Saturday, December 4, 2010

SWIBNERS - Achievement awards. 2010 Winners

It's important to celebrate success and awards are one way in which SWIBN can acknowledge the creative challenge that is growing and developing a business. We were delighted to introduce the SWIBNERS and to celebrate all the nominees at our Christmas event on December 14th. We would like to thank all those who participated by telling us who stood out in 2010.

  1. Innovation award Winner: Karin Ward, Kardemumma Tea and Coffees.


Susan Monahan; Flatiron distribution; online production creation

Georgina Sleng; Once Upon a Time, celebration cakes and novelty cake designers

Sabine Walsh; SW mediation

Sarah Healy; The Cake Lady, wedding and novelty cakes and

2.Eco / Green business Award Winner: Patricia Gardiner; Walking Matters which engages communities to improve the quality of walking in towns


Colette Hamilton; legginit; social training log for runners, walkers, cycliists, swimmers and triathletes

Prannie Rhatigan; successful launch of her book Irish Seaweed Kitchen

3. Best Response to Economic Downturn Winner: Brid Torrades; Tobergal Lane, addition of crafts shop and showcasing local food producers, designers and artists


Shirley Foley; NW physiotherapy, development of social media marketing to build her business

Rachel Quinn; development of Made in Sligo crafts group

Joan Ward; Sligo Office Supplies

4. Personal Achievement Award Winner: Susan Monahan; Flatiron distribution and Bourke Property Management


Karin Ward; Kardemumma

Georgina Sleng;Once Upon A Time, Celebration cakes

Grainne Gilmartin; Wellness Centre

Happy Christmas to you all and we look forward to seeing you at our first event of 2011, Tuesday 25th January

SWIBN Christmas event - Tues Dec 14th and how to book

We deserve a night to celebrate. And let's be honest, when did you last go to the cinema, Oscar style, with the girls?

Welcome to the first SWIBN Cinemobile Awards and movie event!

His & Hers directed by Ken Wardrop, is an enchanting and affectionate appreciation for woman in all her versatility.

A man loves his girlfriend the most, his wife the best, but his mother the longest.” Old Irish Proverb.

Tickets are €18 and to reserve one now, just email oonagh on

Monday, November 22, 2010

"Going for Growth" programme to run again in 2011. Is now the right time for you?

I caught up with Paula Fitzsimons at NWED on Friday and here is what she has to say to SWIBN The closing date is fast approaching - November 30th. To find out what's involved click

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Spoils from National Women's Enterprise Day 2010

Sligo Women in business were inspired by National Women's Enterprise Day 2010.

If you couldn't be there - here are 5 stories of personal determination and action to inspire you at your desk. 5 female business owners putting Sahar Hashemi's principals to the test ( Please let us know who and what you liked best?

Alison Ritchie - Polar Ice
Ann-Marie Durkin - Shasta
Jennifer Ryan - Ponaire Coffee

Alison Boardman - Unique Voice
Donna Daly Blyth - Donnas Dance Studio

Thursday, November 18, 2010

National Women's Enterprise Day - Nov 18th +19th 2010

Looking forward to another inspiring day at NWED. Representing the network and their businesses are:

Shona Heffernan, Sligo LEADER

Oonagh McCann, Celtic Croi,

Sandra Balfe, Strandhill road, Sligo

Ann Campbell, SeaShore B+B,

Oonagh Monahan, Alpha Omega, SWIBN Facilitator

Amanda Scott, Change At Work, SWIBN Facilitator,

Martina Henry, KoKo Latte, Quayside centre,

Nollaig McKeogh, Atlantis Conversations

Susan Bourke, Bourke Property Management,

Sabine Walsh, Mediation

Money Matters - SWIBN event Tues 30th November

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

SWIBN meet Women Mean Business on October 26th

We are delighted to welcome Rosemary Delaney, editor and founder of the unique Irish magazine - Women Mean Business WMB

Rosemary has been involved in publishing for almost two decades as Chairman of the Irish magazine association - PPA Ireland, Director and Executive Member plus magazine representitive on the Press Council Steering Committee.

“Research clearly indicates that women are rising to the higher echelons in Irish and international business. In addition, more women in Ireland are engaging in entrepreneurial activities. This is not surprising as, if we look to our neighbours across the Atlantic the signs are most encouraging. The entrepreneurial boom isn’t just a guy thing! In the last 12 years, the number of women-owned businesses has doubled. In fact, 48% of all privately held companies in the US are at least 50% owned by a woman or women. Encouraging figures indeed"

If you haven't caught one of our events recently, don't miss out on this FREE event from SWIBN.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Bonnie Horsman of New Way Solutions created an interactive evening for members

Bonnie encouraged us to think about how we can develop our businesses and make ourselves less dependent on depleting resources (oil etc). She highlighted policy coming down the tracks which will make this issue impossible to ignore. Large organisations are making considerable changes. If we are to continue to be their suppliers, we will be expected to meet their new targets which demands that we make changes too.

As consumers, the Shopping Tree exercise (see pic) helped raise awareness of just how far some of our own purchasing travels. The question it raises is, what is necessary and what isn't?
A cake bought in a local farmers market goes up the tree when you consider that you drive 2 miles to the market. What planning changes could mean the option of cycling the short distance?

Potatoes, locally produced, bought in a shop are packed in plastic which comes from where? At what cost?

Ask yourself this.

"What would reduce the ecological footprint of the whole buying process?"

Food for thought indeed.

Thanks Bonnie for your vision, positivity and importantly, your call to action.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Bonnie Horsman - New Way Solutions

Here are Bonnie's slides from last night. More soon. Amanda

Monday, September 13, 2010

The Business of Being Green - Tues 28th Sept 2010

We're now back after August's hiatus and we hope you are too!

We are delighted to invite you to the first of our Autumn events, continuing our speaker series Outstanding Conversations with...

Our next speaker Bonnie Horsman, Director of New Way Solutions is a hands on presenter and a recognised thought leader in the area of sustainability and business. She will speak to us as business women and as stakeholders in our own community. This promises to be a challenging and important event for the network and we look forward to your contribution on the night.

Tues 28th Sept: The Glasshouse Hotel, Sligo: 7.30 to 9.30pm

Friday, July 30, 2010

Harnessing our inner strengths during challenging times

Shane Martin - set out to demystify psychology and de-stigmatise mental health vulnerability. Humour and stories are all part of his approach and if some were left disappointed "I was hoping for more happiness tips and techniques", others from the large turnout (33) were well satisfied "Better than an evening with Ardal O’Hanlon – and much more practical!

Thank you Shane for your time. Keep the positive message going. Remember a smile automatically helps your client/customer/colleague to relax. And at no cost!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Key speakers re-ignite Sligo women in business

SWIBN is delighted to announce the first event in their new monthly programme, entitled “outstanding conversations”.

And at the same time to let women know who to keep an eye out for in the next few months.

For inspiration in June, our first choice is Pádraic O’Máille. To follow, what really makes you happy? meet positive psychologist Shane Martin. On turning your business green, don’t miss leading edge thinker Bonnie Horsman. And for all your queries about press and publicity, meet WMB magazine founder Rosemary Delaney.

Events are monthly - held on the last tuesday, open to all women and free.

SWIBN is funded by the Sligo County Enterprise Board.



When: Tuesday June 29th 2010

Where: The Glasshouse Hotel, Sligo

Time: 7.30pm to 9.30pm

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Questionnaire - what you told us about SWIBN

Thank you for taking the time to fill in our online questionnaire. And yes, we are listening. Based on your feedback, here is what you need in the coming months.

41% of you described your level of 'trust' within the group to be higher than other networks. 54% of you see SWIBN's advantage as being a place where you can share ideas, resources and knowledge.

Our objective will be to build on the level of trust, build on your desire to share, by creating more networking opportunities at events and outside of it. Tuesday night threw up some great new ideas so we now have plenty to get started with.

We are a 'women only' group and you seem to like this...describing the positives as supportive, common business issues, recognisable life-styles. However you recognise too that mixing with other groups is good for business.

Our objective will be to plan for a couple of events in which we invite/include other networks (possibly with a few men thrown in!)

22% of you see the network's role to help you build your knowledge/skills and 27% of you see finance as your key need.

Our objective will be to plan two events in which we look at aspects of business finance most likely to be impacting on your ability to plan your business forward.

22% of you also see the network's role key role in building your confidence and maintaining your commitment to your business.

Our objective will be to provide space at every event for all members to raise issues, get feedback and communicate news. Watch out you will be called upon to speak!

And finally, nearly half of you admit that what determines whether you come out on a Tuesday night is 'who's speaking'.

Our objective will be to continue to inspire, educate and surprise you with fresh and exciting speakers for the next 6 months.

And finally... finally, we can do our bit to help SWIBN grow but so can you.
Here's your objective:

If you know a great speaker is on the cards, tell a friend, get her to come with you - she could be Sligo's most successful entrepreneur in waiting...she just needs a little encouragement from you.

See you next month - Tuesday June 29th. Details to follow.

Thank you


Friday, May 14, 2010

Celebratory meeting- Tues 25th May 2010

We want to talk about our noisiest networking event yet...and to suggest what you can do to make sure that it is.

Simply this, ask someone to come with you. That way, by the end of the evening new people will know about you and your business.

Need to let them know what to expect?
Here's our plan...

7.30pm We welcome you and we have a few announcements to make
You introduce yourself, your business and the person you've brought
to the whole room
We'll review your priorities by examining responses to the questionnaire
Tea / Coffee - a chance to chat: networking activity 1
Group brainstorming: networking activity 2

We are delighted to be re-appointed by the County Enterprise Board and would like to thank so many of you for your positive endorsements of our work over the last 12 months. We really enjoy contributing to a re-energised SWIBN and we will continue to bring our own brand of enthusiasm and challenge to you for the remainder of 2010.

We'd also like to acknowledge Liam Kiely at Sligo CEB and thank him for his ongoing commitment to the development SWIBN, for the funding which allows us to offer FREE events for members at a time when budgets are so tight. We owe it to each other to make the most of this resource.

Thank you - Amanda and Oonagh (SWIBN Facilitators)

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Recession busting tips from SWIBN

SWIBN combined forces with Sligo Chamber for a special event on April 27th to welcome EU Ambassador for Female Entrepreneurship, Judy Greene.

Prior to Judy's presentation we asked members for their recession busting tips - "What changes have you made in your business in the last 12 months?" It took just 15 minutes to generate a list of actions taken by Sligo's pro-active business community. Perhaps you are asking yourself what changes you should make in your business? We've created a useful checklist to help get you thinking:-

  • Return to the old bartering system
  • Seek money in advance on certain assignments
  • Progress payments on large assignments instead of waiting until end
  • Offer discounts regularly
Managing costs/reducing overheads:
  • Stop printing statements and email statements at end of each month. Saves on postage and gets a quicker response
  • Weekly stocktake
  • Renegotiate rent, reduce staff costs ( reception and cleaning staff)
  • Only turn on necessary lights
  • Operate 'just in time' - to reduce amount of stock held
  • Cancel mobile broadband account - use wireless broadband in office and wireless broadband in public areas
Marketing and new media:
  • Implement more innovative and personal ways to market the business
  • Text promotions
  • Build marketing plan using Facebook, Linkedin and Blogger which is free to promote business
  • Upgrade website and create a blog
  • Build profile via TV programmes - i.e Home Chef
  • Go out to customer instead of waiting for customer to come in
  • Set aside an hour each day to set up appointments in diary
  • Follow up within a few working days with your recommendations based on review of client needs
  • Re-visit clients on a bi-weekly basis
  • Follow-up appointments made when patient is in the clinic
  • Send out reminder calls for appointments
  • Focus on core/most profitable part of business
  • Pricing remains same as 2008/9 - no increases
  • More time on training
  • Cross training
New product format:
  • Changed photo products - more flexible for smaller sites
  • Bank loan to change office into apartment
If you have any recession busting tips to add, please don't hold back. If you are reading this blog, we'd like to hear from you. What's working for you and why?

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

When Many Heads are Better than One

Mary Whelan of the creativethinkingnetwork in action at SWIBN/ March 30th 2010. Photographs Frances Muldoon

The last 12 months has proved one thing. Members get real value from meeting and sharing ideas. It's not surprising given that many of us work on our own and have limited opportunity to bounce ideas around. Feedback consistently highlights this 'positive group effect'. We invited Mary to run a short workshop to build our skills around 'idea generation' and in so doing, help us to profit from our network's biggest asset.

Mary ran 3 distinct exercises and here's what you liked:
  • Her Seekers/Finders game. Beneficial and value for money
  • Workshop was inspiring, practical and fun
  • Got the brain going - take all ideas (even the wild ones) on board
  • Ideas came from people in different businesses
  • Got one great idea from our speed dating
  • Mary's techniques are new in themselves - would love to work with her again
Could your business benefit from being blitzed by ideas? Mary says it's simple and anyone can do it. The key is to have an open mind and the right attitude - as Henry Ford famously said " whether you think you can or you can't, you're right".

From the newly re-named Sligo Women in Business Creative Network (SWBCN)!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Napkin Sketches and Networking

Networking in person is all about good conversation but sometimes in that critical moment when we get to say what our business does, we struggle to find a meaningful explanation.

For our February event, in addition to re-running the elevator pitch workshop, we decided to reach for napkins. This time we began to draw out what we do, by sketching. And after that, we used the pictures to get talking - here is Ursula Schweiger at work.

Members' described their understandable fear of drawing " I'm embarrassed to show my results" but this was the only real negative. On the plus side, comments illustrated that informal sketching can help to:
  • focus and make you think clearly about your business
  • be specific, less general
  • made talking more relaxed
  • more fun
  • more creative
  • more associative (a trigger for new ideas)
  • helps simplify technical processes
Memory: perhaps most important of all, when members were asked what they remember about each other, images it seems, are easier to recall than words.

We'll post a gallery of sketches so that you too can see the range of specialist business operating from Sligo in the North West of Ireland - each drawn on one side of a napkin.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Record attendance kick-starts 2010 for network

Enough of hearing from outside speakers! Members of the network made it clear they wanted to hear from each other this month.
19 members with just 90 seconds, a slide and a prop proved that being concise is key to getting your message across. Businesses ranged from the traditional - family locksmiths, Alison Smith to the brand new. Bua Marketing was presented for the first time by the talented Aoife Porter.

Did it work? Feedback was overwhelmingly positive "an excellent format and great way to hear about, as well as to promote business". So we've decided to do a re-run in February, with 20 more women business owners competing to get noticed in 90 seconds (that's not long - it's probably taken you just half that to read this blog)