Monthly Archives

August 2021

How Step Up to Success supports women in business

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How Step Up to Success supports women in business

Step Up To Success is a women’s business mastermind group that focuses on supporting small business owners to achieve their targets for greater success.

The group comprises a number of business owners who represent a wide range of industries including an independent board game designer, a canine massage therapist, a photographer, a copywriter and a social media specialist who have agreed to share their experiences from the group.

Amana Ahmad, Social Factor HQ, Social Media Specialist

The best thing about Step Up to Success is having a supportive network. As a solo entrepreneur, it can be hard to explore ideas because you don’t have a team around you. Step Up’s mastermind allows you to bounce ideas off other people and get their opinions on issues based on their prior experiences which works very well. The second thing that’s great is the goal setting and being accountable to someone else. When you tell someone your goals, it makes them much more real and you are more likely to work on the goals when you know someone is holding you accountable at the end of the month.

Brigitta Scholz-Mastroianni, NUX Photography

Sometimes in my business, I need a good nudge and a bit of help from my friends to stay on track. The Step Up group meets several times a week but you can attend when you like – no obligation to come every time. It’s a safe space to come and discuss business problems that perhaps aren’t easy to talk about. Sometimes I can also help people too which is a great feeling. Step Up is a group that will catch you when you fall.

Ellie Dix, The Dark Imp, Board Game Designer

When you are busy in business trying to get through your task list, you don’t always have time to reflect on whether you are doing things in the right way or what the next thing is you need to do. Step Up has given me a space to step back and reflect on where I am going, think about what I am doing. It’s a brilliant place to discuss those niggly little things that you’ve pushed to the back of your mind. It’s a really safe space where you can talk to other business owners and really get their honest opinion. The masterminds, in particular, are great because you can have everybody’s eyes and ears on your specific business problem – having that time to get other’s views is so valuable. Finally, the accountability buddy is also great as someone to check in with who can keep you on track.

Karen Young, Safe Hands Clinical Canine Massage

It’s unique in a way, because it’s honest businesswomen being super honest about where they need help. As small business owners, there will always be areas that need support because we are all solo entrepreneurs trying to do everything you need to do to run a business. Step Up to Success has help me to prioritise and realise I can’t do it all myself. I’m also more focused on the bigger picture of what’s important rather than the day-to-day tasks. The group has been a useful space for reflection and to understand that other people are having the same or very similar issues. I’d recommend it to anyone because you can be as involved as much as you like and if you can’t make it, you can catchup online. It feels like an exclusive club where people are individuals and they aren’t just bringing their business persona and it’s not a bad thing to express your individuality through your business.

Michelle Eshkeri, Let Me Write, Copywriter and Author

Step Up business support group run by Debbie Diggle offers several sessions a month including brainstorming common business topics or issues to problem solve or generate ideas. We also have Masterminds which are an opportunity for each member to be in the hotseat and bring a particular problem to the group for them to make suggestions for solutions. Training and workshops are also provided each month to help us improve our business skills. Step Up To Success is a great way to get accountability for greater business success.

Step Up To Success is an Investment

Step Up to Success isn’t seen as a cost for these women business owners, it’s seen as an investment in their business’ future. At only £29/m, it’s a small price to pay for huge benefits.

Contact us here and check out some of our customer success stories.

You can also connect with me on LinkedIn.

Is online networking the new normal?

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Is online networking the new normal?

Here at Athena, a women’s only networking organisation, a revolution of sorts has recently occurred. A new business model has emerged because of the pandemic and raises the question, ‘Is online networking the new normal?’ and what are the benefits and downsides vs traditional business networking.

As we head to the beach (perhaps, or maybe simply the back garden) for a bit of downtime this August, you might already be weighing up your options for business networking come the start of the new academic year. September is one of those times during the year when we tend to reflect on what’s working and look for alternatives when things aren’t going so well.

Benefits of online networking

I won’t go into reams of detail on the benefits of online networking because you can read July’s blog The 7 biggest benefits of online networking. Suffice to say it’s more accessible, efficient, and inclusive than the traditional face-to-face format, but there are drawbacks.

Downsides of online networking

Firstly, the biggest downside of online networking is there’s no cake!

Seriously though, the lack of face-to-face interaction can make it more difficult to build meaningful relationships with other members of your group. When you meet in person, you can see much more of the person’s demeanor and body language which adds so much more context to what they are saying.

Another issue you might encounter with online networking is Zoom (or equivalent) overwhelm. As it’s so easy to jump on a video call, there may a tendency to try to pack in a lot of online networking in your schedule. This can lead to fatigue, inability to remember who you met, where and what they do, and a general feeling of being a bit disconnected from your community which tends not to occur when you do face-to-face networking.

Visiting a wide range of groups is easier but it’s possible you can spread yourself too thin. If you only visit a group once or twice, it’s unlikely many people will remember you when they need your services.

So, is online networking the new normal?

Many traditionally face-to-face groups that moved online during lockdown 1 in March 2020 have been patiently waiting for the right time to revert to in-person networking. However, after surveying all the members, Athena Networking has taken a decision to adopt a predominantly online networking approach going forward. Our monthly lunchtime meetings will now be online and group leaders may offer other types of networking – such as informal coffee morning and networking strategy training as optional face-to-face gatherings. So, it seems that online networking is the new normal for Athena.

Online business support

As well as running women’s networking groups in Watford, Bushey, Rickmansworth, Harrow, and Kings Langley, I also offer an online business support group. This women’s only group, Step Up to Success, meets several times each month and includes mastermind spotlighting and brainstorming sessions that draw on the group’s expertise, a buddy system for accountability, monthly business skills workshops, and a closed Facebook group for support.

You can also connect with me on LinkedIn.

 

Step Up to Success for female business owners provides mastermind groups as just one of the many business benefits of an online community for entrepreneurs. At only £24/m, it’s a great investment in your business’ future.

 

Contact us here and check out some of our customer success stories.

3 Reasons Why You Should Be Asking For Testimonials 

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3 Reasons Why You Should Be Asking For Testimonials 

 

Asking for testimonials is vital for growing your business. After all, if people don’t know how good you are at what you do, then they aren’t going to come to you when they need what you provide.

 

But something that comes up quite often with my networking members, is that they feel awkward asking for testimonials.

 

In a survey I saw on LinkedIn, more than 25% of people who replied said that they would never ask a client for a testimonial. I was surprised that this figure was so high and that business owners felt unable to ask for feedback.

 

Here are 3 reasons why I think it’s good practice to ask your client for a recommendation.

 

Use it in your marketing

It’s all very well telling your potential customers what you can do for them and why you are better than your competition, but there’s no substitute for having real quotes from happy customers to use in your marketing. Add testimonials to your Home, About and Services pages on your website. Use a testimonial as an elevator pitch at a networking meeting. Take a line or two and create a visual for social media.

 

‘My Athena experience is wholly positive and having you support me and encourage me has allowed me to come out of my comfort zone which has help me develop as well as the opportunity to connect with people that I might not have met.’

Lisa Spitz, Athena Member.

 

Grow your know, like and trust

Testimonials give your potential customer insight into who you are, what you do and how you can solve their problem in a way that regular copy does not. Of course, you can tell your customers what you do and how, but there’s nothing quite so compelling as the words of a delighted client.

In business, and especially in service-based businesses or smaller product businesses, people buy from people. Your customers want to know that they can trust you to deliver on your promises. Hearing from previous happy customers can really help to close the sale.

 

‘Debbie runs the group in a most professional manner while being both friendly and entertaining.  I feel she cares about the members and wants the best for them.’

Melissa Bach, Athena Member.

 

Picks you up when things are tough

Having a file of recommendations – lovely things your clients have said about you – can be incredibly powerful when you’ve not had a great day. I recommend you keep all your testimonials in one place so you can read them when you need to remember why you are in business and how you support others.

 

‘Every group has a different ‘vibe’ and that is down to the group director, for us that’s the lovely Debbie Diggle. Her enthusiasm and genuine support for every member radiates through each meeting and sets the tone for every member and guest. It is a roomful of supportive friends, with Debbie as cheerleader in chief.’

Jo Martin, Athena Member

 

 

So why don’t people like asking for testimonials?

Some of my members say that they are reluctant to ask their clients for testimonials because they feel awkward having to ask and that the client should give the testimonial of their own volition.

Clearly unsolicited testimonials are amazing and so gratefully received but there’s nothing wrong with asking for one. You clients are busy people and they might simply have forgotten to do the testimonial.

Some members say they are worried about asking for feedback in case it’s not very positive. To that worry I always say ‘If the client had been unhappy with your service, you’d already know about it.’ People will give poor feedback quickly but they often forget to give good feedback unless prompted.

 

So, to practice what I preach, here are a couple more of my recent testimonials to give you a flavour of what being an Athena member is like and how you can benefit.

 

‘Being part of Athena is like having a tribe of cheerleaders behind you in all that you do!

Not sure how to approach a tricky business-related matter? Put it out there at the meeting.

Feeling a bit low? A follow Athena friend will always be there with an ear or a shoulder.

Need to promote an aspect of your business? They will like, share, tag, attend, shout about and wholeheartedly recommend you whenever they can.

Looking for a particular person for a particular job? Look no further than your network; someone will know someone who can help.

Plus, the unfailing support Debbie our Regional Director gives to each and every member goes above and beyond; she is phenomenal. Athena will help both you and your business to grow. I have happily been a member of Athena (Bushey) for 4 years now, will continue to do so and would recommend it to any women in business.’

Rachel Levy, Bushey member

 

 

‘I’ve been a member of the Harrow Athena group for nearly 3 years.  When I was first approached to attend as a visitor, I was initially sceptical as I thought it would be a high pressure and possibly unwelcoming group.  How wrong was I? I felt comfortable and relaxed from the moment I stepped into the venue. 

The ladies were all very friendly, came from diverse and interesting businesses and were genuinely supportive.  It didn’t take me long to start my Athena journey.  During my time, I have built strong relationships both on a professional and personal basis.  There is always someone to share my successes or disappointments with and I can honestly say it’s the best decision I have made as I have been able to grow my business through the opportunities presented.

The success of our group has been down to our Regional Director Debbie Diggle.  Our meetings are always fun and informative, I always leave our meetings on a high.  I recommend Debbie and Athena highly to any ladies out there that would like to grow their businesses within a supportive and dynamic networking group.’

Varsha Joshi, Harrow

 

If you are a woman business owner who would like to meet other like-minded professionals in a non-pressured environment, grow your business through the support of the networking group and feel comfortable asking for testimonials, then I’d love to chat to you and find out more about what you do.

 

Athena welcome women from all walks of life and all business disciplines, although there is a lockout in each group, so chat to me to find out which group would be best for you.

 

My groups are:

Watford Wednesday – 3rd Wednesday

Watford Thursday – 2nd Thursday

Bushey – 3rd Tuesday

Rickmansworth – 3rd Thursday

Harrow – 1st Thursday

Kings Langley – 4th Tuesday

 

Do come for a visit – you will be warmly welcomed by all my members.

 

If you’d like to chat to me to find out more about the benefits of online networking and how it can support your business, please email me at debbie.diggle@theathenanetwork.com or ring me on 07733 076775.

 

You can also connect with me on LinkedIn

 

Facebook group vs Facebook page for small businesses

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Facebook group vs Facebook page for small businesses

A question that comes up in my Step Up to Success online business support group quite often is ‘Facebook group vs. Facebook page and what’s the difference?

Many small businesses rely on social media to get clients – after all, it’s free to set up, easy to get started and you don’t need a PhD to work out the technology.

But is it a worthwhile marketing activity?

Let’s face it, when you start out running your own small business, you are probably trying to keep your costs low, so any marketing that comes free of charge looks inviting. However, are you really getting a good return on the time invested?

Facebook group vs Facebook page – which is better?

Firstly, the Facebook page. I’m talking about the business page now, not your personal profile.

Every business should have a Facebook business page. There are just too many people on Facebook for you to ignore it as a potential source of customers.

However, since a change in the Facebook algorithm in 2018, organic reach on business Facebook pages has dipped drastically. This means that your posts are not shown to many of your followers at all, so it can be hard to get any meaningful interaction and engagement on your business page.

That doesn’t mean that the page doesn’t have any value at all though. Imagine you are looking for a financial advisor, for example. Perhaps you meet one at a networking event or maybe you put up a Facebook post asking your community to recommend someone. You are going to go and check them out before contacting them, right? So, off you go to look at their website and social media. You can find a website, but it doesn’t look like it’s been updated since before the Ark was built, so you head over to Facebook to check them out there. But no, they don’t seem to have a profile

Now, what are you thinking? Is this person who doesn’t keep on top of their online presence giving you the right impression of their business?

Even if you don’t actively try to grow your business Facebook page, think of it as your online business card and make sure it doesn’t grow cobwebs – one post a week is enough just to keep it up to date enough not to put off potential clients.

So, what about Facebook groups?

Facebook group vs Facebook page can be a tricky decision for some businesses who are time-poor. Both can suck up a lot of hours to get them working well.

A Facebook group has some distinct advantages over a Facebook page

  • Reach for posts in a Facebook group is higher than for a business Facebook page
  • Build a long-lasting relationship with a loyal community
  • Easier to create relationships as you have direct contact with your group members
  • Groups can be great for nurturing your audience ahead of launch events

But beware!

To establish a thriving, engaged Facebook group takes a lot of effort. You need to be hanging out in the group, probably posting multiple times a day and, crucially, responding to others’ comments. This can be a huge time suck, so be sure you can commit to that before starting up a group. Of course, over time you can have other people join as admins to help you, but it is a time big commitment that many business owners shy away from.

Don’t forget that your group members will only get notified of new content if they regularly engage in your group, so you do have your work cut out to keep your group fresh and beneficial, so members interact regularly.

The conclusion?

  1. Definitely set up a Facebook business page and keep it updated with new content at least once a week.
  2. Think carefully about the time needed to run a Facebook group vs the value you can get. Don’t overcommit yourself.

This blog post was written following one of my recent Step Up to Success brainstorming sessions where members get to help each other in all sorts of business areas by sharing tips, tricks and pitfalls.

Why not check out some of our success stories to see for yourself the difference this group is making to our members and read our recent blog about the benefits to group members.

If you’d like to chat to me to find out more, please email me at debbie@stepuptosuccess.co.uk or ring me on 07733 076775.

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