Thursday, October 20, 2016

The Women’s Organisation Consultancy Arm Expands to Work in Thailand!

Enterprise Evolution, the consultancy arm of The Women’s Organisation is continuing with its international work, having just completed a British Council Funded project in Thailand.

Enterprise Evolution, which aims to embed entrepreneurial approaches in individuals and organisations, has been working with Grwp Llandrillo Menai, a Further Education college in North Wales, to develop entrepreneurship curriculum in Thailand’s vocation education sector.
Photos from Enterprise Evolution's latest Thailand trip!
Our team were commissioned by the British Council in Thailand and OVEC (the Office of Vocational Educational Commission) in Thailand who are responsible for tailoring vocational education and training to the needs of the labour market. They were tasked with undertaking research and making recommendations for strengthening student entrepreneurship.

Photos from Enterprise Evolution's latest Thailand trip!

Enterprise Evolution first visited Thailand back in March, again in June and have recently returned this month. On their first visit they met with key policy makers and influencers including entrepreneurship educators, entrepreneurs, employers and students. Here they were asked for their recommendations on how to strengthen the entrepreneurial activities that were taking place in colleges and help develop a curriculum similar to the quality of those we have in the UK.

When they returned to Thailand in June, Enterprise Evolution presented their findings to OVEC and began to look at how their recommendations could be implemented into the curriculum. And on their latest trip the team worked with 30 enterprise educators introducing the new curriculum and building the teachers capacity to teach in an entrepreneurial way.

Photos from Enterprise Evolution's latest Thailand trip!

Lisa McMullan, our Project Manager and Principal Consultant of Enterprise Evolutions told us; ‘It’s been great to work with policy makers, teachers, directors and leaders of the colleges in Thailand to develop and deliver new approaches to entrepreneurship education. There is a real commitment and desire to increase the number of businesses started in Thailand and to support young people in particular to be more entrepreneurial – through self-employment or when working for others.’

The proposals and recommendations made by the Enterprise Evolution are now being taken forward by the British Council in Thailand and OVEC with a view to introducing the new approach by the end of the year! 

Monday, October 17, 2016

The Women's Organisation Hosts a Second Sector Specific Business Start Event

 At The Women's Organisation we have recently developed a set of new events based around setting up businesses in various sectors to give extra specialist advice and support. This month we delivered 'How to Make Hair and Beauty Your Business' - a successful event with a great turnout. This event was aimed at those completing their qualifications in this field or those just considering whether to start a business. A huge thank you to our Enterprise Hub Partners City of Liverpool College for encouraging their students to attend.

Samina from La Femme
The morning consisted of various activities to equip individuals with the necessary information required, tips from two successful business women while delving into delicious pastry treats. We would also like to thank our speakers Victoria Riley and Samina Irfan for sharing their experiences and giving our attendees fantastic tips and secrets of business success.

Victoria is the owner of a mobile hairdressing service 'Victoria Hair Liverpool' who encouraged our guests to set up their business.  She strongly believes that being self-employed gives her the freedom of choosing her working hours and allows her to work around her child. Victoria also gave us all an insight into the best form of promoting, which she mentions to be the 'word of mouth'.

Victoria from Victoria Hair Liverpool
Samina from La Femme hair and beauty salon who inspired our guests by sharing her experience of successfully fulfilling her dream of owning her very own salon. Samina highlighted the hard work and determination that is required to run her own business but mentioned that the satisfaction of reaping the rewards was what keeps her motivated to further grow her business.

Following these inspirational speakers our first activity was based on what self-employment consists of, a perfect opportunity to understand the pros and cons of this option. Engagement Officer from The Women's Organisation Sabah Shams gave an overview of the qualifications, legalities and importance of market research needed to succeed in the sector. This was greatly appreciated by attendees who found the session 'useful and prepared them for what is required to start a business'.

Below are some feedback comments we received on the day:
"Enjoyable session, full of creative and inspirational ideas for anyone thinking of starting a business."
"Really inspiring, informative session."
"I have learned an awful lot this morning and would definitely advise people to use The Women’s organisation for help"
"I really enjoyed the workshop and it has motivated me to start my own business."
"Really useful session, gathered lots of information."
"I gained a lot of knowledge from the session."
"Great hearing from the two ladies business owners, staff who led the course were very knowledgeable, really good thank you."

We are planning to deliver more sessions based on other business sectors - so watch this space!  This week we are holding a general 'Enterprise Hub Business Start-up Conference' out in Sefton open to every sector.  Click here for bookings and information.

If you have an idea for a business and would like to access expert advice and support, please contact our team to ask about the European funded 'Enterprise Hub' programme on 0151 706 8113 or 

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Grow Your Business Like Sane Seven & Mercury Franchise Consultants At #WOBizClub

We are thinking BIG for October’s Business Club! BIG BUSINESS GROWTH! And we’ve got the perfect panel guests who are going to be giving you their tips on how they got there…

On Tuesday 25th October, 6-8:30pm we will be hosting ‘Think BIG! Building Business Growth’ – our penultimate #WOBizClub event of the year.

SO…What does business growth look like to you? More clients? Taking on your first member of staff? Building a team? Increasing turnover? Franchising? Whatever way you want to grow your business, we’ve got just the right business women who can help you.

Introducing – Viktorija Grigorjevaite of Sane Seven and Cheryl White of Mercury Franchise Consultants and Apollo Care! Two incredible business women who have worked tirelessly to grow their businesses into the powerhouses that they are today.

Viktorija is Co-Founder and Creative Director of Sane Seven which she describes as; ‘Creative thinkers specialising in photography production.’ – Prior to Sane Seven, Viktorija became the Creative Director of The Collective magazine that she helped turn into a successful art, style and travel magazine with the international readership of over 1 million! 

Now, heading up Sane Seven, Viktorija has worked on some incredibly impressive projects, most recently the Beyond The Desk in which 34 business leaders collaborated with Sane Seven in a creative project that challenged the stereotypes we associate with business leaders (Including our very own, Maggie O’Carroll!)

AND of course, just last week Viktorija photographed world famous designer Jimmy Choo! One of the things that is most impressive about Viktorija is the trajectory her business journey has taken, from a sole trader to studio limited company in a matter of years – we think it’s pretty clear why Viktorija is the woman to talk to about business growth!

And our second panel guest will be Cheryl White, who doesn’t run and own just one business, but two! Apollo Care and her newest business; Mercury Franchise Consultants who we have to thank for kindly sponsoring this Business Club event.

Before Cheryl had started her first business, it was just her wish to create a job for herself and her mum, but now she has built up her own business so that it was possible for it to become a franchise AND opened a second business to act as a franchise consultancy.

Cheryl told us; ‘In 2013 I franchised my home care company, Apollo Care, and realised that many people may wish to franchise their business but may be on a tight budget. My team and I decided that putting together 2 franchise packages would help people to achieve their franchising goals without overspending, and set up Mercury Franchise Consultants in 2015!’

(To get a sneak peek at some of the great things Cheryl might be speaking about, check out this Guest Blog she wrote for us last week!) 

So – these two impressive business women will be joining us at our panel style event for October’s Business Club. On the evening we will be talking about how your business can grow and develop in different ways and find out what exactly business growth means and how you can achieve it!

                                          BOOK YOUR TICKETS!

As always, tickets for this event can be purchased over on Eventbrite and they are £5 for Members of Business Club and £10 for Non-Members!

If you would like to become a member of Business Club, email us on

We would like to thank Mercury Franchise Consultants for kindly sponsoring this month’s Business Club event!

About Mercury Franchise Consultants

‘Mercury Franchise Consultancy helps businesses to franchise! Our business model is based around helping business owners to franchise their business, be involved in the process and understand how franchising works. In 2013, we franchised our own home care business, Apollo Care, and realised that as well as needing the relevant documentation to franchise, business owners also needed bespoke support and planning that was relevant to their business model and potential franchisees. We decided that we would help people to franchise their business by looking at the business in a holistic and individual way that would be apparent through documentation and advice.’

10 Things to Consider if You Want to Franchise Your Business

Turning your business into a franchisable model is one way to contniue to grow your business empire. Are you considering franchising your business?

Cheryl White, Mercury Franchise Consultancy
Here are some top tips thanks to Cheryl White Director of Mercury Franchise Consultancy that can help you conduct a quick check to see if your business is ready to be franchised…

1. Master every aspect of your business: Create processes around every aspect of it, identify what will be required of new mangers and grow your current systems accordingly.

2. Can your business be franchised?
Not all businesses are suitable to franchise. Things to consider are, is your business profitable? Can it be replicated and how long has it been established?

3. Establish your brand: as a franchisor, you will be building a brand with a reputation that other people will want to buy into. You will need a brand that is distinctive and appropriate to franchise- this brand will need protecting.

4. Financing the franchise: ensure you have the correct financial support to franchise your business. You will need to take into consideration initial costs, marketing and growth and franchisee support.

5. Seek sound advice: be very careful to obtain good advice, both legal and any help you may look from in a franchise consultant. Getting your franchise set up correctly from the outset is vital. You will need to decide about your pricing, have a legal agreement drawn up and put together a comprehensive operations manual for your future franchisees.

6. Know how you want to grow: the idea of growth is appealing but a small business owner wants his or her company to scale at a reasonable rate- grow at the rate natural to your business.

7. Screen your franchisees: have in mind the “perfect” franchisee. They are going to be representing your brand so be sure to have a system in place to make sure they will take your company in the right direction.

8. Support: create a comprehensive, detailed support plan for your future franchisees.

9. Draw up: you will need a number of documents before you can franchise your business. These include legal documents, franchise prospectus, financial information and an operations manual. You r legal advice and franchise consultant will provide you with all relevant documentation, bespoke to your business.

10. Study: find out about the franchising process, what to expect from your advisors and what will be expected from you. Your franchise consultant should provide you with a contract of work and a timeframe for completion.

At a recent event Cheryl told us that looking back at her original business plan for her care agency her ambition when starting up was simply creating a quality business that would be a job for her and her mum Sue.  How the business grew really took her by surprise and so working with our team at The Women's Organisation Cheryl continued to get advice and guidance around managing the growth.  It is great to see how far she has come in that time, and impressive to see that Cheryl is now operating her second business born out of her own learning and development. 

If you are based in the Liverpool City Region (Liverpool, Sefton, Knowsley, Wirral, St Helens or Halton), working in a B2B sector and looking for support to grow your business, then contact our team to check your eligibility for specialist support through our New Markets 2 Programme on 0151 706 8111 or

If you would like to speak to Cheryl and the team at Mercury Franchise Consultancy to explore the idea of franchising a bit more then read about them below and get in touch.

About Mercury Franchise Consultancy

Cheryl told us "Mercury franchise consultancy helps businesses to franchise! Our business model is based around helping business owners to franchise their business, be involved in the process and understand how franchising works.  In 2013, we franchised our own home care business, Apollo Care, and realised that as well as needing the relevant documentation to franchise, business owners also needed bespoke support and planning that was relevant to their business model and potential franchisees. We decided that we would help people to franchise their business by looking at the business in a holistic, individual way that would be apparent through documentation and advice."
To find out more visit

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Reflecting On Our Last 'Change It' Programme and Looking Ahead to the Next ...

Change It is an empowering programme that gives women the tools for change in their lives. Specifically for women living in Liverpool with diagnosed mental health conditions, it looks to support them as they build a more positive future.

We interviewed the women who had completed the 8-week programme and asked them what differences it had made to their lives.

The programme looks at individual themes each week and our training coordinator works alongside the women in a relaxed environment, talking and discussing with them specific issues which they might relate to them and working out tips and tricks to combat these issues.

Specifically relating to the topic of ‘Positive Thinking’ and ‘Learning about Yourself’ a Course Attendee told us; ‘Just looking at your own skills is almost like finding out about the stronger version of yourself. It reminded me that I don’t have to be like anyone else, I can recognise the good qualities in myself. We looked at a list of skills and chose the ones which applied to us. At first I thought ‘Oh no’ – I can’t do this, but ended up coming away with 10 I’d chosen. It’s really nice seeing that you’ve chosen those positive qualities about yourself, that’s lovely to carry away.’ ­

All of the women on the course felt that after completing a session on ‘Positive Thinking’ they were able to identify positive achievements in their lives and begin to break away from negative thinking habits. Another Course Attendee told us; ‘When I joined Change It, I didn’t have the skills or confidence to deal with people. When I started coming to these classes, I gained a lot of confidence. I found out about my own skills and what I can do, and I realised that in my life I can do a lot of things. It feels like freedom now, it feels like flying, like a bird in the sky.’

The women on our Change It programme also benefited massively from the course as it differed vastly from other courses and training they had attended. They enjoyed the relaxed environment that the course took place in and meeting other women who are in similar situations to themselves. On top of this, they all agreed that it made them feel more positive about making changes in their life after they had completed the course. A Course Attendee told us; ‘I leave here and I do feel really fired up. I never go back home and get back into my bed and pull the quilt over my heard. I will do something. I’ll say to myself, after the course I’ll go and meet a friend or do something different. Change It has helped me be more sociable and get out of the house. I know that sounds simple, but before this, getting out of the house was tough.'

Another Course Attendee told us; ‘There’s a little bit of everything in this course. It feels like it’s been picked out for me and what I need to move forward. It’s helped me to accept me, and see that it’s not the end of the world. When you’re depressive, accepting yourself can seem like the end of the world. But here I know I can move forward. Every time I come away from here on a Wednesday, I think – it’s not the end of the world, I can change things.’ 

Our next 'Change It' course commences on Thursday the 6th of October, here at 54 St James Street. If you are interested or would like to find out more, please contact our Engagement Team on 0151 706 8111 or email us on

Helen Pankhurst Asked The W.O 'What Would Our Great Grandmother's Say?'

In continued celebration of The Women’s Organisations 20th Birthday, we recently welcomed Dr Helen Pankhurst through our doors for a very special event. Dr Helen Pankhurst is very much following in the awe-inspiring footpath of her great Grandmother Emmeline Pankhurst, a British political activist and leader of the suffragette movement who helped women win the right to vote.

Dr Helen Pankhurst is a women’s rights activist and senior advisor to the humanitarian and development agency CARE International, a Board Member of ActionAid, and a Visiting Professor at the LSE and at Manchester Metropolitan University. She works partly in Ethiopia supporting the development of programs focused on the interests and needs of women and girls. In the UK, she is a public speaker and writer on feminist issues.

Women have come a long way since the Suffragette movement, but the fight for economic equality continues – nowhere more so than here at The Women’s Organisation; the largest developer and deliverer of enterprise support targeting women in the UK led by our CEO, Maggie O’Carroll. 

So what happened when we brought together two of the pioneers leading today's women's rights movement? We looked back at just how far we have come over the past 20 years in improving women’s economic development, considering the changes in women’s lives over the last century and of course, we asked Helen – What would your Great Grandmother say?

Helen spent a moment reflecting on her great grandmother, Emmeline Pankhurst, identifying the three crucial motives of the Suffragettes. This began with institutional and legal change in allowing women the right to vote, “but there were two other phenomenally important elements, the first is agency; women standing up and doing something in their own lives – looking at things differently and conceiving of the world differently”. The women’s rights movement exists because a single person has classified attitudes towards women as oppressive and dared to imagine a different world. 

The last and most crucial element of the Suffragette movement was moving from agency to action and actively challenging social norms, “changing the white society’s views about what women could and couldn’t do”. Helen argued that these three crucial elements can still be applied to any women's work that takes place today; such as what goes on right here at The Women's Organisation in striving for economic equality - recognising something as problematic and doing something to change it. 

Helen paid particular attention to the critical importance of role models – people who teach and inspire us to see the world in a new light and who are often prone to being teared down by the media, “We need to raise them up when we see them and support them when the media then turns on them. For every woman that is brought up, the media will have a field day in cutting them down … Social media has a tremendous opportunity to hold to account main media”

Social media was a running theme of the event and Helen encouraged us to reclaim the internet as a source of power by engaging in ‘call-out culture’. Furthermore, to contemplate how we can use social media as a platform to reiterate facts and statistics and remind people that there is still a need to fight for gender equality, “a lack of data causes a problem, we’ve seen in a referendum just how dangerous a lack of facts can be … One of the things we can really do through social media and in other ways is to get those facts out there”.

The event taught us that social media is encouraging us to break down the barriers of not only gender, but also race, class, religion etc.; “these simplistic schisms, blow them away and let’s see who people are and who they want to be. Once we allow people to be who they want to, things become a lot more interesting”

The brave and courageous actions from the Suffragettes prompted a feminist movement that we continue today. When asking Helen just what her Great Grandmother would say, she told us that each success no matter how big or small is a mark of victory and indeed a step in the right direction.

Feedback of the event left from the attendees included:

“Greatness at its best – what amazing conversations”

“Language … How impactive and potentially negative. Language such as ‘you guys’, ‘grow a pair’, ‘man up!’”

“A room full of power and inspiration – thank you”

“Fabulous, thought-provoking and inspiring”

“Great questions and a very useful reminder that we are all role models”

“Helen is a brilliant woman who speaks our language”

“A call to action. Time to think big thoughts again. What a great event”

“A privilege to be a part of this discussion – inspiring”

If you would like to be kept up to date with our future events, then head over to the events page of our website

Cheryl Grogan Noticed A Gap In The Market And Filled It With AJ’s Play Days!

Cheryl Grogan found her passion which she turned into a business after noticing a gap in the market! This month her new business; AJ’s Play Days is launching!  AJ’s Play Days is a soft play centre aimed at children under the age of 5 with a specific focus on the development needs of babies and toddlers through play. It will help parents bond with their children by offering bay and toddler yoga, positive parenting classes, hypnobirthing and a relaxation area.

Twenty-something Cheryl told us; ‘Whilst I was on maternity leave I noticed that there were not many places where a mum can take their smaller children without being uncomfortable and feeling out of their depth, especially parents with more than one child.’

‘When I was later offered redundancy I jumped at the chance of starting my own business. I have always wanted to be my own boss and the flexibility of having 2 small children was a must. I wanted to be able to spend time with my children and hopefully offer other parents a comfortable, relaxing place where they could take their babies and toddlers.’

But as AJ’s isn’t just an ordinary soft play centre, it’s clear to see that there was another area of interest that Cheryl took into consideration when imagining her business up and running…Developmental Psychology and Cheryl told us that after having her two children she used the techniques that she had studied; ‘I found that I enjoyed watching my boys reach a higher potential than I could imagine’ – and this was the aspect that she wanted to share with other parents and families.

To get started Cheryl contacted The Women’s Organisation and began working with our Business Adviser; Yan Miao. One of the biggest aspects that Cheryl considered before starting her business is something so many other business start-ups undervalue – Market Research. ‘I conducted questionnaires within children’s centres and nurseries to find out exactly what people wanted from a baby and toddler soft play.’ And Cheryl also was able to use her skills as a trained baby and toddler yoga instructor when she was thinking about classes for AJ’s Play Day’s ‘My part time job is teaching baby and toddler yoga classes so I used this to my advantage as I could ask opinions of other parents about design options. I also tested out the yoga classes on my two boys.’

Working alongside Yan, Cheryl began to get her business set up, but like all entrepreneurs faced a few barriers along the way – for Cheryl it was difficulties with her premises; ‘I had to undertake a change of usage for my property which was really long and drawn out, it took almost 16 weeks to complete! And at one point I faced losing the property I had set my heart on. Now that part has been approved all of the other legal steps are the next daunting part.’  
‘Each step along this journey has been scary but exciting. It has taken a long time to get to where I am and at each hurdle it was hard not to give up, but now I am so close to completing everything, I’m extremely happy knowing I have made the right choice.’

And working with Yan has been that extra support and guidance that Cheryl needed; ‘I have received tremendous amounts of advice from The Women’s Organisation. I found the extremely helpful and I feel I would not have had the confidence or knowledge to have set up with business if I didn’t have the help of Yan, my Business Adviser.’

Now AJ’s Play Day’s is open for business and Cheryl couldn’t be happier – she has finally succeeded in her dream of working for herself and is relishing in the benefits that self-employment can bring; ‘I now have the freedom to make my own choices and spend time with my children. I feel so confident and proud that I have come this far. I didn’t think I would ever be able to run my own business, or even reach the point where I am at – but here I am!’

If you would like to find out more about AJ’s Play Day’s and maybe pay them a visit, you can do so by using the contact details below!

Phone Number: 077409540409
Address: 72 Stanley Road, Liverpool, Merseyside, L5 7QQ

And if you’ve been inspired by Cheryl’s story and would like support starting your own business, then get in touch with us! Ring us on 0151 706 8111 or email us on

The Skills and Opportunities Fund is one of the many ways that the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) is contributing to the communities they live and work in. In 2015, they committed £2.5M to fund projects in charities, social enterprises, community groups, state-funded schools and colleges across the UK and Ireland, and they have allocated a further £2.5m to be spit across two round in 2016.