Jane Binnion is founder of Growing Club CIC, a social enterprise based in Lancaster, delivering enterprise skills training for women. As part of Female Entrepreneurship Month, she shared her thoughts with Boost on wellbeing when growing a business.

In September, The Growing Club CIC  received a grant from Sport England, to fund a brand-new project: fitness and relaxation for women running small businesses, Healthy You, Healthy Biz.

Women and fitness is not a new concept of course, and there are many examples of initiatives aimed at getting women and girls to take up sports. But here at The Growing Club, we are focusing specifically on women business owners.

Why?

We’ve worked with over 300 women so far, but time and time again, the thing that we see which blocks sustainability is the lack of self care. Whilst for many women running smaller organisations self-care is seen as a bit of a luxury, the reality is it is essential, because if you are a sole trader, what happens to the business if you become unwell?

In the summer a question was put to women in business in a Facebook group, asking ‘what stops women taking care of themselves?’ The answers were sobering:

  • Feeling guilty about taking a day off
  • Fear of failing, I push myself harder than I probably should, no down time and rarely a day off
  • Lack of being able to switch off and totally relax
  • Fear of failure. Constant anxiety, and a lot of my family are negative about my idea so feels an uphill battle
  • Switching off even on holidays and days off, it’s hard to ignore your phone. I have fibromyalgia, so every day is a challenge. I think I push myself too hard, so I can allow myself to give into it

So many of these issues are down to women still doing the double shift: working full time and still carrying the biggest share of domestic tasks. This obviously impacts women who own micro-businesses more, as they are less likely to be able to afford help at home, such as a cleaner, nanny etc.

This sums up why many women feel they have to quit business and not addressing this will mean we do not address the rate of failure among women small business owners.

Illness

But it’s a bigger issue than that even. We have seen a disturbing trend when it comes to women’s health, with a significant increase in strokes, heart attacks, diabetes and an all-time record high of burnout.

It was shocking to discover that each year, twice as many women die of a stroke than breast cancer – did you know that? And the risk of stroke is a third higher for women in stressful jobs, because we eat fast food, self-medicate, stop exercising and pile the weight on. Heart disease kills six times as many women than breast cancer every year. In the UK, an average of 65 women per day die of heart disease.

The really crazy thing about those statistics is that we could significantly reduce those figures with some simple lifestyle changes. That is what our course, Healthy You, Healthy Biz is all about.

How

The aim of our initiative is to use The Growing Club ethos that women have come to trust: peer support, buddying and creating a safe space, to work together as a group.

Healthy You, Healthy Biz is designed so that women are able to incorporate some form of exercise into their daily or weekly routine, so we are making it accessible with no fancy equipment required…think cans of baked beans rather than dumbbells!

We’ll be using a pick-and-mix exercise programme, which includes dance, strength work, walking, yoga, Pilates and even some self-defence. Also, because we have found women are unable to relax, we are including simple meditation and self-massage. We believe that if we can learn to relax, we are more likely to be able to jump off that never-ceasing hamster wheel and make time for ourselves generally.

For more information, please email jane@thegrowingclub.co.uk or call Jane on 07521 314926.

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