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The Growing Club is an organisation founded to 'bridge the gap in business education for women'.

A social enterprise, The Growing Club was founded in Lancaster in 2016 by Jane Binnion. Running her own business, Jane become frustrated with the lack of business training available that specifically met the needs of women so she set out and developed an affordable 12 month business growth programme which combined facilitated workshops with a network of peer support.

Since its launch 70 women from across the North West have completed the course. The Growing Club's success has expanded and now also offers pre-start up and start up courses, as well as a variety of initiatives designed to support women who face barriers to entering traditional employment into self-employment and business ownership.

Some of the women who have completed the course have gone on to become trainers at The Growing Club alongside running their own businesses.

Judith is one of these women.

What made you decide to be a trainer for The Growing Club?

When I did the Growing Club programme, I travelled from Preston up to Lancaster to take part. I fell in love with the GC ethos and way of working. I wanted to bring that supportive community vibe into Preston to make what the GC offers available here too.

Being part of the GC will also give me the opportunity to meet, connect with and learn from the amazing women in Preston who I don’t know yet. That’s the beauty of the non-hierarchical/peer-support element of Growing Club courses - it’s an ongoing cycle of connection, support and learning.

What are some of the pitfalls for women in business that you’ve experienced?

I think the biggest problem for many women in business is fear. Before joining the GC, I had a pathological fear of asking questions and putting myself out there.

The month spent working on ‘Negative Automatic Thoughts’ really helped me identify unhelpful patterns of belief. I could then challenge them so I could get rid of that baggage and take a more balanced view.

If, like me, you are sensitive to rejection, that fear can be hard to shake, but fears that hold us back need to be faced if we’re to grow.

How can The Growing Club help women to grow their businesses sustainably?

The reality is that being in business for women is a different experience than it is for men. Social and cultural expectations, stereotypes of women, stories we tell ourselves and the day-to-day practicalities of how we live our lives all impact our ability to grow our businesses - The Growing Club recognises this.

The year’s programme covers the nuts and bolts essentials of running any business, through business skills workshops. But skills training alone isn’t enough for women when the laundry is piling up, the school run is looming, we need to look in on an elderly relative and cook the tea – growing our business can drop to the bottom of the list no matter how many practical skills we have.

The second element of the course focuses on putting personal and business growth to the top of our agenda: self-care, valuing ourselves and our time, undoing unhelpful patterns of thinking and learning to think BIG!

The final element is the peer network for support and accountability – you’re not going it alone. With GC, you’re in a cohort of 10 women, with whom you will buddy up with for mutual support in between the monthly sessions.

If you could offer one time saving tip to a woman running her own business, what would it be?

My best time saving tip is to avoid double-handling. This is logistics-speak for ‘don’t do the same job twice’. Planning and being pro-active is what helps me to approach things in a logical order. This means that time isn’t wasted clearing up problems later that I’ve created for myself by avoiding tasks or doing half a job in the first place.

Being pro-active saves time and reduces stress – and when we’re stressed we’re even more prone to making mistakes!

The next training courses will be held in Preston.

When?

  • From 15th May 2019 on the third Wednesday of each month for a year.

Where?

  • Intact Centre, Whitby Drive, Ingol, PR2 3YP.

To find out more visit the Growing Club's website.

About Judith

Judith is a seamstress based in Preston specialising in manufacturing baby slings for some of the UK’s top brands. She also provides education and support to families who wish to use slings.

A combination of a passion for textiles, traditional crafts and babywearing led her to growing her business alongside managing a busy household and looking after her partner, four school-age children and two guinea pigs.

Most of Judith’s time is spent on planning the renovation of their home but always finds time for a nice cup of tea and a sit down with her knitting.