So I have become a market trader but business and exposure to customers is slow on a Friday at Shambles Market, Stroud. Could just be the time of year…. so to keep the ball rolling I sought out opportunities to expose my new business through networking. Luckily there were two events soon after each other. The first was a monthly meeting of the Stroud Businesswomens Network, SBN, so I phoned the chairperson to express my interest and was given some useful information but also told to practice a 10 sec introduction. 10 seconds…… crikey… you can’t say much but I did it on the day! (some of the other Ladies weren’t so concise and were prompted to end.) So what did I get from attending?
Firstly, while there hadn’t been that much opportunity to tell as many people as I would have liked about my new business during the actual networking time, the best opportunity came before the start of the event when people were arriving and we were introducing ourselves then. So my advice is get to any meetings like this early. Most of your successful networking can be achieved then. It is very good advice to practise selling your business (not in just 10 secs) but in about 2 minutes and I knew I got better at this for the 2nd networking event I attended a few days later with a very different audience. I am now a fully paid member of SBN and look forward to making more contacts next time. What it did expose me to was the sorts of questions people would ask about the business. Quite specific ones and all of them have been seeking free advise which I was happy to supply. It’s quite easy as they have been about how they can get their ovens clean….. bicarb and white vinegar works wonders…… (That’s the eco-friendly cleaning side of my business).
Secondly, I did get one member contacting me afterwards with useful info and I followed up on finding out how to get an editorial in my local paper.
I found out about the 2nd networking event from my local paper. Free lunch and being held just a few minutes walk away from my home. I booked my place as the advert said to do and on the day found myself mixing with 5 Valleys Chamber of Commerce members. I went with an aim to get views from people, (mostly men) about what I was setting out to achieve for my business and the ways I intended doing this and got very positive encouragement and best wishes. The downside was that there was little time to network afterwards and so I was restricted to only talking to those people I met before the start of the event and those sat at my table. (pot luck really). I did recognise a few people in the room as they were also parents of children at the same school as my son, but generally the room was filled with grey suited middle-aged men; accountants, architects, bankers etc. I was wearing the brightest red dress! (In my past career I got used to being the only women at meetings…)
I came away from that event rather chuffed with myself and was even stopped outside and asked for my business contact details so they could advertise my cleaning services. I’ve got a few follow-up actions to do as the guest speaker made a few suggestions when I spoke to her before the start, about contacting someone in her organisation, Business Link, to let them know about the Health and Well-being scheme I have devised for businesses. This scheme gives access to staff to the eco-friendly products I distribute through the co-operative company Wikaniko and would cost a company less than £600 annually. Each month a lucky member of staff would be given £40 to spend on the eco-products (either more practical items like total degradable plastic bags and then the health beneficial ones like luxury shower gels and shampoos and skin creams.) It would also mean that other members of staff could purchase products through the scheme at any time at wholesale prices.
On the downside, the info provided by the guest speaker about business development opportunities was rather bleak. The government is concentrating on helping those companies able to expand more than 20% year on year. I do have my sights set on employing 5 people by the Summer and expanding to 20 next year… so maybe I might fit the criteria then. There is not a lot of funding for start-up businesses and resources are stopping with support transferring to private companies. With just an initial small amount of money I could ge this business off the ground much quicker as I have to rely on my own efforts to do everything. I need a website, I want to create T&Cs, put editorials together etc and do more marketing activities. It’s frustrating that this would cost no more than a few thousand pounds. I am reluctant to go into debt so I am relying on my own judgements that my plan of attack will eventually make a break through!
So far so good, I have definitely progressed the business as I am clearer about what I want to do, but I still don’t have any clients…….. That’s what I’ll be aiming to achieve over the next month, so until I write again have a good March. (Wish me luck as I have also taken up playing rugby this year , with my eldest daughter, and we have our first friendly match tomorrow… will spend today watching the experts, England. I’m fullback, small but a runner and she’s number 4 as she’s tall and strong and beautiful!)
Back to business…If you are interested in eco-products at excellent prices have a look at www.wendygoesgreen.co.uk or you want to become a distributor, contact me on 07766712506 or maybe you want to set up your own eco-friendly cleaning services, then get in touch. You can learn from my experiences.
Wendy – wendygoesgreen