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

Wishing you a biscuity Christmas!

Unless I’m feeling especially energetic, this is going to be my last post before Christmas. So I thought I’d make it a bit seasonal and join in Mum’s The Boss’s Christmas Baking Blog Carnival.

At first glance, this recipe doesn’t look very Christmassy, although throwing in a handful of raisins makes it even better and I think a teaspoon of mixed spice would work too.  The Christmas bit comes from the story behind it, let me explain.

Last year my then-85-year-old gran told the family that there was nothing she wanted for Christmas, but if we really insisted, she’d like some biscuits (cookies) please. She enjoys having friends round for coffee and likes to offer them a nice biscuit.

Now I really admire her for getting to the point in her life where all she wants is her friends, family and a plate of biscuits to share. I’d love to be like that when I’m 85. But it didn’t feel right to wrap up a packet of digestives as a Christmas present. Even if they were chocolate ones.

My gran is diabetic so I looked through my books for a recipe that was halfway to being healthy, as a diabetic biscuit wasn’t going to be much of a treat. I found this recipe in the Netmums ‘Feeding Kids’ book (which is excellent, by the way). I made a double batch, used star-shaped cutters and froze them so Gran could take out a plateful a few hours before her friends arrived.

It’s hard the believe that biscuits that are just oats, sugar, butter and a bit of flour can taste so good, but they are gorgeous – really crisp and light. So easy you could make them with children and they freeze well, too. So without further ado, let me introduce…

Easy Oaty Biscuits

100g butter

50g caster sugar

100g rolled oats

50g plain flour

Cream butter and sugar together, add oats and work into a dough. Knead until smooth, roll out on a floured surface and cut into shapes with biscuit cutters. Bake in preheated oven (170 deg C/325 deg F/gas 3) for 20 mins. Leave on tray for 5 minutes, then cool on a rack.

Right, I’m off to make a fresh batch for this year. Merry Christmas!

Business Ideas For Mums: Complementary and Sports Therapies

Tell me more…

Many mums have always wanted to work in health or sport,  so take opportunity to retrain as therapists when they have children. There is a huge range of therapies to choose from, including:

  • Sports massage, sports therapies, teaching yoga, pilates and tai chi
  • Herbal, homeopathic, aromatherapy, flower remedies
  • Reiki, energy healing, spiritual healing, crystal therapy, teaching meditation.
  • Hypnotherapy, counselling, psychotherapy, neuro linguistic programming (NLP)
  • Chiropractic, osteopathy
  • Reflexology, hopi ear candles, stone therapy, Alexander Technique
  • And many more!

What are the benefits?

  • You can choose how many hours you work
  • You can work weekends and evenings
  • This could be the chance to do the type of work you've always wanted to do

Things to consider…

-You can work from home, in other people's homes or rent a room from a clinic, natural therapy centre or hairdressing salon. If you work from a clinic, centre or salon, you will almost certainly have to do some , if not all, of your own marketing. -Marketing methods that work well for this type of business are –

  • Taster sessions (perhaps as part of a pampering evening) often run as fundraisers for schools.
  • A leaflet campaign backed up by a website which gives people further info – leaflets could got through local people's doors, be left in business centre receptions, GP surgeries, libraries, railway stations, gyms or handed out to everyone you know.
  • Local websites such as gumtree.com
  • Postcards in local shop windows.
  • Get an article in a local newspaper.
  • Use your car – put a sign in the back window or magnetic adverts on the doors (check out Vistaprint.co.uk).

-This article covers a huge range of therapies, so the time and effort needed to get qualified varies enormously from a weekend to a five year degree course. The first place to look for training would be your local further education college or try Natural Therapy Pages. -You can do some training by distance learning, although you'll need to weigh up how effective this is for learning 'hands on' skills. You can study subjects such as anatomy and physiology successfully, though.

Further information

Healthypages is a mine of useful information and a place to advertise your services ITEC – exam board for beauty and complementary therapies as well as yoga, pilates etc. Not convinced that complementary or sport therapies are for you? Take a look at other business ideas for mums.

One Good Way To Save Money as a Business Mum

Software can be expensive if you’re running a small business from home.

A good example is Microsoft Office – Word, Excel, Powerpoint, Outlook (and sometimes a few other programs thrown in).  Bought from the Microsfot Office website, the Home and Student version of Office 2007 costs £99.99, but you cannot use it in ‘business situations’. The standard version costs £349.99 if buying from scratch and £249.99 if you’re upgrading from an earlier version.

The good news that you can get very similar software for free – check out Open Office. As an ex-Microsoft Office trainer, I  didn’t look at Open Office for years. I’d spent so long learning MS Office to the advanced level, I couldn’t face learning new Office software. But if you’re a regular Word, Excel or PowerPoint user, Open Office will look very familiar indeed. A few minutes exploring should be all the training you need. If you’re worried about the files being compatible with Microsoft Office – say, you need to send a spreadsheet to your accountant who only has Excel – don’t be. Open Office can cope with MS Office file formats.

It’s amazing that we all go out and pay hundreds of pounds for software we could (effectively) get for free, but I guess that’s the power of Microsoft.

There’s a lot of open source software out there – the blog software I use, WordPress, is open source and doesn’t cost me a penny. If you’re thinking about buying new software, it’s well worth Googling to see if there’s an open source equivalent. You could save a heck of a lot of money.

Getting moving again after maternity leave

It's now six months since my last day at work and time I started to think about earning again. I'm grateful I haven't got the abrupt jump into to work I would have if I was returning to employment, but getting started in self employment has its own challenges.  For the moment, I'm just getting some rough plans together and leaving the harder work until the first few months of 2010.

Not surprisingly, the last few months have been more 'baby' than 'business'. I'm making sure that amid all the chaos of being mum to a 19 month and (almost) 4 month old, I stop to appreciate where I am. One of the joys is seeing the world through the eyes of a toddler – the noise that gravel makes when you stomp on it, watching the last few roses of autumn clinging on in the cold, dropping letters into a big red postbox. And the joys of being a parent to a toddler – finding a tin of tuna on your doormat and your phone in your washing machine! Baby boy is just starting to grasp at things with his little hands. He's smiling at everyone and is fascinated by everything going on around him, including his big sister trying to balance teddy bears on his head.

Getting back to my business, I'm planning a 'multiple streams of income' approach. I've already arranged to do some admin for a book keeper friend as one of the income streams.  If you like the sound of this approach, it's worth putting the word out among family and friends that you'd be happy to do some admin work on a freelance basis. You never know who might need someone to do a mail shot, compile a mailing list, tidy up some spreadsheets, write a  manual, do some invoicing and so on. I'm not talking about becoming a fully-fledged virtual assistant – although that's an option of course – just bringing in an income while you get other streams of income up and running (and that usually takes longer than you think).This approach takes some careful planning and focus because it's easy to get distracted if you have several jobs on the go at once.  But for me, it's worth the risk to not have all my business eggs in one basket.

One of the other business eggs in my basket is exploring web-based businesses. I've been learning a lot about blogging, social media and driving traffic to a website over the last six months. With my background in coaching and training, I feel sure I can develop an income stream from it although I'm still working out the best route to take. I'll let you know how I get on. If you have any experience of going self-employed after your maternity leave ended or using a multiple streams of income approach, drop me a comment :0)