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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.

Check us out on Facebook and follow us on Instagram.

 

The 7 Biggest Benefits of Online Networking

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The 7 Biggest Benefits of Online Networking

The benefits of online networking aren’t just the obvious reduction in the need to travel and the associated time away from your desk that brings.

Online networking brings many more benefits that means people who previously thought that networking groups weren’t for them are starting to change their mind.

The biggest benefits of online networking for small businesses

  • Accessibility
  • Time saving
  • Productivity
  • Inclusivity
  • Business focus
  • Access to wider networks
  • Cost effective

Accessibility

Online networking offers a significant advantage over in-person networking for those who are less able to physically attend meetings. This could be due to living in a remote location, having caring duties or having physical disabilities that make travelling a challenge. Being able to attend meetings from home or another location of your choice opens up the world of networking to more business owners who previously found it tricky to attend in person events.

Time saving

We are all busy people and whilst it is lovely to meet others in person, sometimes it is difficult to take the time out of your day to travel to in person networking. Online events enable you to make much more efficient use of your time as you can easily move from one meeting to the next.

Productivity

Although the Athena online networking meetings follow exactly the same structure as the in-person meetings, virtual meetings are more productive. This is largely because meetings start and finish on time and more can be achieved in the 2 hours. Using breakout rooms for managing open networking and business training slots within the meeting are an efficient way of ensuring that we stick the timings in the agenda.

Inclusivity

One observation that Athena regional directors have noticed, and from getting feedback from members, is that some people feel that online networking is more inclusive than face-to-face networking. They feel more comfortable with break-out rooms for open networking rather than having a sometimes-awkward moment when you try to get yourself included in a group conversation at an in-person event. The breakout room format enables quieter members to have a voice and to feel more heard and therefore more included.

Business focus

Another of the online networking benefits is that meetings tend to be more business focused. Breakout sessions which have replaced the informal networking at the start of the session are an opportunity for the group leader to pose business related questions for discussion. This means that there is added value from the meeting.

Increased access to wider networks

With the restriction of distance removed, online networking provides a whole world of opportunity to meet new business owners who might be your ideal client, might be able to refer you to your ideal client or might be someone you could collaborate with. The world really is your oyster! When it comes to Athena though, the Pass+ feature which was introduced at the beginning of the pandemic has been a massive benefit to many members, enabling them to visit new groups far away from where they live and to meet people they otherwise would never have met. We love this feature, which is why it will continue to be an ongoing benefit of the Athena membership.

Cost effective

Although the membership fee remains unchanged, online networking is a more cost-effective option for members. There are no travel costs to get to meetings and although you now supply your own lunch, the ability to visit other meetings for no extra change more than makes up for the lack of food.

But what about in-person networking – will it return?

The short answer is yes, but all our monthly meetings sill stay online.  In our Athena region (South West Hertfordshire and North Middlesex) we will arrange occasional events face to face where it makes sense. We will also encourage members to resume face to face 1-2-1s where they feel it is appropriate.

Who would’ve thought a year ago that we would have embraced online networking to such an extent that it is now the preferred and ongoing format for our meetings? Clearly the benefits of online networking are outweighing the disadvantages.

If you are a woman business owner who would like to meet other like-minded professionals in a non-pressured environment – the comfort of your own lounge – then please get in touch. You may visit one meeting and one Cappuccino Connections before you need to make a decision.

We 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

Small business UK based support group – join our taster session

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Small business in the UK have been hard hit by the global pandemic, particularly limited companies and those who didn’t qualify for any Government financial support. But support takes a variety of forms and it’s not always the finance side of things that prevents us from moving forward.

 

Let’s face it, when you run your own small business, you need to wear many hats to be successful. It’s not enough to be good at the core activity – the reason you went into business in the first place – you need to be on top of all the other tasks that are vital for growth and success.

And that can be tough, if you don’t know what you don’t know.

Having a like-minded group of business owners to bounce ideas off, to valid assumptions and to pick you up after a tricky week is invaluable.

Step Up To Success is a small business UK based support group that provides a friendly and helpful online forum for business owners to come together and help each other reach their goals and we’d love to help you too.

Join the taster session here

The group is a nurturing space for new and more established business owners alike and any sort of business is welcome. We currently have members representing everything from Excel specialist through to Canine Massage Services – what you do isn’t that important, but how you interact with others is.

Group members are invited to attend several business focused sessions each month, but none are mandatory and you won’t be chased up if you don’t come along – we are not a formal networking group in that sense. Nor will you be expected to introduce new people to the group, although if you know someone you think could benefit, you can certainly tell them about Step Up To Success.

How Small Business in the UK can benefit from this support group

Although we wouldn’t stop anyone overseas from joining the group, we are predominantly focused on discussing issues that affect UK based businesses. The group is aimed at women in business who don’t have the support of a large team and who want to use the group to hold themselves accountable.

The benefits that members receive include

  • accountability from a monthly buddy system and the group in general
  • Mastermind ‘spotlight’ opportunities where you get a chance to bring a particular business issue to the table and get ideas for solutions
  • brainstorming sessions – general discussion on wider business problems such as procrastination, productivity, marketing, finances and so on
  • training workshops aimed at upskilling members in specific business knowledge such as how to close sales, how to write SEO blogs, different ways to use Excel in your business. These sessions are often run by group members for the benefit of others.

Your Step Up to Success monthly meetings

Each month there are 4-5 brainstorming sessions, 2 mastermind sessions and a workshop, all managed using Zoom. Attend as many sessions as you wish according to your availability. Some

sessions are recorded with members permission and may be viewed on replay for those who cannot attend live. A closed Facebook group is used for communicating and sharing information in between sessions and especially for celebrating our successes.

Find out if the Step Up To Success group is right for you

On 23rd June from 10-11am (BST) there will be a taster session for potential new members. Small business UK based entrepreneurs are invited to take part in a mini brainstorming session and a mini Mastermind alongside existing members to experience the power of the group in helping each other to flourish. The taster session costs only £10 which is deducted from your first month’s membership fee when you join the group. The monthly membership fee is kept affordable so that the benefits are accessible to all including those just starting out in business. For just £24 a month, you can attend all 7 sessions if you wish – getting huge value to move your business forward for a very small investment.

How have current members benefited so far

The current cohort of members have already achieved many of their planned goals for 2021 in just the first 5 months. Some have increased their sales, some have implemented new systems and processes to make efficiency savings and all of them talk about the emotional impact of having small business support which enables them to flourish and meet their business aspirations.

How do you sign up?

You can join Step Up to Success taster session by completing a simple form. We are friendly but if you like, why not bring a friend along too.

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.

Check us out on Facebook and follow us on Instagram.

 

The Benefits of Support for Small Businesses

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Support for small businesses is vital. When you are a small business, especially a sole trader, the benefits of having a group of like-minded people alongside you on your journey cannot be underestimated.

 

In this blog, one of my Step Up To Success members, Michelle Eshkeri explains the value she has gained from being part of the group and why the benefits of support for small businesses are so huge.

I’m Michelle Eshkeri, a copywriter and children’s author and I joined Step Up to Success around 3 months ago. My business is called Let Me Write and I’m a sole trader who set up about 6 months before the pandemic lockdown in March 2020.

For the first 6 months I mainly relied on face-to-face networking to find clients, which worked pretty well and when the lockdown came, fortunately the groups I was in transitioned quickly to online networking.

As a result, my business grew very quickly over the summer and autumn of 2020 and I found myself needing to put more focus into planning, process and systems streamlining and looking at my business model more closely to identify the most profitable work.

At this point, I had been visiting Debbie’s Athena groups online and found out about the group that Debbie was setting up to provide support to small businesses.

Who is the group for?

Step Up To Success provides support for small businesses who are run by women entrepreneurs. It provides a safe space for us to discuss everything related to business (and somethings things on the periphery) so we can be more successful and enjoy out businesses more.

The benefits of support for small businesses are huge.

When you work on your own, life can be a bit lonely. You don’t have others around you to bounce ideas off and you don’t have people to pick you up when you’ve had a tough day. That can make life as a self-employed person hard.

Step Up To Success has given me the following benefits:

  • Accountability

When you work alone, it’s easy to put things off for another day or to waste too much time not achieving very much at all. The business support group gives you the accountability to get more things done. Each month you can choose to have an accountability buddy who you check in with as much as you both agree, and this helps you to stay on track. When you know you must report progress on your goals to someone else, it gives you much more focus.

  • Sounding board

Sometimes you think you’ve had a great idea and later it turns out, it wasn’t so brilliant after all. The Step Up group gives us a safe, non-judgemental space to explore potential new business ideas and do some market research which can save you a lot of heartache and frustration down the line. Recently, I took the hotseat at one of the Mastermind meetings and asked the group about a new product I was thinking of launching. I received valuable feedback and suggestions which has helped me to develop my offer.

  • Encouragement

The support and encouragement I’m receiving from Debbie’s group makes a big difference to my motivation to succeed and I love the fact that we also celebrate the wins and successes with each other. When you need a pick me up, the group is there for you and when you need to shout about something that’s gone brilliantly, they are cheering you too. Encouragement and support for small businesses can make all the difference to your achievements.

  • Target setting and tracking

Each month we choose 3 goals to work on for the month. This is great for giving you short-term focus on task that must get done to be more successful – especially those ones you may have been procrastinating over. Just this past week, I finally stopped talking about moving my email list from Mailchimp and actually did it. That’s a tick off my list for May 😊.

  • Training

Debbie is providing amazing value for money with this group – mind blowing, actually. Not only do you get multiple brainstorming and mastermind sessions and your accountability buddy each month, but there is also a monthly training session which delivers enormous value. The group is worth the cost of only £24 for this training alone. I will be delivering the training this month on how to write SEO blog posts to drive traffic to your website – better make it a good one!

As far as I can see there are no downsides to joining Step Up to Success. I’ve gained so much – insight, encouragement, knowledge, tips and tricks, friendship, accountability – in short, every support for small businesses you could possibly want – except perhaps someone to make me a cuppa as I set my keyboard on fire writing for my clients 😊.

If you feel you’d also like to gain those benefits, then I urge you to get in touch with Debbie today at debbie@stepuptosuccess.co.uk or complete her contact form and jump right in.

What do you have to lose?

You can also find Step Up To Success on Facebook and Instagram.

This blog was written by Michelle Eshkeri, a copywriter and children’s author. You can connect with her at www.letmewrite.couk or on LinkedIn.

 

The Benefits of a Spotlight at a Business Mastermind Session

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The benefits of a spotlight at a business mastermind session

Last week in Step Up to Success, an online business mentoring and support programme, it was my turn to take the spotlight in the business mastermind session. Thirty minutes just to talk about my business Let ME Writewith several other like-minded women business owners who were prepared to help me tackle one of my current business issues. In the lead up to the session, it was hard to decide what to bring to the meeting but eventually I settled on doing a bit of market research.

Market research is tricky

Author and former business executive Seth Godin said: ‘Don’t find customers for your products, find products for your customers’ and that’s very sound advice. You might create a great product or service, but you won’t be successful if nobody is interested in buying it. With that in mind, I decided to test one of my copywriting programmes with the mastermind audience to find out more about what they think they need when it comes to content and copywriting for their business.

What I learned during the business mastermind session 

  • There is no substitute for real life deep dive questions

When you start out in business, it’s easy to make a lot of assumptions about what your customers might want from your products or services. However, if you don’t test your theories and bring your product or service to market without checking if it’s really what your consumer needs, then you are much more likely to incur costs which you cannot recoup through sales. By doing focus groups, or in this case, a spotlight during a business mastermind session, it is possible to get very targeted and valuable feedback about what you are offering.

  • I need to adjust my Signature offer

With the opportunity to explain in detail my signature programme, it was really helpful to talk through have fine detail of what I do when I help clients with their content writing and to discuss the price of my service as well. Feedback was that although the content of the course looks great, I could consider creating another package which would suit those with a smaller budget or newly in business.

  • I could consider another premium offer

We then went on to discuss other options for packaging up my content and copywriting services., From this discussion, I am considering developing a brand messaging package which would cover a range of common pieces of writing that all businesses need for marketing and awareness. After the spotlight session, I was able to continue to gather feedback via the group mastermind closed Facebook group. This has been extremely useful in helping me to develop a potential new service.

  • Spotlight sessions focus the mind

Spotlight sessions are generally quite short, perhaps 30 to 60 minutes which means that you need to get really focused to achieve maximum benefit. When you don’t have time to waste, everybody in the room is less likely to waste time.

  • Everyone benefits

Whether you are in the spotlight or a participant in the business mastermind session, everyone can take something away from this session . Even though we were talking about my business, much of what was discussed it was also applicable to everybody else in the room.

Summary of the benefits of a Spotlight session

  • Like-minded individuals giving honest opinions
  • Gain clarity on how real customers view your products and services
  • Exposure to business people who may think differently from you
  • Bring issues to the group for help brainstorming solutions.
  • Increased motivation and creativity to achieve more.

 

Step Up to Success for female business owners provides spotlight session 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 Step Up to Success leader Debbie Diggle here and check out some of the customer success stories.

What is a mastermind group and how your business can benefit

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What is a mastermind group?

A mastermind group is a way to meet other like-minded entrepreneurs, to discuss business issues and to benefit from the collective wisdom of the hive mind. A mastermind group is likely to be online at the moment, although it hopefully won’t be too long before we can be face-to-face again.

Why would you pay to join a mastermind?

Some people might think that it’s a bit odd to pay money just to meet up for a chat with other business owners, but that’s because they don’t understand the value that discussing your business issues, hopes and plans with others can bring. Mastermind groups can provide a supportive community where people give and receive feedback, share actionable ideas and support and encourage each other. It’s all about building people up, encouraging them when they need motivation and holding each other accountable to targets and planned actions.

Four entrepreneurs who would benefit from a mastermind

  • The ‘I recently started in business’ entrepreneur

When you start out in business, for most people, you don’t know what you don’t know. You quickly find out that there’s a great deal you don’t know. It can be overwhelming. You most likely didn’t start your business because you wanted to spend your days dealing with paperwork, admin and finding new clients, but if you don’t keep on top of the basics of running a business, it can get out of control fast. When you join a mastermind, you can draw on the collective experience of the group and sidestep some of the pitfalls that others may have fallen into when they started out.

  • The ‘I’m having a wobble about being in business’ entrepreneur

We all have moments when we think ‘Why did I think it would be a good idea to go self-employed?’ and wonder why we gave up the security of a monthly pay check. At those times when you are having a wobble, your mastermind colleagues can keep you focused on your Why? and help you figure out what your need to do next to set you back on track.

  • The I’m too busy to attend a mastermind’ entrepreneur

If you are run ragged by the demands of your business, you may think it’s a bit crazy to add a mastermind group into the mix. However, the group can help you to stay accountable and set challenging yet achievable targets. They can also stop you disappearing down rabbit holes and they can offer solutions to common business issues that you might not have thought of. All of this can save you oodles of time and stop you from running around looking busy whilst actually achieving very little. Now, that’s a win!

  • The ‘I know it all already’ entrepreneur

Clearly no-one knows it all about being in business but people who think they have it all figured out can still benefit from a mastermind group because each person in the group brings completely unique experiences to the table. This means that no matter what stage you are at in business, there are always things to learn, better ways to do things that save time, money or frustration, so gaining outside perspective on what you do is invaluable.

Summary of the benefits of a mastermind group

  • Get an accountability buddy who can help you stay on track with your goals.
  • Provide another entrepreneur with the accountability they need to be successful.
  • Gain clarity on your business direction.
  • Exposure to different business approaches, systems, processes etc.
  • Bring issues to the group for help brainstorming solutions.
  • Set clear targets between meetings to help meet your business objectives
  • Increased motivation and creativity to achieve more.

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.

You can also connect with me on LinkedIn.

‘To Do Lists’ – What’s on your ‘to do’ list that has been on there for ages?

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  • Have you got a ‘to do’ list?
  • Have you got something on there that has been on there for ages?
  • Is there something you don’t want to add to your ‘to do’ list because you know you don’t want to do it?

For me, writing a newsletter has been on my list for ages but I’ve suddenly got the urge to do it!

What has suddenly given me that urge?

The other ladies in Step Up To Success who are achieving things that they have been putting off have given me that urge!

This is what some of our members said last week:

“Being accountable to my buddy supported me in writing AND posting my first blog in 9 months!”

“I created my blog post content plan because my accountability buddy held me accountable. It might not have happened otherwise.”

“A combination of the brilliant brainstorming sessions and support from my accountability buddy has meant that I have finally sent my first email newsletter! I’ve been procrastinating about it so long so this is a real win for me!”

What’s on your ‘to do’ list that has been on there for ages and how long has it been on there?

Please let me know!

Debbie x

Online community for Entrepreneurs – Why Sole Traders Need Accountability

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When you start out as a sole trader, being in business can be lonely. That’s why it’s a great idea to find an online community for entrepreneurs that can give you support, encouragement and, perhaps most importantly, accountability.

What is accountability in business?

Accountability is the quality or state of being accountable; an obligation or willingness to accept responsibility for one’s actions. Sometime responsibility and accountability are used interchangeably. However, there is a difference. Responsibility can be shared whereas accountability cannot. Being accountable not only means being responsible for something but also ultimately being answerable for your actions.

Why is it important to hold yourself accountable?

As a business owner, it’s vital to hold yourself accountable for the decisions you make and the consequences they bring. Even when you are not in control of how a situation plays out, how you respond to those circumstances and how you decide to approach situations that are in your control is entirely up to you. If you have accountability in your business, you are much more likely to stand by your decisions and actions.

Accountability for sole traders

When you are a sole trader, there could be a temptation to think that having accountability isn’t important for you. After all, when you don’t have any employees, it’s obvious who will be accountable in your business. If you are good at holding yourself accountable, you are much more likely to achieve targets and be successful. However, it’s also much easier to get distracted, reverse decisions and get to the end of the year without meeting your goals. Having access to an online community for entrepreneurs who can help you to stay accountable can make a big difference to your business achievements.

5 Ways you can be more accountable.

  1. Be conscious of what you are committing to and don’t overcommit.
  2. Recognise the jobs that make you procrastinate and either do them first or outsource them.
  3. Write down your goals and break them down to measurable actions.
  4. Set deadlines for all your actions and stick to them – block out time in your calendar.
  5. Give yourself permission to fail from time to time – you are not a robot, after all.

Benefits of accountability from an online community for entrepreneurs

  • Get an accountability buddy who can help you stay on track with your goals.
  • Provide another entrepreneur with the accountability they need to be successful.
  • Gain clarity on your business direction.
  • Feel more accomplished in your business.
  • Increased motivation and creativity to achieve more.
  • Productivity increases and you make better decisions.

Step Up to Success for female business owners provides accountability as just one of the many business benefits of an online community for entrepreneurs. You can also receive support, ideas and training to enable your business to grow in a nurturing environment.

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

You can also connect with me on LinkedIn.

Introducing Step Up to Success – an Online Business Support Service

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You might be wondering why you need a business support service to help your business be more successful.

Perhaps you already attend networking groups and you’re not sure what benefits you might get from being part of another membership. At Step Up To Success, an online business support community for women entrepreneurs, you’ll get access to a range of sessions each month designed to help you set the direction, explore opportunities, keep accountable in your business and achieve your targets.

Let’s dive into the different types of sessions and resources.

Goal Setting

Each month you’ll set manageable goals for your business and be held accountable by the group leader and other members. This will help you keep on track and progress towards your overall targets for the year. When you commit your goals to paper and revisit them on a frequent basis, you have a much higher chance of success.

Masterminds

Masterminds are focused 90-minute sessions where 2 members have the opportunity to present a specific business issue for 30 minutes each, getting the benefit of everyone else’s experience and ideas. Participants can also gain great insight for their own business.

Brainstorming

Each session will focus on a different business topic and participants will have an opportunity to discuss any challenges or wins that they may have in this area. Two heads are better than one and 6 to 10 heads are even better!

Training

The Step Up To Success business support service will also provide training in a variety of business skills such as social media marketing, writing for business, bookkeeping, optimising technology and many other sessions.

Benefits of an online business support service

  • Completely flexible choice of interactive sessions that bring together a diverse range of businesswomen who all want to help each other to greater success.
  • Attend as many or as few sessions as you wish throughout the month depending on your availability. Nothing is compulsory, so it can slot into your work life easily
  • Get weekly and monthly accountability to help you hit your targets
  • Friendship encouragement and support from like-minded women entrepreneurs
  • Feedback is taken into account in planning future sessions to ensure that you get the most value you can from your membership
  • The Step Up To Success business support service will remain online, allowing anyone to participate wherever they are in the UK or even abroad. We welcome all.

The small print

Step Up To Success is a monthly membership group with no contract and no cancellation notice period.  The monthly cost is the same (currently £24) whether you attend one session or all of them. We don’t believe in tying people into a long contract – we want you to stay for as long as it makes sense to you and you are getting great value from the community.

My business support groups are incredibly welcoming, so if you are a woman in business, why not get in touch at and find out if might suit you. Contact us here and check out some of our customer success stories.

You can also connect with me on LinkedIn.

Stepping up to your personal success

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Running a business can be full of highs and lows, happiness and sadness, credits and debits.

Each little hurdle you jump over can feel exhausting, but each success you gain can feel like winning an Olympic gold medal.

Any of this sound familiar?

Well, Step up to Success might just be the community for you. It is geared towards women in business who feel stuck and need a helping hand to navigate through those inevitable rough patches.

IS THIS YOU?

Designed for business women who have been plugging away for a year or more, we will help you tackle your professional pitfalls and turn them from negatives into achievements.

Do any of the following statements ring true?

1. I’m always so busy but never seem to get anything done.

2. I’ve put my heart and soul into this business.

3. I feel intimidated by the sales target I’ve set myself – how on earth will I achieve it?

4. My family and friends are going to find me out. What if they realise my business isn’t as successful as I’d hoped it would be?

5. I don’t want to give up. I love what I do but I’m just about keeping my head above water.

6. If things don’t change soon, I’m going to have to look for a 9-to- 5.

Don’t fret if your internal alarm bells are ringing!

Step Up to Success is designed for these moments and will help you create an action plan to overcome that feeling of impending doom.

WHAT IS IT?

As part of the community, you will meet professional women in similar situations as well as hearing the stories of established business owners who also struggled in the beginning but are now hitting their targets consistently.

Business is hard, but not achieving your goals is harder.

Contact us for more information.

Step up to Success will be an online community, so wherever you are in the world it doesn’t matter!

Business Networking for Women – 4 Huge Benefits of Membership

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Business networking for women comes in a variety of shapes and sizes, just like women themselves. One size does not fit all. Depending on the type of business you have and the services/products you offer, different sorts of business networking might be better suited to you than others. In this first blog of 2021, I’m going to outline some of the biggest benefits of having a membership in a business networking group for women.

Some networking groups offer a pay-as-you-go approach which is usually a low payment per meeting with no annual subscription. Other such as The Athena Network are membership based with an annual subscription which can be split into an up-front payment and a monthly subscription. Let’s explore the advantages of the membership style of business networking.

  • Strong commitment to the network

Making an annual subscription payment to be a member of a group shows a commitment to that group. You are demonstrating that you are serious about networking. This approach enables you and the other business owners to support each other because you know that you will see each other multiple times throughout the year, be able to learn about each other’s business and therefore be able to provide support for each other in the form of practical business skills and emotional support if things get tough. If you want to become a topflight golfer, you have to join a club – you can’t rely on dropping by the local pitch and putt every so often.

  • Relationship building and trust

Business is all about trust. People buy from people but not from people they don’t trust. That’s why one of the best forms of marketing is word-of-mouth. When someone YOU trust gives you a recommendation, you are much more likely to trust that it will be a good recommendation. When you sign up to a membership for business networking, you tap into a world where you can nurture powerful relationships with the other members. If you rely on drop-in networking where you are likely to see different people each week or month, then it can be much harder to build solid relationships and for you to trust each other.

  • Leveraging others’ knowledge and experience

The world of commerce can be bewildering for new business owners. You’ve started a business because you are great at doing the thing you do, but you quickly find that you must be good at all the other activities that are involved with business, such as marketing for new clients, closing the sale, dealing with the paperwork, finance and legals. The list is significant. Business networking groups can help you to gain invaluable insight into how to run your business, benefiting from the collective knowledge, skills and experience of perhaps 20 other business owners. It’s like having a ready-made team for your company. This particular benefit should not be underestimated – I’ve used the services of many of my networking members in my own business and having those trusted resources takes away some of the concern about outsourcing. In addition, if you are REALLY lucky, like me, you’ll have someone in your group that bakes amazing cakes. Who doesn’t need cake in their life, after all?

  • Strategic Alliances

This is where the magic of membership really comes into its own. I’ve seen the most wonderful collaborations happen and sometimes between the most unlikely of partnerships. There are the obvious alliances such as the cake maker, photographer and the event planner who can work together to create a wedding package for example. But think a little more laterally and you can come up with lots of ways to create something unique by joining forces with someone else in your group. It’s exciting to watch the relationships form and when we have a new member joining the network, I can’t wait to see how they will fit into the team.

How can you find the best business networking for women?

Well, you’ve landed on this blog because you searched for ‘business networking for women’ or you might have seen this blog on social media or had it sent to you by someone in the network who thinks YOU could be our next member, so that tells me you are already interested.

If you’d like to see if the Athena Network is the right business network for you, I’d love to hear from you. There are 6 groups in my region with a wide variety of business owners in each, so if your discipline clashes in one group, there will likely be another group you can join. We do operate a one member per discipline per group policy so you can lock out your competition, which is another benefit you won’t get from the pay-as-you-go flavour of networking.

Get in touch for a quick chat to find out more and get your business off to a flying start in 2021.

Until next time

Debbie

What’s it all about and how does it work?

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WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT?

“This time next year, we’ll be millionaires!” Remember that line from Only Fools and Horses? It still gets a chuckle. The hopes and dreams of every business owner wrapped up in a few unforgettable words……

Well, I’m no Del Boy and I’m pretty sure you’re a bit savvier than the long-suffering Rodney but I am a business owner that wants to help women move forward and achieve their professional goals.

Step up to Success is an exciting chance to learn the ins and outs of business, to help you keep the momentum going and to support you through those rough patches.

WHAT WILL WE BE DOING?

The community is geared towards business women who might feel stuck and need that extra push.

Over time we will tackle issues facing business owners generally, as well as focusing upon areas that specifically impact women in business.

The aim is to rediscover the passion you once had for your company and to learn how to knock down the obstacles in your way piece by piece (or spreadsheet by spreadsheet!)

We will learn the best routes to financial growth, business expansion and how to take your professional life in a new direction. We will also set realistic goals for you and your business.

HOW DOES IT WORK?

Step up to Success is a community for women who have been in business for one year or more.

Every month members will be asked to set out their goals for the next month and these will be followed up during the month and at the start of the following month when the next goals will be set.

There will be brainstorming sessions every week and a number of mastermind groups each month.  At each mastermind, 2 ladies will be in the spotlight for 30 minutes each to discuss their particular business issue and get feedback from the other ladies (up to 6 others) at the mastermind session.  They might want to discuss general matters, a particular hurdle blocking their path to success or to celebrate something that has happened in their business.

Training sessions will be held monthly.  The training requirements will be discussed during some of the brainstorming sessions.

Each lady will have the option of being linked up with a ‘business buddy’ for the month.  These ladies will keep each other accountable and on track with their businesses.

By joining us, you will have access to all of this and more!

There is no fixed amount of time to be a member – you can join whenever you like and leave when you like, but then why would you want to leave?