Women helping women

Deepali Nangia has set up a group which aims to get women business owners to help each other.

Who best knows what it’s like to run a business and a family and knows the kind of support that might help? Could a club which allows women entrepreneurs to link up with other women entrepreneurs be an answer?

Deepali Nangia reckons it could be. She has just started the Empowered Club which links up women entrepreneurs who can help each other out. All the current members are women she has met over the last year since she started up as a business coach, advising organisations and individuals on areas such as business plans, financial analysis and marketing advice. They include a PR business, legal experts and events managers,

“Women in business can use other women’s skills, for instance, they can outsource PR for their launch to a PR company. People use PR companies for a reason. They have relationships with the media. You can write all the press releases you like, but if you don’t have the contacts in the press they won’t go anywhere,” she says.

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Through the Empowered Club Deepali aims to hold regular get togethers for women where they can share their different knowledge and expertise. The first session, coming shortly, will be led by a PR expert from Curzon PR who will give some PR DIY tips.

Deepali’s background is in the corporate world. She started her career as a banker on Wall Street at Salomon Smith Barney Citigroup and subsequently went on to work in principal investing at private equity houses such as GE Equity and Stonepoint Capital.  She moved to Marsh McLennan as Project Manager, Operations for their India operations and then held various positions in Strategy, Product Development and Operations at Marsh and Aon.

She also co-founded Tiny Feet, Giant Leaps (Tiny Feet), a for profit mother and child activity centre in India.

After having her two children, however, she wanted to refocus her working life and give something back so she started up her business while continuing to do charity work. She is also a regular blogger on Workingmums.co.uk – as Diary of a Mumpreneur – where she profiles inspirational women in business.

Learning curve

Deepali says she has learnt a lot in the last year since she started her coaching business. For instance, she went for a role in a charity for which she did not have all the skills listed. It gave her the opportunity to talk to the organisation about what she could offer. A few months later, after she was turned down for the job, the organisation got in touch and offered her some marketing work. It was not something she had ever done before, but what she learnt from the experience was that she can adapt herself and try new things and also that networking is key. “Even if nothing comes out of events that you go to or meetings that you have, it might. People may refer you on to someone else who can help. It’s always worth doing,” she says.

Deepali currently has two clients which are charitable organisations for whom she has regular weekly work and around these she works with other clients, most of whom are women. She says these often need most support in the early days, mainly on issues such as writing a business plan and finance. They are harder to manage than the regular clients as they may need her help more at particular times, which are often unpredictable. However, Deepali says her work with women is something she is very passionate about and covers a wider variety of areas – she has worked with businesses ranging from yoga to fine and costume jewellry and those in the creative arts and garment industry. Areas women tend to find difficult, she says, include calculating the finances and knowing what to charge for their products or services.

Deepali’s background in finance helps her to be able to sit down with people and look at their overheads, calculate a minimum price which covers their fixed costs, incorporate what the competition is charging and include a profit margin. It’s something she has had to do herself as a businesswoman, researching what the standard costs her competitors are charging and working out how much she charges. For the charities she works with she charges less than for her private clients. She says: “A lot of women undersell themselves, but if you charge too low people will not value what you offer.”

She adds that they also tend not to delegate when this can, in the case of accountancy, for instance, save them money. She recommends getting in help, for instance, an intern, to help out with administrative tasks they are not good at so they can focus on those that they do excel in. And she says many are not as firm as they should be on chasing invoices.

Deepali says it is interesting advising businesswomen at the same time that she is building her own business while looking after her two children.  “It means I understand what they are going through and empathise with them,” she says.

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