Enterprising women entrepreneurs

I have to admit that I am not a big fan of the way our lovely language so often gets mangled to create handy marketing terms. The latest to come to my attention in the business start-up world is ‘mumpreneurs’.

However, putting those misgivings aside, these enterprising women are particularly impressive in the way they are able to combine the demands of looking after their  children, as well as what can be a much more demanding dependant – their business.

Just recently they have been getting a lot of attention in the media, with a whole week of coverage on BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour.

mumsnet logoAlso we had Justine Roberts the co-founder of Mumsnet, speaking at our Power of Social Media evening.

Even my local paper The Mid-Susssex Times had a feature article with one of their traditionally feeble headlines – ‘After the school run we network!’

The article is about the one year old Brighton based Mumpreneurs Networking Club, founded by Nicky Chisholm and Sarah Guiel. According to Debbie Mann who now organises the Burgess Hill and Crawley areas, sharing the experience of being mums is important.

‘It doesn’t matter if little Jack is running around screaming for a biscuit because everyone is in the same situation.’

It was nice to read that the club is not exclusive and allows non-mums and ‘even the odd man’, to go along.

As Debbie points out, ‘networking is an important part of any small or medium enterprises, but especially to sole traders who are often the head of sales, PR, marketing, accounts, admin, IT, social media, manufacturing and so on.’

I’m not sure they have necessarily picked the best web address for the group if they are wanting to reverse some of the stereotypes of women networking. However, it certainly is memorable, which is important from a marketing perspective – www.agoodgossip.co.uk

Mumpreneurs Club

The Power of Social Media – an Inspiring Entrepreneurs evening

Judging the 2010 PRECIOUS Awards

I am greatly honoured to have been asked to be a judge for the 2010 PRECIOUS Awards, which celebrate the achievements of inspirational entrepreneurial women of colour who are running businesses in the UK.

The Awards evening will take place on  Monday 8 November here at The British Library with Rasheed Ogunlaru presenting.

It only costs £1.00 to enter for one of the awards below, using either the Main Entry Form or the Leadership Form:

Start-Up Business of the Year:
Are you a business woman who has just started out? Do you want the business world to know how well you are doing? Then this category is for you! Nominees in this category can be from any business sector and must have been in business at least six months*.

Social Enterprise Business of the Year:
Sponsored by The Social Enterprise Coalition
Do you run a business that’s based on sound ethical principles? Are you a community interest or social enterprise company that gives back to the community? This is your chance to shine. Nominees must have been trading for at least 12 months*.

Service Business of the Year:
Is your business in the service sector. Do you run a shop or mobile business? Nominees in this category can be from any business sector. They must have been in business for more than 12 months*.

Creative Business of the Year:
Do you run a cultural and/or creative business? Is it based in an industry such as PR, design, fashion, music, advertising, marketing, or film? If you have been trading for at least 12 months then enter now*.

Online Business of the Year:
Are you committed to the online business model? Have you built an online brand you want to shout about? Is 55% of your turnover gained from online transactions? Yes? Then you could become the PRECIOUS Online business of 2010.   you must have been in business for more than 12 months*.

Inspiring Leader within the Workplace:
Are you, or do you know someone working within a business or organisation who has taken on an entrepreneurial role within the company? Do their commitment and actions influence those within and extend beyond their workplace? Get recognition and nominate now.

Young Entrepreneur of The Year:
We’re looking for a PRECIOUS star of the future! If you are running a business and aged under 26 then this award is for you. It’s a special category designed to help find the best young business woman who is just starting out on her entrepreneurial journey. To enter this category you need to have been trading for at least six months *.

The Precious Entrepreneur of the Year:
This award awarded by the judges, recognises the most passionate and dedicated woman business owner who the judges feel has overcome significant challenges to achieve outstanding business success.

EnterQuest’s entrepreneurial habits

The excellent weekly email bulletin from Enterprise Quest has got a great list of what they describe as the elusive entrepreneurial habits that you aren’t likely to come across in business textbooks. This certainly matches my experience in talking to aspiring and successful entrepreneurs.

Here is our quick guide to a few more of the habits common to successful business owners:

1. Successful business owners look for and find the right path, not just the destination. What this means is that it’s important to focus on how you will get there, rather than just on where you want to end up. After all, your journey, your enterprise quest, will change many times, that’s for sure.

2. They focus their efforts and energy only into what they are good at, or extremely good at. And if they aren’t good at something, they find someone else who is and get them to do it.

3. They learn from others. They network with people like themselves, and track down and find out how to do things from the very best that there is.

4. They know who their customers are and exactly what they want, and pay close attention to what they see or hear from them. Ideally they are able to see their business and products through their customers’ eyes.

5. They thoroughly plan and prepare everything that they do. Remember what we’ve told you in this newsletter many times before – failing to plan is planning to fail.

6. They seek feedback all the time from their customers, suppliers, advisers, employees and business partners. Although they tend to follow their gut and act upon it…they are armed with the right facts and information to back it up.

7. They overflow with enthusiasm and passion for what they are doing. They want to try and change the world. Their own world and their customers’ world. Even a very small change can make a big difference or impact to a customer…and to your business.

8. They have plenty of self-discipline. Note our earlier comment. Success doesn’t happen at random – it needs structure as well as flair in the right combination.

Twitter eBook from Smarta

In the last few days several friends and relatives have been asking me about Twitter. Some are just curious, others are more hostile, and want me to justify this latest Internet intrusion into their consciousness.

Thank goodness those wonderful people at Smarta have come up with a solution in the form of their free Twitter eBook.

I am hoping they won’t mind me summarising some of the book’s key points here, although I would thoroughly recommend you download the pdf and keep a copy close to hand.

It comes down to T.A.T. – Time, Attention and Trust. These three things dominate the landscape of our personal and business lives. Someone has shifted the world up a gear and stuck their foot hard on the accelerator. We’re all doing more with less, we need to take in and absorb so much information, to keep up. As a result, traditional marketing is finding it harder to cut through: prospects are distracted, busy in their own world, occupied by their own challenges of how they blend work and home.

But before you get into Twitter, there are some things you should know. It won’t happen overnight. In social media terms, return on investment (ROI) translates into return on engagement (ROE), starting today doesn’t mean profits tomorrow. Think of engagement more like a courtship, a series of interactions, that will lead to you developing a relationship with someone over time, ultimately which may lead to a sales marriage. It’s a long term investment for most, not a quick killing.
Phil Jones – UK Sales and Marketing director of Brother – @PhilJones40

The real-time effect of Twitter opens up a whole new world of business opportunities for us all and we need to prepare ourselves to be ready for them. When I recently needed a party company to supply (at short notice) a children’s Easter egg hunt, I didn’t search Google, I tweeted. Three companies replied to me with links to their websites, swiftly followed up by some of their followers’ testimonials. Google’s great, but personal recommendation rules.
Shaa Wasmund – Founder of Smarta –

“Twitter is a chance to be yourself and give a human voice to your business. It creates intimacy and friendliness more than anything, and that’s what so many businesses struggle with online. Talk to your followers – invest a bit of time in reading their tweets and commenting on what they’re doing. Next time, they’ll remember you rather than going to a competitor.”

Twitter is not the right channel for direct sales, but it will help grow your customer base and build your brand – which means it’s good for indirect sales in the longterm. Used effectively, Twitter can help you:
•    Develop a more personal, engaged and sustained relationship with customers
•    Grow your customer base
•    Get the attention of people interested in your industry or your work
•    Publicise your business
•    Build your brand
•    Track what other people think about your business, products and industry
•    Grow your personal network of contacts and develop business relationships
•    Cold-contact and market to people without annoying them
•    Drive more traffic to your website or blog
•    Position yourself as an expert in your field by sharing news and information relevant to your business and by answering questions
•    Provide amazing customer service in a really easy way
•    Keep ahead of the latest industry news and events
•    Position your business as up-to-date and in-touch, for being on Twitter
•    Provide customers with details of special offers, new products and other news you have
•    Develop and test products and services your customers want
•    Pinpoint customer locations to within a 20-mile radius

Here are some basic ground rules for success:
•    Only tweet 120 characters or less, so others can RT you.
•    It’s OK to tweet occasionally if you’re having a cup of coffee, but if you’re a plumber focus on tweeting links to useful websites offering tips on how to stop a leaky tap.
•    Provide information, insight and opinion.
•    Be helpful. Answer questions where you can.
•    Tweets with links in them are more popular than those without.

As something of a late adopter of Social Media Marketing activities myself I can relate to the negative comments I often come across. My current response is that even if you don’t like it, the simple truth is that it works, and will generate business for you. The Smarta eBook has a page on Dolan Bikes, showing how they grew their Twitter following from seven to more than 500, and have sold 12 bikes worth between £1,000 and £3,500 on the back of their Twitter activity. As they say, in business – money talks.


It comes down to T.A.T. – Time, Attention
and Trust. These three things dominate
the landscape of our personal and
business lives. Someone has shifted
the world up a gear and stuck their foot
hard on the accelerator. We’re all doing
more with less, we need to take in and
absorb so much information, to keep
up. As a result, traditional marketing
is finding it harder to cut through:
prospects are distracted, busy
in their own world, occupied by
their own challenges of how
they blend work and home.

Intellectual Property: A Success Story To Be Extended?


I’ve just been reminded of one of my  more scary speaking engagements of recent times. It was back in January 2009 at the invitation of Professor Michael Mainelli, Emeritus Gresham Professor of Commerce at Gresham College.

It was at the Real Time Club. Founded in 1967, the Real Time Club is believed to be the world’s oldest IT dining Club. The Club is dedicated to participative events that provide “rapid responses to the challenges of the information society”.

My fellow speakers were:
Professor Ian Angel
, who is Professor of Information Systems at the London School of Economics and also Chairman of Creative Commons (England and Wales).
David Bunting, who is CEO of Trevor Baylis Brands plc (a company which he setup with Trevor Baylis), which provides route-to-market services for inventors and entrepreneurs. David is a Chartered Engineer, a Fellow of the Institution of Engineering and Technology, and a Fellow of the CMA,
Richard Overden, who is an Associate Director of Oxford University’s Bodlian Library and Keeper of Special Collections. Prior to that he worked at Durham University Library, the House of Lords Library, and at the University of Edinburgh.
Tony Pluckrose, who is a Partner at Boult Wade Tennant and also a Chartered and European Patent Attorney.

Here is a brief report from the evening:

Some 40 members and guests of the Real Time Club attended the first dinner of 2009 to debate the subject of: “Intellectual Property: A Success Story to be Extended? Just Desserts or Global Gridlock?” The Chairman, Mark Holford welcomed the guests and then handed over to the evening’s host, Professor Michael Mainelli, who is also the club’s Vice President.

The format of the evening was a brief (three minute) statement by each of the panel of speakers, followed by a lively and challenging debate, to which everyone present made a contribution.

The introductory sessions posed a series of challenges. These included:

* “Is Intellectual Property protection being mis-sold?” Inventors often do not understand patent protection – they have a great idea, talk about it in the pub, and don’t realize that by doing so they have already exposed it to the public. Their problem is the extent to which they dare tell people what they are doing. They think that a patent will give them protection, even if the idea has been put into the public domain, and defending a patent is very expensive. What they should do is think like an entrepreneur, by keeping quiet, building a product, and once it is built patent it and sell it to a large corporation.

* The second challenge was the unreasonableness of traditional copyright law: “Is it right that I should be charged $500 in Las Vegas to use 30 seconds of Ella Fitzgerald in a presentation?”

* The third challenge was the fairness of current practice – monopoly rights that are given by governments in the form of patents should be properly categorized and reasonably charged; if they are not, it will stifle inventiveness.

* We then moved into the realm of science fiction and considered the Star Trek replicator, which is fast becoming science fact, since replication costs are negligible. Why shouldn’t we generate an idea, create value, and then make it freely available? Don’t we have a moral imperative to do this? After all, multiple people possess an idea – it is rather arbitrary that the first person who patents the idea owns it. Replication is now also now a major part of the librarian’s job; because of digitization, librarians have progressed from being curators of knowledge within a specific location to providers of digital representation on a global scale. And relationships with companies like Google introduce commercial, as well as engineering, considerations.

* The final contribution to the introductory session was the differences between USA and European IP law. In the past the USA has granted patents relatively freely (as in the case of State Street Bank), whereas Europe has been tougher (as in the case of Symbian). The USA has now resiled, and the high tide has passed and is now receding, But although patents are harder to get, they are still being granted when they shouldn’t be. The issues are cost and complexity, including the expense of challenging patent rights.

The Social Media Exchange – For the Cultural and Heritage Sectors

sound delivery logoIt has already been a week since I attended the one day Social Media Exchange – For the Cultural and Heritage Sectors. Organised by the irrepressible Jude Habib, co-founder of Sound Delivery the communications and training company, it was a fun day learning about the uses of social media in museums and libraries.

I have included a selection of my notes from the day below, but most of the content plus updated comments are available through their dedicated website at http://socialmediaexchange.org.uk/

Using Web Content to Build and Engage Your Audience

KnowHow NonProfitMadeleine Sugden – KnowHow NonProfit – http://www.knowhownonprofit.org/

What is web content for:

  • Proof of existence
  • Help people to learn something – 24/7 learning
  • Encourage action / change behaviour – find out more/shop etc

What is web content for? – 5 Questions to help you make the most of your web content

1. Audience – will they get beyond your home page?


2. Presentation

  • Are you helping with skim reading?
  • Use headings, blocks of text, links to more content
  • Are you giving too much information?
  • Placing text over images leads to accessibility issues
  • Is content accessible
  • Are you encouraging people to read on?
  • Don’t use – “Click here to find out more about…” unnecessary text
  • Bring in other content to improve experience e.g. weather forecasts from BBC


3. Medium

  • Content isn’t just printed words
  • Are you using the best format?
  • Are you using audio and video content?
  • Is it interesting and fun?


National Museums Liverpool – audio content is key part of page – subject integration – includes transcript alternative – http://www.liverpoolmuseums.org.uk/

Great Fire of London – interactive video game type experience for children – http://www.fireoflondon.org.uk/

Welcome to Yorkshire – help to build your day in … – dynamic itinerary building tool – http://www.yorkshire.com/inspire/inspire-me

Hackney Museum Virtual Tour – very boring – http://www.virtualtours360.net/hackney/virtual-tour.html

4. Marketing

  • Help people find your site
    Search engines – work on Google Search Engine Optimisation, think about subject terms used to find your content. E.g. A search for Victorian homes does not find many of the relevant museums.
  • Use all channels
  • Integrate on and offline activities


Eric Bloodaxe from York Museum has a Facebook page

Mediamuseum on Twitter with 1,700 followers

Eureka museum putting their images on flickr

Wellcome collection – medical London – videos of relevant walks around London – http://www.medicallondon.org/related_events.html

Imperial War Museum North – their page on the Big Picture Show does not come close to capturing the impact of the actual experience in the museum – http://north.iwm.org.uk/server/show/ConWebDoc.2141

5. Influence

  • From passive users to active users to super active users…
  • Make it easy to interact and take action
  • Influence windows



City of Westminster Group Tweeting or Finding your organisation’s voice on Twitter

Ali Holder – Westminster Libraries


Started in March 2009

Currently lone tweeter

First tweet: Planning to put all news and events in libraries here. Also additions to the 24/7 library of exclusive online resources for library members.

11:34 PM Mar 3rd from web



Getting started:

Buy-in from senior management important as speaking for Westminster

Get tweeting – once or twice a day, most days – not too much, not to little

Set up Business Continuity colleague so they can tweet library closures etc


Mainly post news & events, but also draw attention to existing / regular / ‘hidden’ aspects of service.


  • Organisational voice
  • Broadcasting, not conversing
  • Access restrictions within the work setting
  • Getting customers and potential customers to follow us.


  • Aware of popularity of posts with existing and future followers – e.g. free wi-fi
  • Use search tools to find out what people are saying about us.
  • Proactive use allows us to build trust and demonstrate use to organisation
  • Ditto for users –

Finding our voice – who is tweeting?

Me, us or them?

Future plans:

  • Group tweeting – or groups of tweeters
  • More feeds
  • More use of hashtags
  • Tweeting through events
  • Feedback and conversation
  • How do we measure success?


  • Never forget the biog section
  • Work out who is speaking
  • Provide links
  • Don’t protect updates
  • Watch how others do it
  • Don’t exclude – have a feed

Twitter demographics – typical user – around 30 and urban


Round up discussion

Patrick Forbes – Head of Documentaries at Oxford Film and Television

Nick Reynolds – Editor, BBC Internet Blog

Frances Croxford – Consultant and Account Manager at Jane Wentworth

Be aware of both huge opportunities and significant risks associated with adoption of  social media.

Inherent lack of control.

Before you start make sure you are aware of the external perception of the organisation.

  • Clarity
  • Confidence
  • Transparency

Tell stories which come from both your staff and your audience.


  • Institutions are naturally resistant to social media as it leads to loss of control.
  • Biggest resistors are curatorial staff
  • Cultural change can take between 5 and 10 years

Network to success with Company Partners

Company Partners

I have noticed a recent boom in the number of networking sites for business start-ups and entrepreneurs. Something to do with the development of Web 2.0 technologies and the popularity of Facebook I’m sure.

I recently joined Company Partners which offers free registration with the option to upgrade to full membership from £14.95 a month.

I did a quick search today and found lots of potentially useful contacts already registered on the service.

About Company Partners

Entrepreneurs could you do better with a like-minded business partner? You will find that growing a business, getting great business ideas and having the confidence and skills to drive it forward is easier. Together you are able to motivate, brainstorm, plan and just generally get the whole process going quicker and with more chance of success.

Or are you are looking for Business Angel funding and have a great opportunity? Post your business summary on the site and let Business Angels find you.

Are you a Business Angel looking for interesting investments? You can have free access to all the business summaries, get unlimited contact and even our own Automatch service that will automatically notify you if a suitable investment comes along.

Mentors or Non-Executive Directors – as experienced business people, have you the time & skills to assist young companies? Put something back, get satisfaction from helping a growing business, maybe even equity shares.