Dear Alex,

In the current economic climate the words "Happy New Year" have a rather hollow ring. So many of us are anxious about the future of our businesses or our job security, worried by the falling value of our properties and investments, nervous about our day-to-day spending. And whilst I don't pretend to have all the answers, one thing I do know is that we must all find the courage to deal with these challenges and try to forge a way through the negativity that surrounds us daily. My advice is simple: don't allow yourselves to be paralysed by doubt. Try each day to take some positive step toward your goals. Be flexible and resilient: should one approach fail, be persistent and take another route. If your current business model isn't working, review, regroup and do something different. Do everything to the best of your ability, expect positive outcomes and never give up. Where did I learn these things? From the many wonderful women I have networked with over the years and who have shared their wisdom with me. Their advice is summarised in our main article this month. I hope you can take inspiration from it, as I have done. Oh, and Happy New Year - I hope it is filled with everything you wish for yourself and your loved ones.

How to Succeed in Business: Advice from Women at the Top

Do you want to make this the year you really succeed in business? Then follow these key steps, drawn from Praxis research among some of the UK’s most outstanding women business leaders and entrepreneurs.

First, believe you can do it. Set yourself some stretching challenges and learn what you’re made of in order to build your self esteem. Remember that many of our limitations are self-imposed because we don’t dare to be bold enough.

Focus on your Vision & Ideals so everyone knows who you are and what you believe in. Successful people have passion, conviction and a vision of what they want to achieve. Share your vision with others to motivate and inspire them. This is a key quality of leadership.

Have a Plan and Set some Goals & Milestones. Know your strengths and weaknesses: build on the one and work to overcome the other. Leaders are readers, so work constantly to extend your knowledge. Anticipate obstacles and plan to overcome them.

Build your Skills Portfolio. Developing a portfolio of versatile skills puts you at a great advantage. Top managers and entrepreneurs are drawn mainly from general management and successful women have usually gained experience in this role.

“Be first rate in terms of your skills for the job – being average won’t do”.

Unusual combinations of skills attract a premium and prepare you for key projects and new opportunities: finance, IT, project management, bidding & tendering, mergers & acquisitions. Find a niche you can make your own.

Gain Visibility. Successful women are astute at recognising opportunities to step change their careers by volunteering for high profile work. Be flexible and be prepared to step out of your comfort zone.

“Opportunities are often disguised as hard work – that’s why so few people recognise them”.

Find a Champion or Mentor. Seek support and advice from influential people in your field through professional organisations and other networks. These people can open doors for you and are a valuable source of information. 

Appear confident: don’t be too reticent.  Learn to tell a good story like your male counterparts. Take credit when it’s due to you and demonstrate your potential. Speak up at meetings and always present your case professionally. Practice, to hone your presentation skills.

Harness your Drive & Use your Initiative. Successful people are good at recovering from setbacks. So develop resilience and an optimistic spirit. Learn to create opportunities out of difficulties. Network with other women and learn from their coping strategies.

‘I did it my way’. Successful women find new ways of doing things to get faster results, or to be more effective. Base your business on a new paradigm – don’t be afraid to do things differently and to find new ways to relate to the needs of your customers.

“If you do things well, do them better. Be daring. Be first. Be different. Be just.”

Go the extra mile. Most successful women are dedicated to doing a good job, and to getting the best for their company, their clients and their team. Don’t settle for half measures.

What’s luck got to do with it? Luck is not just being in the right place at the right time, but feeling empowered to seize the opportunities that present themselves and run with them.

Finally, we wish you every success. But remember, no-one said it would be easy! And if you need help with your personal image to look and feel more confident, why not call us for an initial chat on 01865 245460.

How to get yourself hired.

Recently I have begun working closely with Surinder Hothi and Charlene Yee of Select Recruitment, based here in Oxford. They are our guest contributors to this month’s newsletter with some timely reminders about how to approach the job market if you’re looking to get hired:

1. Spell check: Ensure that your CV has no spelling mistakes or grammatical errors!

2. Up-sell yourself: Have a list of your attributes and the benefits that you can bring to a company and focus on them at interviews.

3. Be flexible: In the current market there is an overload of candidates, and those who are willing to be flexible in their attitude, salary expectations and preferred location have a better chance of getting work

4. Be disciplined: Draw up a daily plan of attack with a list of companies and agencies that you’ll be calling, and track the results so that you can measure your success rate. The worst thing is calling an agency and not remembering which job you’re applying for!! It makes candidates appear uncommitted and disorganised

5. Brush up on your interview techniques: If you have a telephone or face-to- face interview, do the basics. Look at the company’s website, research the role, put together a portfolio of past achievements or KPI targets, especially if it’s a marketing or sales role.

6. Network: Use every available avenue to get your c.v. in front of people who might be able to help you. Be specific when asking for the kind of help or contacts you need.

7. Ask for help! Don’t be negative or closed-minded: rejection is bound to happen given the number of candidates on the market. Turn to people who have changed jobs or recently been hired and ask them for advice and motivation.

8. Do a bit of temping: Job hunting can be emotionally draining and there’s only so much you can do each day, so temp for a bit. You never know, you may even be offered a permanent role.

9. Be on time:  Plan travel routes to both agencies and interviews. Aim to be at least 10 minutes early for both. This shows both commitment and self-discipline.

10. Dress for the part: Choose something that is comfortable and flattering, and appropriate for both the role and the organisation you’re applying to. Grooming is everything, since caring for the basics (clean shoes, tidy hair & nails, clean & well pressed clothes) signals attention to detail in your work.

Select Appointments: 01865 724439 or email Charlene at


Dates for your Diary

What's Stopping You?

Got a business idea but not sure how to make it happen? Two chances to attend a fantastic FREE business start up seminar in February, organised by our friends at Business Link: on Wed. 4th Feb. in Milton Keynes and Thursday 5th Feb in Slough. For more details contact Glenda Caley on 01732 878582 or email    See you there!

Something for the man in your life?

Do you know a man who would like to look more successful, sophisticated and charismatic? If so, tell him to come along to the Corner Club in Turl Street, Oxford on Tuesday 10th February (7.30-9pm)  where we're running a Personal Image event just for men.  Without smoke or mirrors we'll show him how to dress, move. speak and act like the winner he is. Advance booking recommended by contacting Julie on 01865 261500 or by email: