As an experienced business information consultant, publisher with my extensive network of contacts, I am able to advise clients about a range of opportunities available for developing their business. I offer practical solutions to business challenges by researching for global solutions to individual and local issues. Many countries like the USA for instance, have more established networks and business sectors which the UK and other European countries are still trying to develop. Researching, networking and staying on top of business trends are the necessary tools for forward thinking businesses. I specialise in promoting and introducing female business networks to mainstream networks; which add a new diverse clientele to the mix, new perspectives and new opportunities for growth.
In addition to being an experienced sole director of my own businesses, I am also the CEO of 2 CICs, one of which was setup in 2017. I am experienced in setting CICs and can support new community projects and groups (especially Parent Carer Forums) to form a structure that supports their community aspirations. I can create a development plan and help groups avoid the pitfalls from first hand experience with the correct documentation and policies, as well advise on funding opportunities, and signpost to appropriate specialist tax advisers for community organisations/social enterprises.
BUSINESS START-UP COACHING
I have coached many aspiring female and male entrepreneurs into self employment from idea and brainstorming stage to fully fledged registered businesses. Many people have a preconception that business is reserved for a particular type of person. Sometimes self-employment and business ownership is quite simply a solution to living the life you truly want because it can afford you the flexibility and quality of life that you desire. For some it may be the only option as other avenues of employment may not be possible or sustainable. Why wait for someone to start a business so that you can be offered a job; when you can start your own business and give yourself the job and role that is created by you and for you? Its not always easy to start a business but the democratisation of the internet and web tools is making it easier for many more people to start almost any kind of business, almost anywhere and with often very little money. Nevertheless, hard work and dedication is always a major part of the equation, and along with that, having just the right practical information to remove that stumbling block can be the difference between success and failure or simply giving up altogether. By far the most common result of clients pushing through the endless lists of things to do for the business start-up or community project is increased confidence and a new sense of empowerment.
Sometimes, the issue with business start up or new community projects is the limiting perspectives of its founders. Clients often lack confidence in themselves or have not been exposed to enough like minded or successful people to build the resilience needed to tackle roadblocks. Some clients will take longer than others to push through their inner voice and insecurities before they launch their venture. Some need to be in a practical environment such volunteering in the sector they hope to develop their business or venture in. In a lot of these circumstances, that is just the right environment to foster the kind of confidence needed to encourage the founder to take the next step and find their own path to success.
In a community setting, clients have been referred to me to by professionals to support their understanding of local systems and navigating local government departments and working with professionals to achieve outcomes for families. In these circumstances, liaising between families and professionals, I have been able to decipher and translate information in layman’s terms to families, summarise the perspectives of families to professionals and find a solution that satisfies the needs of both parties. A knowledge of how local systems in governments work and their thresholds for provision, is paramount to understanding how to manage the expectations of the professionals and families in a meeting.
“Government derives its legitimacy from the consent of the governed. Consent is only meaningful, when it is informed” (Edward Snowden)
Community participation and engagement is only meaningful when it is informed. I have been involved in community engagement, participation and co-production work since 2008 through the Aiming High for Disabled Children initiative. It required me to work with professionals, leaders of local and national organisations in the SEND sector including key decision makers in the Department of Education. My experience as one the founding members of the local parent carer forum coupled with my business education and experience has allowed me to see challenges from a more practical and solution orientated perspective. I bring my business expertise to community engagement and project development. In particular, understanding what motivates local people to ‘get involved’, ‘have their say’ and ‘take part’ is complex and specific to the outcome required. Understanding that it is a two-way relationship is the beginning of implementing successful strategies for feedback and qualitative data. My experience includes recruiting volunteers and motivating them to support a projects, to be involved in expert panels and strategic planning. Ensuring that their needs and motivation for taking part is met and sustained is the way to maintaining their long term commitment. In addition, being sufficiently informed about the context in which their views are being solicited is paramount to acquiring quality data and continued involvement. Do local people want to sit in room full of professionals to talk about delivering a project when they dont have the background information or understand the framework that governs what they are trying to achieve? The common result when there is a concerted effort to share information that allows local people to sit at the ‘grown ups table’ to talk about policy and contribute their expertise, is as before, increased confidence that they are valued, their skills are relevant and sought by key decision makers. My team and I have become adept at giving many local people the tools to empowerment by simply giving them the opportunity to share what they already know with key decision makers. In most cases, local projects are better executed, to a required budget and in a timely manner, when there is near equal collaboration, decision making power, and responsibilities taken jointly by local people and staff/officers equally. Both sides of perspectives are required to ensure a local project satisfies its strategic objectives and serves the client group the project is catering for.
The local parent carer forum, Harrow Parent Forum (formerly Harrow Parents 4 Disabled Children) was and is in effect a project funded (annually) by the DfE for the last 12 years. Just like all the all the other local parent carer forums (PCFs), the premise was that a parent-led group liaises with local government in each borough and county in the UK, to bring about change in SEND services by taking part in the strategic planning that leads to the improvement of services. In many cases that is the desired and achieved outcome, however, in reality it is a complex undertaking by most voluntary part-time parent carers already heavily burdened by their caring duties. There many reason why some PCFs succeed even for a short period of time when others don’t. My experience as one of the original founding members since 2008 is a testament to the my level of commitment to the project and the lessons learnt. As such I have been able to develop many creative solutions to support families and professionals in my charing and secretarial role, including event management of drop-ins and regular face-to-face networking opportunities. Please see my ‘Achievements’ list for more details. Many new community organisations, charities, and businesses have grown out of the this ongoing and decade long relationship between the PCFs and the DfE. Other project management successes that is about to manifest itself soon is the Cedars Inclusive and All-Ability Adventure Playground which is going to be the first in the local area.
The experience gained from having had personal relationships with many local government departments has allowed me to understand their processes and perspectives. As such when advocating for a family, I am able to support the families’ understanding of the what is required and liaise with professionals in a manner conducive to productive outcomes. Many times, conflict presents itself, when families dont understand the tight thresholds of certain departments and professionals don’t have the foresight to lay the right foundations for families to foster successful communication. The result is both parties are not on the same page about the problem presenting itself. My role then, is to guide the families when necessary but allowing them to express their wishes to professionals in their own way. One of the ways this has been successfully facilitated is the development of ‘My special Needs File’; which affords the family the tools to adequately prepare for meetings, and professionals are able to quickly capture the needs of families from the same filing system put in place. We are currently in development phase of this tool and in addition hope to develop a web based version that can be securely accessed by both parties.
As a self published author and graphic designer, I offer turn key solutions for printed materials for communication. Whether that’s helping aspiring entrepreneurs develop their brand with personalise stationery to researching, designing and managing the distribution of printed brochures, booklets and newsletters. Printed material is often for some a precursor to online research and as such it is important to understand how to effectively communicate to your client group and reach your audience with the right materials. This requires a wide range and use of media applications. To successful engage with local community groups who have a wide range of experience and proficiency of using web based applications means you have to assume some have little or no access or use of the internet. Not understanding the needs of all the members of your client group would then lead to excluding some from taking part and depriving them of further involvement. This will create an imbalance in the representation of your total audience and skewed data.
It has been necessary to liaise with many deparmtents, key decision makers and families in my community work. In my business networks, my research for my clients and my directory has lead me to form new connections with both aspiring, established entrepreneurs and businesses. It is the foundation and basis for the ongoing development of my business and of others. Creating successful connections between people and the community is one of the pillars of my work that is self sustaining, as people will always need to work with others to achieve a desired goal. It is an important business skillset and necessary in both business and in the community/third sector