Wednesday, 11 December 2019

Helping Aleksandra get to grips with the beauty of business

Alexsandra Calka's business journey is testament to the importance of hard-work, determination and staying focused on your goals, when it comes to succeeding in those all-important early years of starting a business.

It was always a dream of Alexsandra’s to open her own salon, having previously worked as a beauty and massage therapist, but the timing was never quite right. It was only upon moving to their new home in Southport and falling in love with the hustle and bustle of the local area that she started to see the potential, launching CoCo Beauty Clinic last year.

Alexsandra Kasprzyk, Owner of CoCo Beauty Clinic

Coco Beauty Clinic Ltd is a beauty and skin clinic offering a wide range of treatments from nail and brow treatments, to specialist skin peels and waxing. But Alexsandra really prides herself as a Trichology Expert, specialising in hair loss problems.

Approaching every client individually and catering to their exact beauty and skincare needs, all clients leave CoCo Beauty Clinic having received a unique and personalised experience.

It wasn’t long before Alexsandra managed to build up a supportive client base, largely through word of mouth recommendations. She explains that many of those in her local area of Hillside are small business owners themselves and that the local community take a proactive approach in supporting other independents.

Alexsandra approached Enterprise Hub at The Women’s Organisation to find out what support was available to help grow her new business. She was soon paired with business advisor Yan Miao for 1-2-1 advice and support, alongside access to a range of courses to equip her with the marketing and business skills needed to grow the business.

The training and courses on offer at The Women’s Organisation helped Alexsandra to build her brand and client base even further through developing her marketing skills. From planning a social media and marketing strategy, to getting to grips with the complexities of SEO (search engine optimization).

Alexsandra explains that having her advisor, Yan, on hand to talk through those daunting big decisions and reflect on any mistakes to build a positive plan moving forward was a great support through those early days.

She says: “Yan is just an amazing woman - she was so supportive! The courses I attended were all very interesting and filled with the right information which I could enforce in my salon marketing strategy the next day. Now I can advertise my salon better through social media and work on my website SEO myself without having to pay others. I still have all the print outs and notes so whenever I’m stuck or need some inspiration I go back to these notes - I always find something interesting!

“But the most important element of support for me at that time was meeting other women in the same position and supporting each other. It’s helped me to grow in confidence, and to set clear goals and priorities to be more business focused.”

Together with this programme of support, access to training and the backing of her family, Alexsandra has taken her business from strength to strength.

She added: “Over the last year I have managed to gain a very loyal, regular client base and it’s still growing. From 12 clients and 20 appointments in November 2018, to 80 clients and 112 appointments November 2019!”

Whether it’s the day-to-day management of the salon, carrying out treatments for clients, or simply cleaning and maintaining the salon, Alexsandra wears many hats when it comes to the smooth running of her business. And it’s watching her business grow and develop that she enjoys the most.

So, what’s her advice to anyone thinking about taking the plunge into self-employment themselves?
She says: “the most important thing is to never give up! Stay focused on your goals and keep moving forward, no matter how many hurdles you face.

“I am really blessed with an amazing family. My parents, brother, sister and my husband are very supportive.  I have met so many great people throughout my journey who have helped me in so many different ways.”

CoCo Beauty Clinic can be found online at and on Facebook. Or, you can get in touch with Alexsandra directly via or by calling 01704569990.

For more information about the support available to help start or grow your new business through Enterprise Hub, please contact 0151 706 8113 or 

Monday, 2 December 2019

Macy’s Café is serving up big social impact for the Halton community

For many years, Amanda McDonald had a dream of running her own café. This dream became a reality when she opened the doors to Macy’s Café back in January.

Based in The Grange Community Centre in Runcorn, Amanda has created an authentic space at the heart of her local community.

Amanda McDonald is the face behind Macy's Cafe

Amanda tells us that her food always went down a storm when cooking for family and friends: “I’ve a strong passion for good food and enjoy cooking. I’m well known among family, friends and many people for being an excellent cook - people always loved and enjoyed anything I cook!”

Having worked full time as a Project Development Officer for the Social Services at Halton Borough Council, Amanda decided it was now or never and contacted the Enterprise Hub at The Women’s Organisation to find out what steps to take next.

She says: “Once I made my decision to set up Macy’s café, I put all my thoughts and energy into it and started looking for help.  I got in touch with The Women’s Organisation and started working with my business Adviser, Huda, on business planning and regulation and I also attended specialist workshops.

“I received excellent advice, support, guidance and the encouragement that I needed to start the café, as well as help securing a business start-up loan.”

Since then, the business has gone from strength to strength and is currently employing 3 part-time staff, alongside a volunteer, who are all passionate about working in the café and serving the local community.

Along with serving fresh, quality cooked food at affordable prices, Macy’s café has a strong social objective and provides free hot meals, drinks and essential supplies to those in need.

This is in large part thanks to access to a community fridge and store cupboard which is filled with fresh food products, along with toiletries, sanitary products, nappies and clothing.

The stock receives generous donations from businesses and people alike and is built on an ethos of “take when you need, put back when you can”.

Going that step further, Amanda even provides free hot meals for those in need – becoming a vital lifeline for many in her community.

One man in particular had been living on the streets and depended on regular hot meals from Macy’s café and was provided with fresh clothes, toiletries and a tent, until he eventually found employment and a home of his own. That same man today contributes to the community fridge in support of others and is a regular to the café.

Macy’s café also hosts special social events for fostering teams who bring children and foster carers together and run activities for them.

The impact which Amanda and the team have been having on the local community hasn’t gone unnoticed and they were recently announced as winners of the Social Impact Award at The Women’s Organisation’s Enterprising Women Awards.

So, how is Amanda finding the world of self-employment so far? She says: “I love being self-employed, being my own boss while helping the community and people in need.  We’re trying our best to keep the balance of running a successful business, creating jobs for people and contributing to our local community.”

Macy’s Café can be found in The Grange Community Centre and you can check out their Facebook page here.

For more information about the support available to help start or grow your new business through Enterprise Hub, please contact 0151 706 8113 or 

Tuesday, 26 November 2019

Thousands of entrepreneurs across the Liverpool City Region are set to benefit as Enterprise Hub launches a second phase

Liverpool City Region’s “one front door” access point for business support is extended and expanded in a significant step forward for driving entrepreneurship across the region.

Maggie O'Carroll, CEO of The Women's Organisation (left), with Julia Sweeney,
Director of European Programmes and Local Growth and MHCLG (centre)
 and Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram (right).
Today saw the official launch of the second phase of the Enterprise Hub programme, marking the continuation of support available to those who are thinking about starting or growing a business.

The launch event took place today (26 November) in a special celebration at The Women’s Organisation, which is the lead and accountable body for the Enterprise Hub.

The launch was attended by special guest speaker Julia Sweeney, Director of European Programmes and Local Growth at the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG), along with the Lord Mayor of Liverpool, Cllr Anna Rothery, and Metro Mayor of the Liverpool City Region, Mr Steve Rotheram.

Maggie O'Carroll, CEO of The Women's Organisation (left) with
Lord Mayor Cllr Anna Rothery (centre) and Deputy Lord Mayor Gary Millar (right)

Other guests included Enterprise Hub partner organisations, along with business support providers, funding specialists and some of the region’s leading figures in enterprise.

Enterprise Hub coordinates and simplifies the business start-up and growth support available across the Liverpool City Region by bringing together partners to deliver business support, advice and training.

Since launching its first phase in December 2015, Enterprise Hub support has helped to create over 1,060 new businesses so far.

Thousands of budding and early-stage entrepreneurs have benefited from the programme over the last four years, with nearly 6,000 individuals registering for support.

In a change to the first programme, this second phase of support now includes the provision of business growth support for those in their first three years of trade.

This move comes in response to the successful first phase of the programme which showed that there was real entrepreneurial spirit across the region, resulting in the creation of over 1,000 new enterprises. This second phase is now able to ensure the sustainability of those businesses through an ongoing programme of support.

100 guests attended the event
During the launch event reflections were made on the importance of investing in entrepreneurship and developing core entrepreneurial skills to grow our local economy.

Julia Sweeney, Director of European Programmes and Local Growth at MHCLG, says: “I am very pleased to help launch Enterprise Hub 2. Tailored, comprehensive support is really important to SMEs and the Hub will build on the success of Enterprise Hub 1 to enable more businesses to achieve sustainable growth.”

Metro Mayor, Steve Rotheram, says: “I know from personal experience, having set up my own building company when I was in my early 20s, that establishing a small or medium sized enterprise can often be fraught with hurdles and challenges.

“Statistics show that roughly 80% of UK companies fail within their first year – so it’s vital that organisations get the support they need early on – if they are to have a chance of success.

“Enterprise Hub have shown in recent years that they are perfectly placed to provide that support, with their work having led to the creation of over 1,000 local businesses. We’re doing all we can to provide funding support at a regional level for SMEs to start up and scale up – and phase 2 of the Hub’s work will only compliment this.”

Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram speaking at the event

Maggie O’Carroll, CEO of Liverpool charity and lead body of the programme, The Women’s Organisation, says: “We are delighted to be steering the Enterprise Hub programme forward into this exciting second phase. The initiative has so far proved to be a vital resource for those budding entrepreneurs who have an entrepreneurial idea, but not necesssairly the know-how to turn it into a sustainable and profitable business.

“We know that this support has been vital to reducing unemployment, raising aspirations and giving people that all-important opportunity to pursue entrepreneurship. All of which play a key role when it comes to keeping our local and national economy thriving.

“With this refreshed focus on business growth support, we now have real opportunity to build on the first phase and enable the ongoing development of enterprises of real substance. I would urge anyone who has a business idea they would like to explore, or those who might be navigating the tricky early years of self-employment, to get in touch and see what support is available”.

Fully-funded support is available to residents from all corners of the Liverpool City Region, with delivery partners working in Sefton, Knowsley, Liverpool, St Helens, Wirral and Halton.

Enterprise Hub brings together a network of eight partner organisations to deliver business advice, training and support; The Women’s Organisation, Everton Development Trust, Granby Toxteth Development Trust, Merseyside Expanding Horizons, Wirral Chamber, St Helens Chamber, The Prince's Trust, SAFE Regeneration.

Strategic partners for the project are Liverpool Central Library Business and IP Centre, ComMutual, Plus Dane Housing and Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust. While Writing on the Wall and Liverpool Domestic Abuse Service (LDAS) are community delivery partners.

The Enterprise Hub programme is part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), which aims to help local areas stimulate economic development by investing in projects, like Enterprise Hub, which support innovation, business growth and job creation.

Local social enterprise, The Women’s Organisation, is the lead and accountable body for the programme as well as the managing agent, providing management and compliance support to the programme.

Thursday, 31 October 2019

Smiles all round for Julie and the Dental Hygiene Studio

After over two decades working as a dental hygienist, Julie Fisher decided it was time to take the plunge and launch her own studio.

Working with our partners at The Women’s Organisation Julie launched The Dental Hygiene Studio earlier this year – Wirral’s very first drop-in dental hygienist studio.

We caught up with Julie to find out the story behind her business and how things are going so far…

They do things a little differently at the Dental Hygiene Studio.

A recent change in the law means that you no longer have to see the hygienist at your own dental practice - you can see a hygienist of your choice anytime, anywhere.

This was a business opportunity Julie didn’t want to miss out on. She says: “With today’s busy lifestyles, it can be quite difficult to book and appointment with the dentist, then wait for another appointment with the hygienist, so we wanted to do things a bit differently.”

As well as booking people in for set appointments, Julie and the team offer walk-ins too. Meaning it will be much more convenient for people to fit in around work, childcare and other aspects of our busy day-to-day life.

Julie Fisher, founder of the Wirral's
first drop-in dental hygiene studio
So, where did the journey begin for The Dental Hygiene Studio?

Having qualified as a dental hygienist with the army back in 1996, Julie has long had a passion for helping people with their dental health.

When the dentist she was working alongside announced her retirement last year, Julie found herself at a crossroads in her career.

Seeing similar services open in the North West and with her youngest son due to start high school, giving her more time to devote to the business idea, Julie began to wonder if the time was right for her to take the plunge.

She says: “I was inspired and intrigued about whether or not it would be a possible business idea for me too. I did lots of market research and with the help and guidance of Enterprise Hub, I finally decided it was something I couldn’t put off any longer.”

Things started to fall in place from there.

Julie tells us there’s quite a story behind finding her venue in her home town Wallasey: “My husband and I had been out for a few viewings and having seen nothing suitable we were on our way home. We were sat at some pedestrian lights just around the corner from where we lived and we both looked across at this quite derelict corner shop which had been empty for about 10 years. I said to my husband, Andy, ‘it’s a shame we can’t have that really isn’t it? It would’ve been perfect’.

Before! The derelict shop before Julie and Andy transformed it
“I decided to walk round and ask the shop next door if he knew who owned it and if they wanted to sell? He said ‘as far as I know, she’s not interested in selling, but I’ve got her number if you’d like it?’  So, I rang the owner and she said that she wasn’t interested in selling, so I thought that was that. We went on looking for a few weeks but still couldn’t find anything suitable, so I decided to ring her back. To my utter surprise, she said she’d given it lots of thought since our first conversation and she was happy to sell to us!”

Thanks to support from her husband Andy, who is a chartered building surveyor, Julie was able to tackle the building work – not to mention the tree growing up through the brickwork - and create the perfect venue for her business.

And after! The Dental Hygiene studio today

And their hard work hasn’t gone unnoticed in the community.

Julie says: “It’s been such a transformation that local residents have asked to come and have a look as we’ve been renovating. We have a photobook of the renovations in the waiting room so share our journey with patients.”

Julie and husband Andy celebrating the opening of The Dental Hygiene Studio

As with any new entrepreneur just setting out in business, Julie wasn’t without her doubts.

She says: “After 24 years’ experience I’m most comfortable in my scrubs treating patients and although I’ve been self-employed, I’ve never had a business to run. I’ve never been ‘a boss’ before or even had to manage staff.

“Not only that, but securing the funding, doing a business plan, sorting out change of use for the premises and planning permission were all things that needed to be organised. It’s been such an exciting and exhilarating experience so far, but there have been days I’ve wondered what I was thinking!”

Accessing support from The Women’s Organisation, through the Enterprise Hub programme, meant that Julie was able to work with the team of expert business advisors to turn this idea into a reality.

Speaking about the support she received, Julie says: “Quite simply, without the Enterprise Hub programme, I wouldn’t be in this position now. The help and support from the programme is incredible. I walked into my advisor Claire’s office and didn’t know where to start. I was anxious, nervous and quite unsure of myself. I knew what I wanted to do but I didn’t know how to start doing it.

“Attending various courses helped me to gain more practical knowledge, and Claire and I sat for hours and hours tweaking my business plan until it was perfectly right. With Claire’s help and dogged determination, I was finally in a position where I felt ready to embark on such a daunting process.”

Julie also worked with Enterprise Enabler, Ali McGrath. Julie says: “Ali is a force of nature! Her enthusiasm is infectious, and she absolutely gets things done. Her knowledge, contacts and genuine love for what she does is easy to see. She is funny and kind and reassured me beyond belief. She organised me, advised me and basically I feel she ‘held my hand’ through the whole process.”

What Julie has created with this support is today a friendly, professional and ethical dental hygiene studio, providing patients with an outstanding level of care in a modern and accessible way.

Julie at work in the studio
So, what advice would Julie give to someone looking to start a business? She says: “Start-up advice is invaluable. I remember Bernie, who ran a start-up course I attended, said that businesses who take start up advice are much less likely to fail in their first year. I can honestly see why. If I have any concerns, questions or things I’m unsure of, The Women’s Organisation is always my first point of contact!”

Understandably, Julie is very proud of what she’s achieved so far and she explains that the venture has been very family orientated so far, helping her to achieve that work-life balance she’s always wanted.

So, what’s next for Julie and the Dental Hygiene Studio? Julie says: “The plan for the future is to grow into the upper floors of the building to include a dentist, a periodontist and an implantologist to become a specialist centre of excellence. After that, maybe world domination!”

You can find The Dental Hygiene Studio online at and the team are also on Facebook, twitter and Instagram. If you’d like to get in touch you can call 0151 6397 939.

If you have a business idea you’d like to explore and are based in the Liverpool City Region, then get in touch to see what fully-funded support might be available to you. You can reach us on 0151 706 8113 or e-mail

Tuesday, 15 October 2019

Wayfarers Travel on an upward path thanks to St Helens Chamber

Business plan drives growth of mini-bus hire company in year one of trading.

With a passion for sport and in particular his beloved Aston Villa, Wayfarers Travel Director John Morris knows plenty about getting from A to B on time.

For over a decade, John had been organising transportation for friends to and from various sporting events, including regular trips down to Birmingham for the North West Lions club.  

It was his enjoyment of organising these trips and driving his fellow passengers to various events, that gave John the idea of owning and operating his own travel business. However, with the commitment of a full-time job, John recognised that there were some barriers to overcome when starting his own company and that he needed some professional advice on how to plan his next move.

Looking for expert support and a sounding board for his business idea, John approached St Helens Chamber.

John commented: “I knew it was really important that the business had a plan, and I needed to work out if my business idea was feasible before committing to it.  Working with Steve Mather at St Helens Chamber, we put together a detailed business strategy that looked at finance, marketing and business administration and as a result, Wayfarers Travel was born.”

Initially running the business part-time, alongside his day job, the plan produced in conjunction with St Helens Chamber enabled John to gain his PSV Operators Licence, as well as acquiring his first 16 seater mini-bus.

Focusing on minibus hire for nights out, sporting events and airport runs, Wayfarer Travel has been steadily growing in its first year of trading, with John supplementing his business knowledge via various courses run at the Chamber.

John continued: “The support I’ve received from St Helens Chamber has been essential.The demand for our service has increased so much that I’m delighted to announce that as from December this year the business will be full-time.

“Without support, it would have been really difficult to transition from being employed to running my own company. It’s been challenging, but equally, it’s immensely rewarding to think the hard work is paying off and I’m doing something I love.”

As well as his core areas of business, John is keen to work more in the education sector, with local schools being made aware of Wayfarers Travel, in particular transportation for school sports teams and tournaments.

Steve Mather, Business Start up Adviser at St Helens Chamber commented:
“It’s great news that John is taking Wayfarers Travel full-time and this is a testament to his hard work and dedication. His business can certainly look forward to a bright future.”

St Helens Chamber is part of Enterprise Hub, the enterprise gateway for business start-up support in Merseyside. Offering expert advice and support to anyone thinking about starting a business, including help to:

  • Understand the process of starting a business
  • Research a business idea
  • Build a comprehensive business plan
  • Develop a marketing plan
  • Create financial forecasts to understand the costs of running your  business and potential income
  • Identify sources of finance to get started

Enterprise Hub is funded by the European Regional Development Fund.

For more information about Wayfarers Travel, visit or contact John Morris on 07751 000115.

For more information about the support available from St Helens Chamber to start or grow a new business, call 0845 340 9980 or email

Enterprise Hub support is available across the Liverpool City Region. For anyone outside of the St Helens area, please contact Enterprise Hub directly on 0151 706 8113, or e-mail to find out about the support in your area. 

Wednesday, 9 October 2019

All systems are go for Gavin's business - thanks to a little help from Wirral Chamber!

Working with our Enterprise Hub partners at Wirral Chamber of Commerce, Gavin received the start-up support to get his business, GUI Compus Ltd, off the ground. 

Thanks to this support, Gavin's business is today helping businesses manage change through the provision and simplification of IT systems and processes. Here's how it all began...

If Gavin Crompton has learned anything from his 20 years in IT and project management, it’s that change can bring risk … and opportunity!  And it’s this ethos that has equipped Gavin with the skills to not only tackle important changes in his own life, but to start a company that can help other businesses do the same! GUI Compus Ltd is all about helping businesses to manage change effectively.

Heidi and Paul from Wirral Chamber of Commerce with Gavin (centre)

So, where did this appetite for change begin? Well, it all started at Plessey’s in Speke. 

It was here that Gavin first cut his teeth dealing with the early incarnations of information technology and rather large computerised assembly equipment! He also developed a keen eye for detail and a fascination with technology and systems which shaped his career from then on.  

From here, he became heavily involved in supporting ‘transformational change’ in the motor industry, working for companies such as Toyota, before moving down South to work for Johnson Controls, a supplier to Ford Motor Company.  Moving back to Wirral, he then decided on a career change, working in the social housing sector for many years until the opportunity came to take redundancy and pursue fresh challenges. 

In taking calculated risks at every crossroads, Gavin has taken control of his career along the way, treating every opportunity as a chance to grow and acquire new skills.  And this has led to his most exciting and challenging opportunity to date – the chance to start his own company, GUI Compus Ltd!

So, how can GUI Compus Ltd support your business? Well, in a nutshell, it can provide a whole range of change-management solutions through the ‘provision and simplification of IT systems and processes.’ From initial diagnostics to product development and implementation, GUI Compus Ltd can help your business to optimise and streamline its IT and systems/processes to not only promote effective change but to enable your business to flourish whilst doing so!        

Gavin is quick to concede he needed help in forming his company along the way. “There’s hidden treasure and always something new to be learned,” he said, crediting the support he received from Wirral Chamber of Commerce for adding structure to the chaos and complications associated with setting up a new venture. 

And he encourages others to “not be afraid of change, but to take the knocks and expect the unexpected, as tenacity gets you to where you want to be!”

If you would like to find out more about how GUI Compus Ltd can help your business manage change and grow effectively, contact Gavin at: or

And if you have an idea for a business and would like some advice and support contact Enterprise Hub via 0151 706 8113 or

Enterprise Hub is part funded by European Regional Development Fund and free to access for those living in Liverpool City Region looking for support to start a business, or running a business locally that is up to 3 years old and ready to grow.

Back Her Business: Supporting female entrepreneurs starting new businesses through crowdfunding

The Women's Organisation are hosting a 'Back Her Business' event with Crowdfunder, to show you how together with NatWest, they can help you raise money for your new business through the power of crowdfunding.

What's more, if you're a new female-led business which has not yet crossed an annual turnover of £1,000, then you could be eligible for a special grant funding opportunity from NatWest to receive up to £5,000 for your business!*

This session is for new or young female-led businesses who have not yet crossed an annual turnover of £1,000 at the point of application.

Wednesday, 2 October 2019

Think you're ready to GROW your business? 📈

So, you think you're ready to GROW your business. But how do you really know? 

Growth can mean different things to different businesses. For some, it can simply mean that they want to increase their sales turnover, profits, or their share in the market. For others, it might look like taking on more staff or even expanding into offering new products or services. Another example of a growing business is one that's ready to increase its physical presence with more premises or shop outlets, while those selling online might look at increasing their virtual presence.

As you can see, growth can take many forms.  

But how do you know you are ready to grow YOUR business? Here are some ways to tell...

  • You have regular repeat customers that proves your product or service is of a good quality and, most importantly, in demand! This gives you a stable base to grow your business from.
  • Your customers WANT you to grow. Perhaps they've been asking for more products or services form you, or even more of your time.
  • If your industry is growing, now might be a good time and low risk opportunity for you to grow with it. Are there any new products or services you could offer?
  • You actually have too much business! Perhaps you have more business than you can handle at the moment and risk over trading. Now might be a good time to take on staff to help you grow sustainable.
  • You are stuck at a certain turnover and want to increase it - now is the time to get a serious growth plan in place.

This might be a daunting prospect for some business owners, but the key thing to remember is that growing your business is about working smarter, not harder. 

It is about thinking outside of the box and putting new ideas into action to get your business to the next level faster.

So, how do our team of experienced business growth advisors work out the best route to grow your business?

  1. We simply look at where your business is currently at through our unique business diagnostic methods.
  2. We listen to what your growth ambitions are and where you realistically want your business to    be in the next 12-36 months.
  3. We then work out a realistic and achievable strategic plan to achieve your growth ambitions as   quickly as possible.
Here's our client Cheryl Grogan, founder of AJ's Playdays, on how we helped her to scale-up her business...

If you are a female-led business based in the Liverpool City Region which has been trading for under 42 months and you'd like to explore how we can help you achieve your business growth ambitions, then we could help!

Our partners at The Women’s Organisation are running a series of Grow & Thrive Business Masterclasses to help you GROW. 

These are:

When & How to Take on Staff 

Tuesday 8th October, 10am - 1pm, at 54 St James Street

Here's how we helped our client Laura Richardson, founder of The Beauty of Business, get to the stage of taking on her first employee...

Master your Sales & Marketing strategy

Wednesday 16th October, 10am - 1pm, at 54 St James Street.

We worked with Claire Morton, founder of Ell & Dee Consultants, to refine her marketing strategy and brand...

If you'd like to speak to a member of our team to find out more about the support on offer, please contact us at or 0151 706 8113.

Friday, 20 September 2019

Grow & Thrive Business Masterclass Series - for women with a business ready for serious growth 📈

We're excited to announce a brand new series of business masterclasses, designed especially to support women with high-growth businesses. 

Delivered by our partners at The Women's Organisation, this series of expert-led training sessions has been developed to support women-led businesses with high growth ambitions.

Two fully-funded sessions will be happening throughout October, covering topics including taking on staff as well as developing your sales and marketing strategy.

Come to one, or join us for all three!

**This training is fully-funded under the Enterprise Hub programme for female-led businesses under 42 months in the Liverpool City Region. Please see below to find out if this training is right for you at this stage** 

The sessions are:

When & How to Take on Staff

Tuesday 8th October, 10am - 1pm, at 54 St James Street (L1 0AB).

If you're ready to take on staff to help support your next phase of business growth, then this session will equip you with the skills and practical knowledge to do so. You'll also be able to hear from local entrepreneurs who have done it.

What is covered in the session?

Local entrepreneur Anna Slater, founder of North West Linen Services, will be sharing her journey and experiences of taking on staff for the first time. From tackling imposter syndrome, the importance of mapping out affordability and strategy, to becoming the employer of 26 staff members.

Expert recruitment consultant, Elaine Courtney, founder of  Courtney Recruitment, will be on hand to help you understand the main stages of recruitment and how to find the right people for your team.

Enterprise Hub business expert, Bernie Cox, will guide you through the legalities and practicalities of taking on staff. From liability insurance, to setting up a payroll and arranging new employee inductions.

Visit the Eventbrite page here.

Master your Sales & Marketing strategy

Wednesday 16th October, 10am - 1pm, at 54 St James Street (L1 0AB).

If you're ready to take your business into an exciting new phase of growth, then a watertight sales and marketing strategy is vital to building valuable and lasting customer relationships which translate into sales. This expert-led training session will equip you with the skills and practical knowledge you need to master your sales and marketing strategy.

What is covered in the session?

Be Your Brand
Nailing your brand is vital to building valuable relationships with your target market. This session will help you understand how to build your brand persona with confidence. Sue Kelbrick from Wigwam Coffee Shop will be joining us to share her experience of developing their business story to grow their business.

How to set & reach your sales goals with Claire Philliskirk
Experienced Sales Leader Claire Philliskirk (Winner of European Women in Tech Sales Europe 2016) will be on hand to tell you how to set and reach your sales goals. From setting realistic SMART targets, to implementing your sales strategy and monitoring your progress - learn the tools for a winning strategy.

Personal Growth & People Performace with Nikki Cross
People performance expert Nikki Cross will be sharing the importance of aligning your strategic goals with the goals of your team, offering a "how to" guide to setting a people performance strategy which effectively develops your people and grows your business.

Visit the Eventbrite page here.

Is this training for me?

  • Are you a woman-led business registered in the Liverpool City Region?
  • Have you been trading for under 42 months?
  • Do you have high-growth ambitions?
  • Are you looking to further grow your business turnover?
  • Do you already, or are you thinking about taking on staff?

Then this training is ideal for you! These sessions aim to equip you with the practical skills and knowledge to lead your business into its new stage of growth. 

If you'd like to book onto any, or both, of these sessions then please get in touch with our team. You can reach us on 0151 706 8113, or e-mail

Thursday, 12 September 2019

Case Study: Breaking down barriers with Helen Clarke Autism

Helen Clarke Autism is a specialist autism training and consultancy service, dedicated to improving the lives of autistic children, in particular autistic girls. With support from the Enterprise Hub programme, Helen is taking her business from strength to strength.

Helen provides educational and consultancy services for schools, parents, health services and other organisations that support autistic children.

As an autistic woman herself and having previously worked with autistic children for over twenty years as an Art and Design teacher, Helen is passionate about sharing her own life journey to improve the experience of others.

Her mission is now more important than ever, with recent reports suggesting that the number of autistic women and girls may have been severely underestimated due to historic gender biases.

Experts explain that early assumptions of the condition meant that it was predominantly thought to affect men, with the real ratio in fact coming in at approximately 3:1. This means that the number of girls and women with the condition has been vastly underestimated with thousands going undiagnosed.

As might be expected, this has taken its toll on the mental health of many girls and women across the country as living without a diagnosis often means that people are not accessing appropriate support in terms of health and education.

Thankfully, there is now a growing recognition of the issue and Helen is one of the professionals at the forefront of this battle to help autistic women overcome the barriers they face and improve the services available to them.

With such an important task at hand, Helen decided self-employment was the best way for her to reach and support as many girls as possible – and so she founded Helen Clarke Autism consultancy services.

Having worked with business advisor Huda Mamoun from The Women’s Organisation to start her business, Helen was able to put together a business plan and attend a range of courses to help get her started in business. After a successful start it wasn’t long before Helen needed to put a strategy for growth in place, returning for further Enterprise Hub support to help grow her young business.

She says: “I am indebted to The Women’s Organisation who have provided me with valuable support, guidance and high-quality training. I learnt an incredible amount thanks to their expertise, with specialist training covering business planning and how to set up my business, as well as useful sessions on book-keeping and marketing.

“I’ve also been very fortunate to have the guidance of my business mentor, Huda Mamoun, and have greatly benefitted from her knowledge. She has encouraged me to succeed and has believed in me from the very start, encouraging me to keep going and guiding me through the aspects of business which I found particularly difficult.”

Just one of Helen’s aims is to make sure the needs of autistic girls are better understood in schools.
Having an autistic daughter herself, Helen has experienced the education system from ‘both sides of the fence’, so she is fully aware of the issues that autistic girls face both in gaining a diagnosis and receiving an education that fully meets their needs.

She says: “Many autistic girls are labelled “school refusers” because they find it hard to cope in schools, resulting in having a poor attendance or having to drop out of school completely. I want to work with schools to help them better understand the needs of autistic children - the school system needs to change, not the autistic child.”

With a master’s degree in education, Helen is well equipped to tackle these issues first-hand.

Helen believes that autistic people possess many strengths including an ability to see the world from a different perspective and to be able to pay extraordinary attention to detail. Many autistic people are highly creative and others very logical, each being unique and individual.

“Spectacular Girls” – Helen’s series of well-being workshops – was designed to help autistic girls understand how autism might affect them as individuals, while equipping them with valuable life skills and helping to build strong, personal identities.

Helen explains how these sessions are working to improve the lives of autistic girls: “The current academic curriculum often doesn’t include many of the important topics that autistic girls need to explore, such as how autism affects them as individuals, about their own identity and about safety.

“Autistic girls are at greater risk of exploitation and abuse, according to current research in this field, and so I wanted to work directly with girls to address this concern. What’s more, adolescent girls are also most likely to self-harm and in Sefton this number is higher than nationally. I’m working to improve the mental health of girls by helping them to better understand themselves and equip them with practical strategies.”

She has also worked with organisations like The Atkinson in Southport to help promote inclusion in its services and has compiled an adapted Community and Life Skills Curriculum for autistic children.

So, how has Helen found the process of starting and growing a business?
She says: “Being autistic there are many aspects of setting up a business that have been daunting. Many autistic people have social anxiety for example, but business depends on developing contacts and networking so I’ve had to push myself far out of my comfort zone and will continue to do so.”

“There are also many positive aspects to running a business; being a role model for my daughter so she sees that even individuals can help bring about change in society, helping autistic girls to better understand themselves, improving their mental health, as well as challenging stereotypes of autism and what autistic people are capable of!”

To find out more about Helen’s consultancy services, you can visit her website at or find her on Twitter using @HelenAutism. She can also be contacted directly at

If you’ve been inspired by Helen’s story and are interested in starting or growing a business of your own, then Enterprise Hub could help!

Get in touch if you’re thinking of starting a business in the Liverpool City Region, or have a new business under three years old. You can speak to our team via or 0151 706 8113.