Thursday 28 February 2019

Are female-centric office spaces the key to addressing gender imbalance in business?

With International Women’s Day just around the corner CEO of The Women’s Organisation, Maggie O’Carroll, has spoken out about the need for more dedicated spaces for women in business.

It’s been well reported that women are more than half as likely to take the plunge into starting up a business as men. 

The Unilever Foundry’s global study into start up diversity has shown that only 17% of start-ups are founded by women. While has found that the typical business owner on Companies House in the UK is 51, British and male.

Liverpool based charity The Women’s Organisation, which is dedicated to the economic development of women, has found that there is a growing need for more office spaces in the business community which buck the trend in this male-dominated landscape.

CEO Maggie O’Carroll is a firm believer in the power of female-centric spaces, like the charity’s international centre for women in business at 54 St James Street, which offer the community and networks critical to improving women’s economic participation.

CEO of The Women's Organisation, Maggie O'Carroll
She explains: “For many women the prospect of taking their young start-up into the physical business world can be exceptionally daunting. This next step in taking on office space requires an incredible level of conviction and assurance - not to mention monetary resources. That’s why spaces like 54 St James Street are essential to creating safe and supportive networks, where women can feel empowered and access further support to succeed in business.”

“Another fundamental barrier many female-led start-ups face as they begin their journey is the fact that they are working from home. The experience of many of our service-users is that this only serves to compound a common issue for women who typically find themselves as primary caregivers. This prevents them from making a clear distinction between home life and working life, often reducing their capacity to focus on their business.”

Since opening its doors in 2011, 54 St James Street has helped to create over 1,000 new businesses and created over 2,000 new jobs in the Liverpool City Region through the work of The Women’s Organisation and the Enterprise Hub programme which is funded by the European Regional Development Fund.

54 St James Street is an international hub for women in business

Councillor Gary Millar, Deputy Mayor of Liverpool & Cabinet Member for Business Economy & Skills, says: “Enabling female participation in the local economy is critical to addressing the gender imbalance we see in business and that’s exactly what facilities like 54 St James Street are doing by providing the support and space needed to succeed in business. To be among a group of likeminded entrepreneurs is important to any business person to feel inspired and supported.

“Without these spaces, we risk leaving behind a pool of un-tapped female potential and talent which would otherwise be a significant contributor to driving the economy on a local and national level.”

Tenant of 54 St James Street and Director of Every Cloud Associates, Kate Morris, says: “As women, I believe that we already have a natural and shared ability to network. We are relation-seeking beings with an emotional empathy like no other. 54 St James Street offers the perfect incubation space for this to take hold and flourish.

“The peer to peer support, working alongside other passionate, female entrepreneurs who are trying to do their ‘thing’ better is a key benefit of this community. It’s hugely empowering for women to see other women lead and achieve, grow and develop. It’s like a ‘rising tide’, we bring each other on.”

Every Cloud Associates office at 54 St James Street

If you would like to find out more about the facilities available for female-led businesses at 54 St James Street and how you can become part of the community, you can visit

And if you are starting or growing a new business and looking for advice, contact the Enterprise Hub team to find out more about the funded support on 0151 706 8113 or

Friday 22 February 2019

How to know when you are ready to take on staff for the first time

Making the leap from a sole trader to building up a workforce can be the most critical stage for any business and a very daunting task. The cost, time and practicalities involved in taking the leap and expanding can be a sticking point for young businesses. 

We have rounded up the top 5 indicators which may mean you are ready to take this leap and hire your first member of staff.

You have more business than you can handle and are turning down work

Perhaps the most obvious indicator that growth is warranted is that you can’t meet demand. Obviously, you shouldn't hire until you have adequate work for another person to handle. If you are turning down a lot of work because you can’t physically handle it then this could be a sign you need to hire someone to help meet the demand.

You have identified a new revenue stream

You can hire someone to help you with your existing work demands but you can also hire someone to help with whole new types of work. If you see a gap in the market or a new possible revenue stream then you could hire someone to help you with this, the right employee can truly make the difference in taking your business to the next level.

You have a plan for growth

It’s important to have both short- and long-term goals, but you also need to map out a strategy for getting there. If you plan to grow which will mean you can’t handle the workload by yourself then hiring a staff member could make the progression smoother and more successful.

Your industry is growing

Take a look at your industry: is the market saturated? Or are you only scratching the surface of the customer base you could reach? Analyse your competitors and possible target markets-If you have minimal competition and a large untapped customer base, then you have better odds for successful growth which can mean that you need staff to help you.

You are meeting your goals

As a business you need to be setting yourself goals and aiming to reach those milestones you set. Make sure you asses your progress continuously to make sure you are on the right track to meet those goals. If you are, and ahead of schedule, then maybe you can speed up your plans and to help with take could employee someone to help.

If those indications are taking place in your business, then here is the next step as suggested by  senior business advisor here at The Women’s Organisation, Claire Pedersen. Take time to analyse if you are definitely ready to hire your first staff member by completing a time and motion study.

Every day for a few weeks, make a note of everything you do and how long those tasks take. Then analyse these tasks and see if they are things you need to be doing eg., networking or delivery of a service. These tasks should then be split into two lists. First, look at the tasks and see if there are duplications, are there tasks being done 3 times a week when you could just do them once? This is to find out if you are maximising your time in the most efficient way. On the second list look at what jobs are on that list and what job roles this could form, is there enough tasks on that list to warrant a full time member of staff or should you just employ freelancers or no one at all?

If you’d like some help with taking on staff for the first time, get in touch with Enterprise Hub to find out more about the business growth programme which can help you understand the practicalities. Email or ring us on 0151 706 8113.