My Recipe for Success!

[tweetmeme source= “catherineosborn” only_single=false]This article was originally published on the Success Network blog, a great resource for women in business!

My Greatest Success in Business

I measure my success on an ongoing basis by the amount of repeat business I get.  There are individual achievements that stand out though and one was when the BBC published a press release of mine unchanged on its website.

My Greatest Challenge in Business

When you run your own business or work as a sole trader, you take on everything and become MD, employee, PA, IT Consultant, Sales and Marketing Director and HR Manager all at once!  Sometimes it can be frustrating when all you want to do is focus on what you do best, whilst keeping your overheads down. However, it has given me a greater understanding of the challenges that my clients face and, if I’m honest, I took a lot of these support services for granted when I was an employee.

Just over a year ago, I joined one of Success Network’s Inner Circles and when I’m really stuck, I look to my fellow members for ideas and support. I’m also considering hiring a virtual PA.

What I do Outside of Work

When I’m not working, I am looking after my children, aged 4 and 2, and ferrying them to and from swimming and music lessons – I never realised that the taxi days would start so soon!  I try to get out in the garden when I can; my grandfather was a professional gardener and I like to think I have inherited his enthusiasm, if not all of the talent!

After writing, music is a real passion for me.  It’s not so easy to spend time playing the piano with two `helpers’ at my side but I am a member of the Elentone Singers, based in Cox Green, and this means I can indulge myself with a bit of `me time’ every Thursday.

I also enjoy photography.  I have an entry-level digital SLR, which produces great results, but I still go to my friend and fellow IC member, photographer Alison Crown, for the really clever stuff.

How I Achieve Work-Life Balance

It’s hard!  When I first started out in business, I was working evenings so that I could look after my son during the day.  It was stressful because my husband couldn’t always be home early, so I would sometimes be working into the night.  We also missed out on valuable time together.  Now that I have part-time childcare, the pressure has eased.  It’s not easy with small children though and you really do need to feel passionate about what you are doing to make the sacrifices worthwhile.

Words of Advice for Women in Business

  1. Working from home can be great, but you need to be careful not to be distracted by domestic pressures.  Even when you plan your day really well, you can be knocked off track by appliances breaking down, unexpected visitors and calls, sick children or building projects.  Yes, all of these things have happened to me!
  2. Don’t count on being able to work and watch your children at the same time – you can’t. Try to arrange childcare and/or work in the evenings when they are asleep.  The biggest mistake I ever made was to take on a project on the basis that my son had two naps a day.  On the first day, he decided to switch to one!
  3. Try to switch off when you have finished.  If you can work in a spare room and shut the door at the end of the day, so much the better.
  4. Value yourself and your work – it is important, not just a hobby.
  5. Seek support from other businesswomen who will all be facing similar issues and challenges.

[tweetmeme source= “catherineosborn” only_single=false]Catherine Osborn is a freelance writer who helps to take the pain out of creating well-written, compelling copy.  Find out more at


Deerton Natural Burial Ground

This post has moved!  You can now find it on my personal blog,

Elentone Singers – A Summer Concert of Fun and Frivolity!


A Summer Concert of Fun and Frivolity!

The Elentone Singers, Cox Green Community Choir, announces its second performance

Cox Green Community Choir, The Elentone Singers, will be holding its summer concert on 15th July, 8-10pm, at its new home, Cox Green School.

The choir, formed in October 2009, will offer a varied programme of traditional music from around the world, which will include an English mining song, North American spirituals, foreign language lullabies and there will be one huge surprise!

The concert is open to all and there is no entrance fee.  There will be a collection and raffle for the Slough branch of Women’s Aid, a charity that helps all victims of domestic violence.

People who are interested in joining for the Autumn term are invited to come along, see what the choir is about and chat to its members during the interval.  The choir is open to people of all abilities and locations, not just Cox Green, and there are no auditions or waiting lists.

Musical Director, Lyn Thomson, says, “The Elentone Singers is a relatively new choir and I’m delighted with the progress we’ve made in such a short time.  People who claimed not to be able to sing a note soon found their voices and the resulting sound is amazing.”

For further information, please call Lyn on 01628 622651 or visit


About The Elentone Singers

The Elentone Singers was founded by Maidenhead-based music teacher, Lyn Thomson, in October 2009.  The choir is named after the ancient settlement of Elentone that was located in the North Town area of Maidenhead.  In January 2010, the choir moved to its new home in Cox Green School to the west of the town. 

The ethos of the choir is that given the right encouragement, anybody can sing.  There are, therefore, no auditions or waiting lists.


Lyn Thomson     01628 622651
Rebecca Bond   01628 820069

Photographs attached, please acknowledge Ana Taylor.


Why We Need a Cure for Cancer

I’m lucky to come from a family where longevity is the norm but every so often, once in a generation in fact, something happens to shock us out of our complacency.   In 1941, great uncle Jim was killed, probably executed, in the Siege of Crete at the tender age of 23.  Just over 40 years later, my dad’s brother Brian succumbed to liver cancer at the age of 39, dying just six weeks after he was diagnosed.  Fast-forward to this year and my apparently healthy mum was struck down by a massive brain haemorrhage just one month short of her 70th birthday.

Although Mum obviously lived longer than my uncles, we still felt that she died too soon – we were robbed of her 70s and 80s and she was robbed of precious time with her grandchildren.  In the midst of our shock, however, we comforted ourselves with the knowledge that she didn’t suffer for long – 30 seconds at the most.  And, although it is difficult to look at the positives in situations like these, we are truly grateful that she never had cancer.

The weekend before Mum died, I remarked to her and Dad that I was really lucky to have both parents – all but two of my close friends don’t.  In the last ten years, the toll stands as follows:

  • One mother lost to breast cancer
  • One mother lost to a brain tumour
  • A mother and a father lost to lung cancer
  • Two mothers lost to ovarian cancer
  • Three parents lost to other causes (stroke  x 2 and Alzheimer’s)
  • One friend about to lose her good friend to cancer – a young mother in her 30s

Against that grim backdrop:

  • One friend is in remission from leukaemia
  • One friend’s husband is free of kidney cancer after it was caught early.
  • The sister-in-law of another friend has been clear of breast cancer for 5+ years
  • My father-in-law is a survivor of bowel cancer (10+ years)

In 2009, we learned that the Queen Mother was successfully treated for bowel cancer in her 60s.  She escaped a painful, lingering death to die peacefully in her sleep in her favourite armchair, at the age of 101.  Who wouldn’t want that kind of exit for themselves or their loved ones?

Finding a cure for cancer isn’t about cheating death, it’s about seeing our children to adulthood, watching our grandchildren growing up and possibly even meeting our great grandchildren.  It’s about dying peacefully, without pain and, we hope, without fear.   There will always be people who leave us too young but by eliminating cancer we can slash the number of premature and painful deaths.

In July, I will be running the Race for Life to remember Uncle Brian and raise money for Cancer Research.  If you would like to help me reach my target of £250, please take a look at my sponsorship page.

Thank you!

The Buzz that is Social Networking

It’s really exciting to have been able to watch the digital revolution unfolding and bringing with it new ways of working and interacting with people.  As someone who has always relished the idea of working from home as a writer, social networking offers the opportunity to do exactly that, without losing touch with my clients, family and friends.  And increasingly, I’m finding myself helping people with their social networking while they focus on what they do best.

I was delighted, therefore, to be invited to assist with a series of workshops run by Success Network.  Not only did I meet some really interesting people and extend my “real-life” network, I also got the chance to pop in and visit some old colleagues at the Regus building in Slough!

There are various reasons why people shy away from social networking; for some it’s the fear of the unknown, some find it difficult to find the time and some people just haven’t had the chance to assess the business benefits.  The workshop covered all of these areas along with a whole lot more and the feedback was really positive.  I’d thoroughly recommend them to anyone who likes the idea of using social media as a networking tool, without overselling and becoming a marketing bore (yes, that’s covered too).

I was also more than happy to help out with the PR.  You can read the press release below or in today’s Business Monthly in the Maidenhead Advertiser (copy here).

Photo: Andrew Sansom



New Training Initiative Takes the Fear out of Social Media

Success Network has just run a series of highly-successful “Social Media in Practice” courses at Regus in Slough, two of which were exclusively for micro businesses run by women. These highly-practical, hands on courses were an overriding success and the funding organisation praised its innovative format and design and the great results.

The participants found using social media much easier than they thought and said the course was really easy to follow due to the simple step-by-step instruction. Attendees said that they now feel much more comfortable with Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, with Caroline Shaw, of Shaw Styling, adding, “it really takes the fear out of social media!”

The sessions were run by Success Network founder and networking expert, Ute Wieczorek-King, with other experienced colleagues. Ute says, “Understanding how social networking works can bring huge benefits to a small business. It is much more than a free marketing tool and small businesses who get on board now will secure a huge advantage over their competitors.”

The delegates were all owners of micro businesses who wanted to tap into the power of platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn to enable them to promote their businesses more effectively.  Ute added, “Unlike any other tool, social media can help you to keep up with the competition and understand your target audiences better.”

Attendees had been asked to bring their own laptops so that they could work online in small groups, with the assistance of experienced facilitators. 

The delegates left the course with new contacts – each other!  More importantly, however, the course taught them the skills necessary to find, connect and communicate with the right people online. Trisha Mentzel from B2B Event Management, who attended one of the courses  says, “The workshop was excellent at giving the basics for starting to use social media and it gave me the confidence to start writing comments, posts and tweeting. Now I just need to stick to my goals! Thanks for a very practical and enjoyable workshop.”

Success Network’s next hands-on workshops run during May and June, in Maidenhead and Marlow.  More information can be found on the Success Network website at


Secrets of a Millionaire


Secrets of a Millionaire

Businesswomen Find Fun and Inspiration at Thames Valley’s Annual Celebration of International Women’s Day

Liz Jackson, MBE

Liz Jackson, MBE (Photo: Alison Crown)

120 Thames Valley businesswomen attended an event to celebrate International Women’s Day, “Essential Business Secrets for Success” at Reading’s Hilton Hotel on Monday 8th March.  A successful first joint venture by Success Network, Business Link and the Thames Valley Chamber of Commerce, the highlight of the evening was a keynote speech by Secret Millionaire, Liz Jackson, MBE.

Liz gave a humorous account of how she built up her marketing business from scratch at the age of 25, despite having rapidly-failing sight and no money.  A key component of her success, she told the audience, was to embrace set-backs, as these represent “the best learning curve” that a person can experience.  She went on to warn that traditional goal-setting, which focuses on achievability, can stifle potential.

Guest Diksha Chakravati, of Fixme, said, “‘Meeting so many like-minded dynamic women in business, listening to Liz Jackson and tucking into the delicious food was a truly heart-warming and inspirational experience. I’d like to thank the organisers for this splendid event and I’m looking forward to the centenary event next year!’”

Success Network founders, Ute Wieczorek-King and Mary Fraser, offered their customary blend of focused mini-workshops and speed-networking events, whilst a roulette table and more traditional raffle raised funds for children’s hospice Naomi House. Ute said “We really appreciate Business Link’s support this year and were also bowled over by the generosity of all our sponsors when donating prizes and in particular Champneys, Kinnarps and Menzies Accountants.”

Shemila Therani, representing the evening’s key sponsor, Business Link, said, “This first joint venture has proved a resounding success.  By taking part in this three-way collaboration, we were able to create something that was greater than the sum of its parts and initial feedback shows that the attendees found the evening both entertaining and inspirational.”  

Lorna Cummings, from Business Link, gave a very informative introduction to the support that the organisation offers to women in business, and other inspirational speakers included Beth Rogers, a leading sales management thinker as well as Helen Krag and Hélène Cooper.   

Ginette Gower, of Thames Valley Chamber of Commerce, said, “’The event had something for all ladies present whether they are at a career crossroads, looking to start or grow a business, or just to take some time out. Along with the other sponsors, the Chamber is committed to support women in business”



International Women’s Day:

This event has been celebrated annually for nearly a century. The day unites thousands of women all across the world in a global celebration of the economic, political and social achievements of women. 2010 is Success Network’s fifth International Women’s Day celebration.

Success Network:

The Success Network is a not-for-profit organisation which runs informal networking sessions and mutual support programmes for women members across the Thames Valley. Members work in all sectors, both as business owners and as employed professionals.

Thames Valley Chamber of Commerce:

Thames Valley Chamber of Commerce Group works with businesses across Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire and Wiltshire to help them achieve their full business potential through: meeting new customers; cutting costs; developing their workforce; influencing local decision makers; and arming them with business intelligence.  Membership is available to all businesses.

Business Link:

Business Link helps entrepreneurs to start up new enterprises and maintain and grow established businesses.  This is done by ensuring that business owners and senior managers can quickly and easily locate and benefit from the broadest range of public, private and voluntary business support services.  Business Link’s information and advice services are available through the website or by phoning 0845 600 9 006.

My Second Poem, a Ghostly Tale

One night in 2006, when my son was small, I was lying on his bedroom floor waiting for the little monkey to go to sleep! Feeling a certain chill in the air I let my mind wander and before long, I had the beginnings of a poem complete with rhyming pairs and a clickety-clack railway rhythm. I sent it to my Dad, he said, “Good” (I’m tempted to send him something dire to see what he says then) and then I filed it away. Until last October. Writing Magazine had a poetry competition with a ghostly theme and I decided to send it in.

The rules stated that winners would be notified by February 15th and if we hadn’t heard by then, we could safely submit our work to other competitions/publications. February 15th came and went and I heard nothing. I also knew that runners up would get a mention in the magazine but I assumed that they would be informed and I still didn’t hear anything. So I resigned myself to the fact that my clickety-clack hadn’t impressed.

A few days ago, the April edition of the magazine plopped onto the mat. I ripped it open and went straight to the results page to see who/what had won and there, on the bottom left-hand-corner, was my name! It felt really good! I have decided to try it somewhere else and, due to the “previously unpublished” requirements of many competitions, I can’t publish it here but I will just share my little bit of joy with you.

On Poetry

Like opera, I have come to poetry (relatively) late in life.  When I was a teenager, I didn’t “get” either of them.  When I turned over the page on my English Literature ‘O’-level, I had that sinking feeling that we adults still get sometimes when we dream that we’re sitting an exam we haven’t prepared for.  For me, however, it was reality.  I passed, thank God, thanks to a set of pass-notes (read before the exam I hasten to mention) and, I’m sure, a little bit of talent.

Then, I got it into my head that rhythm and rhyme were bad.  I think this is a fairly common misconception as I’ve seen people panned for work that seemed to have no rhyme… or reason… just random words and phrases.  Perhaps they should have just written things they’d like to read, which is what I’m doing now.

I’ve entered two poetry competitions now, won neither, but have had my work acknowledged both times.  As a novice, this is a fantastic start to my foray into poetry and I hope that my success continues!

Here is the first, a story about two fat cats (based on nobody in particular of course.  It is entitled, imaginatively, “Chester and Soli.”  My Dad might call it “A Tale of Two Kitties.”

Chester and Soli

The garden fence fell down today,
Not solely caused by wind and rain;    
With thirteen pounds of former stray,
The trellis couldn’t stand the strain.

When Chester climbs the yucca tree,
It wobbles like an old man’s knees,
And when he stands aloft I see,
His belly flapping in the breeze.

His brother hunts without remorse,
Not using sleight of hand (or paws),
For Soli, there’s another course:
Awaiting bird with open jaws.     

You may expect me now to write,
Like Blake, of tigers, burning bright,
Though I must say that of a night,
They’re more like tree sloths, sleeping tight.

Published in Animal Antics (ISBN-13: 978-1844184729), January 2008

“Shaping Progress” – Why Women in Business need International Women’s Day

International Women’s Day (IWD) on 8 March has been marked by women’s groups around the world for 99 years. IWD’s is held in honour of the day, in 1908, when 15,000 women marched through New York demanding better pay, shorter hours and voting rights.

International Women’s Day is a day that inspires women everywhere to achieve their full potential whilst celebrating major achievements in the struggle for equality, justice, and peace. Recognised by the United Nations, some countries even have a national holiday on 8 March!

Significant progress and change has been achieved in society’s attitude to women’s equality, but despite offering women more choices than they may have had two or three decades ago, this special event is by no means obsolete.

We may have more women in the boardroom and many highly-visible female role models in every aspect of our society, but it is easy to forget that women still don’t benefit from equal pay, nor are they present in equal numbers in the higher echelons of business or politics. Worldwide, women receive 30 to 40 per cent less pay than men for the same work, they have more limited access to education and proper health care and are exposed to higher levels of violence.

Recent research* has also shown that women in this country are still finding it hard to break through the ‘glass ceiling’ to get positions on the boards of Britain’s biggest companies. In fact, the number of female CEOs decreased in 2006. Part of the reason may be that many women have an ‘inner inhibitor’: with success coming at too high a personal price, they shun the boardroom as a consequence.

Where women business owners are concerned, research in Scotland* has shown that men are 72% more likely than women to be the owner or manager of an entrepreneurial business over three-and-a-half years old. Although the number of women starting businesses is actually far higher than five years ago, women are still facing barriers that prevent them from achieving long-term success. It is also thought that women are less likely to believe that they have the skills to start a business and that they are more likely to fear failure.

In 2004, Aurora was commissioned by the DTI’s Small Business Service to identify the barriers women face and their needs when starting and growing a business. These include having knowledge about finance, gaining access to women-owned business networks and successful women business-owner role models.

The Success Network for women in business was founded in 2005 with the aim to fill a gap between networking and personal & professional development in order to help women progress their businesses. Success Network not only connects professional and business women but provides a stimulating learning environment that offers women vital stepping stones to success:

  • exchange of information
  • peer-level support, encouragement and motivation
  • knowledge and skills to overcome challenges and barriers in business, and
  • personal development to help women achieve their full potential

Success Network has teamed up with Thames Valley Chamber of Commerce and Businesslink this year, to host its fifth celebration of International Women’s Day on 8th March 2010. Called “Essential Business Secrets for Success”, the event will again be packed with motivational learning, inspirational speakers, including Liz Jackson MBE, fun and plenty of opportunities to connect with like-minded women.

Details are available on or for further information, please contact Ute Wieczorek-King, or 07729 212299

*Research and figures provided by UN and TUC websites as well as


About the Authors:

Ute Wieczorek-King, business coach and co-founder of Success Network –
Catherine Osborn, freelance writer –

Collaboration is the Theme for Thames Valley Businesswomen in 2010

For Immediate Release

Success Network Announcement: Collaboration is the Theme for Thames Valley Businesswomen in 2010

Berkshire-based Success Network, a business support network for women, has announced that collaboration will be its theme for 2010.  Building on several successful collaborative efforts in 2009, the group has recently linked up with Thames Valley Chamber of Commerce and Business Link to host some major events this year and to allow its members to tap into a valuable source of business support.

Success Network’s members discovered the power of collaboration recently when one of the group’s Inner Circles (peer-support business clubs), worked together to produce an e-book of success ‘recipes’ to inspire other women who are starting out in business.  The contributors chose not to profit from the book and have instead made it available to download free of charge from Success Network’s website, ensuring that the advice is available to anyone who needs it.

Explaining the announcement, Ute Wieczorek-King of Success Network says, “In 2009, many of our members discovered that collaborating even on a small scale enabled them to achieve better results for their businesses and helped them to raise their profiles at the same time.  We have decided to continue that theme this year, and linking up with Thames Valley Chamber and Business Link is an important step for us.”

The first event to benefit from the joint venture will be hosted by Business Link on 9 February in Slough, focusing on the Social Media Revolution in Business. It will be  followed by Success Network’s annual celebration of International Women’s Day on 8 March in Reading, hosted by the Thames Valley Chamber and will be a motivational business event designed to provide local businesswomen with inspiration and new connections to help their businesses flourish in 2010.


Representatives from Success Network, Thames Valley Chamber and Business Link.

L-R: Mary Fraser (Success Network), Ginette Gower (Thames Valley Chamber), Ute Wieczorek-King (Success Network), Henrietta Bailey (BusinessLink), Shemila Tharani (BusinessLink).

(Photo Alison Crown)

About Success Network:

Success Network is a friendly and welcoming community dedicated to supporting women in business, inspiring them and helping them to develop and grow the business. We offer motivational training and networking events, coaching, mentoring, eBooks, a large selection of free articles and a Success Recipe Blog. Apart from our Inner Circle Business Club – a small private membership club for women who wish to develop their business – there are no membership fees and we welcome all women who wish to be more successful in business.

Find out more at

About Inner Circle:

Running your own business can be a double-edged sword. With the freedom to be your own boss comes the responsibility for all aspects of your business and identifying the right way forward is not always easy. Inner Circle Business Clubs are small peer support groups that help business women connect with people they can trust, who are happy to share their knowledge and provide feedback, advice, or even moral support when needed. Being a member has been likened to being part of a team or having your own virtual board of directors. Inner Circle’s winning format was first introduced by Success Network in 2007.

Find out more at