connected brand. Consumers want to interact with brands and they want to do it NOW. This is a grew opportunity for SME’s who can be social ninjas compared to their slower larger competitors. 

Get started by talking WITH your customers instead of AT them. This will result in valuable feedback from valued customers, which is the breeding ground for adjustment and innovation – the tools of the social entrepreneur. The goal is to be a LOVED brand – loving your customers and they loving your brand in return.

CREATE REMARKABLE CONTENT

The wonderful team at Hubspot coined the phrase “Inbound Marketing” and their book will tell any social entrepreneur how to create remarkable content. Buy it here http://www.amazon.co.uk/Inbound-Marketing-Google-Social-Series/dp/0470499311/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1346275904&sr=8-1 (guys, you can thank me later!!). Seriously, it is invaluable for any SME. In a nutshell, blog, blog and blog some more, curtesy of WordPress. Click away photos to your hearts content on Instagram and pin everything on Pinterest!

LINKED-IN

Optimise and reach out! I wrote a blog a while back on optimising your linked-in profile here.

Reach out to everyone that is in your industry in your town and across the world. Go global, baby! Thats the beauty of Linked-In! Reach out politely and with grace and see what happens. The sky is the limit. It is a wonderful business tool. Enjoy!

PINTEREST

Pin, pin and pin some more! I wrote a blog yesterday about this site here. It is the fastest growing site since Facebook and your brand/business HAS to be on it. Have a read of the article and get pinning!

And watch out, your customers might get addicted to your pins, tweets, pics!

Surrendering to Social Media: Is It Addiction?
Learn about infographic design.

 

4 tips for using Pinterest for your business

I have a tea business, Mama Tea and we started using Pinterest at the start of the year. When we started, like most people, we found it addictive, compelling and fun! However as a business, there are a number of things that you can do to really increase traffic to your site or blog from Pinterest.

TIP 1 – OPTIMISE – Pinterest SEO

OPTIMISE your profile, boards and pins. You can add your top keywords to all of your company’s areas on Pinterest, be it a board description or a pin!

On the Mama Tea Pin below, we edited the “Mama Tea Bouteaque” board”

http://pinterest.com/mama_tea/mama-tea-bouteaque/

TIP 2  – PIN PIN PIN!

There are two ways to get started with pinning – 1. create your own content (ie photos, blogs, etc) and 2. Pin other people’s content.

Its a good idea when creating photos or infographics to embed them in your blog before pinning as anyone clicking on your photo will then be taken straight to your blog!

Pin others content (always remembering to acknowledge the source) and comment on pins. One of the power pinners is a blogger, Joy Cho / Oh Joy! - http://pinterest.com/ohjoy/?d. Have a look at her wonderful pinboards. She pins lots of content from others including some of the power bloggers. You can do the same in your industry.

TIP 3 – Analyse

Repinly is a fantastic analytical tool for Pinterest. It helps you to find the most popular pins, boards and pinners on Pinterest. You can even sign up and analyse your own “Pinterest klout”! Jane Wang is the founder’s mother and is consistently the top pinner – have a look at her boards! http://www.repinly.com/popular-pinner/Jane-Wang/12137/1/follr/1/

TIP 4 – Follow

ZOOMSPHERE is an excellent tool to help you find the top people to follow on Pinterest (and a host of other social networking sites).

This infographic is great!

Guide to Using Pinterest for Business

Get pinning!!