Sunday, March 04, 2007

Building a business

On Friday I went to a Women in Business networking event at Gartmore House. It was a chance for women who own businesses within Loch Lomond National Park to get together and chat with the aim of making new connections to help each other's businesses. I went along really without thinking about it.

I am busy busy at the moment so I could only stay for the morning so perhaps I am being unfair. However - I came away feeling slightly insulted and thinking that what the event was desperately in need of was some men.

Why is it acceptable to have women only networking groups? Why is it thought to be a good thing for the women's businesses to segregate them? I have far more in common with a man owning a pharmecutical mail order business than I do with a woman who makes cards in her spare time.

I went along because I am at a stage in the business where I am desperately in need of a mentor, there are so many things that I don't know that I need to be able to chat with people who are more established and knowlegable than I am. It was a complete waste of time from that point of view.

I suppose that the "women only" thing is a kind of positive discrimination, that there is a thought that women won't speak up in mixed company. Well honestly - if you are the type of women who is going to be frightened off by men, then you are never going to make a go of a business.

Why the heck do we have to be coddled like this? Does anyone else find it insulting?


Primrose Hill said...

Have only been to one of these networking things once and couldn't really stay very long either. It was down at STEP but was mixed as far as I can remember, a bit of a get together for all of the recent start up courses I think. I have been asked recently to go along to the Perthshire womens meeting so I should really make the effort. Like you, I find it a lot easier talking to men about the business, sometimes I can feel quite intimidated by other women in business. I have a couple of good friends who I turn to whenever I'm in a bit of a tizz about things or need to talk over ideas - both of them are men!

Charlotte said...

Hi Jane, if it wasn't for me not finding a babysitter for Muray (then later finding out by my sister that there was a creche on) I would have met you on Friday. I agree with you. You don't hear of Men only entreprise groups do you. I think men can give good advice about business that only men can give. Having spoken to alot of people about different aspects of my business, I feel its the men who make the most sense so for advice purposes I'd rather speak to a guy. Yes we need our fellow women for keeping us going on the arty/ crafty idea side of things, but when it comes to the boring/important stuff, men are definately the ones to keep us on track! Hope all is well and can't wait to see the website!

carolyn said...

Not exactly insulting but I do find it rather odd that for years women have campaigned for equality and then they opt for "women in business" seminars etc. Business is not a gender thing, I mean there are eg. male florists and female bosses of haulage firms so why segregate the sexes?

Jane said...

I didn't mean to suggest that I think only men have good advice to give - just that by segregating the women you downgrade the events (and many of the more established businesswomen do not attend for that reason) and it is as though we were trying to do business with one hand tied behind our backs.
Start up businesses are almost 50% women - we should celebrate that but not in a segregated way.

Tracy said...

We have quite a few of these meetings throughout the year in my area, and i know that lots of the small buisnesses around here attend. But to be honest - they really make me feel a little uneasy! Like you i feel that i need some form of guidance to move my buisness on but it has to be from the right person - and they are hard to find. I wish you luck with your search.
Tracy x

Heather said...

Jane (and Tracy too)

I don't understand why you aren't talking to your Accountants. If you haven't got one - you should have - if your accountant doesn't routinely help you/ mentor your business as part of your deal with him/her - then get another one.

Check out Tax Blagger - because its a good indicator of what services you should be able to get from your accountant as the mentor you seem to want.

Networking won't do it for you - and besides - those at these efforts are fishing for business - if you and your business have reached a stage where you need more help - then now is the time to talk - they shouldn't be just about your self assessment - but business building as part of your general package price - and it should be part and parcel of the deal you strike with them.

Tax Blagger will answer generic questions and give you clues about what you should be talking to your accountant about - if you want to ask him


Jane said...

Its not so much the financial side that needs mentoring - though I accept that that is an issue and has to underpin everything.

Ideally what I would like is say Tim Smit allowing me to have conversations about the future, about how the business can fly. I need someone with courage and vision. (and no I'm not saying that accountants don't have courage and vision)

I feel that I have a tendency to be too pedestrian, to worry about being overwhelmed. And it really has to be someone who has done it themselves, not just encouraging friends and family.

Anonymous said...

You might want to try the Scottish Leadership Foundation. I'm not sure if they charge a large fee but my understanding is that they can find you a mentor of the calibre and mettle you think you need. Perhaps then, the 'division of the sexes' might not be perpetuated. Some of the women only networking events are like a Tory wives lunch club (just my experience)....or the WI???