: I use them as I believe it provides the opportunity to learn and network with other women who can relate to where you are coming from. Saying that, there are advantages of networking within mixed groups as the wider world in which you do business is mixed.
RC: There is more of a relaxed atmosphere to talk about things other than business. This gives the opportunity to build social relationships instead of focusing on work issues all the time. However, networking in mixed groups can broaden your ideas and enable you to see things from a male and female perspective.
AF: I go to the Woman’s Place networking group of the ecademy web site (www.ecademy.com). It is usually a much more relaxed atmosphere, and talks are not so much about “what do you do” or sales pitches. It’s all less aggressive and more about people than about business, although it can mean you may not get the results you want.
KM: I have participated in a woman’s network in the past, but find mixed group networking equally as valuable and fun.
KG: At first male dominated networking groups intimidated me, but in reality the intimidation came from my own mind. Now I see all networking as a great opportunity to see the world through other people’s eyes.
YRA: Yes, but I’d have to say my inspiration and will comes from my mother who built a successful business, and mainly to God who gives me the much needed wisdom and direction.
RC: I have been inspired by female role models such as Jacqueline Gold and also those that started with nothing and built success.
AF: No, I wouldn’t dare compare myself to such a powerful person with a vision. I am just doing something that I love doing and try my best to make it a success.
KM: Friends and family gave me the courage, confidence and support I needed to start my own business. Along the way, I’ve attended talks by Sahar Hashemi of Coffee Republic and, Martha Lane Fox of Lastminute.com which have been very helpful - if they can do it, then I can do it too!
KG: I think great entrepreneurs, male and female are extremely inspiring. Especially when you read about the challenges people have overcome to succeed.
YRA: I would have to say no for me, so far.
RC: I think women handle situations differently. I have been able to evaluate situations and weigh up the pros and cons rather that jumping in. I think women have the ability to be multi-skilled (ironing and being on the phone at the same time!), which gives them an advantage in balancing work and life.
AF: Hmm, maybe. I find that my male customers are quite charming when they deal with me – drinks are on them! And my female customers bond with me and we treat each other like friends.
KM: I could play that card, but I’m not really that way inclined. I consider myself equal in business. When I win, it’ll be because of my determination, commitment and because I’m me.
KG: I guess I never really thought about my gender being an advantage before. However, on reflection I think women have great communication skills and this helps incredibly when dealing with clients.
YRA: They are doing quite a lot already, but could work more closely with woman at the grassroots who are aware of the needs of their local community.
RC: I would like to see more effort in encouraging women to visit schools/universities and speak about their businesses, hopefully encouraging other young women to startup.
AF: I really thrive on all sorts of mentor schemes and advisors. As a Prince’s Trust business, I have a personal mentor who I meet once a month. It would be nice if there was a web site where advisers advertise their services. I personally would choose a woman over a man to advise my business, and one day, I want to be able to hand over the knowledge I have gained to other women.
KM: I was in my 30s when I started Savvy Club, and found that I wasn’t eligible for grants or loans. Perhaps the Government could encourage women to start a business, with some kind of loan scheme for women aged 30 plus.
KG: I think they have already started to help women with childcare issues, but there’s still some way to go.
YRA: First, know yourself. Second, ensure you carry out a lot of research on what help is available to you.. And third, make use of the many women network organisations and support groups available.
RC: Get the advice and do not be afraid to ask for help. Start with a business plan and see what develops. Do your research on market and products. Be positive.
AF: With your natural tendency to be cautious, you are more likely to succeed than the boisterous other half of the world... And, while this is naughty to say, I believe that men in general find it easier to be confident about themselves and to communicate this. We still need to learn this, and while I think it is never nice to hear somebody tell how great they are, we need to find our own female way to communicate that we are indeed great.
KM: Consider the opportunities: the learning experience, the friendships which can be made, the knowledge that can be gained, the recognition and satisfaction of knowing that ‘you’ve done it’.
KG: Research is extremely important. Use your passion to help others and the income will take care of itself. Most of all, believe in yourself and what you are doing or how can you expect others to?