Amanda Murrell Associates Ltd (AMA) is pleased to announce that they will be exhibiting at GESS for the first time in 2014. AMA is an award-winning group of consultants, who are experienced in coaching, mentoring, training development and delivery and are all specialists in their own right. AMA is passionate about providing opportunities for individuals […]
With the summer nearly over, children back to school and my Bedfordshire BusinessWomen (BBW) Presidential year is coming to an end. As a business woman in 2013, I have been taking some time to consider how worthwhile my role as President has been to my business and to the services that I offer to my clients.
Being President has added real value to my business and whilst the workload has been at times overwhelming, I have a much stronger portfolio of skills and experience as a result. Anyone considering taking up a voluntary role should consider these business benefits, which often cannot be achieved any other way.
So, I wanted to share some of my highlights of being President of BBW during the last year.
October 2012 and our 25th year of networking started on a high as Finalists for Fundraiser of the year 2012 at the Pride in Bedford Awards. Our first event was an evening fashion show at Mercedes Benz of Bedford, where some of our members modeled on the catwalk.
November 2012 was an exceptional month, winning the Community Investment Award, at the Beds & Luton Business Excellence Awards 2012, and at the same event Finalists for Enterprising Organisation of the year 2012, as well as Runners-Up for Networking Group of the Year 2012 at the East of England Business Champions 2012.
We were treated to breakfast in the Mayors parlour and later in November, afternoon tea at Woburn with workshops delivered by members. After a great Christmas afternoon event with fun, frolics and Santa, at the Embankment Hotel, in December, we started 2013 off with the traditional ‘Man Day’ at Millbrook Proving Ground, with over 60 men and women experiencing an exciting day of high-speed pro-drives, professional networking and inspiring presentations. We also celebrated with our annual International Women’s Day event, sponsored by Bedford College, where we were dined in decadent surroundings at the Mansion House, Old Warden.
Always keen to raise money for charity, other than The Road Victims Trust (RVT)my charity of the year, we took part in the Ladies Driving Challenge, RAF Alconbury, for The Fire Fighters Charity, raising over £1,000, this was definitely one of my highlights from the year.
There are many more highlights; yoga at Champney’s in March, joint FSB Business Expo in April, Putteridge Bury in May, Lifestyle event, Luton Hoo in July and my leaving event, an afternoon garden party at Milton Ernest.
New for my year are monthly workshops at the i-Lab run by our own members and any member is welcome to run workshops, or share with BBW, aspects of their business, we actively encourage joint working and networking outside of BBW events.
It wouldn’t be right to finish this review without mentioning our spectacular 25th anniversary ball and awards evening in June at the Sharnbrook Hotel – a truly glamorous event and very befitting of such a wonderful group of ladies and of course also winning the FSB Best Networking Group 2013 in June.
Finally, I would like to say a huge thank you to everybody who has contributed to BBW in some way, for supporting me as President, and made this another successful year for us all. I wish Emma and the members of BBW all the very best for the coming 12 months.
This month I am going to write from my President of Bedfordshire Business Women role for a change! Especially as this has been one of the most amazing months for me both personally and professionally as a result of my Presidency.
June 2013 was a monumental month for Bedfordshire Business Women (BBW) with the prestigious BBW awards and 25th anniversary ball taking place at The Sharnbrook Hotel. After months of preparation and many a sleepless night, to stand back and look at the amazing women and all they have achieved throughout the year, made me feel very proud and very privileged to be a part of such a fantastic group.
When I took over as President of BBW I never thought I would remember people’s names but looking round the room it was like an extended family. I know every member’s name and even some of the names of their support networks, and it was so nice to talk to people in the glittering but relaxed environment.
The announcement of the award winners was the surprising part of the evening. Nobody, including me, was aware of the results, as the whole process had been outsourced to ensure complete fairness and independence. And I was absolutely shocked (but truly delighted) to have won the Bedfordshire Business Woman of the Year Award 2013. This is the first award I have ever won and I am still pinching myself! Thank you to everyone who took part in the process, whether through nominating someone or through your award submission, and well done to everyone involved.
For anyone entering an award, the process itself really focuses you to think about what you have achieved and is a great way to record and reflect on your progress. And even if you are not the overall winner, it will give you a tremendous confidence boost, and encourages you to go back to colleagues/associates for testimonials. And if you are a winner, then you can use that success to keep building your business for the future.
So, after a fabulous night of good times and success, on behalf of BBW I would like to express thanks to both the Mayor and Richard Fuller MP for their support to BBW, and of course to all of our wonderful sponsors and supporters on the night, without you we could not have made the night so memorable.
I would encourage any woman in business in Bedfordshire to come along to one of our meetings. BBW is a friendly group, where we offer support and encouragement to all of our members and guests, we provide plenty of opportunities for women in business to collaborate and work for each other.
Having spent a good proportion of this week working on Bedfordshire BusinessWomen, trying to juggle my business and all of the other domestic duties it has been quite difficult to get a good balance.
That is where it is so difficult to balance your work life between the business that is paying the bills and the pro-bono work.
We have to be capable of knowing at what level we get involved with the pro-bono work and there is no crystal ball that will tell you when, if or what opportunities might arise from such work.
It is through experience that we learn but sometimes we learn a very hard lesson that can be at a huge cost to a small business. Ensuring that invoicing is kept up to date and you are on top of it is critical and making sure that terms and conditions are issued at the point you raise an invoice so that the two can be sent together is equally important. Very often we do not think to send a cancellation policy, but if a client cancels part, or all of the contract with short notice you may still have to pay a cancellation fee to those you have commissioned to work with you, or printing costs etc, which can leave you out of pocket.
At the end of the day we are all in business to make money and have a good quality of life so if you are doing more pro-bono work than paid and you are not getting invoices paid then that quality of life will suffer. I am not saying that you should not do any voluntary work but to get the balance right.
We all know how tough it is in the business world at the moment, we need to be able to talk to likeminded professionals, be more innovative in the way we operate and investigate potential collaboration or partnership working in order to maximise our earning capacity.
Business culture is extremely people centric, with an emphasis on trust, familiarity and relationship building at the core of most business deals. As the saying goes “it’s not what you know it’s who you know”.
One of the most effective ways to meet and find business opportunities is through networking, across the globe there are a plethora of networking groups of all varying size and membership; which one you choose will be down to individual preference. Networking is all about building relationships and connections in a purposeful, organised way and not just an opportunity to quickly acquire names of people. It provides the ideal environment to learn what potential clients need and want also the opportunity to see what competitors are doing.
Building a good credible rapport with someone can take place immediately or can take many months to cultivate, referrals are based on one common human value, summed up as ‘Givers Gain’ or ‘what goes around, comes around’ or if you prefer ‘you scratch my back, and I’ll scratch yours’. Whichever way you choose to describe it, this principle undeniably works. Networking will not always provide you with an instant result you just never know when a referral may happen, and the business landscape is always changing bringing with it opportunities.
It is so important that your elevator pitch (your 30-60 second or four sentences long, company introduction) is succinct and really portrays what you do as that is your first impression to really showcase you and your business.
Networking is here to stay and is a really useful marketing tool if used correctly.
Having attended the annual Christingle Celebration of Christmas of the Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue Service at Woburn Parish Church for the first time this month, made me think about how nice it was to see many of the services, organisations, businesses and families coming together to celebrate, give thanks and remember loved ones and those less fortunate at this time of the year.
Christmas is one of the most special times of the year when we exchange presents and remind those close to us how much they mean to us. We pamper each other and also indulge ourselves on too much turkey, piles of mince pies, huge slices of Christmas cakes and big glasses of wine. All too often amongst all of this festive excess, our work gets neglected and we let our businesses fall behind.
When January arrives, we then rush to make resolutions, start dieting and detoxing. There is often a big hill to climb to get businesses back on track again. For me, I often find that January involves working late into the evenings, frustrated by the biting cold weather, grey skies and short days.
This annual swing in our social lives from over-indulgence to detox is mirrored by a shift in our professional lives from the calm to the frenetic. We do not perform at our best at either of these extremes. Neither is sustainable and neither is good for us. In fact, rather than this Boom and Bust approach, it would be far better to take a more balanced approach throughout the year, accepting that we are more productive at work when we are relaxed and well rested at home.
In business, our own wellbeing and that of our employees has an enormous impact on our productivity, engagement with work and ability to work together in highly functioning teams. This is not just for short bursts but applies the whole year round.
2012’s New Year’s resolutions of a crash diet, twice daily gym trips and a six day working week quickly fell by the wayside for me. In 2013, I hope to learn from this. My resolutions this January are ones which I intend to maintain for the whole year. They are Sustainability, Balance and Wellbeing, and being part of a supportive networking group will help me to achieve those resolutions.