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New Committee Member

We are delighted to welcome a new addition to our committee Nicola Anderson who joined us in January. Nicola has over 25 years experience in the creative and print industries and has been running her own Graphic Design business October Creative for the past 5 years. We have been putting her plethora of knowledge to good use by rolling out our branding on social media and updating the design of our website. Nicola will be at our next event, our very popular ‘Sounding Board’ on the 12th September, if you don’t know her already please come and say hello.

Sounding Board Event

Book our September Sounding Board Event

Join Jenny Matthews, chair of Handbags & Briefcases for our every popular sounding board.This is a chance to share successes and challenges with your peers in a relaxed and friendly atmosphere. Helping each other to grow your businesses and solve business problems you may have. All are welcome from pre-startup to established SME businesses.Our sounding boards’ events are always FREE for our members but please book online to confirm your place. Non-members are welcome at a cost £10 plus booking fee.Tea and coffee provided. Book Now

Private Dining Event

Book our October Private Dining Event

Our 2nd October 2019 Event - is for our Satchel members - and is now open for booking here. It is being held at The Village Hotel in Bury from 12.00 pm to 2.00 pm.Come and join us for a delicious networking lunch and meet local like-minded Businesswomen. This lunch is in aid of the ‘SuperJosh’ charity This invaluable charity helps children who have brain tumours and supports their families. Please support them here Book Now


Supporting a Member

It is great to hear what members get up to away from their day to day business. Sue Weighell, our treasurer, is supporting BreastFest 2019, being run be the charity Prevent Breast Cancer. Sue is raising funds through JustGiving and would love your support. Sue is NOT running, cycling or swimming but taking on the challenge of being a lingerie model! The charity is holding an event on 5 October and 30 women, who have suffered from breast cancer will be parading in Figleaves underwear! Other women will be singing and dancing at an Afternoon Bee (tea). You can read more at the Prevent website. You can read Sue's full story here but it is nearly 29 years since Sue was diagnosed with breast cancer and 21 years since her mastectomy and reconstruction.

Sounding Board Event

Book our July Sounding Board Event

Our 18 July 2019 event - The Sounding Board - is now open for booking. It is being held at The Metropolitan in Disbury from 10.30 am to 1.00 pm. Jenny Matthews will be hosting the event and we look forward to seeing you there.

Private Dining Event

New Year Lunch – Members Only

Satchel members are invited to a FREE 3 course lunch in a private dining room Where? Gusto Manchester 4 Lloyd Street, Manchester, M2 5AB (just off Deansgate) When? 12.30 pm on 16th January 2019 Why? To celebrate the start of a New Year (Handbags & Briefcases 11th year) and to find out what you want from the group and help us plan 2019 events. Please email Jenny, Sue or to book your place.  Places are limited and so get your booking made NOW. When the event is full you can ask to be added to the waiting list.

Save the date

Save 16th January 2019 for free restaurant lunch for members in a private dining room. Watch out for more details coming soon

Do you want to go to a FREE event?

We all love something free don't we? Well for members, Handbags & Briefcases Sounding Board events are FREE. And membership is only £50 or £100. Or do you feel if you pay more the event must be better? We would love to hear your views about what you want from Handbags & Briefcases. This is YOUR female only network group.

Sounding Board Event

What did you miss at The Sounding Board?

Our first event after the summer break was The Sounding Board. This was again a great event - 12 ladies - lots of enthusiasm! We managed this time to fit everyone into one group so we were able to find out about everyone instead of just a few Difficult as always to keep to time - we ladies just love to chat There were some really interesting contacts and possible business links that came out of the event One attendee shared how regulations in her sector are changing quite dramatically and it was good to see the group not only support her but offer some sound and useful advice as well around how to move forward Time management and the benefit of planning was mentioned several times - we all seem to have lots going on apart from running our businesses Great to be part of a supportive group of women that have our best interests at heart Want to be part of the group? Then why not come to our next event - Speed Networking - on 30 October 2018

Congratuations to Val Dickinson

I am sure you will join me in congratulating Val for winning an award for one of her businesses.- Savvy Guest Savvy Guest has won a Bronze Social Value award from the Chamber Business Awards Val keeps busy running her own consultancy, Defero (a boutique marketing agency) and also runs the Business Executive Club and Let's Do Boards Well done Val, it is great to be rewarded for all your hard work Have you got business news then share with us - email or post the news on our Facebook members group? Not in the group? Then apply to join the group  here

Round up of news

Sue Weighell has been nominated for an Enterprise Vision Award and we ask that you support her by voting at Events for the rest of the year Our next event is 26th September - Sounding Board at The Metropolitan (booking open) October - date to be advised November - 22nd November at Denton Golf Club December - Christmas social event - private dining. Date to be advised. Numbers will be limited so look out for details

Recognition of a member

We are pleased to say that Sue Weighell, our treasurer, has been nominated for an Enterprise Vision Award in the Financial Services category. I am sure you will want to support Sue by voting for her - click here to vote. Voting is open now and closes on 8th September. The awards will be presented at an event in Blackpool on 28th September. Sue is a Chartered Accountant who not only runs her own consultancy business, Delta Solutions but is also director/shareholder of Alpine Facilities Services Ltd and the K-Club. We wish Sue every success.

Final call for May event

There are just a few places left on our 23 May event - Plan Your Business Success. If you want to join us please use the booking link. This is your chance to work on your business in an interactive session led by Sue Weighell. Sue is a Chartered Accountant with directorships and investments in a number of businesses. The event is being hosted at Ultimate Creative Communications Ltd in Knutsford, who have kindly lent us a meeting room.

Let’s communicate

In the days of looming GDPR, we are all inundated with data. But we will have to send out an email shortly asking you to Opt In to emails from us to receive details of our events and business news. Please respond to this as it will help clean our database. Did you know we have a Facebook page at so please follow us to be event updates. Let's support each other

Book events online

We are now taking bookings for all events up to May 2018 and full details are on the website with a link to booking site, Eventbrite. You can attend the ever popular Sounding Board with Jenny Matthews, where you can discuss your business triumphs and challenges with your peers - February and April. March sees Val Dickinson sharing her thoughts on PR , Branding and GDPR. May is the turn of Sue Weighell to work with you on business planning. The numbers are capped at this event due to the interactive nature of the session. Members are entitled to free attendance at these events but please book online to ensure you have a place.

2018 Calendar of events

Our 2018 calendar events is now published. We are taking bookings for the first three events in February, March and April. We have put together a varied calendar of events so save the dates in your diary and don't forget to book! Click on "Read More" to see the calendar link Calendar of Events 2018 to download the calendar. Look out for updates as we move through 2018 as events made be subject to change.

What’s coming in 2018?

Happy New Year to you all! Your committee has been working behind the scenes to plan a program of events for 2018. The calendar will be sent out in January with dates of events for the whole year. This gives you the chance to plan your diary. There is no meeting in January but we suggest this is a great time to sit back and look at your business or business idea and set your goals for 2018. And if you want to get feedback from our goals, the first event of the year will be a Sounding Board on 16 February 2018. An ideal chance to share those goals and get feedback. We also suggest that you check your member profile on the website and make sure it is up to date. We wish you great success in your business ambitions and look forward to meeting regularly with you.

How can an accountant help your business

If you don’t have an accountant, then you may not know what an accountant can do. In the early stages you don’t need sophisticated services. Focus on these short term anxieties to start: Set up and compliance Your accountant can make sure that you have the correct legal structure set up for your business and that you are complying with legislation. Getting it right from day one will save time and effort down the line. Figuring out how the business is doing As businesses grow and speed up, owners can lose track of their financial situation. Owners may not know if they’re profitable, or how much they can reinvest in the business. An accountant can help you have this information at your fingertips. Taking away hassle No one gets into business to do accounting. It is essential to build systems that reduce your bookkeeping commitments. For business owners who are scrambling to do a thousand things at once, there’s no greater gift than time. Having a go-to person Owners of small and start-up businesses often have a lot of questions. You may worry that some of them are naive or stupid. Your accountant can be that person. You will learn more as time goes on and you will become more confident in yourself and your business.  

Goal Setting in 2017

The beginning of a year is always a time we think of our personal and business goals and targets. For each goal or target expected results will need to be identified, including measurement criteria. The focus here should be on results, not on a list of tasks or activities – what will success in this goal look like? Clear measures should be identified which will enable a judgement to be made on how well each result has been achieved – what would you look for to evaluate success against this result, what has been actually delivered? Not everything can be measured with a number, but words can be used to describe how someone can observe a result that meets expectations. Ask yourself: ‘If I were evaluating success against this target, what would I look for?’ Write down your goals and how you will measure success today. Why not share them with us?

May letter from the Chair

Thank you to all of you that managed to get to our AGM and Sounding Board event at the end of April; I hope you enjoyed the session and came away with lots of useful feedback from the groups you were in. As always at the AGM the committee stepped down and a new committee was formed – I hope you had time to talk to some of us – your feedback and thoughts are very valuable to help us plan future events. I couldn’t help but hear from many of you that did attend, that you talked about finding new and persuasive ways to find and keep customers. There are so many new businesses springing up in all sectors and industries now that we really do need to have a strong competitive edge – do you know what yours is? For me, a big part of finding your competitive edge is connecting with your customer’s world; knowing what they are really about and what is important to them. How do we know what to sell to someone if we don’t know what their problems are? Do we excite our customers by displaying our edge with passion and clarity – or do we fall into the trap of being yet another ‘me too’ player? Some of you will have a well thought out and defined edge but some of you may not know how to even start, so let us help you. One of the values Handbags & Briefcases holds very dear is offering a supportive and nurturing environment where any of its members can try out different ideas, maybe voice concerns over what is happening in their businesses or just look for a like minded business woman to share a cup of coffee with. We are here to help you. Our next event is very soon Franchising …

Notice of Upcoming AGM on 28.4.15

31/3/2015 0 Comments It's that time of year Ladies!Time to give you notice of our upcoming AGM on Tuesday 28th April 2015, at The Enterprise Centre in Wythenshawe, from 12-3pm.  Join us for a free lunch, vote for your committee members and get stuck into the nitty gritty of your business at The Sounding Board which follows. Over the last year we have brought you a number of events; the majority of which have been FREE to members, and we hope that you have made lasting friendships, gained valuable advice, ideas and support from your peers, and most of all, have enjoyed being part of a successful and supportive network.We are always looking for extra help on the committee - whether it is to arrange venues, book speakers, sort membership administration, take bookings, help with marketing or website, or even just to met and greet and setup rooms - YOUR help in running this not-for-profit group is very much welcomed!Please email us if you would like to offer your help on the committee. Source: New feed

March Update from The Chair

I really can’t believe that we have got to March so quickly, 2 months of the year gone in the blink of an eye and I have to be honest and say that the rest of the year will speed past just as quickly. Nothing we can do about it so let’s enjoy the journey and take advantage of any opportunities that comes our way. How are you doing with your 2015 goals and targets? Are you monitoring and evaluating where you are? What you have achieved so far and where you need to put extra effort in? I was reading an interesting article the other day titled “13 Things Mentally Strong People DON’T Do” and it occurred to me that these ideas were just as important in business as in our personal lives. The points were: 1. They don’t feel sorry for themselves 2. They don’t give their power away 3. They don’t shy away from change 4. They don’t worry about pleasing everyone 5. They don’t waste their energy on things they can’t control 6. They don’t fear taking calculated risks 7. They don’t dwell 8. They don’t make the same mistakes 9. They don’t resent other people’s successes 10. They don’t give up 11. They don’t fear time alone 12. They don’t feel like the world owes them something 13. They don’t expect immediate results. When I read the article it made me think about how many of these may be holding my business and me back? Most of them didn’t resonate with me – but a couple of them did – how about you? Are some of your thoughts stopping you from achieving what you want in life and business and stopping you from enjoying your journey? Could make an interesting round the table networking session – please let me know your thoughts and I would be more than happy to organise something. I really do …

December Update from the Chair

I’m going to be short and sweet with my chairs letter this month ladies, mostly because the festive season is almost upon us and I appreciate that you are probably similar to me and feel that we are even more stretched than usual for time. How did it get to December? As I tap away on my laptop it's only 15 sleeps until Christmas – time is slipping away quickly now. I hope you managed to get to the last meeting of 2014 on Wednesday 19th November at The Radisson Blu near the airport. What a great session it was – topped off with Clarins goodie bags! Many thanks to Clarins for bringing so many products to tempt us with and even more importantly to members Karen Scrace with her PartyLite Candles, Amanda with her Phoenix Cards selection and Rachel Hutchinson from Patch Memories - really appreciated and well done on gaining several sales. So let’s have a quick think about 2015 We have an amazing diary of events to offer to you. Your Handbags and Briefcases committee is meeting this week where we'll confirm the details and get the planned 2015 programme out to you all, but in the mean time here is the first date to get into your diaries. The Sounding Board - WEDNESDAY 14th JANUARY – 1.00-3.00pm at The Enterprise Centre, Benchill Road, Wythenshawe. I do hope you can make this event and I'm looking forward to helping to plan an even better year for us all. Take care and enjoy the festive break! See you on the 14th January, Jenny.

Last Networking Event of 2014

It was great to see so many members and visitors to our last network event of the year recently, at the Radisson Blu Hotel at Manchester Airport. Guests enjoyed canapés and drinks whilst browsing pampering products and samples from Clarins, and catching up with friends old and new. Join us at an event in 2015!

November update from the Chair

10/11/2014 0 Comments I can’t believe it has got to November so quickly – one minute we are planning for summer holidays and the next we are planning for Christmas – well I am!  Sorry if you don’t want to think about it yet but I come from a really big family who love Christmas so I have to be organised.I've also been thinking about some of the events I have attended over the past year and one of my favorites has to be the last Handbags and Briefcases social media event that Suzie Zobair from Smart Bear Creative ran a couple of weeks ago. I enjoyed the session so much for 2 main reasons; 1 - The content was fantastic.  Suzie structured the session around LinkedIn and Twitter.  She gave us bite-sized bits of knowledge and helped us practice and put into action our own strategies for using these platforms.  We all accomplished a great deal on the day and the ROI both in time and money was very worthwhile. 2 - Just as importantly though was the support we all received from everyone else who was there. Lots of other key pieces of information were passed about and plenty of hand holding as we got to grips with some of the technicalities we had to learn. Peer support at its best! Peer support is so important and it is one of the corner stones of what Handbags and Briefcases is about.I have read a couple of articles recently on the same subject – they both highlighted how important peer support is to women entrepreneurs.  One of the articles talks about cooperative competition – a mixture of competition and collaboration, this is where someone learns about the progress another business leader has made and it provides inspiration and drive to help them improve themselves.  I really …

October update from the H&B Chair

10/10/2014 0 Comments I like September – but I have to say I like October even more. Not really sure why that is – maybe it is because it is my birthday month or maybe it is because wherever you look the world seems to be a blaze of colour. The trees are providing us with a carpet of leaves in every shade imaginable – wonderful.But I also like October because it is a good month to reflect on what I have and haven’t accomplished this year. We are now in the final quarter of 2014 and I am sure we would all agree that the year is galloping away. Nothing we can do about that but we can make sure that we spend our time and energy wisely on areas of our lives that are important to us. Passion and Purpose That says it all for me - what am I passionate about and what is my purpose?  Anything can be included if it is right for you.  Some of us would claim to be passionate about our businesses and for others it might be more their purpose.  Some of us might claim that they are passionate about their loved ones – their children and for others this is more about purpose. So how is it for you?  The 2 are so closely linked together that most of us don’t really think why we are doing whatever it is we are doing – maybe it’s just the next thing on the to do list?So reflecting on why we do what we do and what we want to accomplish, how are you with reaching those goals you set at the beginning of the year.Are you on target?    Are you within 10% of achieving them or 70%?? One of my philosophies is having achievable goals that you can measure. Think it …

Big Sounding Board 2014

30/9/2014 0 Comments What a great event we had recently at our BIG Sounding Board, held at the The Broomwood Community Centre.Speakers during the day were: Lily Newman of Morgan James Consulting Will Blanksby of Blank Canvas Learning Sue Wieghell of Delta Solutions Neil Clough of NWC Consultancy Each of the speakers gave an insight into how making small changes to the way we run our business, perceive ourselves, deal with customers and move forward, can reap huge rewards in the future.  A topic for discussion followed each seminar, during which delegates were able to apply the lessons learned to their own businesses. With a delicious buffet lunch and great hospitality from BluSci, the day was great success! A big thank you goes to members Suzi Zobair for photographing the event, and to Julie Friday for filming our video.

If your business was a car, what would it be?

14/7/2014 0 Comments Following on from the successful talk given in May, Helen Dibble of The Great Little Marketing Co returned last week and delivered a very interesting and powerful workshop to members of our network group.Helen’s workshop ‘Creating Effective Marketing Materials’ helped members understand the basics of marketing content.  Asking questions such as; if your business was a car what would it be? Who are you writing for? Helen created very lively and humorous practical sessions for members to pinpoint the right tone-of-voice for their business, understand their customer persona and use Power Words to create compelling marketing material. One of our attendees commented “I have had many light-bulb moments today. Helen’s workshop has given me the opportunity to step back from my business, gain knowledge, share and test ideas, in a very friendly and collaborative environment. Thank you to Danwood for kindly hosting this event.

A warm welcome from your new chair!

Jenny Matthews was elected as the new Chair for Handbags and Briefcases at the recent |AGM.Here, she addresses members and supporters alike;As ever, we've a diverse programme of events lined up over the next few months and I really look forward to meeting you.  Please feel free to e-mail me with any questions or suggestions about the network; all feedback helps our committee to provide thought provoking sessions to grow both your business and yourself.At our recent AGM, the current committee stepped down and a new committee was enrolled. Sue Weighell who has chaired the group for the past 2 years, keeping the network in great shape, will remain with us as Treasurer - her financial experience will be of benefit to all of us.Amanda Manson who has been H&B Secretary for the past couple of years and is also staying with us - her attention to detail is critical.There were further offers from members to become involved - without their support and expertise the network wouldn't exist and grow as it has done.Our other new committee members are;Carole BondTanya SimisterTheresa MoranYvonne Ellis Ola SerikiCollette Taylor I do hope to meet you at an event soon,Jenny

Taking Control of Your Finances

23/6/2014 0 Comments Member Susheila Cox of SKC Accounting gave attendees to our latest event a whistle-stop tour of the actions to take, to ensure we keep on top of our finances.We looked at what sort of information it is necessary to keep, how to structure it, how to produce a simple set of accounts, and most importantly - when to ask for help! With examples to work on in groups, attendees left with a clearer view of how to structure business records, what information to keep, and a good overview of how to manage our business finances.How long until tax return deadline date..?!

Attendees 'DibbleDabble' With The Power of Print

30/5/2014 0 Comments A full house attended a session with Helen Dibble of The Great Little Marketing Co this month, to go over their printed material and learn how to make the most of what was written on it.Helen talked helped us find the right words for our business, website, article and campaign - focussing specifically on printed material such as flyers.With tips on mapping our audience with 6 simple tips and a direct mail checklist, the session empowered attendees to go forth and have a go at creating our own perfect words! For more details, visit Helen's website here.Thanks go to Danwood for kindly hosting us for this event.

All Change! Handbags & Briefcases Committee needs YOU!

On 30th April 2014 the existing Handbags & Briefcases committee will stand down after a year of office.Over the past 12 months we have arranged 10 events, including the full day BIG Sounding Board in September, and have held quarterly meetings as a committee to ensure that we provide quality, informative and useful events for our members and visitors.The work we do to bring you these events is all done voluntarily.  Without a committed and engaged committee the group would not exist.  And so we are calling on YOU - our members (existing or ready to join) - to step up to the plate and volunteer just a small amount of your time and expertise to keep the group going!  After our recent 5 year celebrations, we want to continue providing support to women in business across South Manchester.There are a number of roles to fill, and even if you can't commit to a specific role itself but would still like to be involved, we'd love to hear from you!  If you are interested in a role, but aren't sure of how to use a specific application or package, don't worry, you'll get support! The roles to be filled are;1. Chair - overseeing events in general, newsletters, social media2. Secretary - minutes, room/speaker bookings, website/Mailchimp/Eventbrite/social media updates3. Treasurer - finance forecast & reviews, fees & event income/reconciliation 4. Membership coordinator - new/renewal/leavers admin; new member welcome, liaison with members due to renew, with leavers re survey completion.5. Mentor(s) - to liaise with new members & provide 1hr support.  6. Others - to support existing roles, help at events, as-hoc tasks such as calls to ex-members, etc.At the AGM on 30.4.14, the current committee will step down and fully paid up members may put themselves forward to be elected to those roles.  Only members are entitled to vote.So are you ready to be …

Sales – The Way Forward for Handbags & Briefcases members!

Local businessman Charlie McIntyre of CM Services UK Ltd joined us in February to talk... sales!Shifty.  Pushy.  Uncomfortable.  Just a few of the words used to describe the perception we have of a 'typical salesperson'.But in reality we are ALL salespeople!  Whether it's promoting our own business or endorsing another, what we say and how we say it can make a difference.Charlie showed us how by making minor changes to the way we ask a question, planning outbound calls properly, or by gaining a 1% increase our sales volume, we can all make massive positive changes to our businesses.  Plenty of food for thought! If any members would like to attend a more in-depth sales training course run by Charlie, then we may be able to offer this at a reduced group rate.  Please email our Chair indicating your interest, so that we can collate numbers and try to arrange something.

Sound advice from women in business - just like you!

January saw the return of our ever-popular Sounding Board event, allowing attendees to share and request feedback on issues in their businesses.Facilitated by Jenny Matthews of Opia Good Thinking, delegates work in small groups, learning about each other's skills, and requesting help on a specific areas of their business.  Each person in the group receives feedback and suggestions, based on the experience, knowledge or point of view of the other people in that group.  Delegates come away with a fabulous pool of ideas and knowledge that they can then implement in some way in their own work.Not been to a sounding board yet? Come along to our next one on 30th April 2014, after enjoying a buffet lunch whilst we hold our brief AGM.  Details are on our Events page.

Let's eat cake

Thanks to Susan Hanley of Bespoke Cakes by Susan for this fabulous cake just waiting to be eaten at our 5th Anniversary Event on 14 November 2014We are really looking forward to celebrating with friends, old and new, with a glass of bubbly

Happy Anniversary

Five years ago a germ of an idea blossomed into the success of Handbags & Briefcases.  The task - to given women support in setting up their business in Wythenshawe and the surrounding areas.  And that is what a small group of women (and one man) did by getting lottery funding to get the group formed.  Since then many women have joined the group and now run successful businesses over the wider Manchester area.You must agree this is something to celebrate.We are doing just that in an anniversary networking party on 14th November.  What have we got?  Food, drink, celebration cake, live music and inspiring stories.  How much do members have to pay for this event?  Nothing!  And why not bring a friend?  Maybe someone just starting on the business journey?  We are only charging £10 a ticket for non-members.So, join us:On Thursday 14th November at 7.30 pm join us at The Moorfield, Marsland Road, Sale - click here for more details and booking information 

The BIG Sounding Board

What a great day we all had - working on our business!There were fabulous talks on business planning, branding, finance, presenting and social media, together with a truly moving story from our motivational speaker.  There was plenty of time to network and discuss those business issues with fellow delegates.Many thanks to our speakers on the day!Clockwise from top right;Andy Graham - Aspire, Act, AchieveMark Dyble - SME Business SolutionsCaroline Evers - Busy Bee MarketingSid Moore - Moore AccountancyAlex McCann - Altrincham HQGillian Taylor - Sequence Communications Feed back from member, Susheila Cox of SKC Accounting -"Just to say, I thought the session was great – great speakers, good opportunities to network, and helpful to be out of the office all day, with no distractions.  Well done, and thank you!"At the event we also launched our new membership card.  We have already got businesses willing to offer discount to our members.  Can your business offer a discount to members?

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