Monthly Archives: March 2012

Urgent or Important

Meg Reid, co-ordinator for Suffolk and highly experienced coach, looks at what’s urgent and what’s important and why you need to know the difference!


I was listening to the radio when a sentence leapt out at me.

 “The important gives way to the urgent”

It’s so true. My coaching clients tell me that they feel they are always fire fighting- reacting to what comes at them rather than having space to think.

They get up intending to eat a healthy breakfast, talk calmly to their children, organise things to work smoothly at the office, get some exercise during the day and invite friends round in the evening.

The reality is that keys will have disappeared, deadlines be brought forward, inboxes and in trays will be overflowing. It will all seem so urgent. Breakfast will be eaten in the car, tempers will be frayed, exercise will be tapping the keyboard and you’re home too late to invite the friends.

When I used to run a theatre company Tim the technical stage manager of one theatre had a big notice on the door of his office “Your crisis is not my crisis” Tim was very helpful and efficient  until it was time for morning coffee, lunch or an afternoon tea break. Then no matter what terrible disaster we needed sorting, he would disappear.

The strange thing was that everything always got done anyway. The show always went up on time scenery, props, lights and sound effects working perfectly.

We’ll all die with a “to do” list. I’d rather that the things left on mine were some of those oh so urgent tasks not the things that are really important to me.

  • March 27, 2012

Worst Ice Breaker

Speaking to strangers should really be simpler shouldn’t it?

Yet when we see someone that we really want to say ‘hello’ to, inspiration nearly always fails us, and we end up reverting back to terrible conversational habits.

Let me give you an example.

Imagine a time that you really wanted to speak to a stranger: it could be someone you want to network with, a prospective customer who’s walked into your shop, the person who you end up sitting next to every day on the bus… but never quite managing to speak to.

Even if you manage to squeeze out a ‘hello’ you know it’s going to be followed, rather boringly, by the world’s worst ice breaker question:

“How are you?”

It’s so safe, so utterly predictable, so uninspiring! A bit like sweat pants really.

And also completely impossible to answer! I defy ANYONE to think up a good, succinct response to such a question. I mean do you say the automated response of ‘fine thanks’ (which is both untrue, and offers the other person in the conversation no material to respond to) or do you burst into tears, sigh deeply, or scream with joy, and tell them the whole story of how you’re really feeling (including your life history, details of your tangled love life and financial woes in the process)?

Hmm tough one.

I actually think it’s way better to be a lot more specific than this and give someone something specific to respond to. My logic is if you make it easy for a person to respond to you, then you’ll get better responses from them.

Along with people who work for the Inland Revenue, and traffic wardens, I’m also very suspicious of questions generally. They make you feel a bit put on the spot-no?

“What do you think about the Olympics then?”

Ha! I thought that would catch you out! Questions are also hard to answer when you’re not ready for them. Maybe if you had ten minutes to think about it, the ‘How are you?’, would be easier to answer. When you’re speaking to strangers though you don’t have ten minutes: you have to make them feel comfortable in the moment.

We do this by making specific ice breaker statements. Watch this video to learn a little more about my unique conversation kick starting system:


If you attended my talk for the BWN on Tuesday the 20th of March in Essex you will know there are tons more details that I just didn’t have time to squeeze in on the day.

To make sure I get to teach you the true secrets to negotiating low prices, effective networking, doubling your sales (or just winning an argument with your partner) I’m going to host a one off coffee morning event.

I usually only work on events in central London but to give you this fully interactive (that means some audience participation and real learning) seminar I’m going to come to your local area at a time that is convenient to your group in April. The day will be content packed, with take home exercises, and a really fun relaxed feel… plus I have a feeling attending is tax deductible!

Not only will I be hosting the event in your local area, Essex, at a time that is convenient for you to attend, I’ll also be offering tickets at a fraction of their normal cost: with none of the hassle of travelling into London.

So if you want to continue to improve your communication tactics, make more sales, learn negotiation tactics taught at the best Business Schools and have fun! Please send a paypal payment of £50 to by Saturday the 31st of March to secure your place.

I’ll look forward to seeing you again soon

Best wishes

Hayley Whittle

  • March 22, 2012

A brief guide to the 2012 budget

Lorraine Dale from Rightway Accounting Services has supplied us with this brief guide to the 2012 Budget 


I am sure budgets are getting more boring! There never seems to be anything truly revolutionary, and this budget is another case in point.

Welcome news is the increase in personal allowances which will benefit everyone and take a lot of people on low incomes out of the tax bracket. For 2012/13 this will be £8,105 and for 2013/14 it will go up to £9,205 – one of the biggest increases for some time!

Don’t forget though that if you are a higher rate tax payer, the threshold at which you will start to pay higher rate tax has fallen, so if your taxable income exceeds £34,371 you will now be into the 40% bracket.

Is this  Budget a serious case of granny bashing? It seems unfortunate that the age related personal allowances will be frozen, but with the personal allowance guaranteed to increase in due course up to £10,500 and with the increase in pension, this will not be as hard on pensioners as the press will have you believe.

More welcome news is the reduction in the main rate of Corporation Tax paid by companies from 26% to 22% by 2014. Although this does not affect the majority of very small companies who only pay CT at 20% anyway, this will be a big help to many of the slightly bigger and growing companies over the next couple of years.

Take special note that the level of turnover you need to reach before you register for VAT has increased from £73,000 to £77,000.

It seems to be a bit of a political gesture to reduce the highest tax rate from 50% to 45% from 2013, but hopefully this will revitalise the incentive to work harder without fear of 50% of your income being taken away if you do well.

If you were expecting a sudden wave of mansions for sale at a reduced price, then be disappointed as the increase in Stamp Duty Land Tax to 7% on properties worth over £2million takes effect from today. However this may mean that many properties originally valued at around that price will now choose to sell for less as this will only attract stamp duty at 5%. Keep your eyes open for a bargain!!!! 


This is of course just a summary of the some of the main points of the budget. Do contact Lorraine for more information or if you need clarity on any of the points.

  • March 22, 2012

Ten things you might not know about The Business Womans Network

Here are some things you might not know about The Business Womans Network

  1. The BWN had its first meeting in  March 2009 in a small cafe on Mersea Island.  It was born out of founder Mandie Holgate’s frustration that there was no local support just for women in business.
  2. Our first speaker was Lynette Allen,  an internationally renowned and recognised coach. She recently “returned” to us and spoke on being credible at a meeting at our Suffolk branch
  3. Our Suffolk branch is now run by Meg Reid  A professional coach for over a decade, Meg is a published writer and founder of the UK Coaching Partnership which trains personal and corporate coaches.
  4. Bridget Greenwood, our Norfolk co-ordinator  spent months making round trips of over 120 miles travelling down from Norwich to Colchester to attend BWN meetings as there was nothing like it in her area. She had such enthusiasm for The BWN that we decided to expand into Norwich. Bridget was the perfect person to run it.
  5.  It’s not just businesses we support. We have a strong sense of community and help charities – both national and local ones. Colchester Mind, LAM Action and Farleigh Hospice are just three of the charities we’ve helped.
  6. We raised around £5000 for  Farleigh Hospice by starring in a naked calendar. We could have organised a pamper evening or a skills bank, but a calendar seemed like more fun!
  7. Our Herts co-ordinator, Tina Walker,  is a Virtual Assistant which means day in day, she deals with a wide variety of businesses. Can you think of a better qualification for a BWN co-ordinator?
  8.  We really really understand marketing and social media. On google we rank higher than many older and bigger womens networking group and our IT fairy has been into social networking since the mid 90s. To put that into context, the Facebook guy hadn’t even finished high school then!
  9. We don’t believe in block outs or membership fees. OK, we know they exists but they have no place in the BWN. There’s no way that one accountant, web designer, coach, lawyer, PR agent, etc could handle all the businesses that come to The BWN, so we don’t have a silly rule that says only of each type of business can attend. 
  10. There are so many great things about the BWN, we now realise we need a longer list…..


  11. Two women were once at a different network “arguing” about who went to the best network. Each was convinced they were correct and they were – they both attended the BWN but hadn’t met until that day! 


  12. Even though there are no membership fees, we say that if you’ve been to a meeting or get our newsletter then you are member of The BWN 


  13. Speakers flock to us and ask to speak. And we only say yes to the best. Mary Keightley from Mind Associates ,  freelance writer, print and broadcast journalist Harriet Griffey and Alexandra Watson, The Happiness Coach(as seen on The X-Factor and in Good Housekeeping, Marie Claire, Eve, Psychologies, Now, The Independent, Daily Express) are three we were delighted to say yes to.


  14. Even though we’re a network for business women, we have male speakers too as to be the best we believe in learning from the best. Steve Clarke  (UK Sales and Marketing Mentor), Nick Looby (famous for his invisible powerpoint show) and Marcus Oakey  (The Charisma Coach) have braved our all-female network. They loved the energy and positive attitude to business so much that they were keen to speak for us more than once!


  15.  For 15 consecutive months we have attracted new members to our meetings. Women keep telling other business women how we have helped them to grow their business.


  16. We could go on for longer, but you have work to do! But if there’s something we haven’t mentioned that you think we should mention let us know!
  • March 20, 2012

How do I get my blog out of Never Read Land?

Last time I spoke about how to write a great blog and if its a great blog what it would be doing. If you missed it you can read that here.

Now what do you do to ensure that people actually find it?

Firstly ideally it will be on your website for a variety of reasons but the most obvious one is that it brings new fresh relevant information to your website – and trust me that’s good for your SEO.

If you can’t get it on your website relying on WordPress or Blogger, etc is better than not having one. And they are free and pretty easy to set up and use.

So you have an interesting relevant useful blog now its time to get it seen;

Talk about it on social media – Youtube, Linkedin, Facebook and Twitter are the main ones. But don’t just do endless links to your blog – you have to build up interest and get to know people first. If anyone in their very first tweet to me says “Hey check out my website, blog, FB page- I’m instantly turned off. They have never met me and they are already assuming that I need what they have. If they took the time to build a relationship with me I would be more than happy to “check out their blog” etc. So build relationships first and you do that exactly the same way as you would face to face.

Be interested in others, share useful tit bits (this works really well, commenting on other peoples discussions on Linkedin etc allows you to get to know other people’s opinions and then share yours. If you have had a great conversation with someone then you can say “Funny enough I wrote this about this very subject…” but only after being interested, considerate and getting to know others.

If you have a mailing list (Please god tell me you have one of those!) whatever effective ways you have to stay in touch with your client base (Please tell me you are doing that!) share your blog ideas there too. Don’t share the whole thing, just put something like “A client had the issue ………. so I shared this great solution and so I thought I would share it with you too. To read more…….”

Remember in this fast paced world everyone wants instant answers so sharing little useful titbits makes you a very useful golden nugget to keep in touch with – what’s that going to do to your sales?

If you publicly speak (and where ever you go NEVER turn down the opportunity, you never know who is in the audience and who they know!) finish with something like “There are a ton of free ideas on …………on my blog, so help yourself.”

Tell people about it in every form of your marketing in a useful relevant informative way ALL OF THE TIME. People make the mistake of assuming you can tell someone once on Twitter and that will get you a thousand hits – it won’t!

You have to tell people over and over again in a useful, relevant informative way (Hope I’m getting that across – lol!) in short succinct chunks. It’s the drip drip drip approach. That if you keep telling people they will get the message and want to know more and keep in touch and what does that do for your business success?

These ideas will work, we have a ton more to share but get this right for starters, be consistent and you will see positive results and a great impact on your business.

And do share your results on our social media which you can access on the home page of our website – because we just love to see what you are up to!

(You can access our social media world on the home page –


  • March 16, 2012

You Blew Me Away – Thank you

I just wanted to thank you all for the mountains of emails and messages I received after my announcement last week. Your kind words were a very powerful tonic – Thank you. Here’s just a few of your lovely words, It’s wonderful to hear that working with The BWN and me has been so beneficial to you all. Business women of The BWN – You Rock!

thank you for all your work for BWN and women in business.

Despite having only met you at one event, you stick in my mind as an inspiration to grow both personally and professionaly. I hope our paths cross outside of the BWN at some point. Wishing you my sincere and very best wishes for your recovery to health very soon. 

I am very sorry to hear your news. Concentrate on getting well – your legacy will live on! We’ll all be thinking of you. Even when not well you are always an inspiration.

Your a fabulous woman Mandie!

you are always there for everyone and have been a fantastic support but having a family give’s us ladies a busy life on it’s own let alone anything extra!!! Well done you for building such a massive empire, you have certainly helped me to where I am today

I have always kept up to date with your brilliant team.

You will be so missed Mandie. You have been an inspiration to me and I often find myself talking about you and the amazing energy you enthuse to all that come into contact with you. I’m sure I’m not alone in wishing you a very speedy recovery and look forward to working with you again in the future.

Love you dearly as a friend and colleague.

You will so be missed at the BWN. I just wanted to say thank you again for flagging up the opportunity and giving me the confidence to enter Britain’s Best Dish last year.

Thank you for all you have done for me so far.

You have done an amazing job and achieved so much. It has been a pleasure meeting and networking with you. Wishing you good health and happiness,

Thank you for all your efforts & enthusiasm.

I had been meaning to contact you to say a MASSIVE thank you for your little online tutorial on Mailchimp newsletters. I have now set up my own Mailchimp account and successfully sent one customer newsletter and also a much longer team newsletter which was really well received. It is a great system – fairly intuitive and a bit addictive when it comes to checking who has opened the emails the most! So, thank you for that.

You will be sorely missed. I hope you’ll be back to BWN later in the year.

Just a short note to let you know that I am thinking of you and sending you lots of good wishes for a full recovery!

I look forward to seeing you when you are back and full of beans again! 

Although we haven’t worked together or met, we do keep up to date with all that you do and realise what a difference you have been making to a lot of business women in this area, which is fantastic.

You are an inspiration to women in business. May you recover swiftly so you can long continue your work.

you will be greatly missed over the coming months and I sincerely wish you a speedy recovery.Once again thank you for welcoming me to the BWN

despite having only met you at one event, you stick in my mind as an inspiration to grow both personally and professionaly. I hope our paths cross outside of the BWN at some point. Wishing you my sincere and very best wishes for your recovery to health very soon.

The office isn’t the same without the buzz you bring with you… Hoping we get back working together very soon! 🙂

you have been invaluable to us and certainly motivated and inspired me

You have done a fantastic job and the group has grown considerably through your enthusiasm and efforts, with many women securing new business and building friendships.

I have enjoyed the meetings when I come along.

I think you’re being very courageous – I’m full of admiration!

You are an inspiration to many.

In the short time I have known you and BWN my business has continued to grow and being a member of the premier pack makes me feel more of a business woman than any other networking group. Take good care, and thanks for your support, you’ve been awesome!

Take care & hope to hear positive news in the future.

And I say “Oh you will! The NHS may wish to write me off with pain killers but my positive mental attitude and my sense of humour (yes I have one!) will keep me going – it ain’t over til the fat lady sings (apparently) and I can’t hear one of those! I’m looking forward to being amazingly impressed by how brillantly business has been for you when I see you all again in 6 months time and in the meantime, I’ll still be writing The BWN blog when I can so do share your questions/worries/business & success concerns and I will be more than happy to write something.

Best wishes Always,

Mandie Holgate

The BWN Founder


  • March 12, 2012

WooHoo – I wrote a blog! Now what?

Okay you finally wrote a blog, you finally appreciate that the world and his wife is writing blogs not just because they have a passion for writing as I do) but because it actually is a little god send of a free marketing tool for your business, but now what?

The fact is the world and his wife ARE writing blogs, so how is yours going to stand out?

How are you going to ensure yours does not languish in Never Read Land?

How are you going to ensure that people sign up to read it again and again?

Well let’s start with the reasons why you write a blog and they include;

To share advice, ideas and opportunities with people – it’s not about selling, it’s not about resplurging your website – it’s about giving away just the right level of advice and information (a word of caution to follow here*) that makes you useful. That gets you known as the thought leader which means you are the expert that they are going to trust, know and love – remember you can’t dictate when someone buys but you can have a say from who they choose to buy from.)

To showcase what you can do for people – again this is not a resplurge of your website – this is about sharing. Think about your favourite customer right now – the problems they talked about, the issues they faced, the solutions they needed. If they have that issues stands to reason other potential customer will have the same issue) so share posts that solve problems.

This very blog came about because a brilliantly talented makeup artist to Italian Vogue and London Fashion Week (you know who you are Michelle Court!) asked me how to get her blog seen – she actually called me Queen of Blogging – I like that!

And here’s that word of caution* don’t give everything away. Don’t write mighty long tomes of a blog that bore the pants of people. In this hyper fast world everyone wants answers fast and easy – so deliver easy to read content that answers the question succinctly – better to write 2 blog posts with a lot of material than one long one – finish the first blog with “and in our next blog we will be sharing with you…….”

People often make the mistake of not sharing really useful advice and ideas because they assume that the person reading it will go off and do it all for themselves and not need what they have to offer. Just because I know in theory how to play snooker it does not mean I can, just because I know how to paint a car it does not mean that I have any intention of actually doing it. If someone can learn from you something useful that makes their life easier they will come back for more. If you help them, they will want to work with you.

A great blog gets you known as the expert, it raises your profile and promotes your brand – and that leads to free PR, great marketing, more customers, new opportunities, speaking engagements, and so much more – I speak from experience here.

And lastly the written word is not the only kind of blog to produce. If your business is visual why are you writing 300 words? You know what they say about a picture painting a thousand words? What about a short video too? By the way anything longer than 3 minutes is not short.

Get visual, introduce sound, let people feel like they know you, so that your blog quietly answers their questions, get’s them out of tricky spots and shares some great ideas and stories and guess what? The next time they need what you do, for some inexplicable reason your name will be on the tip of their tongue. One of the most read recent blogs we produced was a 5 minute video showing you how to set up MailChimp!

In my next blog I will share with you how to ensure your blog doesn’t languish in Never Read Land. (see what I did there?)


  • March 11, 2012

Breakfast with the Bank of England

I have a great opportunity to represent Mandie and BWN at a breakfast meeting tomorrow (Friday) with the representative for the Bank of England. If any of you business women would like to share views for me to forward to bank of england. Please email me on

  • March 8, 2012

Meeting Bank of England

I have a great opportunity to represent Mandie and BWN at a breakfast meeting tomorrow (Friday) with the representative for the Bank of England. If any of you business women would like to share views for me to forward to bank of england. Please email me on

  • March 8, 2012