No Woman Is an Island

Posted: Saturday February 6 2016

By: Abbie Coleman

If I look over my last 7 years of running my businesses, it’s been a steep learning curve with a few twists and turns, expensive lessons and some rewarding wins and a good few G&T’s.

No Woman Is an Island

If I look back at the times I felt I hadn’t made the headway I wanted it’s due to me falling foul of working in my business and not on my business, I think a trap a lot of business owners can fall foul of. It’s a little 80’s so bear with me but the phrase “are you a hairdresser or a salon owner” summed it up for me in the clearest way, if I carried on the way I was going in the early days I would only ever be cutting hair and never growing a salon, my business ran me and I hadn’t the time to run my business. I wanted to build a brand and ultimately build something that if sold would see me into retirement, not a business that needed me in it to sell; my worth was in my brand and not me as an employee.

It was really a few years ago when this sunk in for me fully and I took a step back and realised that to move my business forward I needed the time to work on my business goals, objectives and plans rather than in my day to day business. Easier said than done I agree and the thought of where do I get the best advice and guidance from sounded like some expensive meetings.

Networking events, the good the bad and the ugly……

I had been to many networking events and found the option for women can often be, low level and limited generally with poor advice given by an under-qualified but overly confident lifestyle business owners. Or they were simply not open to me as a small business owner and I had to hit my network up to get some fabulous invites to more corporate senior events, it just was not easy to find the good from the bad.

So how did I change this, how did I get to sit at the table with the people who knew their stuff, after all, I was finding out I also had learnt a lot along the way and I was fed up of giving advice and not ever getting anything back, it was draining. It happened as most good things do, over a gin and tonic, business owners all sitting together chatting about business issues and we found we had the talent and experience and been there done that experience to solve most of them in under 2 hours between us. But it had taken me over 5 years to build this amazing network and I felt frustrated it had taken this long to find these women as the networks of calibre for women were few and far between. For no other reason other than women had just not been catered to and we had found it harder to find each other.

How I Got My Board

The last two years has seen my network grow to include some of the most amazing and talented people who either run their own businesses or are senior specialists in their own field. I have an amazing network to call on, so actually now when I sit down to do my business planning and strategy, MMB actually has its own board to call upon. These people have not only helped me but I have brought value to them and their businesses and better still we have shared business and contacts. I am stronger than I have ever been before, which means my network is stronger than it’s ever been before.

After a meeting that was arranged again by my network (you can see a common thread here) I met Mary who is simply a savvy, brilliant and successful business woman, who took the time to chat about business and her experience and journey. She took her time to share her knowledge and network with me and in turn introduced me into her trusted network and so I met Gary Lumby and Meg Heath from Focus on Success. Two very experienced, proven and credible non-executive directors who work with a plethora of businesses. After a lot of hard work we launched MMB Board together this February with the view and providing the support and personal development opportunities that I have on tap to all women business owners.

What is MMB Board?

The MMB Board is a group of like-minded business women who want to grow and develop their own business and are committed to supporting the other women around the table to achieve the same goal. The strict confidentiality rules enable solutions to be found to the issues which are holding a business back or strategies to be developed to exploit current opportunities. It provides time each month to work on your business, to receive advice, experience, analysis and feedback from people who share your goal but have no financial interest in your business; we call this unvarnished feedback. It provides space for you as an individual to develop amongst a group of trusted individuals. Each MMB Board meeting is chaired to ensure discussions stay on track and every issue is fully explored. The Chair also provides one to one mentoring to give members an opportunity to discuss issues in more detail.

Each board is made of up people we have met and matched so you will be in a group that you both can add value to and benefit from and is the right match for you and your current business. We even have dedicated boards for businesses that are working towards turning over their first 100k through to MMB Boards for businesses that turn over 1 million and beyond.