Bloom and Grow - Online growth and sustainability course (6 months)

Bloom and Grow Goes Global!

Are you a woman running a small business which has been impacted by the pandemic? 

Then we have some good news!

Pandemic problems

We don’t need to tell you that the pandemic has been hard on all of us who run small businesses and not-for-profit organisations.

Many of us had a crash-course in online tools and those who were able to, adapted to working online. Whilst it was not perfect, it had its positives and we learnt some good lessons.

One of the learning points for us was, by delivering our work via Zoom, we reached a much wider audience. We were delighted that women were able to join us from far and wide.  In fact, many women have asked us to continue delivering some of our work online, as it saves travel time, and is just very convenient for some.

So, that got us thinking. Our inclusive, female-focussed, peer-based employment and enterprise training is pretty unusual. We are often asked to run our courses elsewhere in the country, but we simply have not had the resources to do it. By adapting our work the way we did during the lockdown, it helped us to realise that we could, in fact, deliver our programmes on a global basis. All without any of us leaving the comfort of our home or office.

Accessible business training

And so, our business growth and sustainability programme, Bloom and Grow, is launching as an online course in October. 

Making courses like this available digitally is so important right now. It will help to support the recovery and resilience of female-led businesses, particularly because during lock-down, so many women took on the roles of homeschooling and caring duties. This meant that there was little time or energy left for their own business. 

We’re very happy that running our Bloom and Grow course online makes it accessible to female business owners who are:


* unable to travel/reach Lancashire & Cumbria
* living outside of North West England and the UK
* looking to create sustainable growth post-COVID19
* looking to gain all the benefits without the travel
* enjoy the business benefits of a highly-subsidised business education programme!


⁠While life is still so unpredictable it means we can provide:


* Sustainable post-COVID19 business education
* Peer support for business development and growth
* Accountability 

All while working from where you are. And even better still, as part of our commitment to support economic recovery, we have significantly reduced the price. 

⁠This course helps you to focus on your business growth and sustainability as we navigate our way through this strange new time.  

For full details and to apply for a place today on the online Bloom and  Grow course, just click this link.

If you would like to read about the impact that our business growth course has had on other women running small businesses, please take a look at our blogs.

TGC_MENTORING_FLYER2020_1

Peer-to-Peer Mentoring for Women in Business

It’s widely recognised that women thrive from mentoring and therefore mentoring is recommended as a strategy in supporting recovery and long-term sustainability for women in business and leadership. However, most mentoring offered is short-term, only around 12-hours and in reality, finding a mentor that understands you, is not always easy.

We have an innovative programme available which is designed to provide skilled, peer-mentors for 12 women, for a non-hierarchical, longer-term mentoring relationship. 

The Growing Club was originally set up because the founding director, Jane Binnion, had been disappointed in the quality of business mentors available. She knew as a woman, a single mum and a carer, that peer-to-peer mentoring was what she needed: someone who understood her, who she could talk to and who and would challenge and support her. Yet, she was unable to find exactly what she was looking for.

Since 2016, The Growing Club has been delivering peer work, via action learning and buddy schemes, within supportive groups where every person’s contribution matters. In 2018, we trained our first group of mentors to support female start-ups for three years, because we knew that to be really beneficial, mentoring should ideally be a longer-term relationship.

We know that mentoring works, and we know that non-hierarchical mentoring, between two equal parties, is hugely successful when both parties are fully committed. And we know that to build women’s confidence and resilience muscles, we need to create longer-term relationships, where trust can be built for those difficult conversations. 

In May this year, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, we wrote about women being left behind in business support. For so many, home-schooling and caring responsibilities were left to women. 

We called for ring-fencing of funding to support those women, to recognise the important role that they played and to enable them to catch up, and bring their business back up to speed. 

And with that in mind, we are delighted that, as part of the Lancaster City Council COVID Recovery and Resilience Programme, we have funding to train 12 women as peer-mentors. This means that 12 local women running small businesses will benefit from both being trained as a mentor and receive a monthly mentor session – for two years, and longer of course, if they choose.

All participants will be put through a 20-hour programme (plus homework) to give them the skills and experience to mentor and be mentored by a peer, to support their business for growth and sustainability.

The course starts on September 14th and is open to any women in the Lancaster and Morecambe area who has been running a business, in any sector, for at least three years, and has business growth aspirations.

This funded programme is for you, if you:

 are a woman running a small business in Lancaster District

 have been trading for at least 3 years

 would value having a mentor

 want to support other women’s business growth

 can commit to working as a peer mentor for 2 years.

 understand the importance of mentoring as a tool of empowerment

Priority will be given to women whose business has been negatively impacted by the pandemic.

The course will initially be online and the trainers are Jane Binnion and Paul Aisthorpe. 

The nature of this initiative – to build resilience – means that it is a two-year commitment. As places are limited, we reserve the right to charge the full price of the training for participants who do not complete the programme. After all, reliability is a key requirement for a mentor!

Interested? Contact Jane@thegrowingclub.co.uk for the application form.

Additionally, if you have been running your business for at least one year, and have fallen through the net in terms of government financial support, you may be eligible to receive a funded place on our business growth and sustainability programme. Apply via this link or for more information drop Jane a message at the above email address.  

the sowing club, realise your business, women in business, business and enterprise, funded courses, lancashire, cumbria

Sowing The Seeds for Business in Morecambe

We are really excited to be offering once again, a fully-funded six-week skills training course for women in the Morecambe area, starting on the 15 January 2020.

‘The Sowing Club’ course has been funded by the European Union’s Social Fund. The course will benefit women who are currently searching for a job, in further education or self-employment and who fit into any of the following categories: 

  • in low-paid work
  • in receipt of benefits
  • suffer long-term ill-health
  • a lone parent
  • a carer
  • leaving a domestic violence situation

Our training sessions are provided in small and supportive group settings – we know this method gets the best results for you. We will be covering confidence building, how to maximise your existing skills, benefiting from support systems, problem-solving and how to plan for future opportunities. 

The founding Director of The Growing Club, Jane Binnion, says:

“We have just finished the first course which ran at the Women and Enterprise Hub in Lancaster, and the results amazed even us. Women have said their experience was life-changing and everyone felt much more confident and focused on their future. It is fantastic what just 15 hours of good attention in small groups can achieve.”

Jane Binnion

A previous attendee of The Sowing Club said:

“The Sowing Club has been useful to meet women with a tremendous passion for life, brilliant creative ideas and an attitude that will shape a great future for every one of us. Gaining support, being positive and overcoming adversity has been the main themes, and I have benefited from the collective knowledge and input. 

“I have particularly benefited from the moral support, and challenges to think and speak positively about the future; to be creative; to get on with it. To believe I can do it. I have benefited from being encouraged about my own ideas and from the positivity in the room.

“I think the continued surrounding support of The Sowing Club women will be vital to encourage and build my confidence.”

You can find the link to register for the upcoming course here.

Handy information 

When?

From Wednesday 15 January (The Spring course begins on Tuesday 18 February 2020 at the Women and Enterprise Hub, White Cross Business Park, Lancaster.)

Where?

Stanley’s Community Centre, 78-83 Stanley Road, Heysham, Morecambe, LA3 1UT

Time?

10.00hrs-12.30hrs

Any other questions?

Contact us! Jane or Lisa at The Growing Club would love to help. Call 01524 383846, text 07892 712417 or email admin @thegrowingclub.co.uk

Healthy Biz

Learn How to Have​ a ‘Healthy You, Healthy Biz’ With The Growing Club!’

Healthy You, Healthy Biz

Last week, we received a grant from Sport England, to fund a brand-new project: fitness and relaxation for women running small businesses. 

Women and fitness is not a new concept of course, and there are many examples of initiatives aimed at getting women and girls to take up sports.

But here at The Growing Club, we are focussing specifically on women business owners. 

Why? 

We help women to set up and grow sustainable businesses. We’ve worked with over 300 women so far, but time and time again, the thing that we see which blocks sustainability is the lack of self-care. Whilst for many women running smaller organisations self-care is seen as a bit of a luxury, the reality is self-care is essential, because if you are a sole trader, what happens to the business if you become unwell?

Recently, a question was put to women in business on a Facebook group, asking: what stops women taking care of themselves? The answers were sobering:

  • Feeling guilty about taking a day off.
  • Fear of failing, I push myself harder than I probably should, no downtime and rarely a day off.
  • Lack of being able to switch off and totally relax.
  • Fear of failure. Constant anxiety and a lot of my family are negative about my idea o feels an uphill battle.
  • Switching off even on holidays and days off, it’s hard to ignore your phone. I have fibromyalgia, so every day is a challenge. I think I push myself too hard, so I can allow myself to give in to it.

All of these issues are down to women still doing the double shift: working full time and still carrying the biggest share of domestic tasks. This obviously impacts women who own micro-businesses more, as they are less likely to be able to afford help at home, such as a cleaner, nanny etc.

Not addressing this will mean we do not address the rate of failure amongst women small business owners.  And this sums up why many women feel they have to quit business…“The reason I gave up was because I never had downtime. I never felt I could refuse a call.”

Illness

But it’s a bigger issue than that even. We have seen a very disturbing trend when it comes to women’s health, with a significant increase in strokes, heart attacks, diabetes and an all-time record high of burnout. 

It was shocking to discover that each year, twice as many women die of a stroke than breast cancer – did you know that? And the risk of stroke is a third higher for women in stressful jobs, because we eat fast food, self-medicate, stop exercising and pile the weight on. Heart disease kills six times as many women than breast cancer every year. In the UK, an average of 65 women per day dies of heart disease.

The crazy thing about those statistics is that we could really reduce those figures with some simple lifestyle changes. And that is what our course, Healthy You, Healthy Biz is all about. 

We all know the clichés: put your own oxygen mask on first; you can’t pour from an empty cup…and so on.

We know it, but we don’t act on it and in fact, self-care becomes just another stick to beat ourselves with, as we try to relax slumped and exhausted on the sofa with a glass of wine and bar of chocolate, mindlessly scrolling Facebook.

How?

The aim of our initiative is to use The Growing Club ethos that women have come to trust: peer support, buddying and creating a safe space, to work together as a group on our eight-session course. 

Healthy You, Healthy Biz is designed so that women are able to incorporate some form of exercise into their daily or weekly routine so we are making it accessible with no fancy equipment required…think cans of baked beans rather than dumbbells!

We’ll be using a pick-and-mix exercise programme, which includes dance, strength work, walking, yoga and Pilates. But because we have found women are unable to relax, we are also adding simple meditation and self-massage. We believe that if we can learn to relax, we are more likely to be able to jump off that never-ceasing hamster wheel and make time for ourselves generally.

Sharanya Sekaram wrote

“It was a courageous act that started with acknowledging that they had needs, that their needs were important, and that those needs deserved to be met.” 

Sharanya Sekaram

This is not an easy process, but our work is all about addressing the hard stuff.

The first course started on Friday October 18th in Lancaster and is proving to be a huge success. The next course is in Morecambe and starts Monday January 13th. You can book on that course here.

There will then be two more courses at different locations with varying days and times, to make it as accessible to as many women running small enterprises as possible.

For more information, please email jane@thegrowingclub.co.uk or call Jane on 07521 314926

The Growing Club CIC is a social enterprise based in Lancaster designing and delivering enterprise skills courses for women.

crafty women, the growing club, katie birks branding & design, branding workshop

Crafty Women Heading Back to Morecambe!

We’re delighted to announce, that in conjunction with The Smallwood Trust and Morecambe’s socially-conscious design brand, Textile Candy, we will once again be offering a popular craft and design skills training course held in Morecambe.

Beginning on the 12 April 2019, Crafty Women is an eight-session weekly course, providing a unique opportunity for women crafters and makers to develop the skills and confidence to start their own ventures, with support and guidance from business trainers and women already successfully running their own design and craft businesses.

Crafty Women is a fully-funded course for local women who are in receipt of benefits or low pay and is run over eight weekly sessions at Textile Candy.

Sessions will focus around market research, getting serious about money, marketing, sales, branding and will include workshops such as social media, photography and using global handmade online marketplace, Etsy, as a sales tool.

The Growing Club has been running for three years, and we’ve seen over 60 women from across the north west graduate from the business training course and upwards of 160 women taking part our courses, which also have expanded.

Through business training and research carried out by The Growing Club, our founder and  director, Jane Binnion, has discovered many inequalities and gaps for women in business, especially in start-ups. 

Jane says: 

“When starting out in business, women will largely focus on areas where they feel most comfortable, but with the right support, they will grow. There are more than 1,000 women on out-of-work benefits in the Lancaster district and an unrecorded number of women that do not show on the statistics. In this latter case, they tend to be women who are considered unavailable for work due to being, for example, carers.

“Our courses provide bespoke training to bridge gaps in business education for women, whilst providing a strong peer support network, enabling women to run sustainable businesses.”

Crafty Women_The Growing Club
Karen receiving her Crafty Women Graduation Certificate from business trainer, Jane Binnion.

The first Crafty Womencourse concluded at the end of March 2019, and was a positive experience for everyone who attended. Feedback from the training highlighted significant benefits from women who completed the course, ranging from improvement in their health and wellbeing after attending the training, to improving self-employment outlook.

One course attendee had previously felt alienated from the world of work, due to being a woman over 50. Following the training, she talked about her experience:

“I really enjoyed taking part in the Crafty Women course. I hadn’t worked for some time because of health problems and as part of my rehabilitation from illness, I took up sewing, which really helped my recovery.

“I didn’t want to go back to the same work area, so I decided to take part in the Crafty Women training course.

“I found the course was comprehensive and covered so much in the way of content. From branding, costings, photography, right through to how social media can be applied to maximise sales – the training was broken down into achievable tasks and I learned so much. 

“I have gained confidence and skills, alongside reassurance from women who are already running their own successful businesses. It was incredibly encouraging to receive support at this level. 

“I previously I felt there would be limitedpotential for women over 50 in the workplace, due to society’s views on older workers. This course has given me hope and self-value and I’d highly recommend it.”

Some women who completed the course have progressed to join the social enterprise’s women in micro-manufacturing group and one woman has also enrolled in The Growing Club’s business growth programme.  

Places are still available for this exceptional training opportunity. Applications are particularly welcomed from the the west end of Morecambe area.

If you’d like more information on the The Growing Club and how to register, please contact us on either admin@thegrowingclub.co.uk or call 07892 712417.

The course dates for Crafty Womenare:

Friday April 12th
Tuesday April 16th (not the Friday as it’s a holiday)
Friday April 26th
Friday May 3rd
Friday May 10th
Friday May 17th
Friday May 24th
Friday May 31st

*Please note this course is now full: spaces are available for the next course – Crafty Women 3, beginning in June*

The session times run from 10.00hrs to 12.30hrs

*Main image courtesy of Ginny Koppenhol Photography.

the growing club, trainers, bloom and grow, growth, women and enterprise hub, lancashire, cumbria

North West Women in Business: Do you need us?!

The Growing Club is growing once more! From Spring 2019, we’re delighted to be able to offer our business growth training course in additional locations.

Women in business! Are you looking to grow your businesses in a sustainable way, complete with peer-support and a full programme of unique training methods?

If so, you can now access our growth programme in three locations: Preston, Lancaster and Kendal.

The Growing Club is an award-winning, 12-month business growth programme, created especially for women who are running their own small businesses.

Unusually, The Growing Club benefits from being highly subsidised, which means you can access this programme for a reduced cost to yourself – just £395 for a year instead of the full price of £1200.

Benefits of Training with The Growing Club

• A supportive network of 10 women business owners
• Monthly facilitated sessions
• Regular inspiring guest speakers
• Accountability partners
• Action-based learning
• Peer support
• 1:1 coaching session
• Systematic process of growth
• Emotional support
• Confidence building
• Confidential space
• Workbook

Now you can access this unique business growth opportunity in three locations, starting in Spring 2019.

Why not try before you buy? We have created a short taster session in each location, where you can see what we have to offer you and your business, as well as taking part in a seminar on 6 of The Best Ways we Sabotage Ourselves in Business and how The Growing Club programme addresses these issues with real solutions.

Preston

Our Preston programme is run by Judith Loughlin and Jane Binnion. Their taster course will be held on Tuesday 5 March 2019, 10.00-12.00hrs, The Larder in Preston. You can book tickets here.

Lancaster

The programme in Lancaster is facilitated by Katie Birks and Nicola Garrett. The taster session is on Wednesday 6 March at 13.30-15.00hrs at The Women and Enterprise Hub, White Cross. Book your ticket here. For more information, call 07892 712417.

South Lakes

The South Lakes growth programme is run by Jennie Edmondson. She’s holding a taster session on Thursday 14 March 2019, 10.00-11.30hrs, at Castle Street Community Centre in Kendal. You can book a ticket here.

Any questions? We’d love to talk to you about The Growing Club and how it can help you grow your business. Drop us an email at admin@thegrowingclub.co.uk or fill in the contact form here and we’ll get back to you.