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Okay, what do you get when you take 200 or so Mumsnetters; leading experts from the world of business, media, marketing, fashion, retail, including co-founders of Mumsnet themselves, Carrie Longton and Justine Roberts; a few goody bags; lots of teas and coffee; and lots of inspirational tips, advice and reassuring wisdom? The first ever Mumsnet Workfest event, sponsored by Barclays, of course!
We spent the day talking to Mumsnetters, listening to fantastic speakers and grabbing them for a chat, so we could give you a taster of the brainpower and brilliant advice flying around on the day.
Take a look at some of the things we picked up
- How do you do it all?
- Mottos that work from women in business
- How to build a winning CV
- Be confident!
- Overheard at Workfest
- Quick questions with marketing guru Geoff Ramm
- Taking the plunge
This was a question buzzing around the event all day, and one that the opening panel kicked off with some fantastic insight of their own. What was great to see though was the range of ways that these inspiring women were dealing with just that.
Co-founder of Mumsnet, Justine Roberts explained to the delegates, "There isn't a dividing line between my work life and home life." Adding, "I get shouted at home, then I come in to work and get shouted at there too. And I do my fair share of shouting at both too! It's a meld – but I love it!"
On the other hand, Katie Powell, founder of Mammajeanius was very strict! "You need to have discipline. When you're working, you work. When you're with the children, you have to be with them." That's simply how she gets things done.
Gemma Payne, founder of Molly Moo and Jessica Too does it differently again, "I do my best work after midnight when the children are asleep. I fit it around my children." She explained, before adding, "However you do it, you have to celebrate every success."
Kate Hardcastle, Tesco Enterprising Mum of the Year summed it up later in the day when she said, "Make a wishlist – you won't get 10 out of 10 on your family list, or 10 out of 10 on your work list, but you have to be flexible. You don't have to set yourself huge targets – do what's right for you."
Editor-in-chief of Elle, Lorraine Candy described how she had to negotiate extremely hard to ensure she leaves the office each day at five o'clock, because it was essential to her to put her children to bed herself, but she was quick to remind us that everyone has to decide what they need to make it work, "We have to be very careful not to criticise women who are doing it differently."
When it comes to working out how to juggle work and home life, the one thing all the speakers agreed on was that you can't do it alone. Ask for help, wherever you can. As Thomasina Miers, the owner of the hugely successful Wahaca restaurants said, "It almost always feels totally cringe-worthy, but it's so worth it. Find people who complement your weaknesses and work with them. Build a support network around you."
- "Find something you're good at, and do something good with it." Karen Lynch, CEO of Belu
- "Be professional. Be careful what you say, what you write and how you present yourselves." Gemma Payne, founder of Molly Moo and Jessica Too
- "Build your confidence by helping other people." Kate Hardcastle, Tesco Enterprising Mum of the Year
- "You have to have in your head, 'I have value' – you have something to offer, you must ask for what you want." Lorraine Candy, Editor-in-chief of Elle
- "Be passionate. Be disciplined. Drive through your mistakes." Katie Powell, founder of Mammajeanius
- "Listen to people's advice, even if it's not what you wanted to hear." Carole Smillie, co-founder of DiaryDoll
- "Do not be afraid of failure. Build up your community of support – your friends and peers." Lynne Franks, founder of SEED
- "If you don't go in with passion and conviction, you have only yourself to blame!" Sarah Brinkley, Head of John O'Gaunt School
Marketing expert, Geoff Ramm gave his fantastic look at the world of marketing that really wows – complete with live brainstorming session! We grabbed him for a quick chat before he jumped on stage.
Q. So Geoff, why are events like this so important?
A. "This event was sold out! It's wanted and it's needed. You might not meet anybody, the sandwiches might be rubbish, but you'll pick something up, you always learn something new."
Q. What about the internet? Isn't that where people make connections nowadays?
A. "Social media is great and quick, but real connections happen in these rooms. You see online businesses coming to these events just as much as anyone else to make real life connections."
Q. What would you tell somebody just starting out in the world of business?
A. Get out there! You are your best promotion. You are better than any banner or stand, get out and spread the word."
Q. That sounds brave! How did you get started?
A. I started my business 12 years ago, the day after I was made redundant. I was made redundant on a Friday, started my business on a Saturday, then had to wait til the bank opened on Monday!
I have never come across anybody who said they wished they had started five years later – they all say the same thing! I wish I had started five years earlier! You never know where something like this could take you.
Q: One last tip for anyone getting ready to take the plunge?
A: Help other people. Don't always go looking for ways they can help you!
A quick tip from confidence-builders, Anna Morris and Alexa Kerr, First Focus Consultants:
"Follow the 7/38/55 rule! It's 7% what you say, 38% how you say it, 55% body language. Clear voice, eye contact, head up, shoulders back, no crossed arms or fidgety hands. And remember, the difference between 'try' and 'triumph' is a little 'oomph'!"
"Everything's hitting the spot today!"
"I can definitely run a business with a newborn at home…"
"Those ChocCards are brilliant. I need one for Father's Day tomorrow!"
"If you always say 'yes', what does your 'yes' become worth? There's far more value, if you know you can deliver on it."
"If the kids are at home, in two hours, I'll get ten minutes work done."
Advice from columnist and business guru, Heather McGregor
Keep it simple, stupid!
On average, a CV is read for 45 seconds, and only three key facts are taken away from it – ask someone (not a friend or partner) to read your CV, then turn it over and ask them what they remember about it afterwards – are they the most important things?
Use the interests section to help them get to know you
Don't just write "swimming, cycling, running", try to give a bit more detail – "I swim every morning, I'm training for a half marathon and I have just switched to a fixed gear bike".
Build up your human capital and social capital
Your human capital is things like your skillset, qualifications and current knowledge in your field. Your social capital is your network in your field. A good way to tackle both is by taking up teaching or training in your field – you keep on top of developments and you're meeting new people all the time.
Don't leave any gaps
If you've been on a career break, explain how you have been building up your social and human capital in that time.
Do not add unnecessary information to your CV
Your date of birth and family status are not appropriate. If you want to tell potential employers these details, do so in the interview – tell them you have children, but make sure you follow up with how you would organise childcare – don't leave them with any doubts about your commitment.
Treat your CV like a teenage daughter
It should never go anywhere alone! Your cover letter is equally important – use it as a way to expand on key points in your CV and make a really specific case for you getting the job you're going for
We were so excited to meet so many women who were looking to start their own venture, and the Barclays team were on hand to talk through their business ideas. We spoke to ethical clothing experts, would-be women's lifestyle editors, and finance fans, and as Laura Kemp from ChocCards put it, "It's inspiring seeing all these ladies in one room, full of ideas and brave enough to do it!
And the one key ingredient, according to the experts on the stage and off? Passion! As Justine Roberts reminded everyone, "If you're passionate about something, go for it!"
Get lots more start-up information and support at Barclays on Mumsnet, where you'll also find stories from Mumsnetters who have taken the plunge and never looked back.
And good luck with your new business; we can't wait to hear all about it!
Head to Barclays on Mumsnet for lots more:
Expert information on starting your own business
Family budgeting and saving tips
Money-saving videos and inspiring start-up videos
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