Extra in Hollyoaks

Sam during the workshop - Just call me 'Ms Willoughby'! *

Well it certainly felt like that when I went to Queen Mary College in Basingstoke last week to take part in a Business and IT day for the students.

There were about 80 students from 2 colleges, a mix of business studies and IT, aged 16 or 17 and I presented 2 workshops on Internet Business and was one of the people on the open questions panel.  The other workshops covered topics including social media, cloud computing and business planning – all really good stuff.

One of the questions I was asked was from 2 of the IT lecturers who wanted to know if I had any tips for encouraging more girls into IT.  I’m not sure I know the answer to this one as I’ve always been in IT and have seen a fairly even balance of woman and men in the companies I’ve worked in.  What I could stress was how my background in IT has given me the perfect basis for my business now which is about as flexible as it gets.  And that’s not just for the Mums but for the Dads too, our Irish franchisee and USA master franchisee both fall into this category! But I don’t suppose many 16 year olds are thinking about when they become a parent, I know I didn’t!

My workshop ended with my top tips for having your own business so here they are:

• Get a wide variety of general business experience
– Project Management is good as exposed to product development and ops
• Make the most of being an employee
– Training, paid holidays & sickness, regular income
• Get a coach and/or mentor
• Do what you know
• Consider starting your business part-time (be a 5 to 9er)
• Focus on Profit not your Product
• Remember this is a long game
I was very proud to be asked to be part of the day and hope that I helped some of the students in their study and world of work.

*I’ve just borrowed the watermarked version of one of the photos taken on the day for the Basingstoke Gazette whilst I wait for my copy!

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