Photographer of Families, Small People and Delightful Places. Travel and Lifestyle Writer and Blogger. Lives in Newcastle, Loves the North, Often Accompanied By A Beagle Named Holly Bobbins

Wednesday, May 01, 2019

What I've learnt from my first year as CEO of The Inspire Network


the women of the inspire network with mandy charlton ceo, photographer, writer, blogger


Today is a good day, today marks the first anniversary of me being CEO of The Inspire Network, it's been quite a year, I've loved it, I've hated it, at one point it made me really poorly and I nearly gave up but then something changed and by gosh, we've become the most brilliant, beyond brilliant organisation which makes me happy in my heart every single day, here's what I've learnt from my first year as a CEO of The Inspire Network.

Hand on heart, if you had told me last summer that I would be in the position I am today, I wouldn't have believed you, I was having the most awful time and I thought I would end up having to sell my company because I just didn't feel I could shoulder the responsibility, I thought I was truly beaten.

Something amazing happened though, in around November of last year there was a total paradigm shift, a powerful positive vibe which seemed to spread throughout the network.  I came up with further ways that we could truly help our ladies to win in business.

I've troubleshot, I've listened, I've mentored and I've been truly humbled by the amazing work our team of volunteer admin do, I could in no way run Inspire and all that it is without the daily love, inspiration and sheer hard work from people like Robyn, Pauline, Harriet, Amy and Gillian, at times they've just been there for me, they've supported and helped and they're always present working away, answering queries, managing members wanting to join us and at times they are the peace-keepers, the mediators.  With eleven and half passionate ladies, things can get to that point where someone has to step in but thankfully now, it's a really rare occurrence.

What we have now is a movement, an army of amazing entrepreneurs, all looking out for each other, cheering each other on, celebrating wins and giving advice and ideas in times of trouble.  I try and set up advice and troubleshooting threads whenever I can be present because I know if I can't come up with ideas or support, our great hive mind will come along and help.  I truly believe that our whole population of incredible, talented female entrepreneurs always want the best for each other.

Now I can't claim to be perfect, I have made mistakes and I probably will again in the future but that's how we learn and let me tell you, I am always learning and looking for extra ways where we can use our power to reach our goals.

My proudest achievement, or actually, my teams proudest achievement for it was a group project, our paid membership project.  We launched paid memberships last year but it was too early and they just weren't working, my mental health had a huge knock back and so there was a lot of going back to the drawing board, re-writing things and working out what we wanted to do in the future.  We became a social enterprise meaning that our profits go straight back into the future of the network and our future plans include -

The Inspire Retreat, a beautiful haven on the Durham coastline where ladies and their families will be able to escape work and life for low cost, get away from it all, long weekends.

Our own workspace with hot desks, advice and coffee always freely available and in person.

Our own small grants program offering grants of up to £500 for business emergencies or to grow a business or fund an entirely new business idea.

All of these things will be available to all paying members whether they're paying £1 a month or £20 a month.

We've also launched free meetings for members of Inspire Success, that's those joining at gold level or above and we'll be holding regular training events and ideas summits in there. 

The future is truly bright and I'm in a position now where for the first time I can truly see the future of a blossoming organisation, we are achieving more and more every day and with some income behind us we can continue to push the boundaries in supporting female entrepreneurs (or those identifying as such ) everywhere.

The Inspire Network isn't a feminist organisation as such but I am myself a feminist who believes in inclusiveness and equality, I believe we still have many glass ceilings to break and I believe that's so much easier if you have a movement of many than trying to do it all on your own.

Quite simply, I am Inspire, you are Inspire, together, we are Inspire.

For more information about The Inspire Network or to join us as a member please click here
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