Amanda Ayres, Founder of the Business Girls Network
Empowering, supporting, connecting and inspiring female entrepreneurs or aspiring businesswomen
I’m quite a private person, which sounds ridiculous given I run a networking community and host events! Sometimes I’ll have been up all night with my son; he is 28, autistic and has complex mental health issues. I do what I need to do; then go home to sleep. Being my own boss, I can be anywhere I need to be, but with my marketing hat on I know that consistency is key.
Even if you’re having a bad day, you still need to post on social or your audience switches off and you risk going back to the beginning. That was one of my worries when my son was hospitalised for six months last year, but my community were fantastic. I explained the situation and got brilliant support because I’ve always been my authentic self with them.
I didn’t have a vision or a mission when I started out in 2014. I just wanted to outsource some PR work, but I couldn’t find a local Facebook group for business requests. I created my own and, within two days, I had 400 members!
As time went on, people asked for events. Sometimes four people rocked up, sometimes 20. With no business name and no website, 70 women attended our first birthday celebration!
My day job was marketing, but the group started taking over my life. I wasn’t earning anything from it, so when I started to get flack (the nature of the beast), I announced I was closing it down. Hundreds of people emailed saying: “Please don’t”.
I’d put in the blood, sweat and tears to grow a credible, respectable community for female businessowners; people were prepared to pay to be part of that.
Transitioning to a membership model and experimenting with monetisation isn’t easy. It’s taken me three years, but today I charge a £15 a month membership fee. With 200-plus members in my paid-for group, Business Girls Network is now my day job. Added to that, I have 4,000 women in my free group who have attended over 100 sell-out events.
So many women give up in business because it’s easier to. My community is about giving people the strength to keep going.