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Boosting female entrepreneurs in Tunbridge Wells

We’re honoured to have taken on the challenge of supporting women entrepreneurs in Tunbridge Wells. Sharp Minds is helping to launch the town’s branch of the national not-for-profit initiative, Make It Your Business, which aims to encourage more women to start their own businesses, alongside The Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and the government’s champion for women entrepreneurs.

The Secretary of State for Business, Greg Clark, who is the town’s MP, will be the keynote speaker at the inaugural event on Friday 7th June at Hotel du Vin Tunbridge Wells on Crescent Road.  Launching the event will be the founder of Make It Your Business, successful entrepreneur, writer and broadcaster Alison Cork, who in 2018 was appointed the Government Champion for Women Entrepreneurs.

Our director at Sharp Minds Communications, Siobhan Stirling, has accepted the role of the Make It Your Business Tunbridge Wells local champion and will be chairing the event. Siobhan will be joined by four successful Tunbridge Wells businesswomen, who will be sharing their business stories.

Make It Your Business runs seminars across the country, providing opportunities for women to meet established local female entrepreneurs, learn from their experiences and network with other local aspiring female entrepreneurs in a relaxed environment. It is designed to help women considering setting up their own businesses, start ups and women who have an established business but need inspiration to move forward.

 “Make It Your Business is a UK-wide initiative to encourage women to start their own business, and it works because we are building strong local networking groups that give women the vital moral and practical support they need. I am thrilled that Tunbridge Wells is the latest town to rise to the challenge of encouraging local women to become their own bosses,” commented Alison Cork.

“As Business Secretary and Tunbridge Wells MP I am delighted to be helping Make It Your Business expand into Tunbridge Wells,” said Greg Clark MP.  “We have a lot of successful businesswomen in the town and I am looking forward to meeting them and to see how their stories inspire tomorrow’s entrepreneurs.”

“The aims of Make it Your Business really resonate with me, which is why I am honoured to have taken on the role of Tunbridge Wells local champion,” explained Siobhan Stirling, winner of Kent Women in Business Women in PR and Marketing 2018 and 2017, as well as Women’s Champion 2017. “The support I have received from other women in making the transition from being a journalist to running a successful agency has been invaluable, so I am delighted to be able to play my role in passing this baton on to help the next wave of female business owners turn their dreams into reality.”

The Make It Your Business event will take place on 10-11.30am on 7th June, with registration from 9.45am. Tickets cost £10 + VAT, which guarantees lifetime membership to MIYB, with a monthly newsletter full of business advice and tips, mentoring opportunities and networking socials. Tickets are available on Eventbrite.

The Panellists

The four Tunbridge Wells businesswomen who will be joining Siobhan and sharing their stories to help inspire their peers are:

Victoria Usher, CEO & Founder of GingerMay, B2B PR Agency of the Year 2018 and one of the fastest-growing PR agencies in the UK and Europe. Victoria was awarded Female Entrepreneur of the Year: Business Products at the international Stevie® Awards for Women in Business 2019 and named PRCA’s Industry Leader of the Year 2018. GingerMay is a finalist in PRWeek’s Best Places to Work Awards 2019 and was recently shortlisted for The Times of Tunbridge Wells Outstanding Business of the Year Award.  

Deborah Richards, who left a successful career in banking to set up Maddisons Residential estate agents in 2012. From a humble start in a room in her house, she now has prestigious premises on The Pantiles, employs 7 people, and has won a clutch of awards, including Entrepreneur of The Year from Times of Tunbridge Wells and Best Sales Agent in the Best Estate Agency Guide.

Sharon Wood, who runs Colonnade Florist, will be sharing her story from winning a Chelsea Flower Show Gold Medal to rethinking her business structure to make it more resilient against the changing retail landscape. Sharon is passionate about combining her creativity and expertise with business acumen to keep ahead of trends, the competition and shifting commercial challenges.

Emily Brown, who has only ever been her own boss, developing Emily Brown Photography into a successful brand, published internationally, recognised for her signature natural-light, outdoor style. Emily has a growing client base of families and couples, as well as businesses and event organisers, and was runner up in the Kent Women of the Year Young Businesswoman of the Year Award 2019.

The facts

  • £180 billion of extra revenue would be generated in the UK by 2025 if as many women ran their own businesses as men (FSB Women in Enterprise Paper )
  • Women currently only make up 20% of small business start-ups (Women’s Business Council - Women and Enterprise Evidence Paper)
  • 2 million women are currently thinking of starting their own business (FSB Women in Enterprise Paper) 
  • 25% say they don’t because they lack networking opportunities and confidence (Forbes - Five Reasons Why Women Make Better Entrepreneurs than Men)
  • When firm characteristics (size, sector, age, funding) are controlled for, women-owned firms outperform those owned by their male counterparts. (Women in Enterprise: A Different Perspective. RBS Group 2012)
  • Businesses started by women are more likely to succeed (Fortune.com and Delta Economics)

Women in business bring many assets, with the facts speaking for themselves. If you’re a woman thinking of starting your own business, or already have a company but want the opportunity to widen your networking circle and get experience from industry experts, then Make It Your Business will be the right event for you.

Book your place here.

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