WOMEN have the power to achieve great things if they develop the right mindset to overcome barriers to business success, a North East conference heard.
Almost 200 female entrepreneurs and senior women in the corporate world attended the Entrepreneurs Forum where they were encouraged to focus less on finding the ‘big idea’ and more on seeking the confidence and determination to succeed.
Conference host, former World Rally driver and television presenter Penny Mallory said: “When you are enthusiastic it’s like a virus, it’s catching, and I do want you to catch the bug.”
Forum vice chairman and founder of North East-based recruitment group NRG Lorna Moran opened the conference by saying that women needed “talent, the vision of where you want to be and the life you want to lead. You need a dream and self belief”.
And she urged women who have reached senior positions to support those underneath.
“The first thing some women do when they get to the top is pull the ladder up behind them. We can’t expect men to help us if we can’t help each other,” she said.
The conference heard that many women start their own business as a response to finding a better lifestyle.
Sara Murray, who runs buddi, a personal tracking device company after selling confused.com, said: “I started my business when it was a career move, not a way to make a quick buck.”
Single mum Kirsty Henshaw, 26, turned to others for financial backing after securing Tesco as a customer for her dairy and sugar-free ice cream, developed in response to her young son’s food allergies.
She was the youngest ever contestant to secure funding from Peter Jones and North-East businessman Duncan Bannatyne on the BBC Dragons’ Den, which has allowed her find new markets in Japan and the US for her brand, and to develop a new range of adult ready meals.
She said: “I was told not many times not to bother; I was told not to go on Dragons’ Den. I’m so glad I didn’t listen.”
Spray tan entrepreneur Judy Naake told delegates how she worked her way from a cigarette sales girl to the owner of one of the most popular brands in the world, used by celebrities including the Beckhams and Elle MacPherson.
But she warned women to take care of themselves. “You work, you are everything to everyone and the last person you expect to snap is yourself,” she said. “I was so busy that I’d had breast cancer for a year and a half before I went to the doctors and I nearly ended up in the grave. You must listen to your bodies.”
The Entrepreneurs’ Forum’s next major event for all entrepreneurs and business leaders is its annual business conference followed by a dinner and awards presentation at the Hilton Hotel, Gateshead, on May 17. For more information visit www.entrepreneursforum.net