Female Entrepreneurs In the 1920s

Who Do You Think You Are? came up with the goods on successful business women of the past yet again last week with the story of the ancestors of William Roache. Yes, he of Ken Barlow off Coronation Street.

Bill Roache is now 80 years old and holds the title of the longest serving soap opera actor in the world. As he said, he never planned it, he just wanted to work well and continuously.

A trait which he seems to have inherited from his grandmother, Zillah Woddacor.

zillah was married to a violent drunk but that does not seem to have stopped her from being an extremely successful businesswoman – with the help of her father in law.

We don’t know exactly how Zillah came to marry Albert Waddicor, an ices and temperance beer seller with premises on the front at Blackpool. But the rest of her life started there.

How an ice cream stall holder became a leisure industry entrepreneur

The shop was little more than a large hut but it was in a prime position and they made enough money for her to be able to rent several rooms in the big house at Alton Towers, when the Earls of Shrewsbury finally had to sell up and downsize.

In those days, Alton Towers was famous for the house and gardens, which local investors had spruced up to provide a venue for daytrips for factory workers in the area who suddenly found themselves in possession of half day Saturdays – thanks to the intervention of the Trades Unions.

The possibility of weekend breaks had arrived and special trip trains were run by some employers because they felt that visits to local historical buildings was self improving for their workforce.

Alton Towers saw around 250,000 visitors each summer and Zillah’s cafe could accommodate 1000 diners in various sittings each day.

The times had changed since my previous post about widows in the Victorian era who became successful business women did not remarry so that they would not have to lose their property and wealth to a husband.

The suffragettes and the First World War saw women given the vote in 1918 but the return of the soldiers from the fighting meant that many women were forced to return to housewifery. There were rules called marriage bars which said that married women were excluded from employment in certain occupations. The number of married women actually working gradually fell to an all time low of just 14%.

However, the Married Women’s Property Laws meant that wives were now able to hold property and money in their own right. Family businesses were the one way that married women could actually earn and keep their own money. Zillah made the most of this.

Eight years after she first rented out the rooms at Alton Towers, she was also renting the Old Mill, a cafe immediately opposite the station at the village in Alton – the platform of which had recently been extended to accommodate the increased numbers of passengers visiting the attraction.

Zillah was one of the leading leisure entrepreneurs of her generation at a time when there were very few women in business.

There were photographs of Zillah, her daughters and various female companions on luxury holidays in Europe – never with Albert – so she clearly enjoyed the benefits of her hard work.

She had obviously impressed her father in law at an early age because, when he died, he left her and his wife as his executors. The Will itself left all this property in trust for Albert and Zillah’s daughter, May, whilst Albert was allowed only the income from those properties.

It allowed him to live the life of a gentleman, rather than having to work but prevented him from being able to squander away his father’s fortune on alcohol – rather odd when he had begun his career selling temperance beer, the old fashioned word for soft drinks.

But it also gave him his own income and kept him out of Zillah’s hair when she was building and maintaining her own successful business.

It was an extraordinarily uplifting programme for any woman who has her feet firmly set on achieving the same and Bill’s pride in his grandmother was immense.

If you have enjoyed this post, please like, retweet or stumble using the symbols below


Share this:

Women In The Boardroom Quotas

I’ve been enjoying Hilary Devey’s programme on BBC2 about Women At The Top.

Whilst providing half of Britain’s workforce, business is still dominated by the men in grey suits and women make up only one in five of senior management in a boardroom position.

The facts have shown that mixed gender teams can achieve 5% better business results and Hilary herself discovered that the department in her company which performed the best was a 50:50 mixed gender split.

Across Europe, things are little different with figures from the beginning of the year showing that only 3.2% of the presidents and chairmen of large companies in the EU were women and only 13.7% of boardroom seats were taken by women.

It is this which has led to the European Commissioner, Viviane Reding announcing an initiative to make Boardroom Quotas that women occupy up to 60% of the seats on corporate boards part of legislation for all members of the European Union.

She herself does not like quotas but they open the way to equality and countries that had implemented them had seen results. And this statement was echoed by Hilary.

Where did these Boardroom Quotas start?

The legislation itself came into being in the Norwegian Parliament in 2002. The Trade Minister, Ansgar Gabrielsen, insists that he has never been a feminist but he was influenced by a debate in the mid 1990s which had focused on the vast amounts of money spent on educating the daughters of Norway over the previous three decades which had resulted in only 6% of them getting onto the boards of the most respected companies.

He did not speak to his prime minister or to his government colleagues, he announced the legislation in a newspaper interview. ‘It was a revolutionary idea and it had to be done in a revolutionary way’

A decade on, 44% of the seats in the boardrooms of public companies are now occupied by women, aided by almost a year of full maternity pay and state subsidised nurseries. They bring something different to the boardroom because they ask the difficult questions – and sometimes the stupid ones which need to be addressed too.

However, the position of CEO is still dominated by men with only 2% of females having that title. Quota legislation has not helped them get to the top yet but it’s necessary in order to allow them to reach the pool from which to be selected.

The quota system in Parliament

Back in Britain, Barbara Follet talked about the old boys network in our own Parliament. These days one in five of our MPs are women but in the 1990s it was one in ten.

Few women bothered to stand for Parliament because there was a system where the men were given the safe seats and the women had to fight for the unsafe seats. Labour introduced a quota system which meant that local parties were forced to choose from an all female shortlist. In the 1997 General Election, over 100 women entered Parliament as Blair’s Babes.

The main argument against the quota system is will it allow the best person to get the job? So can it work in business? Well, there is just as much of an old boys’ network there as there was in Parliament.

The quota system allows for a greater examination of the people being considered for a job – they have not just been shoed in thanks to their connections.

Progress needs to see some positive action and this is a short term measure to correct a long term imbalance.

Is there another way?

With 83% of FTSE 100, 89% of FTSE 250 and 92% of FTSE 350 company board members being men, Lord Mervyn Davies was asked to break up this monopoly.

He said that they needed to smash what is an all male solution and his solution was to set targets for women on boards.

25% of the board had to be women by 2015 and companies were encouraged to publish how many women employees they had and how many were getting to the executive committee and the board.

In France and Norway this figure was set at 40% but the feeling was that this figure became a quota rather than a voluntary attempt at self regulation and business women themselves do not necessarily want the quota unless this initiative does not work.

Businesses have to be allowed to adjust and believe in the culture behind it because it will be better for both society and business in the future.

But it was also about allowing chief executives to become aware of those business women who were ready for board positions and there are various networking groups and clubs which help those aspiring women to get noticed.

As a result the number of women entering the boardroom has risen sharply in the last year, with 1 in 4 businesses now reaching that target of 25% and another figure was quoted that in the last two months 48% of appointments to the boards of FTSE 100 companies were women.

If you have found this post useful, please like us on Facebook using the symbols below.


Share this:

Survival of the Fittest – Historical Widows In Business

Who Do You Think You Are? is a programme on BBC1 which helps celebrities to trace their roots and this week’s episode was particularly fascinating for those of us who enjoy tales of women doing well in business against the odds.

It followed the story of actress, Alex Kingston, famous for her portrayal of strong, feisty women on the small screen and herself now a single mother trying to support herself and her child.

Looking back through her ancestors, she came upon Nan, her great grandmother, who was widowed when her husband was killed whilst helping to map the positions of enemy guns during the Third Battle of Ypres (Paschendale) in the First World War. Finding herself the sole provider for her four young children, Nan began taking in lodgers to help to make ends meet.

Successfully as it turned out because her children all grew up to have children of their own.

But there was a continuation of this thread a century before in Alex’s family tree.

Women doing well in business in unusual circumstances

Elizabeth Braham also found herself widowed at an early age with four small children to support. And her listing on the census following her bereavement showed her as a boarding house owner too. We all marvelled at how these two strong women had fought not to slip into poverty by taking their future into their own hands.

However, Elizabeth’s story was slightly different – as was revealed in two newspaper cuttings several decades apart. In the latter, a man was reported to have committed suicide by poisoning himself at her establishment whilst in the company of the rather gaudily named Polka Pol. It became apparent that her boarding house was something a little more raunchy but she herself was not mentioned in the proceedings at the Inquest.

This was due to the fact that she was clearly trying to keep out of the limelight, having had an encounter with the legal system some years earlier when she was found guilty of owning a house of ill repute. We do not know whether she was put into a House of Corrections as a result of this conviction.

But we do know that, when she died, she was the owner of several such houses, as evidenced by her address in census records – and each one she purchased was in an increasingly more salubrious area. In her Will she was stated as living in St John’s Wood and she left property worth over £1500 to her granddaughter. Now, this might not seem particularly unusual unless you understand that the famous explorer, Dr Livingstone, who died the same year left a similar sum to his beneficiaries.

Why many successful Victorian business women remained widows

Elizabeth had done very well for herself – but she had never remarried.

This was because a married woman in Victorian times was not allowed to own property. Any houses she might possess would revert to her husband’s ownership on their marriage. So, Elizabeth remained resolutely single whilst slowly making her way up in the world. supporting her daughters to make good marriages and taking care of her granddaughter, the only offspring of an errant son.

In her Will, she made a determined effort to ensure that Rosa, her granddaughter, would become a wealthy woman in her own right. The property that she left her was in the form of a Trust. This was the only way that Elizabeth could ensure that Rosa would remain the owner but still be able to get married. And no future husband would be able to filch this fortune. A factor of which she was acutely aware since her own son had been something of a chancer.

It was a fascinating programme, full of revelations. As Alex said: “At times, it was a bit like opening the News Of The World!” But, despite the improprietary of some of her four times great grandmother’s doings, both she and I could not help but be extremely impressed and proud of her financial achievement in such male dominated times.

If you have enjoyed this post, please like us on Facebook using the symbols below.


Share this:

Someone Wants To Be My Friend on Facebook But I Don’t Want Them To See All My Status Updates

We’ve all had it happen.

The dreaded friend request from someone that you know… but don’t want them to know you quite that well.

And yet it would be rude not to accept. Bad feeling might be caused.

This is when knowing how to use Facebook’s privacy settings comes into its own.

So, accept the friend request.

Then go in to your friends list by clicking on the Friends tab underneath your cover image.

Type the friend’s name in the search bar.

When the name comes up, hover over it and a box will appear. Click on the Friends button and you will see your lists. If Restricted doesn’t show, you can click on See More.

Select Restricted and that person will only see status updates that you make Public.

If you have your privacy set as default to Friends only, then nothing will show in that person’s newsfeed.

I should point out that if you do set a status update individually to go public, you will need to go back and reset your default privacy settings as friends because it overrides the default permanently.

With thanks to Shawn Abel for sorting this out.

If you have found this post useful, please like us on Facebook using the symbols below. And call us on 01702 476517 to find out how Google Adwords can help your business get onto the front page of Google

Share this:

Will Facebook Offers Work For My Business?

And so it begins. Free Facebook tools that will have to be paid for post-flotation, especially since the shares have lost 40 percent of their original value.

For those – and I’m one of them – who have never actually seen a Facebook Offer, here’s a clue:

new facebook offers

Facebook Offers requires 400 fans or more

So, Facebook Offers and small businesses. Well the first thing you need to know is that, charged or not, this feature is only open to those businesses with 400 or more fans. So that rules out a large number of local businesses before we even start. If you have the right number of fans, then you will see Offer/Event in the bar at the top of any status update.

You can share offers with the people who like your page and then they can share them easily with their friends because there is a special newsfeed story created just for offers. When anyone claims your offer, this will also be automatically shared with their friends in their newsfeeds, encouraging more shares and claims to help you reach a bigger audience than you would if you just ran a status update on your page.

You can now measure the ROI better by including a code

In response to public demand, you can now include a bar code or other unique code so that you can track the effectiveness of your offer campaign.

Facebook will charge businesses to use this feature

News commenters recently said that it was necessary to run an ad campaign to encourage sharing and a figure of at least £3 ($5) was quoted, depending upon the number of fans a Page had.

However, according to the help page, the first time you try Facebook Offers it’s free, but after that a budget is required. The amount you pay is based on how many people you want to reach.

The advertising blurb says their research has shown that businesses get 3x the return on investment when people refer their friends and that’s why they think it’s a great way to get more people to your business.

How to create a Facebook Offer

Go to the bar at the top of the status update and select Offer. You can then choose whether you want customers to be able to redeem the offer in store, online or both. The bar code option is available for instore offers, for those online you enter the url of the website where they can get the offer, along with a unique redemption code.

The information you need to upload is the nature of the offer, the date the offer expires, a square photo to make the offer stand out, set a limit on the number of people who can claim your offer (if you wish) and you can then upload any terms and conditions.

Setting a budget

Next you need to set a budget, bearing in mind that the higher the budget, the more people your offer will reach. I could only see $5 in the example and this allowed you a reach of 3-6k so I suspect that it is like Promoted Posts, where the cost of the campaign will depend upon the number of fans your page has and therefore upon the number of people that it is likely to reach through the friends of those fans. The more people you are able to reach, the more expensive it will become.

Facebook help says: when you’re creating your offer, pick one of the suggested budgets from the dropdown menu, or set a custom budget from the Ads Manager by checking the box next to Promote later using another Facebook Ad tool.

Who can ‘Get Offers’?

As well as being seen by Fans and Friends of Fans on their PCs, Facebook offers are also visible and redeemable from mobile phones. After ‘Get Offer’ in the story has been clicked, the resulting email can then be printed out or actually shown on the mobile phone to the business owner to get the Offer.

Will Facebook Offers work for my business?

I think it depends upon the nature of your business. If you have a venue that sells food and drink, then definitely. Many people will try somewhere new if there is a freebie involved which is simple to claim. I think it depends how quickly those confirmation emails arrive. If you’re outside a store and they’re advertising a free coffee from Facebook in their window, who wouldn’t whip onto their mobile phone to claim the offer.

If you’re offering a discount for supplies based around a hobby and you have lots of enthusiastic fans, then I think that will work too.

Whether it will be as effective for businesses which offer more expensive items, I guess it depends on the nature and generosity of the Offer. Is it too good to miss?

With all these things, it is crucial that measure your return on investment. Use that code facility so that you can keep track of what’s happening and compare the takers against the cost of running the Offer.

But, at the end of the day, it’s no use to you at all if you don’t have 400 fans.

As we have said before, the most successful Facebook pages are very rarely local.

Give Lollipop Local a call on 01702 476517 or 0121 249 1306 to find out how to get more online exposure without having to spend all day on Facebook.

If you have enjoyed this post, please like us on Facebook and Twitter using the symbols below.

Share this: