How being a member of a business organisation can improve your chances of survival and success

Joining a business membership organisation (BMO) can be a valuable investment for any entrepreneur or business owner. There’s a wealth of benefits that come with being part of a BMO, including advocacy, networking opportunities, access to resources and professional development.


Perhaps one of the most significant benefits of joining a BMO is having a voice in policy and advocacy efforts. A BMO typically serves as an advocate for its members, working to advance their interests at the local, regional or national level. This means that BMO members have access to legal and regulatory advice, various research reports and updates on developments in their sector. Being a part of a BMO means you have the opportunity to participate in campaigns, lobbying efforts and other initiatives that can affect policy outcomes positively.

Networking Opportunities

Business membership organizations organize regular networking events where members come together to socialize, share knowledge, and explore new business opportunities. These events provide attendees with opportunities to connect with other professionals, grow their networks, and build meaningful relationships with like-minded entrepreneurs or potential clients. Memberships may also offer the opportunity to participate in closed member-only networking events, such as workshops or training programs specifically tailored to your industry or area of business.

Growth Resources

Membership organizations are uniquely positioned to offer quality resources that help businesses grow, improve and expand. BMOs often provide access to education and training platforms, tailored mentorship programs, assistance with business plan development and more. These resources can be immensely helpful for small businesses looking to grow, develop or scale up their ventures. By getting access to such resources, your business may gain a competitive advantage and get a leg up in the market.

Marketing Opportunities

Other benefits of joining a BMO include getting different marketing opportunities specific to your industry. BMOs often feature directories, publications, and websites that highlight their members’ activities, products, and services. Joining one of these organizations also gives you the opportunity to market your own company to a wider audience, whether through keynote presentations, vendor booths at trade shows, or sponsorships of various events. Along with expanding your business reach, these opportunities can increase visibility and improve public perception of your brand.

Professional Development

Finally, being part of a BMO enables you to hone your own leadership, business and management skills. Many organizations offer educational workshops, conferences, and training programs to help members build industry knowledge and develop leadership and soft skills. Through these sessions, members can gain valuable insight into time management tactics, acquire new business and collaborate with other like-minded business owners to further their opportunities.

Why should you sponsor a conference & awards?

Sponsoring a conference is an excellent way for companies to build brand awareness, network with peers and potential clients, and showcase their products and services. Whether you are a small business or a large corporation, sponsoring a conference can be highly advantageous – here are some of the key benefits.

Networking Opportunities

Conferences typically attract people from various industries, including industry thought leaders, senior executives, government officials and other important stakeholders. As a sponsor, you will have many opportunities to network with these influential individuals and engage in discussions about your business and industry. This allows you to broaden your professional network, establish new partnerships, and ultimately grow your business.

Increased Brand Awareness

Sponsoring a conference offers an immense platform to increase brand awareness. Conferences are typically attended by hundreds or even thousands of people, meaning there’s a big audience to which you can showcase your brand. By sponsoring a conference, you can gain visibility, whether through logo placement, advertisements, or presentations. With the right sponsorship package, you can even secure a speaking engagement, allowing you to share your industry insights and expertise.

Generating Leads

One of the key benefits of sponsoring a conference is the opportunity to generate leads. Whether through booth exhibitions or networking, the right sponsorship package can put your company front and centre, giving you the perfect opportunity to promote your products and services. Additionally, you may be able to use the contact information collected during the conference to follow up and make targeted sales pitches to interested prospects.

Building Credibility

Sponsoring a conference is one of the most effective ways of building credibility and establishing your company as a reliable authority in your industry. By associating your brand with a respected conference, you will automatically benefit from the positive associations of that event and create a halo effect for your business. This increased credibility may help in dealing with customers, potential employees, investors or even industrial professionals, as it would depict that you are associated with a good event, thus validating your credentials as a trusted business.

Gathering and Learning Industry Insights

As a sponsor, you will typically have access to all of the conference sessions and events. This means that in addition to networking and promoting your company, you can attend expert panels and discuss the latest trends and insights in your industry. Conference attendees can learn about the latest developments in various industries, discover and explore new technologies, or swap notes with experienced professionals. This, in turn, can help inspire new solutions or introduce novel ideas that can benefit your own company.

Each year, the Women’s Business Conference and Awards offer a great package to sponsors, which can be tweaked to benefit you in the best way that suits your business needs. If you are looking to grow your business through any of the above-listed ways plus be seen as a purpose-led business, then this is the one for you.

Funding for female-owned business

woman in black blazer standing beside white board
Photo by RODNAE Productions on

The business landscape in the United States is largely characterized by entrepreneurship, with hundreds of thousands of startups established each year. Despite the high number of startups, however, only a small percentage are owned and operated by women – and an even smaller percentage of female-run businesses receive the necessary funding to reach their full potential.

The context

Historically, women have faced significant barriers when securing financing, whether from traditional lenders, angel investors or venture capitalists. Even though the playing field has begun to level with more focus on diversity in startup environments and technological advancements making it easier for women business owners, studies show that they still face significantly higher levels of difficulty when it comes to accessing funding compared to men.

The statistics

In fact, research shows that only around 2-3% of all venture capital is invested into female-owned businesses each year. In addition to this, data from the SBA suggests that women only receive 16% of conventional small business loans, which is significantly less than male business owners, who receive at least double the amount. This trend isn’t limited to large institutional investors on Wall Street either; Female-owned businesses are consistently underfunded, receiving only 5% of equity investment in the UK and only $0.4 for every $1 of small business loans issued over the past decade.

The cause

The reasons for this are complex, and rooted in various cultural, social and economic factors. One contributing factor may be that women entrepreneurs are disproportionately concentrated in industries and fields typically considered “female” or “pink-collar,” such as cleaning, retail, hospitality, cooking and care. These businesses might be viewed as lower-risk or have lower valuations. Because these industries are seen as less valuable, it could lead to lower incentives from investors to finance such businesses.

Another contributing factor could be the existing network of angel investors and venture capitalists, which is built on historical exclusion. Most investors fund people they know or have personal affiliations with. Women entrepreneurs, who are often part of smaller social and professional circles compared to men due to cognitive or societal biases, may not have the same access to these networks or as many ‘warm introductions’ compared to male counterparts, thus missing out on valuable potential investment opportunities.

Meanwhile, unconscious bias is also a significant factor at play when it comes to funding women-owned businesses. Investors typically have stereotypes and expectations about what a “successful” entrepreneur looks like, leading to more discrimination against underrepresented groups.

The solution

The only way to change is to change. More and more women are bootstrapping their businesses and making a success of them over the long term. From my experience and speaking with equity advisers in my financial network, there is a definite need and gap in the market for women to invest in others and to be invested in. The Women’s Business Club is one organisation changing how investors view women by running various development programs and creating opportunities for women to connect with investors and pitch their ideas.

Business Awards – beneficial or harmful?

Photo credit Mrs Photoshoot at the Women’s Business Conference and Awards 2022

We are worth it!

It’s that time of year when the Women’s Business Club Awards are taking nominations to recognise the achievements of stand-out women in their businesses and profession. It is a wonderful event, and our sponsors always see as much benefit for their brand awareness by supporting such talented women in business.

Upon inviting many in my network to begin nominating, I have received some negativity on the awards. At this point, I would like to point out that the Women’s Business Club do not exclude men or set out to bash men in any way. We invite men to nominate for a Man of the Year award so we can express thanks to the wonderful men who support equal rights and equity for women.

A recent invite I sent to a man asking to nominate a woman he thought deserved recognition for their achievements was met with the response, ‘So you support discrimination?’

Perplexed, I asked who our awards were discriminating against, to which I received a very long, uninvited explanation on how legislation enacted to make it mandatory for a friend of theirs to appoint 50% of women to a company’s board was compulsory discriminatory against women. This man let me know he had appointed people to leadership roles for over 45 years based on merit and merit alone with ZERO BIAS (as was also explained to me without invitation) in their methodology. In their well-prepared opinion, a women’s business award works against women and not in their favour ergo, Women’s Business Conference & Awards discriminates and devalues women.

Although I agree that tokenism is never helpful for advancing underrepresented individuals or the company as a business case for diversity, I cannot agree that the conference and awards, built around the sole mission of uplifting and empowering women, could be discriminatory and diminishing to women. My response was simple and graceful.

“How many of the women you have appointed to leadership roles and executive roles over the years feel that winning a women’s business award discriminates against them?”

Side-stepping the question and flipping the attention back on themselves, it was made clear that this individual had no interest in the opinion of the women and their point of view on the awards. Rather, I was infomred how he was a part of creating the women’s success that they were proud of and, more shockingly, pointing out how ‘Hollywood made their female stars’. Now, who is devaluing women? After it was assumed I had come around to his way of thinking, I moved on.

We must choose

During this conversation, it occurred to me that there was no merit given to what the Women’s Business Conference & Awards achieves for women, nor how the women who nominate and win these awards feel. This was the opinion of a man who has spent many years deciding and controlling who wins and who loses in the corporate world. Statistically, we know that women are often the losers, and the glass ceiling or glass cliff is a real issue despite progressively moving to a more equitable world.

How, I ask, can this true equity happen when those who do not understand the challenges we face make decisions and choices of what is best for us? You know what they say about assumptions, right?

Being directly challenged on the mission to improve the business world for women by a man telling me they know what is better for women is a prime example of a barrier women face. So, what should I do? Concede that the mission is bad for women; do I accept I know nothing about what women want and that the awards discriminate and devalue women?

First, I will do what should have been done by and ask how women feel about our Awards since they are the ones who are directly impacted. This has been asked and answered on many occasions before now, but for the sake of continuity:

Women, do you feel discriminated against when invited to nominate yourself for an award?

Women, do you feel devalued when you step onto that stage in front of your peers to accept your winner’s trophy?

Women, do you feel you do not deserve the recognition when your local press writes an article on your winning achievement?

Women, do you feel ashamed to have won rather than confident after hearing the applause of an auditorium of peers willing you with all their heart to do it!?

The women who participate in the awards receive many benefits to help their businesses grow. They receive the exposure that can set them apart from the rest when looking for further business opportunities. Being recognised and rewarded by your peers is uplifting and boosts morale. We spend so much time creating and building our dreams from near to nothing that it’s needed. Building dreams with little to no funding support I might add, according to the Women Code Annual Report covered by the British Business Bank). Another barrier faced by women in business.

Women must choose what is for their benefit and what disadvantages them. We have fought for the right to choose for centuries, to choose what happens with our property, finances, families and even our bodies! A fight that still rages on today with the women’s rights movements worldwide with the support of many men.

Women’s Business Awards

In 2022 the Scotland Women’s Business Awards received over 500 nominees for the various categories of awards. In each category, we awarded one winner and two runners-up. Each category was judged independently by a sponsor whose brand was seen globally as part of our hybrid event.

The mission is simple, to empower women to succeed. The Conference and Awards is the platform for women to be seen, and heard and to connect and collaborate.

Realising your version of success.

Don’t be afraid. We are all on a journey.

I was honoured to feature as an Inspiring Women Entrepreneur and speak at the EMERGE Women. The event was hosted by Ceteris Scotland Ltd and supported by the Clackmannanshire Council.

It’s taken me a while to share my story but I have opened up about the challenges I have faced to get to where I am now. I use my experience to now empower and inspire businessowners to find their own success.

Homeless, jobless and destitute to success, I share the lessons, strengths and resilience I found in my failures. Rather than shy away and hide from the fear of failure, it should become a driver to achieve our success.

We are comparing ourselves to others.

Our insecurities feed the fear of failure. When starting our business journey, we tend to look for role models and compare our achievements to theirs. By modelling our goals on the successes of others, we inadvertently do ourselves a disservice. I am not saying that we shouldn’t have role models and follow those we aspire to be like. Be mindful that their success is very different to your success. Stop comparing your success others and start looking at what success means for you as an individual.

Define your version of success

We must be clear on our own version of success because in order to begin pushing through our fears. When you stop comparing yourself to others and realise your version of success you feel less afraid and overwhelmed.

Define what success means to you and you will overcome the fears holding you back. Know in yourself that the discomfort and uncertainty will not last forever.

Accept that you will fail.

We tend to try our best to be perfect and resist or avoid situations that would mean failure. It’s natural to want to avoid uncomfortable or even uncertain situations. I ask, how will you ever learn and grow if you stay in the safe zone?

Many entrepreneurs will tell you how they have failed; some even claim they have “failed their way to success”. I can add to that and confirm that I have failed in many magnificent ways. The lessons learned from those failures are invaluable. With every failure, there is a valuable lesson learned and strength and resilience that will develop. Failure is not the end; it’s only a wrong turn in your journey.

At my lowest point I failed in my career, as a mother and as a human being. All my material possessions were gone and I had to re-define what was important to me.

Read more about my moment of transformation in Voices of the 21st Century – Women who Transform the World available to pre-order in December 2022 and due for release in February 2023.

Write an irresistible client attraction message.

Why should I choose your business?

photo of person s hand with words
Photo by cottonbro on

If you cannot or struggle to answer the question “Why should I choose your business?” it’s time to sit down with paper and pen and create an irresistible client attraction message.

It doesn’t matter which line of business you are in; professional services, manufacturing, retail, or other, if you cannot convince potential clients and customers to choose you, then they will not choose you. It’s that simple.

Why do I need a message?

Let me be straight to the point. You will waste money without a sales message that will convince your prospects to choose you in a few words. Printed and digital media, both online and offline, as a marketing exercise will more than likely not bring you the results you are looking for. So how can that change? You need to have your message right to attract and convert the right clients.

We live in the age of knowledge and technology where it’s not enough to anymore put a sign above the door or in the window. People do more research on where, how and who they spend their money and let’s face it, they are also more likely to move on rather than stay loyal. How do we obtain new clients? It’s in your message.

What is your message?

It’s rare these days to come up with a brand new idea that no one has ever thought about. Look around us. We have so much in this life that 40 years ago didn’t exist. That is why it’s so important to get your message right. Yes, others are doing the same or similar to you, so you must stand out as the only choice above the rest.

Let’s think about Coca Cola for example. There are many soft drinks companies out there for people to choose from. They all provide us with the same or similar functions. They bring us joy by drinking and quench our thirst. So why is Coca-Cola such a large household brand name and a leading choice of soft drink for decades? It’s their message.

In one sentence, you should be able to explain why a prospect should choose your services or products over your competitors. Once this message is prepared and presented in a way that appeals to your prospects, you will see a difference in your results in marketing and sales conversions.

How do I write an irresistible message?

The number one rule for writing an irresistible message that will boost the attraction of new clients and customers: always put your client or customer first!

How does your current message read? Does it talk about the customer or client, or does it talk about you and your business? My top dos and don’t for writing a message to attract new clients:

  • Don’t include how long you have been in business
  • Do include what you are good at
  • Do include who you serve or help
  • Don’t include your credentials or where you graduated
  • Do include the benefit or value you bring to your ideal client
  • Don’t include segments of your resume
  • Do take feedback from your clients on your message
  • Include a hook such as how you provide more value to clients than competitors.

This is an important stage as it is the foundation of your marketing and message that will attract the right clients to your busienss on a steady basis and the cornerstone to your business growth. If you are struggling, reach out for a no-obligation chat at any time.

Toxic Clients Will Hold Back Your Business Dreams.

Are your clients toxic?

Everything is going great, but toxic clients are holding you back from your business dreams. You are in business, have clients and customers, and are out to change your life and theirs. What happens when you enter into a business relationship with a client that turns out to be toxic? Have you ever wished you never began working with that client?

Starting a business is meant to eradicate all the stress and limitations in your life. It’s intended to bring you everything you ever wanted and more; freedom, choice and control over your own destiny. You believe you can provide more value to clients, and your work has more meaning by having that one-to-one relationship you never had as an employee.

But now, you feel stressed, and upset and begin to doubt yourself. There may be times you think you made a mistake starting your own business. An onset of internal self criticism, chastisement and doubt ensues.

Did you ever stop to think that the problem may not be you and it may be your choice of clients? Like any bad relationship, we have choices to make, and like it or not, mistakes happen. Let me share a recent incident with a client that had me pondering my own decisions. Although I’m not new to the business world, this case reminded me that there are always lessons to learn that will humble even the most seasoned business person.

The Friday afternoon call

Everything in our business relationship set off correctly. We had an agreement on the services my business was to provide and the fees. The agreement included the responsibility of each party and the restrictions and scope of the work to be done. Somehow the expectations the client had of my company were sorely misplaced despite our agreement.

What started out as a call to discuss our services and to highlight a problem that had been uncovered in software, turned into a 2-hour long call where this client proceeded to berate one of my companies, S.E. Tax Professionals Ltd and claim to know how to do it all better. I quickly realised this was a toxic relationship and I alerted this client we would be disengaging while still on our call.

In business when there is a problem it should be discussed, and resolution or mediation offered. In this situation, there was no mistake made to rectify only a gross misunderstanding the client had of our agreement and their own expectations.


I would like to share with you a few of the things that quickly made me realise why this working agreement could not continue and that it was toxic.

The client:

  • Was delinquent when we engaged with them.
  • Did not communicate any problems and ask for additional help.
  • Undid and re-did our work unbeknownst to our team.
  • Spent most of the call accusing and berating rather than discussing and mitigating.
  • Made demands on how, when and who would work on their case as a priority over other clients.
  • Did not review the finished work and flag errors before finalising.
  • Refused to provide the required and requested information to allow us to complete our work.
  • Was unwilling to accept their own part in the errors that had arisen and work to find a resolution together.

These are the flags of a toxic business relationship that will drag you down in your business. I had made the wrong decision to act for this client and ultimately this was my mistake. Fortunately, all of my other clients are wonderful people and a dream to work with. This is not down to good luck, it is down to good screening and zero tolerance to accept abuse at work.

It was clear this client was not a good fit and within 6 months it was over. There are no second chances, the damage was done.

“This will not work this way. We can no longer continue this working relationship. “

Let Your Toxic Clients Go.

Why have I shared my story of a toxic client with you? It’s not to prove who is right and who is wrong in this scenario. I share this with you because no doubt you have, or likely will be, in a similar situation with a client or customer.

Professional service providers go into business with a passion to help others. It’s no wonder that when one of our clients is upset that we feel this too. After all, it’s rare that a professional enters into business and goes through years of training and education with the purpose of scamming someone. No, we care about our clients and our work. When that work and compassion is not valued or reciprocated it can affect ones confidence.

Know this, you do not need to stay in a toxic relationship with your clients even if you are a new business owner. You are doing a disservice to your dreams and to the clients who truly value your time, knowledge and expertise.

Signs of a Toxic Client Relationship

A toxic business relationship is not so different from a toxic personal relationship. There are signs and flags to alert you that you have toxic clients. Below are the red flags I watch out for when identifying toxic clients.

  1. Toxic communication
  2. Controlling & demanding behaviours
  3. Dishonesty & Inflexibility
  4. Patterns of Disrespect
  5. Negative Behaviours
  6. Constant Stress
  7. Low team morale
  8. Hostility and Argumentative
  9. Constant Scope Creep
  10. Resistant

Avoid, Resolve or End it with Toxic Clients

All is not lost if the two of you are willing to work together. You may have your reasons for continuing this relationship or you may decide that this client is too toxic and you want to end it.

The bottom line is that this is business and you and your team are not there to be bullied, pressured or intimidated into acting against the values of your business.

A mistake is a lesson not a failure”

Let others help you find your courage in business.