Women in Business – Flexibility AKA Happiness is our priority

It’s taken a few generations but we’re getting there, women in business can now confidently and proudly declare that their profit is calculated on the happiness scale more so than by the bank balance. We no longer need to declare that our mission is to conquer the world and make mega millions. We can be honest, be ourselves, be feminine and quirky in our own ways and not only declare that a good work/life balance is our priority but substantiate it.

The infographic from the NatWest monitor is the hard evidence for the cynics hanging onto the 20th century. Having a good work/life balance is a no brainer for the female entrepreneur of 2017 because it is clear to us that our life memories are far more important than our work memories. We have happiness values in bucket loads, for us materialistic values are in the tv vaults with Dallas and shoulder pads. Furthermore, we have found out that if we do what makes us happy, we can also make money.

By being focussed on happiness rather than sustainable profitability, we create businesses which are more customer focussed than ever. We know who we are and what makes us happy, in turn our customers know how we are going to make them satisfied, they connect with us and enjoy a personalised cultural experience. They feel good, so do we, and we all keep going back for more. With our focus on having enough income to live on and flexibility of business around our lives, customers are attracted by our lack of heavy sales and identify with our values, they want the same as us, their empathy breeds loyalty, supporting their own dreams.

Breaking with long standing perceptions, Domestic Angels is one of the new era of home-based franchises on the market which breaks the materialistic mould instead generating profit and happiness in equal balance for its franchisees. Trading since 2002, the Angels can fully substantiate their winning formula that hits an excellent work/life balance, providing sufficient flexibility and income to do ‘life’ yet enough challenges to grow franchisees as business owners. Director, Samantha Acton says “I deliberately created a business which fulfilled my need for happiness in all areas of my life and not have work as the dominant time consumer. I want to share this opportunity with other budding business owners. As it goes these days, I probably work just as much as I did in my ‘career’ the difference being that I do it all for myself and I genuinely enjoy my work, it’s not work, it’s fun, it’s about helping others to be happy.’ Times have changed, for the better.

Meet the successful businesses that start at home and stay there

We’ve probably all heard stories of businesses which start in a spare bedroom and become multi-million pound concerns.

But what about the businesses that stay – and thrive – in that spare room?

For some, work can be done wherever there is a good internet connection and a phone service – even when it involves hiring and managing other people.

Sam Acton started Domestic Angels, a domestic cleaning and home help service, in her home at Southbourne in 2002. Not only has it expanded and won a national award, but she has recently turned it into a franchising opportunity.

“I started with an ad in the Daily Echo on April 11, 2002. At 11.10am, a woman phoned up. She was my first client and stayed with me for 11 years,” she says.

“I quite quickly had four staff, then stayed at that level for a few years. I learned to be an employer.”

She now has around 20 staff looking after around 1,000 client hours a month. Although the business has moved to a home office in the garden, she has found no need to find separate premises.

The agency started in the days of home produced flyers rather than websites and social media, and the advance of technology has been vital to keeping a sizeable business going from home.

“The business would never have got as bit as it has if it wasn’t for technology,” she says.

“Email is very speedy and I can email and communicate with our clients whilst they’re at work. You can email for a reference and get it back straight away, which makes the business scalable anyway.”

She chose to franchise as a way of expanding the business while keeping her own operation a manageable size. Franchisees buy into a way of running the businesses and the processes it has evolved.

“Our reputation is the most precious thing we have because we’re in a service industry. It’s a really big deal. Franchisees are buying into the reputation and the culture,” she says.

Kate Shaw runs her own public relations business, KTPR, from home in Westbourne. Having been involved in politics and the private school sector, she launched the business in an area that has no shortage of PR agencies.

“It was my husband who had the belief that I could make it work. I started totally cold and I did have many doubts and kept my eye on the job market for quite some time but I gradually picked up and it’s gone from strength to strength,” she says.

The business has moved a couple of times within the house and is now in a spare bedroom.

“I found when I was in the back room it was starting to take over my life. My office is confined to one room in the house,” she says.

Both women have learned about finding boundaries between work and personal life. Sam Acton says she had to make it clear early on that working from home was still working.

“I was making myself too accessible. I had to say ‘I’m working at the moment, can I get back to you?’” she said.

But both say they benefit from flexibility in their working days.

“I like the fact that when [son] Jack comes in the door, we can have a chat. It’s being able to do those kinds of things and enjoying life and not feel like anything’s getting out of hand,” says Sam.

“When you get to the end of the day you’ve got the chance to sit at the table and have a chinwag.”

Kate Shaw added: “Quite often when I’ve got a press release to write, I’ll go down to the beach and take my laptop and be inspired by the surroundings. I’ve been quite flexible about where I might go during the day.”

There is little danger of feeling isolated from not being in a busy office, she says.

“The nature of my job is quite social anyway and it’s not just me sitting in my office,” she adds.

For Sam Acton, the success of the business outstripped her expectations. She took the title for home based business at the Venus National Awards for women in business in 2013-2014 after winning the local award. The confidence boost from that success has helped her expand the business, go into franchising and meanwhile organise annual Parliament Week events locally.

“In 2013, when I won the Venus, I struggled to take it on board that I was a business person. I was Sam who did Domestic Angels,” she says.

“When I won the national award, that’s when the penny really dropped.”

Professional Womens Networking Christmas Special

We attended the Professional Womens Networking Christmas Special yesterday hosted by PKF Francis Clark at Wyevale Garden Centre Salisbury.

Our plants expert, Nicky, demonstrated how to prepare a layered pot which will grow and bloom through spring into summer. Then, in the style of The Generation Game, we all had a go at creating our own pots.

With everyone engaged in their creations, chat came easily revealing ladies preparing to enter or re-engage with the world of entrepreneurship. Their ideas and plans are very reflective of Mum’s creating work life balance solutions to support family priorities and satisfy natural entrepreneurial energies.

Like their pots of plants, we look forward to watching and supporting them as they blossom and grow.

Lights on at The Factory – supporting emerging start-ups


Domestic Angels were invited to take part in this ground-breaking event targeting emerging start-up businesses and budding entrepreneurs. Several local businesses determined to support and service the audience had exhibition stands warmly welcoming the delegates, openly sharing knowledge, business experience and plenty of encouragement.

The event was peppered with seminars to enrich the delegate day including ‘From clueless to entrepreneur’ delivered by the Domestic Angels leadership team. We wanted to convey to the next generation of business owners that they really can take an idea with a blank piece of paper and create a fully-fledged company of their own. It was a privilege to meet and interact with our seminar delegates who courageously shared their business visions.

Delegate Sue contacted us post-event to say “The way you all spoke was testament to the brilliant working relationship you have as people with different skills and all working together for the good of the clients and the business. A truly novel way to talk that could only be done by a genuine team” We hope to stay in touch with emerging business delegates and watch them blossom.

As a business, we recognise that we have been fortuitous in our development and success which is directly attributable to a lot of hard work but also to the talents and knowledge inside and outside of the business which have directly and indirectly impacted on the evolution of Domestic Angels over the years. We have built strong partnerships providing us with a firm and lasting framework of support and supporters, all part of our success criteria. In turn, we take our turn to support emerging businesses through seminars, connectivity and mentoring.

Sam attends a Festive All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Women and Enterprise

Yesterday was the monthly meeting of the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Women and Enterprise in the festive Houses of Parliament. Representing Domestic Angels, Sam Acton, attended the meeting followed by Christmas drinks and speeches from the Women in Parliament APPG in the Thames Pavilion. We are particularly excited to have been appointed to a focus group within the APPG addressing business support, coaching and mentoring for women in business. Post meeting speeches were opened by Mims Davies MP and featured Maria Miller MP, Craig Tracey MP and Caroline Dinenage MP.

We feel privileged to be part of this APPG. It is an honour that our business opens doors for us to walk through allowing us to make a positive difference for others.

Parliament Week 2016 – #dodemocracy

Our commitment to the Parliament Week initiative since 2013 delivers an annual event to the senior schools of Bournemouth, bringing 60+ students into the Town Hall to practice and nurture their debating skills with the support of local, national and European politicians. The students prepare extensively and overcome nerves to participate in debates on current key topics. This year they discussed the validity and role of referendums in the UK and debated the speed at which article 50 should be activated in the matter of Brexit. The student’s performances and clarity of delivery were beyond their years and impressed all the politicians giving everyone renewed hope and energy for the electorate and leaders of tomorrow.

Domestic Angels were approached in 2013 to take the role of Partner to Parliament Week in the Bournemouth area as a direct result of the work we had been doing, and still carry out, to help women into work and empower them in the workplace. As Partners, we chose to focus on engaging pre-voting young people to show them that their voice does count and that they can make it heard. These 2 key messages will bring us the business and political leaders of tomorrow. Empowering the next generation in this way directly reflects the Domestic Angels ethos counteracting apathy and disenfranchisement.

Read the Daily Echo Article Here

Samantha Acton: Women in Business, There Should Be More of Us

The infographic shown here clearly displays the classic reasons why women are more reluctant than their male counterparts to start their own businesses. It is my concern that these statistics reflect belief rather than fact, that us ladies just need to believe in ourselves a little bit more.

‘It’s too risky’ – yes, businesses fail but it is far easier to find yourself stuck in a job which you don’t particularly like and doesn’t suit your family needs. You can reduce risk by carrying out research and planning in advance of launch, get advice, the Start Up Britain Bus being one port of call to put into your diary http://startupbritain.org/bus/

‘Concerned the business will fail’ – we are all concerned that our plans will not be realised in quite the way we have imagined. Seek good and solid mentors to guide you through the rough and the smooth. Mentors have years of business experience and often offer their services free of charge or at a minimal cost especially to start-ups. Try contacting your local Outset http://www.outset.org/

‘The current economic climate is too difficult’ – this is a perception which could be applied to any month of any year however the strongest businesses are often born out of the ashes of recession or the necessity of the founder. If you really want to succeed, and you’ve done your homework well, the economic climate will rarely hinder the most determined.

‘Need more skills’ – developing and running your own business totally from scratch, from the proverbial blank piece of paper, does involve rolling up your sleeves and learning all of the disciplines of business from bookkeeping to employment law and far more. Purchasing a comprehensive franchise which takes these pains away so that you can concentrate on business growth is an option. Take a look at The Domestic Angels management franchise opportunity which also allows you to work from home and flex around family demands http://franchise.domestic-angels.com/

‘Don’t think I could get enough money to start up’ – many business ideas need very little financial investment to get off the ground, the big demands are often your own determination and time. Seek guidance from your mentor before approaching investors and ask the Financial Consultants at http://www.outset.org/ to check that your figures are robust and to recommend local funding groups

Domestic Angels partner with The Crumbs Project and encourages other small businesses to do the same

Samantha Acton, of Domestic Angels in Bournemouth, has partnered with local charity, The Crumbs Project, which helps those with mental health problems and learning disabilities become independent. Crumbs recently encouraged and supported Domestic Angels in taking on Kelly, a woman with severe learning disabilities.

Crumbs Training and Development Manager, Ursula Boardman, advised “Although the law is clear that people with disabilities shouldn’t be discriminated against when seeking employment, only 46.7% of those with disabilities were in employment at the end of 2015, compared to 80.3 % of non-disabled people. Given that there are seven million people of working age in the UK who have a disability, or health condition, there’s a huge amount of untapped talent for small business owners with vacancies to fill.”

Domestic Angels employs 20 people who carry out housework in people’s homes and holiday businesses. Speaking of the Crumbs partnership, Samantha advised, “The only cost to the company was time, we just needed to have a few more cups of tea and a few more chats than we would with other recruits. It was nothing more than that. We needed to gain Kelly’s confidence, so she felt she could open up, talk to us and ask questions. It’s new for her to come out to work.”

Kelly, with the support of her personal advisor at Crumbs, began shadowing another member of staff in cleaning properties two months ago. Now a paid member of staff, she is on her way to taking on a similar workload to other members of staff and becoming a fully-fledged Domestic Angel.”

Crumbs training and Development Manager Ursula Boardman commented, “We first met Domestic Angels at a recruitment fair in Bournemouth. Kelly was there with a member of The Crumbs Project staff who was there supporting her in her search for work. Marie who is a Team Leader at Domestic Angels was really interested to hear about the work that Crumbs does and was extremely helpful chatting to Kelly about the opportunities within the business. Kelly subsequently decided to pursue the opportunity to work for Domestic Angels and a work trial was set up.”

Continuing Ursula added, “Kelly was ecstatic when we told her that she had been accepted to do a work trial. Marie has been wonderful with Kelly, showing compassion and patience, spending time with Kelly and building Kelly’s confidence. Kelly is now in paid employment with Domestic Angels which has not only boosted Kelly’s confidence but has made her feel accepted and capable. We would like to say a huge thank you to Domestic Angels for the support that they have given.”

Sam Acton concluded, “Small businesses should not feel daunted. I strongly recommend that they should try and embrace the opportunity if it presents itself. You will get back just as much as you put in. We can’t wait to meet the next candidate Crumbs put forward!”

www.domestic-angels.co.uk
www.facebook.com/thecrumbsproject

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/connect/small-business/taking-on-disabled-staff/

Sam attends Franchise Conference

Sam Acton, Director at Domestic Angels, attended the Encouraging Women into Franchising (EWIF) 2016 Annual Conference on Thursday this week in Stratford upon Avon. The objective of EWIF is threefold: to encourage women to consider buying a franchise, to encourage business women to franchise their existing operations and to help franchisors attract more women to their networks. “As a business new to the franchise sector and with a personal passion to support women in business, this conference and our membership of EWIF is very significant. A recent NatWest Entrepreneurship Monitor clearly shows that women tend to see more barriers to starting a new business than men. Franchising provides the perfect reduced risk option instantly breaking down both perceived and real barriers.”

The conference was hosted by Sarah Carlisle founder of Coconut Creatives, a business that helps franchisors find their perfect franchisees. Delegates enjoyed ‘state of the franchise nation’ opening speech from EWIF CEO Clive Sawyer, a compact networking masterclass delivered by Clare Davis from Nova Associates and a keynote speech and song from Celia Delaney.

Parliamentary Reception for Female Entrepreneurs

Not your average Monday in the office for Domestic Angels on 12th September! Sam from Domestic Angels attended the All Party Parliamentary Group for Women & Enterprise Reception celebrating female entrepreneurship.

Hosted by Craig Tracey MP, the Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Women and Enterprise, the discussion circled around the findings from of the NatWest Entrepreneurship Monitor.

The event finished with also featured a keynote speech from Helen Pattinson, founder of Montezuma London (their chocolate is a guilty pleasure at Angels HQ!) She spoke passionately about the need for female role models.

There was also a speech from Caroline Dinenage MP, Secretary of State for Women, Equalities and Early Years Caroline who discussed the economic importance for the UK of increasing support for female entrepreneurs.

As well as Julie Baker, Head of Enterprise at NatWest, presented who ran through the results of the Entrepreneurship Monitor, which clearly showed the type of what support entrepreneurial women need but also what and more importantly the scale of the massive latent potential they have.

The Parliament event and seminar attracted a handpicked crowd of 100 female entrepreneurs and MPs from around the country to Portcullis House, Westminster.

Reflecting on the event, Sam commented “The findings of the monitor and the words from the Secretary of State and Craig Tracey MP gave me confidence that this government is on track to connect with the needs, and therefore potential, of the female entrepreneur sector and in particular growing sophistication and power of home based businesses.”