Growing female entrepreneurs’ franchise gets a boost

A female entrepreneurs’ networking business is expanding its franchise operations across the North West and beyond after receiving support through Boost – Lancashire’s business growth hub.

At the end of 2018, Chorley-based Unique Ladies Network had sold 15 franchises. Now, founder Suzy Orr is hitting her growth targets and has signed up a further four franchisee groups in the North West – with a launch underway in Bradford, West Yorkshire.

Unique Ladies Network is designed to empower and encourage women running their own businesses, as well as enabling attendees to support each other.

Suzy entered the Growth Support Programme after attending networking events in Lancashire where she met Sue Denver at Winning Pitch, which delivers the programme on behalf of Boost.

She said: “The team at Boost go above and beyond. I’ve had constant help to raise awareness of upcoming Unique Ladies Network meetings through the Boost website and social media channels. They have been real a pleasure to work with and I would recommend the support to women in Lancashire determined to grow their business.”

Suzy has nearly 30 years’ experience as a sales and business development manager in the male-dominated IT and telecoms industry. After leaving, she missed networking and founded the Unique Ladies Network after a friend suggested she start her own network for women.

When Suzy engaged with the Growth Support Programme she had set up a Unique Ladies Network Bolton group in 2015, followed by Manchester and Preston in 2016, and Liverpool in September 2017. The events feature inspirational speakers at venues including Bolton Wanderers and Preston North End stadiums.

She added: “This form of networking is ideal for women who work at home and really benefit from the face-to-face camaraderie. My driving passion is to network and bring people together. The help from Boost to grow Unique Ladies Network means more women like me can benefit from a strong network.”

Boost is Lancashire's Business Growth Hub and is led by the Lancashire LEP (Local Enterprise Partnership) and Lancashire County Council and supported by funding from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).

Sue said: “Suzy has benefited from 36 hours of support and we worked together to develop an effective Growth Action Plan for her business. She also attended funded masterclasses covering starting out in business and marketing your business on LinkedIn.

“Additionally, Suzy was invited to bespoke networking sessions with other Lancashire entrepreneurs to help her build her business network and get insights from her peers. I have been on hand throughout to provide regular advice and prompts to ensure that her plan is being delivered.”

Suzy has continued to work closely with the Growth Support Programme, collaborating wherever possible at events.

In addition, a number of female entrepreneurs who have acquired franchises from her are engaging with the Boost programme.

Boost has received £3.8m of funding from the England European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020. The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government is the Managing Authority for ERDF. Established by the European Union, ERDF funds help local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects which will support innovation, businesses, create jobs and local community regenerations.  For more information visit https://www.gov.uk/european-growth-funding