Friday, July 30, 2010

Feature Friday featuring Sharon Hawkins of Girl Power Network & Routes2Reality

Welcome to our regular Feature Friday article, featuring a fabulous woman run business - today we're featuring Sharon Hawkins from Girl Power Network
Thanks for chatting with us today Sharon - can you introduce us to yourself and your company?
Girl Power Network offers an affordable way for ladies in business to meet and share their advice, ideas and services without the rigid structure and expense of member networks. Time is a valuable commodity and so we invite ladies on an informal basis to come along and chat over coffee, at a convenient time that doesn’t eat into work or family life. No membership fees; no pre-booking; just turn up on one of the days that suits and feel welcomed, supported and part of an encouraging community that will help you grow your business.

Where did the idea of running this as a business come from?
Michele and I met just under three years ago at a networking event. We knew networking worked because 80% of our work originated from it, and we couldn’t deny the support we received from other business owners really made a difference. However, we were tired of expensive annual membership fees and rigid structures that meant we had to be in a certain place at a certain time every month: and usually inconveniently slap bang in the middle of the day. Flexibility was something we knew was lacking and so we decided to create a different kind of networking group. And so Girl Power Network was born! The commercial incentive behind the idea was that we would develop our own network and build relationships for us and for others; the stuff that business development is made of.

What do you love most about your business?
Seeing the business grow is exceptionally rewarding. Every meeting sees at least one new attendee and it is wonderful to see the group get so much out of our guest speakers, who we choose selectively for their value in advising and guiding business owners. The fact that everyone always takes something away from each meeting is something I personally love; whether that’s a new contact, an idea, or simply the feeling that they have support and are not alone.

What would you like to change?
Rather than change anything I would say it is more about developing what is already there. I’d like to see a higher degree of diversity of industries attending our meetings.

What is your aim for the next year?
To enhance and build on what we already have is our aim. To grow the number of attendees and in doing so increase opportunities and support for all our attendees. We also intend to expand into new areas: Brentwood for starters is imminent and Thurrock is on the agenda for 2011. Another goal is to attract a wider variety of speakers to add greater value to each meeting.

Where do you ultimately see yourself?
The ‘bigger picture’ aim is to develop a franchise offering over time.

What are your Top 5 tips for new Business Women?
Tip 1 - Network
Tip 2 – Seek support from those in the same boat
Tip 3 – Seek advice from those who’ve been there and been successful
Tip 4 – Don’t be afraid to ask for help
Tip 5 – Set clear goals and stay focused on them

If people are interested in attending any of your events, how can they contact you for details?
You can contact me via our website or email me on; you can also catch us on our Facebook page at and our Twitter page will be coming soon!

he network sounds like a fantastic idea and echoes a lot of what we're trying to set up for Creation|Collaboration - we are firm believers in networking and the huge benefits it can bring for small businesses.
For this Feature Feature, we're doing something different - Sharon actually runs two businesses (where she gets the time I do not know - she must be Superwoman or something) and here is our profile of her second business Routes2Reality.

Sharon - can you tell us about your other company?
Routes2Reality provides affordable, value added solutions for small and start up businesses; solutions that get companies noticed and present a consistent, professional profile. Routes2Reality offers website design; print design; promotional copy writing; online marketing and offline marketing support: basically all the things a business needs to get noticed via an ‘out there’ profile that is designed to be razor sharp and outstandingly edgy when stood up alongside competitors.

Where did the idea of running this as a business come from?
Having attained a degree in Business Studies with a specialism in marketing, as well as a Masters in e-Business, again with a marketing specialism, my natural path was to move into employed work in the marketing sector and all positions involved building and maintaining websites. However, because of the marketing education, the work was not restricted to design; I was always focused on the bigger picture. How will this website work for your business? What do you want to achieve from the site? How will you attract new business and capture data?

After my daughter came along I lost the will to travel 100 miles a day to work and decided it was time to put my experience and bigger picture knowledge into action, doing things the way I knew from experience would work. And so Routes2Reality was born!

What do you love most about your business?
Total diversity; one day I’ll be working on a project for a building contractor, the next will be a motor home manufacturer. Every day brings new opportunities; starkly contrasting conversations and a plethora of personalities with which to deal. Developing a network and bringing clients and contacts together to provide an all round service is one of the greatest parts of the job, as is seeing a project through from start to finish. And I adore the flexibility of being my own boss and being able to allocate time for everything that’s important, including family.

Is there anything you'd like to change?
In all honesty I wouldn’t change a thing, but I would build on what I have. I’d like to receive more enquiries and to expand my network. And I have solid plans in place to do so!

What is your aim for the next year?
To increase enquiries and therefore sales and to expand my network; business building is the major goal for the next twelve months.

Where do you ultimately see yourself?
Heading the business development arm of Routes2Reality! My strengths lie in building relationships and so I’d like to work more in this area whilst mentoring technicians in the service and quality ethos of the company so that they can get the work done without compromising our exceptional standards; standards for which I want Routes2Reality to become known and standards which are affordable to the smaller business.

What are your Top 5 tips for new Business Women?
Tip 1 - network
Tip 2 – allow a realistic budget for marketing
Tip 3 – know when to outsource
Tip 4 – be comfortable with the fact that you can’t do everything: it’s normal
Tip 5 – never, never, never, ever give up on your goals

If our readers are interested in any of your services, how can they contact you?
I can be contacted via my website at or they can drop me an email at; alternatively, we also have a Facebook page and they can "Like" us at or Tweet us on

Thanks os much for chatting to us today Sharon - you really are a powerhouse and I don't know where you get your energy from!!!


  1. Thank you so much Celine for the blog. I look forward to getting to know everyone over the coming months.

    Couple of notes to readers:
    1. Girl Power Network is excited to announce a second group launching in Brentwood on 7 Sept.
    Billericay meetings will still continue also.

    2. Routes2Reality- website is undergoing a refresh with exciting new features. Business as usual and a portfolio is available if requested.

  2. Sharon, you are definetely superwoman. I am so impressed by your running of 2 successful businesses, and learning all about them. Look forward to getting to know you

    Ali @ Plans and Presents Wedding and Event Planning

  3. I agree with Ali, can't see where you're getting the time from to run two businesses unless you've a time machine!!! Lois (Beads and More by Lois) maybe interested in the Essex meetings as she's from there. Congrats Sharon, great article.