Business development for women in SME
I’ve just spent a great couple of days calling the ladies who took part in the most recent term of the Macclesfield Bird Table business development group. It was fabulous to hear how the Bird Table has benefitted them and their businesses!
At the same time, I’ve realised that lots of people who’ve heard me mention The Bird Table are not really sure what it is…
“Is it another women’s networking group?”
“Is it like a mastermind group?”
“Why is it called the Bird Table/Bath/Cage/Nest??”
(I’ve heard a few different variations on the name!)
A confidential, supportive, yet challenging environment
In a nutshell, each Bird Table is a business development group for women in SME run by a professional coach. Women entrepreneurs from diverse company types – from brand new micro businesses to well-established businesses and second or third businesses – share ideas, challenges and experience.
My role is to facilitate a coaching environment, to help my Bird Table members to ask each other great coaching questions and to keep each other on track to reach their objectives. We provide strong challenge as well as support, and the process is tight. This is no chit chat over coffee & cake with pals… although we do make strong connections …and there may be cake!
Together we create a safe, confidential environment where it’s OK not to be the ‘polished you’. You don’t need to sparkle and shine like in networking! In fact, selling isn’t allowed – that doesn’t mean business isn’t done here – but it is collaborative in style.
Therefore the Macclesfield Bird Table provides a supportive, challenging, confidential and safe environment for women business owners to get together and focus on their business and their goals, share their successes and talents, and learn from each other. The members benefit from dedicated ‘me time’, to think and be heard, within a trusted group of like-minded women who produce extraordinary results.
“Sometimes the best thing we can do for another human being is to listen without interruption.” Nancy Kline
Bird Table members say that they love the mutual support of women, and although this is not a mothers’ group, there are lots of mothers in The Bird Table, all juggling and recognising the unique challenge of balancing a business and a family.
Why do I run a Bird Table Group?
Early in 2014 I took part in a coaching group – I joined the group hoping to figure out ’What next??’ – I knew after 16 years in a corporate role that I wanted to do something different career-wise but didn’t know what…
Over the four group coaching sessions, I explored what activities and aspects of my current role, hobbies and volunteer work I found rewarding and fulfilling (coaching, facilitating, delivering workshops, teaching) and considered how I could turn these into a career that made me jump out of bed in the morning going ’Woo hoo!’ excited for the day ahead to start.
As a group we very quickly connected with each other and kept in close contact between coaching sessions, sharing our thoughts, progress and challenges. I feel honoured to have met, and connected with, such a fantastic, supportive and inspiring group of women. Our connection has lasted, and will continue to last, long beyond the timescale of the coaching programme itself.
For me, the group coaching was career- and life-changing, so when I heard about The Bird Table, I knew I wanted to be part of it!
I then found out that being a Bird Table coach gave me a sense of community and connection that I didn’t realise I was missing as a solo business owner. As well as taking part in our own thinking groups, Bird Table coaches meet regularly for CPD (Continuing Professional Development). We just had our first annual Bird Table conference – I came home buzzing with new ideas for coaching groups! Just like our individual Bird Table groups, we also support and challenge each other on an ongoing basis in our private and confidential Facebook group.
What do the Macclesfield Bird Table members say?
What feedback did my Bird Table members (some of whom have been with me for more than one term) give me?
Time and space to focus
“The Bird Table really helped me to focus on myself and my business. It was great to concentrate and get clarity on areas of my life that I hadn’t had chance to sit down and think about. The Bird Table is invaluable from a personal development point of view. It offers a supportive environment and helps you to move forward.”
Thinking in groups
“I really enjoyed it! It was good to have questions from various people. Even in the first session when we were talking about strengths, it felt credible that others said things other than just the coach. I felt held accountable to doing things but not in a pressurised way.”
Coaching – not networking, selling or counselling!
“We came up with our own things to work on and worked on them.
I really enjoyed the fact that it was questions and suggestions that were only suggestions – it wasn’t people trying to tell you, which can be condescending – it was more supportive rather than ‘helping’ each other.”
Would you like to focus on your business in a confidential, supportive environment?
I am proud to be part of the Bird Table and to have the opportunity to help other female business owners think more clearly, set tighter goals and grow their businesses.
Are you are a female business owner? Would you like to grow your business and experience the power of the Bird Table? I am recruiting for the next term of the Macclesfield Bird Table. If you’d like to know more, please get in touch via the contact form or call me on +44 7526 740486.
What’s your experience of working on your own? Do you belong to a ‘tribe’? Do you invest quality time developing your business?
Let me know your thoughts by adding your comments below…