Sandra Garlick appointed to FSB Women In Enterprise Taskforce

LOCAL businesswoman Sandra Garlick has been appointed to a national taskforce which aims to promote women in enterprise.

Sandra Web 1The taskforce has been set up by business organisation Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) to champion the needs of UK’s female SME owners.
Ms Garlick will join 14 other small business leaders from across the UK to set out the recommendations of FSB’s Women in Enterprise report released earlier this year.

Ms Garlick started her own law firm and grew the business to be one of the leading Legal 500 firms in Coventry & Warwickshire for Employment Law until she merged the business in 2014.

She also founded the Woman Who…Awards in early 2016, created to inspire women in business to celebrate their achievements, to gain confidence and to recognise their own abilities.

She said: “I’m absolutely delighted to join FSB’s Women in Enterprise Taskforce as I am keen to continue to influence the women in the business agenda. I am looking forward to representing businesses from Coventry, Warwickshire & Solihull to ensure that local women have a voice. Through my work as a business growth consultant, in delivering the Woman Who….Awards and now in my role on FSB’s Women in Enterprise Taskforce, I am sure I can help women feel confident and to succeed in business.”

Source:  The Business Desk West Midlands

Networking Tips for Success

When I first started my business I embarked upon a networking campaign by attending as many events as I could!  It was pretty much a scatter-gun approach with no strategic plan in place, a small budget and not really knowing what to expect.

I joined the local Chamber of Commerce, a couple of breakfast networking clubs and searched out anything that had a “networking” theme. I became the “Queen of Networking”!

It was only when I had been trading for a year, and the membership renewal invoices started to arrive, that I realised that I had no idea if any of these events had resulted in any new contacts or customers. I decided at that point to put systems in place to monitor how effective my networking was.  I then had a great way of knowing which networking events were most effective for my business.

I strongly believe that networking has three main benefits:

  1. Growing your contact database – contacts are essential for IMG_2513expanding your business network of potential customers and referrers
  2. Building relationships – trusted relationships take time to build and are essential to business growth
  3. Being remembered for the right reasons – being helpful and a sharer of information will reap rewards in the future

For me, networking isn’t just about “getting the sale”.   So often, I am asked “How many leads did you get?”.  In fact, I positively avoid the sales type approach and hard follow up.  I simply link up via Linkedin and only email if I’ve promised to do so.

I spend the majority of my networking time building trusted relationships, listening to others, getting to know people and offering help, entirely without agenda.  If one of these relationships recommends me in the future or becomes a customer, that is fantastic.

I do recall on one occasion receiving a phone call from a lady that had kept my details for four years.  All she said was, “When I first met you, you were so helpful and I always remembered that…now I need your services.”

I now ensure that I only attend networking events or renew networking memberships where I know that I will build those relationships.

Follow @SandraGarlick on Twitter and #Periscope

[Picture courtesy of Ladies First Professional Development. From left:  Julie Richardson, Sandra Garlick and Lisa Kennedy]

Sandra Garlick frequently speaks about “Networking for Success” and will be speaking at the FSB B2B Expo on this topic on Tuesday 10th January 2016 at The Belgrade Theatre in Coventry.  You can book your free place here.

What does your LinkedIn head shot say about you?

LinkedIn is a powerful and successful tool for networking.Sandra Web 2

I have gained new clients, made new contacts and used the platform as an introduction for face to face meetings.  Of course there are many other things that make LinkedIn the success it is today.

One thing that many people who have LinkedIn profiles fail to get just right is their head shot or profile picture. I am not saying that mine is perfect, but it has several key components that I look for when I connect with someone:

  1. A smile…Straight away the picture gives the impression of someone friendly and approachable.
  2. Eye Contact…By looking straight into the camera there is immediate and engaging eye contact.  I am always wary of people who appear to be looking into the distance on their profile shots.
  3. Head and Shoulders…You can clearly see your features.  It also makes it easier to recognise someone you may have met or may wish to meet in the future.
  4. Professional…Beach shots and those holding an alcoholic beverage in non-work mode demonstrate a lack of professionalism. LinkedIn is a professionals platform
  5. A Photo…There are still a large number of profiles on LinkedIn which have no professional photo or indeed any photo at all.  This demonstrates laziness. If, for security reasons, you are unable to post a picture of yourself online then a logo is the very minimum.

It is so easy to get a professional head shot today, and at minimal cost.  Even a profile picture taken with a smartphone is better than no photo at all.

I no longer connect with anyone who doesn’t have a head shot.  If I know them personally, I send a gentle reminder that they may wish to include one.

Sandra Garlick is a Business Growth Consultant, Mentor, Public Speaker and Trainer

Follow Sandra on Twitter @SandraGarlick

Do you diminish your value when you discount your products and services?

So often I see companies offering “Free Stuff“, “Special Offer“, “Cheapest” when advertising products and services.

DiscountHaving a special offer or promotion is great, but when you start a business you need to create value.  If you offer free promotions from the outset, then later try to charge for those products or services, the value may already have been lost.

Promotions and free offers have their place…usually when you are established. Obviously, it depends on your sector.  For example… I have seen many events publish their ticket prices, only to find that during the last few weeks of sales they are reduced or sometimes offered on a buy one get one free (BOGOF).  This suggests to me that they haven’t sold enough tickets! The original purchasers get annoyed that they have paid the full price and instantly the value of the event has diminished.  This happened to me when I paid full price for a well known speaker in London.  It was advertised that this was his last event in the UK and I happily paid full price to see him.  I soon realised this wasn’t the case when, after the event, I was bombarded by sales calls from his team offering me half price, BOGOFs and freebies to attend his next event in the UK.  I was quite angry and have never attended since, on principle.

When I started in business, my fees were relatively low for my sector. I soon increased these to demonstrate my value and expertise.  I noticed that when I offered a reduced rate, my customers expected a Rolls Royce service for a bargain rate.  In fact, I started to say “no” and to choose my customers carefully. If they valued my expertise then they should be prepared to pay for it and it worked.

So think carefully about your value.  Are you creating value for the services you deliver or the products you sell?

  • Think carefully about how your offers and promotions will be perceived by your customers;
  • If you are offering something for Free, think about why a customer should come back and purchase from you;
  • If you are going to reduce your prices after you have sold at full price, think about why you are doing this and the impact on future sales.

Sandra Web 2Sandra Garlick is a Business Consultant, Adviser and Mentor.  She works with business owners on growth strategy, from startup through to exit.  Sandra is also a public speaker and trainer.  

Follow Sandra on Twitter @SandraGarlick

Secretarial Trainee to No 10….and a pair of shoes

My mother told me that I didn’t walk until I was nearly two.  I like to think that it was because I was soaking up all the knowledge around me before I took my first steps…rather than being a little lazy.  In fact, it was the sight of my first pair of very shiny black patent shoes that drove me to take those first steps, and I have never looked back. I had achieved my first goal…to walk, or rather to wear those shiny black shoes.

In my early childhood I was shy, always watching, but never joining in.  Something always held me back.  It was confidence.  I hesitated to take those steps forward.  As I grew older, my confidence grew and I put myself forward more often and realised that I wasn’t going to get anywhere by sitting and watching others all the time.  I needed to take action to achieve my goals! No-one was going to do it for me.

I set my sights on a grammar school place and I achieved that.  I probably set out not to get many qualifications, and I achieved that too!  Life was for living when I was 16, and there was no way I was staying on at school.  I wanted to earn money to buy my first pair of work shoes!  They walked into Land Rover in Solihull and, although I had never typed anything in my life…I became a Secretarial Trainee. I set myself a goal to learn to type and passed my exams within a matter of weeks.

However, I was always looking at other people’s shoes, and who was wearing them, and set myself a goal to work my way up and into that role.  From secretarial trainee, I became a PA. From PA to bank clerk.  From bank clerk into sales, and so on.  I even went back to school to get those qualifications and qualified as a solicitor, but that’s another story.

Last December I was invited to visit No 10 Downing Street, to represent  the Warwickshire & Coventry branch of the FSB, as a woman in business, to meet with the Government’s advisers to talk about diversity and to encourage more women entrepreneurs to start up their own business.  Standing in my shoes, outside the door of No 10, I savoured the moment, reflecting about the time I stepped into my first job as the secretarial trainee who couldn’t type. I thought about all of the goals I had set along my journey and just how many I had achieved.

I truly believe that goals are a journey to a destination.  Personal or business,  you set out your goal and a route map on how you’re going to get there.  In my case, in a pair of shoes…one step at a time.

Sandra Garlick is a Business Growth Consultant, Mentor and Public Speaker.  Sandra speaks throughout the UK on a number of business growth topics and inspires women to start up and grow their businesses.

Follow @SandraGarlick on Twitter and #Periscope

Do Business Breakfasts prejudice Women in Business?

Bacon RollBefore I ruffle a few feathers, I should say that I am not a great advocate of business breakfasts, largely because they occur at an untimely hour and disrupt my day. Additionally, I do not eat bacon baps or “batches” (if you live where I do), nor do I eat cooked breakfasts, except on very rare occasions.

I am actually more productive and innovative during the mornings.  If I attend a breakfast meeting, especially an early one, it throws out my whole working cycle and I am less productive that day.  However, that’s just me.

The reason for this post is that I saw a recent photo on Twitter from a local business breakfast.  It was extremely well attended.  However, I had to try really hard to see where the women were.  I managed to spot a few.

So what are the possible reasons for poor attendance by women in the mornings at some of these events?

  1. Women are still more likely to deal with childcare, the school drop or carer duties;
  2. It takes women longer to get ready in the mornings;
  3. Lack of confidence;
  4. Women are unaware that the events are taking place.

There may be more reasons and I know some great weekly breakfast groups that have a regular attendance by women in business.  However, I also know that many of these women have no childcare or carer responsibilities.

So what is the answer?  

Whatever time of the day you hold a networking event you are going to disadvantage a certain group. However, the next time you do, please bear in mind that many women work part time hours/days, have family commitments and other reasons that prevent them attending breakfast meetings.

Sandra Web 2Sandra Garlick is a Business Consultant working with businesses on business growth and strategy. Sandra also assists with event management and regularly speaks on marketing topics including networking tips.