Small Business Support Blog

If you are interested in reading about how to get your business visible online, with regular insights into being an entrepreneur and navigating your way through the business world, then this blog is for you!

We regularly post interesting articles on topics on leadership, management and visibility - with guest articles and features from experts in their field.

If you are interested in collaborating and would like to do a guest feature then please email [email protected] 

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  1. #ReasonsIstarted

    Maxine mua

    Foreword from Pamela...

    #ReasonsIstarted - I wanted to create a series of posts that tell the stories of entrepreneurs and why they started their businesses, not just to be able to showcase the incredible talents of business owners who are disrupting markets and generating awesome ideas, but to provide inspiration to anyone thinking about starting their own entrepreneurial journey (or actually anyone thinking of giving up!) 

    The next in the series comes from serial entrepreneur Maxine Wilson MUA, serial entrepreneur, who started her career as a solicitor!

    From family law to making family memories - my journey to owning my dream business!

    Hi everyone, I am so thrilled to be featured on Worsley Creative’s #ReasonsIStarted blog. I am an award winning bridal hair and makeup artist based in Oxfordshire. 

    I specialise in creating naturally glamorous hair and makeup for brides who want to look - and feel - like themselves on their wedding day. I love showing women just how beautiful they are! Using tiny ‘corrective’ techniques which don’t get noticed, I balance features, perfect the shapes of eyes and emphasise lips  - all without making the bride feel uncomfortable because that that they are caked in makeup. I also provide makeup lessons and special event hair and makeup.

    However, I have a past life…! I used to be a solicitor specialising in divorce and family law. Yes, divorces to wedding hair and makeup artist, I am aware of the irony!

    I was a straight A student at school; off to Sheffield University to read Geography, then on to the College of Law for the Graduate Diploma in Law and Legal Practice Course (I have a BA and an LLB thanks very much). I was a qualified solicitor by the time I was 25 and chose to specialise in family law. It was a hard slog, but at the time I felt that it was worth it. 

    I quickly came to realise that I was a square peg in a round hole. I was too commercially aware and too interested in having a work life balance to fit neatly into the overworked junior lawyer box. I moved to a couple of other firms to try and find a home and ultimately became head of a family law department. When I got married, I realised that I couldn’t keep working like this, and more importantly, I didn’t want to. 

    Whilst on our honeymoon, with some much needed distance from day to day life, I knew I needed an exit plan. I couldn’t keep going the way that I was especially with the prospect of starting a family on the horizon. Sitting on a beach in New Zealand, my new husband asked, “have you thought about wedding hair and makeup? You love that stuff…” And like that, a lightbulb went on in my head. I was booked in for one to one makeup artist training before we came home!

    Maxine Wilson Female Entrepreneur

     

    That was in early 2016 and my business - and life - has gone from strength to strength. I didn’t return to my law role when my eldest was born. I didn’t need to - my business brought in more income than my legal role, especially once nursery fees were factored in!

    I feel like running my own business is what I was meant to do. I choose my hours and, to a certain extent, the clients with whom I would like to work. I can prioritise my children (I have two little ones born only eighteen months apart!) where I need to and have been able to be the stay at home mum that I dreamed of being without compromising on my business ambitions. 

    Having said that, it is bloody hard work. Balancing home life (running a house, organising the children - and my husband) and keeping my business thriving is tough. It is a fine line between surviving and thriving when you are self employed. This is especially true in the wedding industry which, even in a good year, is quite feast and famine due to the traditional summer wedding season. 

    maxine wilson mentor

     

    This year of course, thanks to Coronavirus, we have not enjoyed the expected wedding season.  My fully booked diary has completely moved to 2021 - meaning that I am essentially earning one year’s income over the course of two years. I will have to work more dates than I would wish to next year to make up the shortfall. Financially and emotionally, this has been difficult to swallow, not least as the government’s Self Employed Income Support Scheme  has not taken into account two maternity leaves in calculating the support to which I am entitled.

    However, from every cloud, a silver lining emerges. I have been able to diversify and I now support and mentor other women who want to start their own businesses, or want to be more successful in their businesses in order to leave their 9-5 jobs. I also help other hair and makeup artists to run more effective businesses by leading workshops on time management, CRM systems and client contracts. I am shortly launching templates for hair and makeup artists to improve the efficacy of their processes, contracts and systems. Finally I am now the facebook community manager for Kristina Gasperas Academy

     

    maxine wilson

     

    While the effects of coronavirus are the biggest of the #reasonsIstarted, I am really proud of having had financial success in a global pandemic! I am also really proud to be showing my children that making money isn’t the only way to be successful. 

    If escaping law was the reason I started my first business, and covid was the reason I diversified, the freedom to design my own life has been the reason I have continued. Carving out my own niche gives me immense pleasure and pride. It is exhausting, but so so worth it. I work hard to invest in my knowledge, skills and visibility, which is how I found Pamela and the SEO Beautiful Online Visibility group which has really helped me with getting to grips with my website and not fearing the tech! Through investing in myslef with memberships like Pamela's, and other entrepreneurial groups I have been able to diversify my income - and that Stripe payment ‘ping’ never gets old!

     

    Find out more about Maxine by visiting www.maxinewilson.co.uk

  2. #ReasonsIstarted

    Maya, Sustainer Container

    Foreword from Pamela...

    #ReasonsIstarted - I wanted to create a series of posts that tell the stories of entrepreneurs and why they started their businesses, not just to be able to showcase the incredible talents of business owners who are disrupting markets and generating awesome ideas, but to provide inspiration to anyone thinking about starting their own entrepreneurial journey (or actaully anyone thinking of giving up!) 

    The first in the series comes from student entrepreneur Maya Vertigans, who runs Sustainer Container - an innovative gifting business with a difference...

     

    From a Passion for the Planet to a Sustainable Gift Shop - starting a business with a social cause.

    2020 has been… quite a year and definitely not the year many of us had imagined. However, global lockdown has had its environmental benefits, with lower pollution levels helping to bring better air quality. The result of this is that we have seen the potential for a newer, greener world, without fossil fuel industries. The pause brought by the pandemic created potential for real environmental change in the new normal that we adopt, and an opportunity to change how our world is run, to alleviate climate change. 

     

    The 2020 lockdown has accelerated the passion for environmental change that has been growing throughout the last few years, partly due to the Blue Planet effect. As a result, we have seen the rise of the Ecopreneur and businesses being set up with an environmental focus. In April 2020, I launched such a business, Sustainer Container - a sustainable products and gifts shop

    Everything Eco Box

    Starting a Sustainable Gift Shop

    Since starting high school I have wanted to run my own business. At 13, I did work experience in a local farm shop and cafe to see how businesses are run. Then at 14, I started selling Avon in my mums name and running my little business from home. When the time came to leave school, I still had this desire to start a business but had no idea what kind of business I wanted to start. To give me more options, I headed off to Edinburgh University to study Sociology for 4 years. 

    Whilst studying at university, I became more aware of climate change and the fact that by 2030, climate change could be IRREVERSIBLE! I became passionate about doing everything I could to help the planet. As I was beginning my final year at university, my younger sister was starting as a fresher. My sister is a self-proclaimed eco warrior and my family and I were looking to get her a gift to help her to live sustainably whilst at university. However, we found nothing that met the needs of a student and the idea for Sustainer Container was born. 

    I soon got in touch with the university entrepreneur service. Through this service, I worked on my idea with a business advisor and attended business skills workshops to help me launch my start-up. Quickly, I felt like I was ready to go and make Sustainer Container a reality. However, my business advisor warned that with businesses that are rooted in a passion for a cause, it is easy to be so passionate that you plough ahead without conducting the necessary research. Taking this advice, I spoke with fellow students and visited the eco committee at my old school, to speak to young people about the eco friendly and sustainable products that they wanted. Conducting this initial market research helped me to select the best environmentally friendly products and gifts for students. Additionally, I was able to narrow down my business USP as providing affordable boxes of eco friendly and sustainable products, with the boxes being available for less than it costs to buy the products individually. With the aim of making sustainability more affordable, particularly for young people. 

    In December 2019, I entered a university business ideas competition and much to my surprise, came third! Being awarded third place gave me a massive confidence boost and for the first time, I felt like starting my sustainable gift shop could really be possible. The competition prize was £200 and having spent several months researching the best environmentally friendly gifts and products for the planet, I used the prize money to put together a prototype box to conduct further research. 

    Following this, I decided that initially, I would trial selling my eco friendly and sustainable products at markets and signed up to several markets in April and May. A global pandemic put a stop to this and instead, I took the more difficult route of going online with my sustainable gift shop. Unlike the vegan and environment themed markets I had signed up to attend, where my ideal customer would have been right there, finding my ideal client online has not been so easy. 

    Communicating to my ideal client about the best environmentally friendly gifts and products

    As awareness of climate change has increased, as has the number of environmentally focused businesses and this is becoming an increasingly saturated market. Despite knowing my ideal client to be young people or people buying gifts for young people, initially starting my website I found it difficult to have the confidence to niche down to really appeal to my target market. Struggling to find my ideal clients online, in June I joined Pamela’s SEO Beautiful Community Group and since then I have loved learning all about SEO and online visibility and have even managed to code some parts of my website! 

    Sustainable University Student Box Products

    Despite my passion for the environment, communicating that I offer the best environmentally friendly gifts and products for students has, at times, been challenging. My goal is to make sustainable living as affordable as possible, but unfortunately eco friendly and sustainable products are currently more expensive than the non-sustainable alternative. However, this is because the eco friendly and sustainable products are made from high quality, sustainable materials and are long-lasting, so could actually save you money buying repeated single-use items in the long run. Communicating this has become an integral part of my messaging and is something I continue to work on, in order to convince young people that eco friendly and sustainable products are worth the initial investment. 

    What is next for my eco friendly and sustainable products business?

    Starting an eco conscious business and graduating during a global pandemic has been a whirlwind. As a fledgeling business, I know I still have lots of work to do to grow my business and help as many young people start their eco warrior journey as possible. With the graduate job market being pretty dire (and by dire I mean there are 0 jobs), I have decided to take the plunge and work full-time on Sustainer Container, my sustainable gift shop, for the time being. Although going full-time at such an early stage is definitely stressful at times, I am grateful to be able to spend my time doing something I love and helping to create positive environmental change. 

    Find out more about Maya and her eco-warrior mission at www.sustainercontainer.co.uk