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

    The Soldersmith

    Foreword from Pamela

    This series of amazing stories from fiercely feminine entrepreneurs documents the journey of some inspirational women who have founded and built incredible brands. These are stories of reinvention, stories of unlocking creativity and pivoting during the pandemic and managing adversity to demonstrate their passion and commitment to building a future legacy.

    In this latest installment we hear from Alison from The Soldersmith - who turned her passion for silversmithing into a successful business creating statement silver jewellery...

    The reason I started The Soldersmith

    I’ve been inspired throughout my life by the bold statement jewellery so often worn by confident, charismatic women.  I was fortunate enough to have been surrounded by women like that as I grew up – my mother, Sue and two of my Great Aunts, Jean and Mermy, in particular.  Wearing bold, statement, designer jewellery was as natural to them as brushing their teeth every day.

    In my teenage years I spent all my money (hard-earned at a part-time job in a supermarket café) on brash costume jewellery from the high street.  Looking back, I can see that I thought that anything large, unusual and bold must mean that I was as classy as Mum, Mermy and Jean.  I swung through the 1980s like I was Madonna in my distasteful jewellery and weird fashion choices.

    When the film ‘Working Girl’ was released though, everything changed.  I was a secretary at the time and Tess’s story resonated with me for that reason alone.  When Kathryn Parker told Tess that she might want to “rethink” the jewellery, I immediately toned my collection down.  I was Tess and I was going to be successful, so the jewellery and big hair had to go.

    Fast forward to my forties and I realized that I still wasn’t happy buying all my jewellery from the high street.  It just never quite felt like ‘me’, despite some lovely bits and pieces I’d collected over the years.  I worked in London and began to see that quality jewellery came from places like Garrard, Tiffany, Boodles – essentially places I could never hope to be able to afford. 

    In a bid to find another way, I took a bead jewellery-making course in Islington and made a drawerful of fairly mediocre earrings.  I got increasingly bored with the limits of my making ability, but couldn’t be bothered to learn more.  Everyone else seemed to be doing it too, but they were so much more talented than me, so I soon gave up trying – much to my family’s relief (the bead earring gifts stopped!).

    I moved out of London in 2004 and met my husband Nic, in 2006.  We were married in 2008 and that same year I spotted an advertisement for a one-day ‘Make a Silver Ring’ course at the Local Adult Education centre.  I signed up primarily for something different to do, but then spent an amazing day beginning to learn how to move silver around.  I came away with a simple band, but it was the start of me achieving the designs I’d always admired and wanted.

    I signed up for weekly Silversmithing classes at the Adult Ed centre and started learning the basics.  After a couple of years a new tutor arrived – Stuart Jenkins.  Stuart is a jeweller by trade and I can honestly say that he is the reason I pursued Silversmithing further.  I walked away from his classes each week with a new skill/piece of information.  He’s a legend!

    Nic and I moved to a house with a large garden in 2013.  He built us a studio at the top of the garden – he’s a keen Ceramicist, so the plan was to share the space.  But he’s been so busy with work and with the renovation of our house, that clay has never seen the inside of the space.  For that reason, we plan to extend my half of the studio to fully encompass the entire space this Summer, which I’m very excited about.

    I dabbled in jewellery-making and sold a few pieces to friends and family, but it wasn’t until one of my best friends said that she thought I should set-up a business properly that I considered it.  I took the plunge and started ‘The Soldersmith’ in 2018 and have been pouring my heart and soul into it ever since.

    My designs are raw, bold and unconventional.  Someone recently described them as organic, which I love.  It’s not pretty or dainty, but I believe there is beauty in the boldness and I am obsessed with silver.  Every piece is handmade by me.  I build from scratch which means that even if you buy 2 pairs of earrings made in the same way, to the same design, they will still have nuances that make them unique. 

    Fortunately, Silversmithing is a largely recyclable process – I collect any pieces of scrap and sweepings from the bench into a pot as I work and use that to make new pendants and rings. The Moon pendants are a good example of this.

    Moon Pendant

    For me, the process of making jewellery is all about having fun.  I love to experiment.  I don’t always work from drawings, mainly because I’m impatient and want to try and make the piece immediately.  I get the idea in my head and adapt things as I work, so a lot of my jewellery really comes from that place of imagination and solution-finding, rather than pre-planned ideas, although the DNA of every piece is The Soldersmith’s.

    I finally now feel as though I’m producing the jewellery I’ve been looking for all my life and it’s my interpretation of the pieces I so admired when I was younger, made from precious metal. 

    It’s taken me a while to find my groove, in terms of my branding and set-up, but Pamela’s SEO Privilege Group has been amazingly helpful for that.  I had no idea about SEO before I started, but I’ve implemented lot into my website and it’s really made a difference to understand what happens ‘behind the scenes’.  I gain so much from being a part of the group too.  Just knowing that we’re all cheering each other on from the sidelines, is wonderful.

    2020 was supposed to be a big year for the The Soldersmith and I had 6 major fairs booked.  All were cancelled due to the pandemic, which was a blow, as the year turned out to be for so many other small businesses.  However, 2021 is starting to look promising with Spring in the air, lockdown easing in sight and fairs lining up.  My first fair is at the end of May, in Kent.   I’m also going to open my studio later in the year for half-day classes, where beginners can learn how to make their own ring or bangle.

    The Soldersmith Silver Ring

    I’m excited about the possibilities for The Soldersmith – my hopes and ambitions are high and the future is definitely looking positive!

  2. During 2016, it is estimated that 163 million women started or ran new businesses globally, that is on top of the 111 million female entrepreneurs who were already running businesses. More recently, over 66% of British people now have a side-hustle with more women than men starting a side hustle during lockdown. Plus, this year Whitney Wolf Herd also became the world’s youngest female self made billionaire after taking her dating company - Bumble - public in the US. It is clear that female entrepreneurs are on the rise and are making waves in the entrepreneurial community. As Theo Paphitis says - cash is king - and considering your finances is one of the most important aspects of running a business.

     Financial consideration for business women

    As a female entrepreneur, these are some of the financial considerations to keep in mind:

    • Creating your long-term plan
    • Structuring your Business and Finance Considerations
    • Cash Flow Management
    • Minimise Costs and Overheads
    • Investing Appropriately and Ethically

    Finance Considerations for Female Entrepreneurs - Creating your Long Term Plan

    Your finances as a female entrepreneur are like anything else in business, if you fail to plan then you plan to fail. It is important to spend time considering your long term plan, both for yourself and your business. Once you have established your long term goals, you can start to put together a plan for your business finances and work out how you can utilise your finances to help you achieve these long term goals. Your long term plan could include providing for your children or your retirement plan. This plan needs to link into your “why”, the reason you are in business. In addition to helping you manage your finances, creating this long term plan will also help you to stay motivated and focused, so that you can make decisions with your wider goals in mind. It could be worth speaking with a professional such as an Independent Financial Advisor who will be able to help you with the financial aspects of your long term plan.

    Financial planning for female entrepreneurs

    Finance Considerations for Female Entrepreneurs - Structuring your Business

    How you decide to structure your business is one of the biggest decisions you will make as a female entrepreneur. The structure you decide on for your business will affect how you are protected by the law, the tax rules that apply to your business and also any tax breaks that you can take advantage of.

    Sole Trader Vs Limited Company - Finance Considerations

    As a new woman entrepreneur, you may decide to start out as a sole trader. Being a sole trader is the most simple option, you are not required to file through Companies House, your accounts are completed annually through a tax return and you are not required to follow strict accounting practices.

    However, as your business grows and becomes more established, you may decide to move away from being a sole trader and instead become a limited company. One of the biggest disadvantages of being a sole trader is that you are personally accountable for your business liabilities and as you grow and scale your business, this may become increasingly risky and unsustainable. Whereas, you are not personally accountable for a limited company and if your business runs into problems, you will only lose the money that has been invested into your business. Additionally, as the business and profits grow, a limited company can also be more tax efficient than a sole trader.

    Finance Considerations for Female Entrepreneurs - Cash Flow Management

    It can be easy to get caught up in the daily grind of running your business as a female entrepreneur and delivering your product or service and cash flow management can be pushed to the bottom of your to-do-list. But collecting cash and paying bills and employee salaries are an important part of running a business, after all you need to be on top of your finances to know whether you are making a profit or not. It is therefore crucial that you track and monitor your business spending, you need to know where every single pound is coming from and going to.

    As part of cash flow management, as a female entrepreneur you should also try to maintain cash reserves. Having a savings plan (this can be included within your long term plan) can mean you are able to make major purchases without having to pay interest on a loan. Having cash reserves can also help your business to stay afloat during quieter months or if something unexpected happens which results in a loss of income. Good cash flow management and building cash reserves can help your business to weather the storms, so that you can continue doing what you love every day.

    Woman holding a "Like a Boss" mug

    Finance Considerations for Female Entrepreneurs - Minimising Costs and Overheads

    The next financial consideration for female entrepreneurs, after you have established good cash flow management and built your cash reserves, is to minimise your costs and overheads. Everything that you spend as a business reduces the profits you make. It is worth prioritising your overheads and considering whether a prospective purchase is the most cost effective option. Your costs and overheads is something that you can plan out in advance by making lists of your running expenses, any big ticket items such as office space or equipment and smaller purchases that the business will need e.g. stationery, packaging supplies etc. By planning these costs and expenses months in advance, you will not be caught off guard by large expenses, because you will have been able to account for these in your cash flow management.

    It can also be helpful to create a list or spreadsheet of your total projected incomes each month, you can then compare this with your predicted costs and overheads. This will help with your cash flow management, because you will be able to work out whether you will be making a sufficient profit. You will also be able to see in advance whether you need to increase your prices or make additional sales, in order to afford months where you have high expenditure.

    Finance Considerations for Female Entrepreneurs - Investing Appropriately and Ethically

    As a general rule, in business you need to invest (whether that is your time or your money) in order to make money - after all, if it was easy every woman would be an entrepreneur. Investing to help you grow and scale your business could include the purchase of equipment, new stock or renting an office space. These big ticket purchases and investments can be planned and prioritised for when managing your business cash flow.

    Hand holding a glass filled with coins with a plant growing out of the coins

    Ethical Investing for Female Entrepreneurs

    In addition to investing in big ticket purchases to help you to grow your business, you could also consider investing a proportion of your cash reserves into stocks, to help your money work harder. But it is worth considering your investments to ensure that you are investing your money inline with your business and personal values. Alongside making a healthy return, you are likely to also want to ensure that your investments are harming neither people nor the planet. For example, you may not want your investment to fund defence businesses, the oil and gas sector, mining, aerospace or tobacco companies to name a few.  To find out more about how you can make a return through ethical investment, have a look at this Ethical Investment Guide.

    Considering your Finances as a Woman in Business

    As a woman in business, your finances are one of the most important business considerations. The starting point when considering your finances is your long term plan - what are your long term goals for the future? Once you have established your goals, you can start putting together a plan for how you are going to get there. Keeping your long term goals in mind, next consider your business structure and any tax benefits that could be available to you. Another important financial consideration for female entrepreneurs is cash flow management and building up your cash reserves. In addition to this, try to minimise your business costs and overheads as these all eat away at your profit. Finally, you may wish to consider investing a proportion of your cash reserves into stocks in order to help your money to work harder for you. But, not all investment funds and stocks are created equal, so it is worth researching what your money will be funding and whether this is inline with your values.