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(Mis) adventures in Parenthood, Little League & moving your family 5,500 miles from London to California.

Business Bodies & Ladies that Link - networking up a storm

Laura Bonnell

Ladies that Link is a small business networking group set up a few months ago by my friend Julie Watts. Julie had been part of another local Business group and had seen the opportunity for a friendly, open and affordable network to support small businesses in south west London and help them grow. As a mum herself, she had to schedule sessions around the school and nursery runs and was used to waiting for Daddy to get home before she could escape for a glass of vino and a 'business meeting'!

The group has been so successful that Julie has just launched another group called Business Bodies for male and female small business owners. The latest gathering brought these two groups together at the rather lovely Wimbledon Golf Club. (Note to self: at some point take up playing golf and drinking gin in the afternoons!)

The evening kicked off with a wonderful speech by double Olympic gold medalist Sarah Gosling OBE. Sarah won golds in the Yngling sailing class in the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens and in the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing and is now a co-founder of f-crowd, a rewards based crowd-funding platform for female entrepreneurs. 

Sarah spoke about how we women are not always that great at acknowledging our success or asking for help. She got us to think about what success would mean to us. It could be making one cushion a week (that's me) or turning over £1,000,000 (hopefully me next year). It got me thinking about how great it is to be part of a female entrepreneurial group. In my short time connecting with other members I've received so much support and encouragement. And I've never encountered any competitiveness or reluctance to answer my questions for fear of giving too much away, even from the gals running comparable businesses. I am a big advocate of bigging up fellow mumpreneurs and of helping or advising in anyway I can and I feel fortunate to have found and connected with this local business sisterhood.

I find it interesting that Sarah is a sailor. Through past jobs I've been lucky enough to have crossed paths with other female sailors. I have met Dee Caffari, the first woman to sail non-stop around the world three times, and part of the first all female crew to partake in the Volvo Ocean Round the world yacht race. And I've also been fortunate to meet Laura Penhaul who is one of the four bonkers but extremely courageous 'Coxless Crew' currently rowing across the Pacific.

The Coxless Crew will be achieving a world first in 2015 by rowing 8,446 miles unsupported across the Pacific Ocean, from America to Australia, and in the process aim to raise a quarter of a million pounds for their two charities: Walking With The Wounded and Breast Cancer Care. What all three of these amazing women have in common is that they have pushed themselves to extremes and have conquered some amazing feats. Through motivational speeches, consultancy and even blogging they've all gone on to inspire other women like me to have the self belief and determination to achieve their goals.

So all gee'd up and raring to go, I set about meeting as many people as possible that evening. I chatted to all types of business owners from aromatherapists to work visa consultants and from small business realtors to fairy door makers. There were others like me with start ups and some who'd been running their own business for a few years but everybody was open to how they could help each other and forthcoming with answers to my many questions. After seeing examples of my products, one particularly lovely lady said that I was going to be the next Cath Kidston! I was very flattered but if anything I think I maybe have the potential to be a slightly more tongue-in-cheek, less polished, more rough around the vintage edges version! But to heed Sarah's advice, I must believe in my (potential) success, get my head down this week, and maybe, just maybe I can make AND sell TWO cushions!

Sarah Gosling OBE speaking at networking group Ladies that Link and Business Bodies founded by Julie Watts

Sarah Gosling OBE speaking at networking group Ladies that Link and Business Bodies founded by Julie Watts