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!!

Is female entrepreneurship the key to economic recovery?

Are Women Entrepreneurs the key to Economic Recovery?

“We’re comin’ out of the kitchen’ Cause there’s somethin’ we forgot to say to you (we say) Sisters are doin’ it for themselves. Standin’ on their own two feet. And ringin’ on their own bells. Sisters are doin’ it for themselves………”

As Annie Lennox sang, sisters are coming out of the kitchen and we are indeed doing it for ourselves! More and more women are choosing to start up their own businesses, often from home using the internet and often with families. The flexibility of being your own boss whilst raising a young family is appealing especially in these times of recession. Also, it is a necessity for a lot of women, who need to make money and may be unemployed with or without children.

However, the numbers of female entrepreneurs are still comparatively low. Women are still lag behind on men in start-up activity and their companies tend not to grow as quickly as male companies.

Often, this problem is seen as a “women’s issue”. However, this is not the case. Raising the levels of female entrepreneurship, both start-ups and growth, is an economic issue. FEMALE ENTREPRENEURSHIP IS NOT AN EQUALITY ISSUE BUT AN ECONOMIC ISSUE. Why? Well, it is well established that start-ups, particularly those in high-growth areas, are essential for job creation and economic growth. Female entrepreneurs are our hidden and untapped resource for economic recovery. If we can get more females starting up high growth businesses, we could well all be on the road to economic recovery.

Female Entrepreneurship as a driver for Global Economic Recovery

A recent paper by the Kauffman Foundation “Overcoming the Gender Gap: Women Entrepreneurs as Economic Drivers,” has suggested that getting more females to start up high growth businesses could the the key to GLOBAL economic recovery. That is simply incredible.

What makes this paper very interesting indeed is that it explores “the intersection of two issues that are thought of separately: the need for sustained economic growth {in the United States}, and the status of women’s entrepreneurship.” This intersection applies the world over.

The report’s author, Lesa Mitchell, reports:

“Women’s entrepreneurship is an economic issue, not a gender-equity issue,” Mitchell said. “As more women engage as entrepreneurs to build on their discoveries, new jobs and economic prosperity will follow.”

Sadly, this report, as well as many others, highlights that female entrepreneurship really is an untapped resource at present. We simply need to get MORE women starting up businesses and GROWING them; particularly in high-growth sectors.

The above paper explores the reasons behind lower business startup rates among women and suggests steps that would help to get more female entrepreneurs to realise their potential and in turn help to turn around the economy.

Kauffman Foundation  - Steps to boost female entrepreneurship

The report details the under noted steps that should be taken to address the low numbers of female entrepreneurs:

1. Role Models

We need as many successful female entrepreneurs and inventors as we can, to stand up and shout about their successes. In this world of  celebrity culture, let’s start to focus on the “celebrity female entrepreneur”! As a new entrepreneur, I would always look to other successful entrepreneurs and their stories to fire me up and keep me going. But more needs to be done. There is a CULTURAL DISCONNECT between the successful female entrepreneurs and their protégées. Not only do we need to see more positive female business role models in the press etc, I would propose that we need to give more support to the powerful SOCIAL NETWORKS that link the role models with their “students”. Social networks know no geographical boundaries and are extremely accessible. They are also extremely viral and allow for the rapid dissemination of information. There are a lot of networks out there that are pro female entrepreneurs and we need to support them and help them to grow.

2. Technology

The report states very clearly that one of the steps should be to invite more women to join the science advisory boards of high-tech companies. This step relates to Life Sciences/Tech faculties, where there is a huge disparity between the numbers of women producing research and those that end up commercialising that research and/or serving on the science advisory boards of high tech companies; thereby not exposing themselves to the same commercial/industry networks and contacts. This is a very specialist step and is a very important step.

I think that that we need to get more women involved in high- growth tech per se. Technology itself is liberating and maybe as a more generalist step, we need to encourage more women to get into gaming/tech/life sciences. Technology allowed me to start-up my business from my dining-room and does the same for women all over the world. Technology can and should be like bread-and-butter for female entrepreneurs!

Educating more women to use and advance technology is key. Again, we need to rethink the CULTURE surrounding technology and find ways to encourage women to get involved in starting-up technology businesses.

3. Not-for-profit initiatives to connect female start-up entrepreneurs with big companies

This step is the one that really excites me the most. The report has the under noted recommendation:

“Not-for-profit initiatives advancing opportunities for high-growth women entrepreneurs need greater funding and skin in the game from women executives, philanthropy leaders, and industry. Support of networking and collaborative events between startup founders and big companies are critical for all entrepreneurs, but even more critical for women and underserved minorities that do not have the same access to networks that can provide them their first customers. We need to expand programs like Astia, NewMe, Founder Fridays, Women 2.0, Kauffman FastTrac®, and myriad other not-for-profits focused on providing education and networks for high-growth women entrepreneurs”.

Again, this goes back to the idea of high growth SOCIAL NETWORKS that not only link female entrepreneur role models with start-ups but exposes those start-up entrepreneurs to much bigger companies. This recommendation also underlines the need for such social networks to include men as well as women, i.e. Astia above.  All of the above networks are amazing and a lot of them are focused on tech but they are not really within the reach of female entrepreneurs in the UK.

In the UK, we have the following networks to name a but a few and they are all amazing; powerful, inspiring and informative - The Next WomenWomen UnlimitedEvery WomanWomen’s Enterprise Scotland, Mumpreneur UK. However the question remains –  do we need a UK not-for-profit, social network that is focused on technology that links founders with the much larger companies? Again, addressing this involves a CULTURAL swing that embraces more female entrepreneurs in tech.

In any event, there is not a single solution to this issue. We also need to gather better data on the numbers of females starting up businesses, perhaps we even need to look at supplier diversity, as they do in the U.S.? There is one thing for sure though – there is a gender gap in entrepreneurship at the moment but that fact doesn’t make this a gender issue. As Mitchell has said,  female entrepreneurship is NOT a gender issue – it is purely economic.