SPECIALIST ENTERPRISE SUPPORT FOR WOMEN THROUGH THE NET CORONAVIRUS APPEAL FUND

The Millin Charity is thrilled to have received funds from the NET Coronavirus Appeal Fund at the Tyne & Wear and Northumberland Community Foundation to support local women whose businesses or start-ups have been affected or disrupted by Covid-19.

This programme will offer specialist enterprise support including;

  • Enterprise Workshops;
    • Making your Business Covid-19 Safe
    • Risk Assessing your Business for Covid-19
    • Basic Bookkeeping & Finances
    • Engaging Customers through Social Media
    • Selling Online
  • One-to-one Risk Management Advice
  • One-to-one Business Advice
  • Emotional & Well-being Support through Appointments with the Community Development Team
  • Regular Newsletters with Business Tips and Guidance

Get in touch now to register your interest & to tell us your support needs.

This project is free of charge for women living in Newcastle & Gateshead.

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A NOTE FROM OUR BUSINESS ADVISOR – 17/6/2020

WORKING ON YOUR BUSINESS

A NOTE FROM OUR BUSINESS ADVISOR:
JANET CRESSWELL

If you’ve been to any business networking meetings, you may have come across the phrases ‘Think outside the box’ and ‘Blue Sky Thinking’, when people are trying to come up with good business ideas.
I was reminded of this in one of my 1 to 1 sessions, where we were talking about what makes a good business idea.

WHAT MAKES A GOOD BUSINESS IDEA?
Good businesses do not arrive out of the Blue Sky, they come from passion, determination, a bit of luck and a good idea.  The Good Idea can be anything, but what they all have in common is the connection to you, as the entrepreneur and business woman. And those Good Ideas are thought of because they solve a problem that you have or have observed.

SO, HERE IS A TIN OPENER!

What came first, the tin or the tin opener? The tin can was invented in the early 1800’s, and originally, they were so thick they had to be hammered open. The tin can was patented in 1810 as a way to preserve food (solving a problem). It wasn’t until 1858 that the tin opener was invented. This solved the problem of opening cans safely and easily while keeping all the contents inside the tin! You may have seen old films where cans are opened by sticking a knife through the lid? The tin opener uses that idea to run a blade around the edge of the can and originally were a blade which would puncture the can and then using a lever action against the rim, cut around the lid

Over the years, entrepreneurs have improved on the basic tin opener, making them easier and more comfortable to use or combining other features such as bottle and jar openers, or making them electric.

But now, tins are becoming almost always ring pull, doing away with the need for the tin opener. So what is the future for this kitchen gadget and the company that makes them?

SPOTTING TRENDS
This reminds me of yet another conversation about spotting trends. A good business owner will have seen the development in tin cans and will be making another product for the kitchen instead of tin openers! Maybe an easy way to pull the ring without stopping the contents and an emergency cutter for when the ring pull fails. None of this is Thinking Outside the Box. This is all about thinking about what can be changed, substituted, added too or combined with something else to make a better product.

And the same works for all entrepreneurs and is what gives your product or service it’s unique selling point.
YOUR BUSINESS IDEA
Have a close look at your business idea. What problem does it solve? What have you done and what can you do to give your business a unique selling point. And as your business starts to trade, keep looking for those changes you can make to be ahead of trends.

Don’t make tin openers, even though they are still useful 🙂

FURTHER SUPPORT
If you would like support with developing your business ideas further, please get in touch and we can arrange a one-to-one business advice appointment.

Back next time with some more tips for great businesses! Janet x

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A NOTE FROM OUR BUSINESS ADVISOR – 27/5/2020

This week I want to talk about connections and impact. As many of you are in the process of setting up your business, or have new businesses, you will know that The Millin Charity promotes plans. Business Plans in particular are essential tools to help you understand all aspects of your business.

BUSINESS PLANNING
Business Plans help to break down all the functions and elements that make up your business into ‘bite sized’ chunks. However, they are all connected.

How you set your pricing policy depends on your understanding of your customers and your market place. It also depends on your marketing strategy and how you position your business in that market place. You also need to know all your costs, both the direct costs (materials, time) and the indirect ones (rent, utility bills, insurance), and you need to make money for yourself. And you need to understand how these change across the year, and when you might want to offer incentives and deals to persuade people to buy from you or to clear old stock. So your pricing policy may also change with the seasons.

So if your customers want a cheap solution to their problem, but you want to charge a higher amount, then your marketing strategy needs to emphasise other benefits of buying from you. If this is because your product or service is of a high quality, your marketing and branding need to say this, or that you can be faster, or there are other benefits like supporting the community, whatever it is that will persuade customers to spend that little bit more with you.

When starting a new business, having the confidence to say “This is my price because it’s worth it”, comes from writing a good business plan, and as you develop your business, the plan needs to be revised and refined. In this way you can better understand the impact of different situations and which part of your business you need to adapt to take best advantage of a changing world.

STAYING CONNECTED
Personal connections are also crucial when developing and running your business. This is why building good networks is important. And these networks can be virtual through social media or real. Actively participating in networks can sometimes feel like a waste of your time, but remember, every time you make a personal connection with someone, they may have the answer to your question, and sometimes answers to questions you hadn’t thought to ask. And networks also include the most important people to your business – potential customers.

So, keep networking, talking, connecting – it’s good for you and good for your business!

FURTHER SUPPORT
If you would like support with developing your business ideas further, please get in touch and we can arrange a one-to-one business advice appointment.Back next time with some more tips for great businesses! Janet x
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A NOTE FROM OUR BUSINESS ADVISOR – 13/5/2020

Today I’m going to ask you to think about risk. We face risk in everything we do. In our personal lives, at work as well as when running a business.

Having a risk strategy can help you move your business forward in a way that feels comfortable to you. We all have different attitudes to risk. Some people leap first and then consider the consequences, others like to weigh up the situation carefully before proceeding, and you will be the same when running your business.

WHAT IS RISK?
So, what is risk? Risk is an uncertain event where the outcome, if different from what is predicted, affects your business.
Your business will face many risks. What if costs go up by more than predicted, or the number of customers and the amount they spend is less? Or you suffer a burglary, or your premises flood? Or a customer complains on social media? So many things can go wrong that if you sit and think about them all, they will overwhelm you and you’d never start a business. This is where risk management and having a risk strategy is important.

RISK MANAGEMENT
In deciding how to manage risk, you will need to asses the risk and its importance to your business. You will need to understand who is responsible for that risk and who will be affected by it.
You can then respond in one of four ways:
Avoid. Eliminate exposure to the risk altogether. This often means a major change in your business planning. For example, if you thought you would make soft toys, but then came across the regulations on the safety testing requirements, you might decide that the risk of making toys is too great and make dresses instead.
Reduce. Gather more information so you understand the risk better. So, to make soft toys, find our what you need to do to get the CE mark and be able to make and sell toys safely and legally
Transfer. Pass the impact of the risk onto someone else. Take out an insurance policy. If your soft toy falls apart and you have product liability insurance, as long as you followed your standard method for making the toy, the insurance will cover any claim made against you.
Manage. Put plans in place, so that you have alternatives if the risk occurs. For example, using your soft toys as home decoration instead of toys. Or, in the current situation, being able to work from home when I can’t work at The Millin Charity’s office!
Having thought about your business risks, assessed them and how you deal with them, you can then think about the positive steps you’ll take to give your business, and yourself, every chance of success.

FURTHER SUPPORT
If you would like support with risk assessing your business and products, please get in touch and we can arrange a one-to-one business advice appointment or put you in touch with one of our volunteer experts.

Back next time with some more tips for great businesses! Janet x

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A NOTE FROM OUR BUSINESS ADVISOR – 15/4/2020

WORKING ON YOUR BUSINESS

A NOTE FROM OUR BUSINESS ADVISOR:
JANET CRESSWELL

Like everyone else in business, we are looking at how technology can help us through this time. The Millin Charity has set up online ‘Ask the Business Advisor’ sessions, which connects fledgling business women with each other and with myself. A theme for the last two sessions has been about using the internet for research into our business ideas and how to connect with customers to sell either online or to build a potential customer base, so that when you are ready to trade you have a good start point.
Whether you are working online or face to face, the same business principles always apply.

IT’S ALL ABOUT THE CUSTOMER
Your customers decide whether your business grows or withers away. So, everything you do must be customer focused. Make it an easy and pleasant experience to buy from you. You can do this through researching who your typical customer is.

WHO IS YOUR CUSTOMER?
Give them a persona: For example, Mrs A is a busy mum working part time. She has a small budget to treat herself and buy treats for her family and friends.

Then think about where Mrs A might go, either to buy or to see promotional material. This could be online through social media sites, or by visiting craft fairs and markets, or meeting friends for a coffee, etc. Those places that Mrs A visits, either for real or online is where you need to be promoting your products and services. Promotion must sell the benefits of doing business with you. What sets your business apart from other similar businesses?

KEEPING IN TOUCH WITH CUSTOMERS 
When it comes to making the sale, make it easy to purchase from you. And where applicable, follow up. If Mrs A is buying from you face to face, a simple thank you will be part of the transaction; but you could ask if she would like to follow your social media page, or join a mailing list. Similarly, if selling online, sending through a thank you message with the links to social media and joining the mailing list might also be a good plan. But again, make it easy and sell the benefits of doing this.  If Mrs A likes what she bought, she can then share your social media page with her friends. Mailing lists and social media can be used to inform people of any events coming up that you are attending, any special offers or any new products, and keeps the connection with the customer, who may then buy from you again. You can find out more about creating a Facebook business page by clicking here.

MARKET RESEARCH
There are lots of easy ways that you can connect with potential customers using social media. How about try using free tools such as creating a Poll to find out which of your products are most popular? Check out this short tutorial for further details. 

Back next time with some more tips for great businesses! Janet x

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A NOTE FROM OUR BUSINESS ADVISOR – 1/4/2020

WORKING ON YOUR BUSINESS

A NOTE FROM OUR BUSINESS ADVISOR:
JANET CRESSWELL

In these difficult times it can be hard to see what you can do to take forward business ideas and nurture new start ups. However, times of uncertainty can be great opportunity for entrepreneurs. Now is the time to plan, research, learn new skills and develop business management systems. Those who’ve worked with me before know that I like plans: Business Plans (obviously) but also action plans to reach milestones and goals, and financial plans to show how you can afford to achieve that plan.

My plan at the moment is to review and learn about working online. I’m naturally a technophobe, so this doesn’t come easily, but my motivation comes from the simple fact that I love what I do as a self employed person, and want to keep doing it. My preference is for face to face work: I love people, and communicate much better that way, so I am exploring video conferencing and online meetings.

Working with The Millin Charity gives me the opportunity to try teaching online, so I’ll be giving that a go next week when I will be teaching basic bookkeeping and financial planning via Zoom – see above.

Here are some recommendations of mine for keeping busy with your businesses.

ZOOM VIDEO CONFERENCING 
Use Zoom to keep in touch with your friends & family as well as to join in with our upcoming Business Sessions. Click the below link for support with accessing Zoom;
https://support.zoom.us/hc/en-us/articles/201362193-Joining-a-Meeting
 
ONLINE TRAINING OPPORTUNITIES 
There is a lot of free or greatly reduced training available online at the moment which may help you progress your business. Check out some of these opportunities for further details:
Reed
www.reed.co.uk/courses/online
The Open University
www.open.edu/openlearn/money-management/starting-your-small-business
 
KEEPING CONNECTED ON SOCIAL MEDIA
Using networks on Social Media such as Facebook are great for connecting with like minded people, and finding out about opportunities. Using the search bar at the top of the Facebook page is a great way to find groups to connect with. Just type in a relevant word e.g. Accountant, and suggestions will come up. Here are some of the group we recommend:
Social Group for Millin Members
www.facebook.com/groups/765248534002985
Talented Ladies Club 
www.facebook.com/TalentedLadiesClub
The Inspire Network
www.facebook.com/groups/mumsbusinessclubnortheast
Craft Fairs North East England
www.facebook.com/groups/1488806288056973

Back next time with some more tips for great businesses! Janet x

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