Every small business wants to be noticed. Every link, connection, conversation and email can help to build a brand and establish a loyal following in support of start-up mums.
I have had so much support over the past few months from so many women, and it feels like a great time to share my experiences as it’s one hundred years since women over thirty were given the right to vote. There is still such a long way to go to ensure equality is a given, not a request, but it made me think about how many women have taken that opportunity to use their vote, their voice and their actions to do things for themselves and their family, with start-ups being one example. In one hundred years, women have gone from being able to vote for the political party they want to run their country to being the driving force behind injecting £7.2 billion in the UK economy! Who'll run the world? Just ask Beyonce.
Despite having the determination, courage and mind-set to run a small business, sometimes it can feel like a lonely and isolating career. You can’t share too much information at the start of the journey as you’re waiting for registered rights, and then you have to walk a fine line between making contacts yet not wanting to appear like a leech, sucking free advice. This is where having that network of supportive women in business is a lifeline. This is where the link to the suffragette movement comes in. Their actions, bravery and sacrifice have enabled us to achieve our dreams and goals as women, but the striking point to remember is that they did not do it alone. They supported the cause together.
One image that has always stayed with me since learning about the suffragettes many, many years ago was a picture of a Scottish march. Not only were there women in solidarity - supporting the argument that women should have a recognised voice - but there was a little girl in the picture too. As a mother, this image has continued to have a profound effect on me as it reminds me that our children learn by what they see us do. Of course, children have their own unique personalities and they will make their own decisions in life which are not based on what we did right or wrong, but I do believe that what we model through our actions can have consequences. This is why I often think of that little girl in the Scottish picture. She was part of a movement that would free her generation from being voiceless, controlled and oppressed. She was part of a movement that would begin discussions about women’s roles. She was part of a movement that saw women gather in numbers to create the loudest voice possible for the greatest effect: the vote.
I want my daughter to see the power that women have and the ways in which they work together to spread that power. The support I have had on my start up journey from other women has been wonderful. I have made links to manufacturers, been given details from the Lullaby Trust which resulted in being shortlisted for the Baby Products Association Awards 2018, and have been helped with aspects of business that helped me to avoid costly mistakes.
With so many stories about how women are often pitted against each other, I wanted to share this blog about how the business women in my life (some I haven’t even met, but they have been cyber angels) have helped me to build my business and make my ambition to create a better life achievable. Elspeth, founder of the amazing Yummikeys, has given no end of support and advice, and the lovely founders and members of MIBA and Mums Enterprise Roadshow have provided plenty of support and technical tips. If we support each other, we are helping ourselves too as mum-run businesses are a growing commodity, one that we can all help each other to share in.
I’m now off to repay the support I have received by helping a new start-up mum trade mark her business name. I did that part alone and it took a while so hopefully I can now help to make the process quicker for her. What I find amazing is that women had to fight for a voice only one hundred years ago. Fight to be heard. Fight to be respected. Fight to be involved in the governance of their own country. Thanks to the suffragette movement, we can use our business voices to help other women gain a foot up and ensure we all have the right to achieve, excel and succeed.