Lynne Holmes, Business Development Manager at Danbro, talks about the support available to female entrepreneurs.
Please could you introduce yourself, tell us a bit about your role at Danbro, and what it involves.
I work with the Growth Team and have been at Danbro for 2 1/2 years now. My role is to generate new opportunities for Danbro to offer their services to small businesses, either through direct contact with small businesses or through partners who work with small businesses.
I love my work. It is inspiring to speak to small business owners and see the dedication and commitment they have to their customers and clients. I also love seeing the wealth of talent, initiative and resilience that drives these women.
Could you tell us a bit about the networks that you work with, and what they do?
Pink Link is a great organisation. It is a network for women in business and has local network meetings throughout the North West. It is tremendously supportive to small businesses, which is particularly helpful for those women working on their own from home. They co-sponsor the annual EVAs (Enterprise Vision Awards) which is a fantastic event to recognise the best female entrepreneurs and business service providers. I was lucky enough to reach the finals last year and was moved by some of the amazing stories you hear from the winners.
I have also recently joined other businesswomen’s networks and would recommend these too – Unique Ladies, NatWest Women in Business and PEN (Preston Exchange Network) which I co-founded over 20 years ago! Hardman McNeal also run a very active networking group which is well supported by small businesses. There are a lot of franchising opportunities particularly suited to women. The organisation EWIF (Encouraging Women into Franchising) offers free support from lawyers and other professionals.
Women network in a very supportive way, generating great business opportunities, and members usually have some fun along the way too!
Recently we’ve seen an increase in the number female entrepreneurs. What do you think has driven this increase?
I think it’s a number of factors. One driver is the need for women to combine caring responsibilities with work. There is massive focus on women juggling childcare responsibilities but increasingly, women are also the prime supporters for elderly relatives. Running your own business gives you flexibility. Also, women are having their children later so they have fully developed their careers and skills and this gives them the confidence to go and set up their own business. There is also much more information available in all forms of the media on how to start a business and many, many success stories.
Finally, the support and advice (often free) that is available to small businesses, is phenomenal. In Lancashire and locally we have Boost, Winning Pitch, Blackpool Unlimited, and the Business Clinic. The Universities also have their own organisations to support new startups. There is masses of help out there, use it!
What do you think are the main benefits of running your own business?
Control – your success or failure is down to you.
Choice – choose what you love to do and you will never work again (not my words!)
Do you think we need to encourage more women to enter certain industries?
I believe you have to pursue your interests and work in sectors that you enjoy and feel you can contribute to. That said, our education system needs to ensure that girls are aware of the breadth of opportunities that are available to them.
Is there a particular businessperson you admire, and why?
At the risk of being accused of crawling, I hugely admire Helen Broughton. Clearly it is not just me either, as she has received an MBE, and has been central to Danbro’s many achievements and awards, which include three BIBAs. Helen has built a hugely successful business with Damian, growing from a bedroom in Kirkham to the iconic, beautiful Jubilee House on Lytham Green.
Many people build large successful businesses but what I admire in Helen is that she has never lost focus on quality of customer service and supporting and developing her people. The Danbro Family is the most inclusive, supportive work environment I have ever been in. And I love my walks on the Prom at lunchtime and the magnificent sunrises and sunsets we see from Jubilee House.
To find out how Danbro can support your business, speak to us on 01253 600150 or email email@example.com.