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entrepreneur buddies?

(27 Posts)
breadandbutterfly Wed 01-Jun-11 22:55:25

I'm a lonely entrepreneur - running my own business, about to get bigger I think and may need to take on more staff but currently working on my lonesome most of the time. Have zillions of ideas and n-one to bounce them off most of the time; OH can only take so much of an evening. smile

Are there any others out there in a similar boat? I'm a money-making entrepreneur at the moment because I need to be to pay the bills, but ideally I'd like to be a social entrepreneur. In fact, I realised that part of the reason I don't make more money is because I have very strong principles about not underpaying/ripping off staff/customers hence hard to make a profit. blush

I'd love to hear about anyone else's experiences.

joshandjamie Tue 07-Jun-11 17:16:03

You know, I was just thinking about this today. I currently run my own business but am in the process of selling it. I don't know what I want to do next, but I do know this:

1. it's hard not having someone to brainstorm with or share ideas with or just get another perspective

2. I know that I am good at doing all those things because clients have repeatedly told me that

So I was wondering whether there wasn't a business in that, where people pay to have someone to talk to - to act as their virtual team member that they can turn to when they need a second opinion. I know it's not the same as chatting to fellow entrepreneurs at a networking event, but it would be someone who would be concentrating on your business and helping you come up with ideas.

I wonder if that would work. Hmmm. <goes off to ponder>

Helenagrace Wed 08-Jun-11 12:42:42

It can be lonely I agree! I run three businesses and have another one in the pipeline. I'd love to find a group where you could network without being sold to - you know a chance to have a coffee (even a virtual coffee) and chat about ideas and challenges without having to listen to someone else's pitch.

I've been doing the NWDA's entrepreneurship programme over the last year and we've had action learning sets as part of that. It's been fantastic to turn up with a problem challenge and share it with other business owners in different sectors and have them help you find a way through it. My group has just finished and there's no more funding.

There's definitely a gap in the market...

breadandbutterfly Wed 08-Jun-11 23:53:02

What's the NWDA? Love the replies - put one idea into a self-employed forum and instantly you have a niche that needs filling! I know, my brain is the same these days... smile

Anyone techy fancy creating a chilled self-employed/entrepreneur chat space (possibly women only)? Maybe there is a great one out there already - if so, do let us know.

Until then, happy to mark this thread as Virtual Water Cooler of the moment...

mranchovy Thu 09-Jun-11 17:52:44

Do the UK Business Forums not suit?

If not, is it just the fact that there are adverts that you don't like, or do the (usually fairly restrained) sales pitch replies also put you off?

mranchovy Thu 09-Jun-11 17:53:57

(NWDA presumably North West Development Agency which, like all the RDAs is scheduled for closure in April 2012)

breadandbutterfly Thu 09-Jun-11 23:19:29

mranchovy - Thinking more moochy chat than 'how do I find an accountant' type chat.

Currently I need to either run an ideas agency or have a crew of hundreds of mionions. I keep thinking of what appear to be briiliant ideas but have no time to apply any of them. Possibly they're all pants; it would be lovely to feel part of a milieu too, in a professional sense as entrepreneuring can be rather lonely. And as it might inject a welcome dose of reality into my brilliant ideas.

Does everyone else feel endlessly inspired? Does anyone else feel guilty about making a profit?

joshandjamie Fri 10-Jun-11 06:22:23

breadandbutterfly - where are you based? I'm in West Berks. I would happily have a chat about ideas. I also seem to have lots of them - but I guess the ideas are the easy bit, putting them into practice and turning a profit is the challenge.

In one and a half months I will have worked out my handover period with the buyer of my business and then I will be free to do anything I want. It's quite a daunting prospect - all I know is PR and marketing but I now know how to run a business and have lots of useful contacts. I guess it will be a case of finding the right thing for me at the right time. I do know it will never be going to work for someone else again.

Helenagrace Fri 10-Jun-11 11:43:09

Sorry NWDA is North West Development Agency.

Breadandbutterfly yes I am constantly thinking of new ideas and lack the expertise to get them off the ground as they're in completely different fields.

I don't feel guilty making a profit but I am involved with a number of social enterprises and coach staff at my ds's school for free. I get other rewards from that.

Loving the idea of a virtual water cooler!

breadandbutterfly Fri 10-Jun-11 18:31:09

Thanks for replies. I'm in S Herts.

Ideally I'd like to run/be involved in social enterprises, as I'd be much happier. I contemplated turning my growing business into a cooperative rather than me taking on extra staff, but, aside from the fact I need the money! you have problems of quality control unless you're doing this with people you already know well, in which case ou'd be ripping off the customers...

It's hard being a socialist capitalist... wink Sigh.

slalomsuki Fri 10-Jun-11 22:51:22

I support entrepreneurs in a free non executive director sort of way in the west midlands at the moment. I am a sort of "bounce ideas off" person for them and then question and suggest to them. It's out of interest and a spin off from my other job at a university. I have about 30 SME's at various stages at the moment.

Don't know if that helps anybody.

bettythebuilder Sat 11-Jun-11 18:16:32

Yes, me too! I run my business on my own from home, and also find it rather isolated- it's frustrating that I have to find solutions to every problem, come up with ideas for sales, marketing, PR, new products, accounts, etc etc!!
Like you, breadandbutterfly, there's only so much of my wittering that dh can put up with smile

I've recently joined a local womens networking group that meets once a month, and I'm enjoying getting out and chatting to others in the same boat. A good thing for me is that you pay per evening, there are no monthly/yearly fees (dh works shifts, and due to childcare I can't make every meeting)

There's also a forum on the Mumsclub website that I've been a member of for a while, lots of business mums on there and it's not as scary as UKBF- you feel that you can ask questions that may be a bit daft without being laughed at!

TalkinPeace2 Sat 11-Jun-11 19:03:28

There is a lot more to UKBF than just the likes of Anchovy and I comparing CT software!

and have you joined any of the professional groups on Linkedin?

breadandbutterfly Sat 11-Jun-11 23:02:14

No, be gentle with me - I've been an amateurish lone operator so still trying to get my head round everything I need to know!

Good tips, betty - I'll have a look at your links. Glad I'm not the only one who feels like this. I am hoping to expand in Sept, so getting my head round what's involved now, whilst still working largely full-time and lookking after 3 kids (who are on half-term this week). So felling a tad overwhelmed at the moment with information overload. Plus a billion more ideas...

How have others who've taken on new staff for the first time found it? Like the other thread on here, I worry about them potentially nicking some/all of my business, plus the headache of payroll etc. But thee's no way I can or wish to do it all myself - I'm not that much of a workaholic and am, after all doing this for a better life for my family, not one in which I never see them... So I'm trying to grow sloooowly...

Sorry, just venting. How does everyone else cope? smile

Watersign76 Sun 12-Jun-11 11:49:19


As Helenagrace mentions there are Action Learning Sets/networks like you are describing for the business world, but less so for the entrepreneural world. It probably comes down to money sad Plus I also wonder if there is a small issue of competition etc if you meet locally. I just know that I am a member of FSB, and there is lots of chat on their LinkedIn groups about lack of real sharing - the sorts of thing you are talking about - but I think the issue is that other members aren't prepared to demonstrate they have challenges/weaknesses in front of what could be an audience of potential clients...

On that note, you could always have 2 accounts on UKBusiness Forums, one more anon one for numpty questions and one in your business name if you are looking to promote yourself as a helpful/knowledgable person. I did, and I am glad, as I found somebody rather aggressive on their and I am glad he didn't know who I am.

I think you are looking something that is already set up, but you could always look to set one up yourself? That will take time and making connections if you don't have them, but I have met lots of people locally who are setting up their own networking events - different objective obviously - but if it doesn't exist...there is a opportunity!

Or I have used business coaches previously in my employed life. I I have paid £000 per session, but you might be able to find somebody locally that is cheaper. You might find paying for a service helps you focus?

If you are interested in Soc Ent in the future, if you don't already maybe sign up to various e-newsletters for the following Soc Ent focused orgs and follow on Twitter if you are on there:

Also I wanted to share this I follow Rob on Twitter. He is a consultant, but seems to have Soc Ent advising sewn up in Leeds! He mentioned his Circle of Friends evening, which struck a cord with what you are looking for, maybe a model for you?

Anyway, cannot offer anything on taking on staff.

Good luck.

breadandbutterfly Sun 12-Jun-11 12:58:15

Wow, thanks, loads of info and ideas... Will have a look at them amidst nit-combing... Grr. The kind of thing I definitely cannot mention on a 'proper' business forum!

andreaberlin Wed 22-Jun-11 14:12:43

Message deleted

MarthaS Sun 17-Jul-11 20:56:51

I also constantly have business ideas but lack the confidence to put them into practice without an objective sounding board. I have also had this idea in my head for a while about an online community for mums to propose business ideas and have other mums comment on them and give them feedback/new ideas etc. So many people seem to be in the same boat and want to set up their own business but it's sometimes easier to get this sort of input from strangers than loved ones who have different "agendas". It would also be a way of matching people up with others who have skills that can help them with their businesses or even find business partners. Does anyone know of any forum that does similar to this?

ralfann Tue 26-Jul-11 11:21:56

sorry for picking up this lead a little late, but here is my contribution if it can help - breadandbutterfly, to go back to your original message:
1- good for you for going for it
2- like you, I always have a zillion ideas, the challenge is to sort quickly through what is realistic at the time (ie: I have a great idea for an ad campaign - realisticly, it will have to wait until I have the budget for it)
3- re staff & ethic - whilst I totally agree with you that having good ethics as an employeur is paramount to recruit & retain staff, it also has to make sense in your overall business plan. I think if you "go by the book", you will not be underpaying, ripping off etc.. You must establish what the appropriate rate of pay for a job is and also establish what your employee is expected to do for that wage- This is a two way street: you have to be a fair employer, however your team must also be productive - so you may occasionally have to be tough-
It is in theory it is a great idea to offer generous wages and lots of benefits, but as you mention, may not make sense for your bottom line. I think more importantly, as you are wanting to get bigger, being open and sharing with your team, where you are going, how you are planning your growth, involving them in the growth might be more beneficial - Your team would feel involved and part of something exciting, a business that is developping, in time, you may be able to offer wage increase, bonuses, extra benefits...
4-bouncing ideas off someone - I am a bit in the same boat, but I have come to the following conclusions :
- if you bounce off friends, they may tell you what you want to hear or not understand what you are doing
- if you want to bounce off professionals, you may have to pay for the services or (here comes my paranoia) be very careful as your idea may be pinched
- one very good solution may be a mentor - up in Scotland, via scottish enterprise we can put a request in and they can match us with an appropriate experienced mentor. this may be the way to go.

mpb123 Tue 26-Jul-11 16:28:33

Hi everyone,

I recently launched Mum Plus Business. It's a free online service for mothers to help them form business partnerships with other local mums.

Please have a look at

I hope this is helpful for you smile


mpb123 Tue 26-Jul-11 16:32:07


I thought you might be interested in the following:

I recently launched a free online service for mothers to help them form business partnerships with other local mothers. We also offer advice, support and inspiration for mums interested in setting up their own businesses.

The website can be used in one of 2 ways:
1. If you already have an idea or a business and you are looking for a suitable mother to join you,
2. If you do not yet have a business idea but have an interest in a particular sector you can search and find a suitable partner to team up with.

For example we have recently had a member post that she runs an online maternity shop and is seeking another mum to help market her business. Hopefully another mother will find this post appealing and make contact through our secure internal messaging system.

The website is If you are one the first 1000 members you will also automatically be entered into our prize draw.

I hope you find this information useful smile

mpb123 Tue 26-Jul-11 16:33:54

Oh sorry I accidently posyed twice. Hope the information is useful for all of you! smile

mranchovy Tue 26-Jul-11 19:24:10

In what way does this comply with the Equality Act 2010?

mranchovy Tue 26-Jul-11 19:42:33

Or the E-commerce Regulations 2002?

JennySense Fri 29-Jul-11 19:32:46

Last year I was feeling much the same, needing mentoring, sounding board etc so I invested in a Mastermind group. Every 3 months I meet up with about 15-20 other entrepreneurs with our business coach/mentor and work on my business.
I also have calls lead by the mentor almost every week for an hour, online training, a private forum, and private 1-2-1 mentoring phone calls too. Also a daily buddy I speak to almost every day for a couple of mins about what I'm doing with the bizz.

It's not for everyone, but it's helped me to grow my business very quickly while making strong connections with other entrepreneurs.

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