THE BRITISH LIBRARY

Innovation and enterprise blog

7 posts from June 2014

30 June 2014

Loopwheels: how an idea for reinventing the wheel turned into our business

Our success story, Gemma Pearce, explains how they reinvented the wheel to get their business off the ground. 

Loopwheels was first dreamt up when my husband Sam saw a woman pushing a buggy that caused the child to jolt forward when it hit the kerb. The pushchair had a big suspension system, which was of no help in mounting the kerb.

He thought how much better it would be if suspension could be built into the wheel itself, so that wheels could absorb shocks. He sketched his idea in his notebook and for a long time he thought no more about the idea he'd had.

Loopwheel

Sam’s first notebook sketch of a wheel with suspension, 2007

A year later, Sam remembered his idea for a wheel with integral suspension and he decided to find out whether it was an original idea, or if it had already been patented. He was disappointed to find that other people had tried to invent similar “resilient wheels” and that there are patents on various similar inventions from the early 20th century onwards. At first we thought that was the end of the idea. But it kept nagging at him.  

“I wondered why, if people had had the idea of a wheel with suspension at the turn of the twentieth century, there weren’t any to be seen in use. I realised that whilst some of the early designs were right in theory, the inventors hadn’t been able to make them successfully because the materials they had didn’t have the right properties. I needed to make my springs from a material that was stiff yet flexible. Steel springs were no good. At the end of my street is an archery shop. One day I had the idea that carbon composite archery bows probably went through similar kinds of stresses as the springs in my wheels.”

It was when Sam tried using modern carbon composite materials to make the springs that he began to get the levels of high performance he wanted for a bicycle wheel. But developing, testing and refining the design of the Loopwheel, and protecting the IP, would require time and funding.

For several years Sam continued to work on other projects and I stuck to my career in the civil service, whilst in between times he would do further development and testing on the wheel. Sam felt I had skills which would complement his own engineering and industrial design focus, and help bring his idea to fruition as a business venture, but initially I was less than enthusiastic! I was worried about putting all the family's finances in one rather risky basket, and whether working as a husband and wife team would be successful. Loopwheels_6_5_2014-26

I began to use the services and events at the Centre to build my own knowledge and confidence about IP, marketing, and running your own business. I started to realise, when I listened to speakers at events like "Inspiring Entrepreneurs" or talked to fellow entrepreneurs, that I did have it in me to run a business successfully. 

Bicycle industry experts reacted positively to our Loopwheel, and we felt that the only way we'd ever know if we could succeed in manufacturing and selling Sam's invention successfully would be if we put all our energy behind it. In 2011, with the government's cuts in public services, I had an opportunity to apply for redundancy. This was the "now or never" push we needed to decide to throw our combined skills and resources into bringing our product to market ourselves, and we grasped that chance with both hands.

We launched Loopwheels as a 20 inch wheel for folding bicycles in April 2013, at a bicycle show in Bristol, and I ran a successful crowdfunding campaign using Kickstarter. Our crowdfunding gave us orders and funding for our first production run, plus fantastic publicity and detailed customer feedback from around the world. It helped secure us our first distribution agreement. Just over a year later, we are selling Loopwheels to customers in SE Asia, the USA and the Middle East as well as in Europe. We have new product variants and are developing a new Loopwheel for wheelchairs. 

There's an enormous feeling of achievement in taking an idea through to manufacture, and we are proud to be playing even a tiny part in renewed interest in engineering and manufacturing in the UK. We've always valued what it is to make something you can be proud of, and sharing that with other people. Every day I hear from people who love our Loopwheels, from all around the world, and I'm delighted that we can share Sam's invention with them.

If you want to take advantage of the booming bicyle industry, come along to our Bike to the Future event and become a success story just like Loopwheels!

20 June 2014

Book review - Start Your Own Business: You can do it!

Start_Your_Own_Business_You_Can_Do_It!_Amazon.co.uk_Sue_Hunter_Books_-_2014-06-20_17.28.34Start Your Own Business: You can do it! By Sue Hunter is a practical handbook offering advice to aspiring entrepreneurs in the kind of no-nonsense, easily understood language rarely found in the business world.

This book is easy to read and gives you encouragement. It has six clear chapters and is full of really helpful advice. It aims to help you work through the initial stages of starting you own business as a sole trader.

In Sole Trader you will discover why it is important to develop yourself, along with your business; you will learn why market research and your customers are all-important, and how to market your product or service.Business finance, such as keeping records, working out a cash flow and calculating your break-even point are covered using worked examples to clarify explanations.

The final chapter offers an annotated template to get you started with your own Business Plan.

Julie Boadilla on behalf of Business & IP Centre team.

13 June 2014

Inspiring Entrepreneurs: Going Global

BarclaysLast Monday was our Going Global Inspiring Entrepreneurs event kindly sponsored by Barclays Bank. As well as the audience in the British Library conference centre, the speakers were also screened live in the Newcastle Business & IP Centre in their Central Library.

Once again the evening was ably chaired and moderated by Matthew Rock, DueDil editor-in-chief and Real Business co-founder.

First up was Will Butler-Adams Managing Director Brompton Bicycle.

Bromptons were first produced in 1988 and are famous for their folding design. Over the last twelve years, Butler-Adams has transformed them from a niche company to the UK’s biggest bike-maker. Brompton now make over 52,000 bikes per year and employs approximately 230 workers. All Bromptons are designed and built in West London and are exported to more than 44 countries with 80% of sales from overseas.

Will Butler AdamsWill started with a short demonstration on the stage of how quick and easy it is to unfold a Brompton bike. He explained that the bike is pretty much all they do, and admitted that although the engineering is sexy, the bike is not something that will attract the ‘birds’.

Will talked about how he met the inventor of the bike and was entrance by the product and the potential for the company that he felt was stuck in the dark ages. At that point it had 24 staff, sales of £1.7 million. They now make a profit of £27.5 million and have a staff of 240. They make 950 bikes a week and sell to 44 countries, “and its bloody good fun”.

For a long time Brompton was a business where they couldn’t make enough product to meet demand. The easy answer would have been to stay with home market as the profits are bigger and you have more control over distribution. He said it takes about five years for the bike to become established into a new market. But that you should believe everyone who tells you how complicated exporting is.

Will’s advice is to treat it like a holiday. Choose a market you think has potential. Get the UKTI (UK Trade & Investment) to help you research the local market and check out the local trade shows. But don’t spend too long doing research or you might never get started. Then meet local people and get an understanding of their market. He explained how they tackled the China market cautiously, and how in that case unusually they own the distribution and retail outlets.

He said Brompton don’t focus on the business or the brand, instead they focus on producing the best product and service for their customers. He feels strongly that these are the most important asset of any business. It takes longer but it gives you a solid basis to build your business on.


Sian-Sutherland-High-Res-nsm-e1370516678624Next was Sian Sutherland, Founding Partner & CEO of Mama Mio and Mio Skincare

Sian is a serial entrepreneur with a varied background in advertising, restaurants, film production and brand creation, Sian was an early winner of the National Magazines’ Entrepreneur of the Year for her first business, British Female Inventor of the Year and received the coveted CEW Achiever Award in 2010.

After creating a new beauty category with their maternity skincare brand Mama Mio eight years ago, she launched their second brand, Mio, focused on the fitness market. Their approach has always been to behave differently as a beauty business; giving their ‘fit skin for life’ brands a distinctive and very approachable personality developing a unique position in the skincare market.

Sian explained how Mio is the most selfish skin-care brand on the market. They work on the principle that if it works for the founders then it will work for their customers.

Mio is aimed at active women and promises to give them fit skin for their whole life.

This new brand grew out of Mama Mio which is for pregnancy and is already available in 18 countries  through 4,000 stores and spas. In addition 30% of sales are through their website. For instance Germany is now their fourth biggest market but sales are only available online.

Sian outlined several lessons she had learned over the years including the number one lesson for trading in China - register your trademarks first.

1.    Have a plan
a.    But make sure it’s your roadmap and not a straightjacket
b.    Be able to measure your success
2.    Do a few things really well
a.    Don’t spread yourself too thin, and don’t try to do everything at once
b.    Seek like-minded partners who want to create like-minded businesses
3.    Be distinctive
a.    The UK doesn’t need more stuff
b.    And nor does the rest of the world
c.    So work out why your products will sell
4.    Be where your customers are
a.    Be in the right stores, on the right sites, in their homes, at the right events
5.    Invest in spreading the buzz
6.    Use your size
a.    It can be a huge advantage to be small and nimble


Karan-Bilimoria-headshot-black-1-590x786Finally onto the stage was Karan Bilimoria.

Founder and Chairman of Cobra Beer which he founded in Bangalore South India in 1990, it has grown into a £126 million business which exports to nearly 50 countries. In 2006 he became a member of the House of Lords and he is the founder and president of Zoroastrian Chamber of Commerce. Lord Bilimoria has been a strong supporter of the Business & IP Centre since it first opened, and has spoken at a number of our events over the years.

His introduction was to get everyone in the audience to ask themselves a question - what is the purpose of your life and how will you measure your achievement? For him it has been about aspiration, inspiration and perspiration, and the attitude that an entrepreneur will never take a ‘no’ as a ‘no’. Starting a business is always against all odds - it is a David vs Goliath challenge.

One of the biggest challenges a start-up faces is overcoming the credibility gap – the answer is to have faith, passion and belief in your product and brand. But you also need to be ready to ‘Adapt or Die’ to changing circumstance and different markets.

Karan spelt out his Eight P’s of business success.
-    Have the right Product
-    At the right Price
-    In the right Place
-    Promotion is key
-    Phinance is essential
-    Passion will drive the business
-    Without Profit the business will not survive

He ended his session with an entertaining advertisement showing a fictional boss running Cobra beer by day and Braco a brassiere company by night.


A lively question time followed moderated by Matthew Rock and included Will Butler-Adams telling the audience not to get too obsessed by being made in the UK. The most important thing is providing the best quality and value for money for your customers.

When asked about their biggest mistakes, he said that Brompton make loads of mistakes, but the key is to try to limit each risk to a size that won’t kill the company. That makes them more adventurous and able to make decisions more quickly. For Cobra Beer their speed of growth proved their undoing as they were too highly geared and suffered when the financial meltdown of 2008 happened. Fortunately they were rescued by Molson Coors and have continued to grow since then.

Neil  Infield on behalf of Business & IP Centre team.

Race to the finish - building a business in the sports industry

W&EWarren Pole, co-founder of 33Shake shares the story of his business and what he's learnt along the way.

 

 

Like many of the best ideas, our natural sports nutrition company 33Shake was born out of a daft bet, painful firsthand experience of a problem, and a good dose of luck.

To start with the daft bet, a friend challenged me to run the Marathon des Sables, a 150-mile, five day run through the Sahara desert. A physical wreck at the time who struggled to run for a bus, this was a tough call. But I accepted and in 2009 crossed the finish line in the Sahara in the best shape of my life. Instead of the end of the journey, this finish line was the beginning – the endurance sport bug had hit hard and I craved more. Ironman triathlons, 100-mile-plus bike races, and mountain ultramarathons all followed.

Which is where the painful firsthand experience of a major problem appeared.

Because to successfully race aerobic events lasting anywhere from six hours to six days, fuelling with the right nutrition is essential. Trouble was, every sports nutrition product on the market tasted foul, made me feel worse, and never delivered anything close to its claimed benefits. Talking to friends and fellow competitors, I kept hearing the same story.

As a journalist of 20 years and writing extensively on fitness and sport, I had unique access to many of the world’s best athletes on assorted assignments. With nutrition my biggest stumbling block, I always quizzed them about what they ate.

Their answers focused on clean, fresh, natural food of the highest quality, often superfoods. This was the opposite of every sports nutrition product out there – the more I investigated these, the more they all turned out to be based on cheap, manmade sugars and additives, ingredients I now knew were detrimental to sustained endurance performance and longterm health.

Here, luck rears its head.

Having junked all sports nutrition and seen an immediate increase in performance I searched for natural replacements. But none existed. Which was when my wife Erica, who had also caught the endurance bug, met a guy who’d studied superfoods for a decade and knew everything about maximising nutrition for a given end.

We explained what we needed for perfect endurance nutrition, and he developed a powerful blend of 33 whole, superfood ingredients that could be enjoyed as a single, tasty, daily shake. What it did for my own performance and health was incredible and with nothing like it on the market the three of us took the plunge into business in 2012. 33Shake was born.

By 2013 our fun side project was a full-time business juggernaut with us at the wheel on the steepest learning curve of our lives. Which is where luck once more entered the frame.

A friend tipped me off about the Innovating for Growth programme, we landed a place, and over the next four months received bespoke, expert guidance, advice and reassurance as well as a priceless opportunity to step back from our growing business and understand our longterm focus.

Since the course, sales are up threefold and we’re now talking with one of the biggest teams in pro 33Shake Chia Energy Gel
cycling to help with their riders’ nutrition for major races. Our adventure is still only just beginning but Innovating for Growth has fast-tracked 33Shake’s performance by several years while the Business & IP Centre’s resources, particularly with regards market research and IP continue to be one of the most powerful tools in our business toolkit.

Warren Pole, co-founder of 33Shake on behalf of Business & IP Centre

If you are an ambitious London-based business, you can apply for £10,000 worth of funded bespoke advice to help get your business to the next level. Apply today!

06 June 2014

Pop-up Businesses – here, there and everywhere!

 
There is no doubt that effervescent pop-ups are sweeping across a town near you. I had the pleasure of researching them over the last few months, checking out pop-up shops in many places - from local areas in London to all the way over in France. Most of the pop-ups are surprisingly varied, covering a wide range of different concepts, ideas, services and industries – from yoga sessions, food stalls, technology shops, gardening, community groups, makers, art collectives, artists and creatives.

I live in Waltham Forest, North-East London and I am really pleased to see that my local council aims to catapult businesses by providing dedicated pop-up business spaces in the form of semi-permanent shops in Leytonstone and Walthamstow. Following their award-winning ‘Love your High Street’ campaign, this is a positive signal to budding start-ups, entrepreneurs, community groups and local artists that the council mean serious business! On the high street, they have set up large rooms with plain walls as a blank canvas for selected businesses to participate in and customise for their own purposes. This is one of the few times I have felt compelled to praise my council as they are encouraging something fabulous and entrepreneurial. Personally, I would love to see this replicated across the UK.

POP-upLYHSlogoThe council have kindly provided the following feedback on the Waltham Forest pop-up programme’s progress: “Waltham Forest is home to thousands of small businesses and has a wealth of entrepreneurial spirit. In order to encourage new enterprise, the Council has transformed a vacant shop unit in Walthamstow into a hub for start-up businesses and community groups. Over the last 6 months, these organisations have enlivened the Town Centre, offering fresh and diverse services to residents, including a yoga studio, book café and community arts centre.”                         

I had the privilege and pleasure of visiting some of these fabulous pop-ups on the high street. Most of them were able to generate interest amongst local residents using social media and good old-fashioned ‘word of mouth’. To give you a flavour of what was on offer, here is a summary of the array of businesses I saw taking part in the pop-up shop:

Massis Tea @Massistea – Redefining and innovating with the Art of Tea to make the ‘Tey Latte’, which tasted very nice. I have since seen Massis Tea popping up in other places - even Westfield Stratford City. 

Pretty Please London @PrettyPleaseLDN – Patisserie that shared the space with Massis Tea.  It was here that I had my first Crodough, that is, a Croissant-Doughnut hybrid.   

All you Read is Love @allyoureadlove – Independent bookshop and Scandinavian-inspired café, serving simple, responsibly sourced cakes and sandwiches, quality coffee and alcoholic craft beverages. They held music and literary events for the community too. I particularly liked how they customised the space to give the feeling of being in a living room …you could stay for hours.

  AllYoureadisLove

Blank canvas to night time musical venue for the ‘All You Read Is Love’ pop-up

at Hoe Street Central.

Healthwatch @Healthwatch_WF – Health and social care consumer champion in Waltham Forest and also across the UK.

Yoga Me Happy @yogamehappy1  - 'Yoga Me Happy' yoga training and classes with a mission to make Londoners happy …with yoga! There are even classes in a local park.

Amarachi Jewellery @AmarachiJewels – Professional dancer turned jewellery designer who created such a buzz amongst people who came across her designs, she soon started receiving requests for her work.

Good time Girls @goodtime_girls - Retro and vintage clothing and accessories with some photography on display too.

Nicky Carvell @nickycarvell – An artist and designer making items inspired by the pop band East 17. The theme of the exhibition was 'Peace from East 17'.  Towels, cushions, T-shirts etc were colourfully designed  and made with special materials.

Plantnation @plantnation_e17 - Gardening initiative selling plants, running activities and classes for all ages.

Floor Story Ltd @FLOOR_STORY – Rugs designed in the UK, but handmade in India using Tibetan techniques. I particularly liked the Tattoo range!

 

  SailorFloorRug

Rug from the pop-up Floor Story Ltd.

This flourishing of pop-ups is not just happening in one part of London, but in various pockets across the city. You can find listings, advice and locations with maps on London Pop-ups. Pop-up shops are also soon to be rolled out across underground train stations as Transport for London has signed a deal with online property agency Appear Here,who provide brands, designers and entrepreneurs with access to prime retail spaces in Central London. Both big brands and independent merchants are looking for flexibility in the way that they reach consumers – a fine example is our Innovating for Growth client Squid London, who has been successful in acquiring a place at the House of Fraser pop-up shop. Footfall and market research plays a large part in selecting the location of your pop-up shop and we have a London Business Information Guide to give you some statistics, several global market research resources in the Business and IP Centre and our wiki page - just to get you started.

My colleague Neil Infield has written on his ‘In from the Outfield’ blog about street-food pop-up Kerb and also beat me to reviewing and recommending the book ‘Pop up Business for Dummies’. 

Alasdair Inglis, a marketing expert from our partner at Grow, explained that businesses are mainly starting off organically and online, so the pop-up shop model is a great way to test the waters. He told me that “it's amazing to see how fast the London pop-up scene is developing. There's no doubt that it's a tough retail environment for small businesses, particularly with the unstoppable rise of ecommerce. The incredible variety of pop-up experiences in the UK is a testament to the innovation and creativity of British entrepreneurs. I was recently at Fairground, which is a three-storey pop-up in East London. I ate the best pulled pork bun I've ever had. Hung out in the sitting-room styled ‘Granddad Lounge’, heard a great talk from a Twitter expert, took a table tennis class with a professional table tennis coach and played in a table tennis tournament (I didn't win)". Phew! Alasdair also recommends We are Pop-up for more ideas.

Alasdair continued, saying that "many of us may be glued to Facebook and smart phones, and more and more of us are shopping online. However, the thriving pop-up scene shows that people want amazing eating, shopping and entertainment experiences in new and interesting places. The high street isn't dying, it's changing and its risk-taking British entrepreneurs with great ideas who are leading the way". 

These are the same ideas we are promoting on an international level with our lean startup workshops, which we are working on with our Open Innovation Partners in Europe, such as the Neoshop in Laval, France.  The Neoshop is not just a shop for business start-ups to get to market - it allows you to provide feedback on products too.  The Neoshop has also taken part in product testing, in pop-ups in Box Park Pop-up Mall, London; and in Paris recently. Hopefully this post will inspire you to peruse some pop-up shops yourself, or even to start your own pop-up business. 

Seema Rampersad on behalf of Business & IP Centre

Follow Seema on Twitter: @SeemaRampersad

05 June 2014

What’s new on… COBRA for business start-ups

Cobweb1One of the resources we provide here at the British Library Business & IP Centre is free access to a number of business and intellectual property databases; helping entrepreneurs and businesses to research trends, markets and companies, and to utilise and protect their IP. If you’ve ever wondered what the market trends are in a particular industry, how to write a business plan, or where to search for trademark registrations, then you can use our databases to find out. The databases are regularly updated and in a monthly blog series, we take a look at what’s new.

This month, we look at the COBRA database (or, to give it its full name, the ‘Complete Business Reference Advisor’), which is probably one of our best-used resources. COBRA is essentially an online encyclopaedia of practical information for starting, running and managing a small business and includes over 4,000 fact sheets and local area profiles. It’s often the first stop for entrepreneurs looking at setting up their business, as it provides lots of helpful hints for start-ups and is very easy to search. COBRA is accessible from the Business & IP Centre reading room, and best of all you can also download up to 10 reports from the database per day.

One of the things that makes COBRA particularly useful is that it provides a very comprehensive amount of information, covering a wide variety of industries - from the global to the niche. For instance, in this month’s updates, we have profiles on business areas ranging from Hotels, to Health and Safety Regulations, to House Sitters (not to mention Goth Clothing Shops, which we like to think is in honour of National Goth Day last week...)

Our update starts with a look at the latest Business Opportunity Profiles (BOPs), which summarise the opportunities and requirements for a particular industry or business area. The profiles outline the qualifications and skills needed, key market issues and trends, main trading issues and relevant legislation, and a guide to sources of further information.

This month a number of profiles have been updated, including:
•    Children’s Indoor Play Area
•    Dating Agency
•    Florist

•    Furniture Maker
•    Handmade Toy Maker
•    Hotel
•    Party Plan Sales Agent
•    Residential Letting Agent
•    Sandwich Shop
•    T Shirt printer
•    Taxi and Private Hire Service

153516_8123
www.freeimages.com/profile/rparker


Next up are Mini Business Opportunity Profiles. These provide a general introduction to a business area, an outline of trading issues, and a guide to sources of further information. The ‘Mini BOPS’ often cover more niche areas, and this month the following profiles have been updated:
•    Data Management Firm
•    Dinner in the Dark Organiser
•    Female Taxi Service
•    Goth Clothing Shop

1012519_96676008
Source http://www.freeimages.com/profile/pandoras_1

•    House Sitter
•    Indian Fashion Retailer
•    Party Supplies Shop
•    Specialist Model Shop

Finally, on to the Business Information Factsheets (BIFs). These are guides and summaries which provide information on specific areas of general business - for instance marketing, legals, or funding. They’re a great resource for start-ups who need to investigate the practicalities of running a business. 

The most recently updated factsheets are:
•    Advertising Hotels, Guest Houses, or Bed and Breakfast Accommodation Online - A Guide to
•    Business Grant - A Guide to Applying for a
•    Business Rate Relief - A Guide to
•    Community Amateur Sports Clubs (CASCs) - An Introduction to
•    Debt - A Guide to Recovering an Unpaid
•    Finance for Starting a Business - A Summary of Sources of
•    Health and Safety Regulations for IT Equipment - A Guide to
•    Making a Small Claim to Recover an Unpaid Debt - An Introduction to
•    Registering with HMRC as a New Employer - A Guide to
•    Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 - A Guide to the

If you’d like to view any of the reports on COBRA, or use the other resources in the Business & IP Centre, you’ll need a British Library reader card.

Sally Jennings on behalf of Business & IP Centre


04 June 2014

For the female entrepreneur who wants it all: Mistakes to avoid when building your business

Caroline-flanagon
Caroline Flanagan, founder of Babyproof Your Life shares her top tips for having it all.

There’s never been a better time for women to start their own business. There’s no shortage of advice about how to turn a good idea into a thriving cash cow. But in your enthusiasm to turn your passion into pounds, are you forgetting the reasons you became an entrepreneur in the first place?

One of the biggest motivators for women setting up on their own is the desire for a healthy work-life balance. But what starts off as a passion-led endeavour can quickly turn to frustration and disillusionment when the magnitude of the work involved comes to light.                        

Mistake 1 - You are your business

Starting a business doing something you love and are passionate about is great from a motivational Rba1_49point, but bad news for work-life balance. When our business is our passion, we are so emotionally attached and involved we find it hard to separate the business from ourselves. If you are your business, the line between work and life becomes increasingly blurred. You think of work when you should be with your family or out having fun, and/or your work day is constantly interrupted by the things you need to do around the house or organise for school. It’s an easy trap to fall into. After all, it’s the flexibility of being able to juggle work and family life together that was a key factor in starting your business in the first place.

 

If you want to have it all, there are two solutions you can start implementing today:

Set up boundaries you respect

Not checking work emails after 6pm; keeping home admin and work admin in separate places; only doing home admin between 2 and 3pm or after 8pm when I am less productive and creative - these are just some of the boundaries I’ve established to reduce the risk of overwhelm and avoid confusion between work and family.

Create systems you (and anyone else) can follow

I have a manual for how I run my business. It’s a work in progress that’s taking time to build, but I’m already reaping the rewards. When you act as if you are your business, it means your business can’t survive without you and you spend a lot of time making things up as you go along and reinventing the wheel. The key to having it all is efficiency, and one way of achieving this is to have a consistent approach to how you do what you do. Procedures such as this not only allow me to delegate more effectively it also saves me time and helps me to view the business objectively.

 

Mistake 2 - You separate business goals and life goals

459044991Time and time again I hear coaches and consultants advising business owners to set goals and targets for their business. And that’s all very well. But what use is a financial goal or target client base if considered in isolation? Setting a goal to reach a turnover of 50k a year after your 3rd year in business may be easy if you’ve got 12 hours a day 5 days a week 365 days a year. But if you’ve got young kids, or are planning to have them anytime soon, chances are you aren’t going to be putting in 10 hour days when your baby is just born or the kids are on holidays.

 

If you want to have it all you’ve got to know what having it all means to you. Not just “how much do I want to earn in five years?”, but also “how many days holiday do I want?” or “how many full days do I want to work, and how many half days?”

Mistake 3 - You think networking is a numbers game       

Well it is and it isn’t. Obviously the more people you know the bigger your network and, arguably, the more effective it has the potential to be (though this is not always the case). But this only works if you’ve got infinite days and hours to spend attending networking lunches and following up 121s with every member of your networking group. Now I know the results of networking take time to realise and that it’s all about relationships etc. etc. But when it’s just you and your business and you’re the accountant, business planner, creative director and admin assistant there’s an awful lot to do and in most cases there’s only one you.

If you are spending 10+ hours a week attending generic networking lunches and having 121s with anyone who asks, this is not time well spent (the true number may differ depending on your business). You’ll be busy and exhausted and have little to show for the many hours you put in, not to mention the money you invest in membership fees.

As I’ve mentioned above, the key to having it all is efficiency. This means saying no and being selective. In my case it means saying no to kind invitations to 121s from people whose work ethic and vision were clearly different to mine. It meant giving up memberships to networking groups that were full of lovely people who had no connection or real means of connecting me to my target market or my ideal partnership.

When it comes to allocating the precious resource that is your time, networking is not a numbers game. It’s easy to spend too much time networking with anybody and everybody in the belief that it will one day produce the right results. Be strategic: where are your clients? Be focused - what do you want to achieve from your networking?  Be ruthlessly selective. You’ll be more efficient and more productive while you work, leaving you more time at the end of the day for family and play.

 

You can find out more about how to have it all at our special Open Evening, Having it all: Women in Business. Book your place now before they all go!

You can find Caroline's full blog post here: http://www.babyproofyourlife.com/blog/for-the-female-entrepreneur-who-wants-to-have-it-all/