The next 'Wonderful Women: Minding Our Own Business' is scheduled for 23rd January. Join our facebook event to see the details.

Inspirational Women - Hayley Southwood

I have published the next Inspirational Women interview on my blog. Hayley runs Vintage Scoops which is a vintage ice cream van hire business.

Being a Wonderful Woman while certain bits of you aren't always so wonderful

I had an email asking whether any of the Wonderful Women suffered from any health issues, and whether anyone had become self-employed as a result of this. Immediately a few women came to mind, and Zeenat Ahmed-Peto agreed to share her own experiences:

As someone who loves to be creative and keep my brain busy, I have realised after many years that for me, working part time and being self employed the rest of the time is a winning combination.

I have had an auto-immune type of arthritis for almost 20 years now, and I have to say, it has not been easy. The symptoms have ranged from chronic pain to fatigue, but most of the time it felt like I was coming down with the 'flu. Among many other challenges like being diagnosed and treated in the first place, was the fact that (fortunately) other people could not tell that I was unwell. This although a blessing in many ways, made it difficult to ask other people from help when I was very run-down or simply did not have the strength to do what others would regard as easy.

During the time when the illness was at its worst, I was working full-time as a teacher. Although I had loved my job, I came to loathe it, as it was just knackering all of the time. I slept for most of the weekends and basically had no life. When I tried to do anything other than my day job, I got sick. At one point I was chomping 14 tablets a day (and still in pain).

One day I had just had enough and told the head teacher that I was going to end the school year and resign. She arranged for me to have a job out of the classroom and also gave me flexible working hours which meant I could work from home from time to time. This was the first time I had ever asked for help and I realised that my employers liked me and had a legal obligation to make it possible for me to do my job as well as I could. This new role gave me the mental flexibility and confidence to imagine doing something new.

Years later here I am, nurturing my fledgling coaching business, and doing a teaching consultancy job part time. This gives me two days to work on my business and I have a day off on a Wednesday which is my 'relaxation day'. I go to my T'ai Chi class, go shopping, meet a friend for coffee, have a swim, whatever I like to relax on my special day. I take on lots of free lance work now, which gives me the flexibility in both my working hours and in what else I do. Planning is of critical importance because living with an illness means I need to plan in rest days. If I have worked 3 days at a stretch, I have a (planned) day off. If I go out in the evening I plan to start my morning later the next day. One of the hardest things for me is accepting that I need more rest than other people, so I write my days off into my diary weeks in advance. That way I ensure that I have time to be at home. I may well be working, but at least I can take it at my own pace.

My new working arrangements have lots of positives, but obviously there are downsides too. I earn a fraction of what I used to, I don't have the same benefits that I did before, like sick pay and the same level of pensions contributions. What I do have though, far out weighs these factors - the sense of being free and being able to choose to look after my own health and well-being; being creative with my ideas and time; enjoying my work time, business time and leisure time, means I am actually living life much more to the full.

Ten Top Tips 
1. Work out when your energy is the highest and do things you need to do then. You'll get more done that way.
2. Plan time for rest. This does not necessarily mean bed-rest, although if that's what you need, take it.
3. Learn to listen to your body. Pain and fatigue are indicators. Your body is trying to tell you something. Listen and acknowledge this communication.
4. Find some form of exercise that you enjoy. It does not have to be the gym! Walk in the park or dance in your living room- whatever makes you feel good.
5. Talk to other people who have the same issues or look online for support groups. It makes it much easier when you realise you're not alone.
6. This one is hard: Accept the limitations of your illness. It is an illness, but it does not define you. If you accept it and make peace with it, you will be more able to get over it.
7. Get over it. It's not the worst thing in the world, you are not the only one and there are many others out there suffering more than you. It took me ages to stop feeling sorry for myself, but when I did, I felt much better.
8. Make goals for yourself - e.g. today I will walk further than yesterday. Even a few extra minutes will build your strength and stamina. 
9. Get out and about. Use your leisure time to discover new things- your brain loves stimulation and place your attention elsewhere.
10. Get sociable. Hang out with positive fun people and you will feel better about yourself. Laughter is the best medicine.
Zeenat now runs her own life coaching business, Embrace Coaching and I'm sure you'll agree she certainly has the life experience, as well as the training to give good advice! Follow her on Twitter or leave a comment here. I couldn't pretend to be able to give as good advice as she has here, if you have any other advice please feel free to share it here!

Inspirational Women - Maureen Jann

Read my interview with Maureen from Bon Moment here

The interview may be of particular interest to those of you who use Etsy or who craft, and actually make products yourself. She gives some good advice!

Wonderful Women: Meeting number 3

Here is the Alternatively Lovely blog post on our meeting yesterday but I wanted to add some more detail here.

Some notes I scribbled down from our guest speaker:

  • Twitter is true networking as it was designed as an open network, as opposed to the closed network of facebook. They can therefore be used in slightly different ways.
  • Rather than a business asking what is the potential return of investing time into social online networking, they should be asked to imagine what might happen if you get left behind.
  • You need to think of the long game, and accept that it does take work, but is worth it. Twitter in particular offers such a unique way to target your market.
  • Consider what you want to happen from your tweets, do you want people to visit your website? Make a purchase?
  • Hootsuite was highly recommended.
  • Twitter makes the world transparent, and allows you to listen in, or take part with the whole world. Imagine a giant thought bubble over the globe.
  • You have to leap in with force and shout! Twitter requires a commitment but should have great long term gains. See your effort as legacy items for the future.
  • We talked about other networks we may want to join: LinkedIn, Youtube etc.
A few of the wonderful women weren't too sure about hash tags. Here is my attemt at explaining what they are:
You may see tweets that looks like this:
          ''Katie Sucks. She needs to go. #xfactor''
          ''The meeting was full of cake! #wwmoob''

The hash key acts as a way to link tweets together by a theme. In Twitter you can click on a hash tag and it will act as a link, and show you all other tweets that share the same hash tag. I have used the hash tag #wwmoob to try and connect the wonderful women's tweets together.

You may also see hash tags such as:
          ''I forget my keys and am stuck outside. #needtoremembermybrain''
This style of hash tags act as a comical/sarcastic aside, and aren't really designed to be clicked, although you could give it a go and see who else needs to remember their brain!

The hash tags are created literally by typing them in, enabling anyone to create or use them. Twitter merely recognises the # key as a search method.

You can click on a hash tag in a tweet, or you can search twitter in the search box. Give it a go, search for #wwmoob to see the couple of tweets I have made using the hash tag.

In Hootsuite you can create a stream to search for a keyword. Why not set up a stream that shows only tweets with our hash tag #wwmoob ?


    I posted a short quote on our facebook group:

    ''The consequences of not registering a trade mark can be devastating for a brand, if someone else applies for your name they can stop you using it. Angels will be unlikely to risk their hard-earned cash with a business that has no protection whatsoever. Many businesses mistakenly think that having their business name registered at Companies House provides them with protection. It doesn’t, and neither does owning the internet domain or their Limited Company name.''

    I was quite surprised at the attention this received with my fellow wonderful women. It seems this is an area that many of us need to explore further.

    Now, I am no expert. But before I get all of my cosmetics made and shipped over, I wanted to make sure no one could come along and stop  me using my name, or stop me selling my product.

    I headed over to and read their guides. It seems that many people believe that having a limited company (and therefore being registered at Companies House) or owning a domain name is enough to lay claim to their business name. This is simply not true. I suppose it up to you to decide how important your branding is to you.

    I adore my name, and found it hard to believe no one else had used it yet, but I hadn't found anything. I own the domain, and would hate for someone else to trademark it and then demand I stop using it.

    So I bit the bullet and applied to the IPO to trademark it. You can use lawyers, as it can be a complicated area, depending on what you sell, and your name, but I need to keep costs down. It costs £200 to file it yourself.

    You have to decide what 'class' your product or service will come under, and each class costs an additional £50. However it does say you may not be able to add to this later, I'm sure there must be ways to do this, but not sure! As I said I'm no expert.

    You submit the payment, and they then search their databases, to see if any trademark exists with the same, or similar, name exists. If they accept that your name seems clear it gets published in their journal and there is two months for anyone to challenge it. If no challenge is made, the trademark is yours. The £200 is paying for the searching, so if it is rejected at any point you do not get a refund.

    I had the good news today that they have had a clear search, and they will be publishing it in their journal, so I now have the two month wait.

    Also remember that this only covers the UK, and to cover other areas is quite costly and complicated. If you need to cover areas, I would imagine a lawyer would be a good idea.

    So it may be something to look into, even if you decide you don't need to do it.

    Inspirational Women - Angelique Houtkamp

                           Read my interview with Angelique Houtkamp here!

    She raises some interesting points:

    • Remember to treat customers the way you would hope to be treated by businesses. If you manage to always do that you can't go wrong!
    • Are men more ambitious than women? Is this due to nature or nurture? Angelique has never felt that being a woman has stood in her way.
    • Talent is not enough. She even goes as far to say it is 20% talent, and 80% hardwork.
    • You need to diversify your skills - being good at one thing is rarely enough.
    • Read around - educate yourself in the world of business.