Business Mums’ Networking Groups

(This post was last updated on 22/3/12)

Networking groups for business mums are popping up all over the place at the moment. ‘Traditional’ business networking groups often don’t suit business mums too well, so they are setting up their own.

Mums are finding that typical business networking groups are held either over breakfast or in the early evening – the busiest times of the day if you have a young family. Also, the way some networking groups are structured feels a bit too stiff and formal for many, who are looking for a much more warm and relaxed feel.

If you’re wondering whether to give one a try, I really do recommend you give it a go. As well as making business contacts, you’ll be inspired by what other mums are achieving and if you miss the company of the guys in the office, a networking group could help you fill that gap.

Here are the groups that I know of, but I’m sure there must be more out there:

Mum’s The Boss – Expanding all over the UK

Busy Mums – Stafford

Networking Mummies– Dorset, Warwickshire and growing throughout the UK.

Enterprising Mums – Hitchin, Herts

Mums Business Club – Throughout the UK

Mums In Biz – Brighton and West Sussex

FIND – Durham

Mumpreneurs Networking Club – South East/ south coast

Motivating Mum – London

Scottish Mumpreneur Network – Scotland

Ladies Who Latte – UK – wide

MumsUnLtd@Viva -website coming soon, in the meantime events are listed on the Viva Networking website or email events@viva-networking.co.uk .

Business Mums Connect – Surrey and Hampshire

morningmums.co.uk – Wirral

Do you know of any more? Let me know and I’ll add them to the list

Creative Commons License photo credit: MrB-MMX

Ten Ways To Get Free Publicity for Your Business

I'm proud to introduce my latest guest blogger, Mums The Boss, otherwise known as Sam Pearce and Helen Woodham. Mums The Boss is THE Bedfordshire networking group for Mums in business and they recently celebrated their first birthday. Here are are their top ten tried-and-tested free (or nearly free) publicity tips.

In our first year in business we have spent the princely sum of £30 + VAT on promotional activity, paying for an insert service which interestingly had a zero return on investment! However we have managed to appear in the local press 3 times, the national press once, and have been interviewed on our local radio station. We have had a double page spread in a local parenting magazine distributed to over 10,000 mums through the school book bags, been featured on numerous websites and been promoted by several business agencies. We have also secured free venue use, free business advice, free business books and had over 20 prizes donated to a recent raffle. And we’ve done all this without ever having to resort to bribery or blackmail. So, how have we done it? We are proud to unveil the Mum’s The Boss Guide to free (or very cheap) publicity!

  1. Be Friendly – if you are approachable and friendly when you meet people, chances are people will remember you and be more willing to help you out in the future. A warm smile and taking an interest in people costs nothing at all.
  2. Barter – if you can’t afford to pay the going rate for a service, barter some of your product or a service of your own in return.
  3. Think Outside The Box – publicity doesn’t have to be paying for advertsing space. Think creatively about what is newsworthy about your business – or make something newsworthy happen – and submit it as editorial to the press. And think about all your contacts, and whether they could promote you to their client base, spreading the word through word of mouth.
  4. Know your audience – if you know exactly who your audience is it will be much easier to reach them by targetting your promotion accordingly. That way, if you do end up having to pay for advertising, you will save a fortune by reaching the right people first time.
  5. Use the Internet – take full advantage of the many sites and forums that you can list your business or event on for free. All it will cost you is your time. Make good use of all the social networking sites you belong to, such as Twitter or Facebook – they are perfect for spreading a message ‘virally’ as well as a fantastic way to make invaluable business connections and pick up free business advice.
  6. Blog! – if you haven’t already done so, start a blog. If you can attract a good level of readership your blog can become a fantastic medium for you to barter with, offering to promote businesses or review products in return for a favour.
  7. Be Different – the press likes good news stories or things that are quirky or unusual. If there is something unusual about you or your business then capitalise on this. If not, can you engineer a story with added interest, by linking your business to an event, charity or something topical?
  8. Add Value – if you are asking someone to do you a good turn you must be able to show them what’s in it for them. This may be something tangible like a complimentary product, or it could be as simple as giving them access to your contact network or promoting them on your website or blog.
  9. Be Cheeky – if you don’t ask you don’t get, and sometimes if you just have the confidence/brass neck to ask for a freebie or a discount people are surprisingly happy to oblige.
  10. Pay People in Cake! – This one NEVER fails. When bartering for people’s time, expertise or use of a venue always offer to bring homemade cake. Works every time!!

We are by no means PR Gurus and these tips are non industry-standard – they are just things that have worked for us and allowed us to enjoy a certain level of publicity for free! Do you have any creative ideas or tips for getting free publicity? We’d love to hear all about them (mainly so we can try them out ourselves)!

Creative Commons License [nohide]photo credit: Steve Snodgrass[/nohide]

5 Mistakes To Avoid When Deciding What To Charge

Here’s a tricky question for all new business owners – how much should you charge?

If you pick a price that’s too high then you risk nobody buying, too low and you might not make a profit. Here are five mistakes to avoid when setting a price for your product or service.

1. Don’t add up your costs and then add a bit more on top

If you do this, you won’t take into account the value of your product or service to your customers, so you risk under-charging. Your product or service is worth what your customer is prepared to pay for it – find out what people are prepared to pay and use this to decide on your price.

2. Don’t look at what your competitors are charging and undercut them

You may be offering a better quality product, better customer service or offering a niche product that is different from your competitors. If so, you might be able to charge more than the competition.

Exceptions to this rule might be if you have a new way of delivering a service or manufacturing a product that means you  can sell it at a cheaper price than the competition and still make a decent profit. Or if you’re selling a product that’s identical to ones that people can buy elsewhere, like books and CDs.

3. Don’t charge by the hour

There are several reasons for this. First, your hourly rate should be quite high because you’ll need to pay your own salary, tax and national insurance as you would if you were employed. Then you’ll need to factor in all the costs that you can’t directly charge for such as planning, preparation, expenses, training, insurance and accountants fees. This will mean your hourly rate will be double or treble what it would be if you were employed by someone else.

Second, if you offer a package, you can throw in some bonuses that don’t cost you a great deal, but that offer great value to the customer, so making you look more attractive. This could be a CD of your own music if you’re a children’s party entertainer or an e-book if you’re a trainer.

Third, customers are happier knowing what the total cost will be. If a virtual assistant charges £20 per hour for writing a series of press releases, the client still doesn’t know what this will cost until the task is done. Instead, the virtual assistant and client could agree in advance that the whole job will cost, say, £100.

Some clients may insist that you charge by the hour, usually if you’re freelancing for another company. If not try charging for what you’ll actually deliver, rather than the time it will take you to do the work.

pound dice

4. Don’t charge what feels like a reasonable price.

This won’t take into account what it actually costs to provide that service or product.

Work out all your costs so that you know the minimum you need to charge to break even. Then you’ll know you must charge more than this to make a profit. Use this minimum value as a guide, rather than basing your charges on it otherwise you’ll be making mistake number one (above).

5. Don’t go too low

If you’re just starting out, it’s easy to charge too little then find it’s hard to raise your price later. It’s better to start with a price that’s slightly too high than one that’s too low. You can always offer a discount or special offer later if you find your price is a bit high.

6. (Free bonus point!) Don’t undervalue your own time

This is incredibly easy to do when you’re starting out. If you end up paying yourself  less than minimum wage you’d be better off getting a job than you would running your own business. Sometimes the worst boss in the world is yourself!

Be confident and charge what you’re worth.

Have you made any mistakes when deciding what to charge?