If you can identify with nearly half the workforce in Britain (who according to Reed Recruitment are either actively or passively looking for a new job) then read on! The business opportunity is all there, fully developed and operational and it’s waiting for you …

… it’s simple, it’s affordable, our franchisees are successful, so how does it work? I will explain, but first, get a feel for my background, hear how it all started and read my story;

“How One Burnt Out, Corporate ‘High Achiever’ Left The Corporate Sector, Set Up Her Own Training, Mentoring and Coaching Business AND Developed Athena Groups That Were Franchised …”

Overnight I Found Myself Unemployed!

I’d been employed in the corporate sector for over 12 years, gained extensive corporate experience in a broad range of challenging sales, training and consultancy roles with organisations such as KPMG, BAe, Ernst & Young and BT. And when I first started I loved it!

When I realised that I didn’t know the colour of my own front door; I would leave for work so early and get home so late, that I had no work/life balance and that my children spent more time with the child minder than me I decided that it was time to get out. Not an easy choice, I had a particularly affluent lifestyle and we had ‘grown into’ the money that I was earning.

I was at a personal life crossroads and no amount of money could compensate for my health, which was starting to suffer as a result of stress and lack of sleep. As a trainer and coach how could I train and coach what I couldn’t model? Work was becoming a struggle for me, I wasn’t having fun anymore and I firmly believe if you aren’t enjoying something then you need to find something you will enjoy doing instead.

I was fortunate enough to be able to apply for voluntary redundancy. Oddly everyone of us in the team had to re-apply for our job. I was in the strangest situation; I wanted to perform brilliantly in the interview (high achiever) but if I did there was a possibility that they would retain me. If I performed appallingly I would let myself down. So, I decided to be completely honest and told the interview panel exactly that.

I left the interview, walked upstairs to my office, packed up my desk and personal belongings and started to walk out of the building. A friend and colleague stopped me and said “aren’t you afraid you won’t be retained” I told her “no I’m afraid that they are going to ask me to stay … I’m leaving now whilst I am strong enough to make the decision”.

In the walk from the interview to my office I decided that I needed to take 100% ownership of the situation and not depend on anyone else to make critical life choices for me. So, whether I was made redundant or not I was going to leave and start what I had dreamed of since I was at school … my own business.

Fortunately I had invested in my own training the whole time I was employed, a qualified NLP Trainer, Hypnotherapist, passing my coaching diploma with a distinction I thought I was pretty much set to start my own business.

How deluded I was! I had the skills to work with clients, they achieved great results when I did work with them. I just didn’t know how to get them.

I Thought Clients Would Find Me!

Leaving the corporate sector was the easy part! Setting up in business was one of my greatest challenges in life; now with no team, little infrastructure and no clue of what I was doing I needed to find clients.

Business advisors, mentors and coaches assured me that networking was the key way of achieving my business goals. This from a ‘princess’ who had a telemarketing team organising all her appointments!

But I Didn’t Know What To Do!

My business coach recommended that I start networking … honestly I’d have sooner poked a hot needle in my eye than attend a networking event (to be fair I wasn’t even sure what one was). I’m an introvert and the very idea of going into a room of strangers and talking about myself really did not make me feel great. And I did need to build a client base so, I dutifully attended several events, found myself getting frustrated and fat (there is a lot of eating that goes on) and all so I could just tell my coach “I did it!”

He urged me to stick at it and I said to him “it wouldn’t be half as bad if I knew what I was doing”, to which he replied “with the skills, resources and training you have, if you don’t know how to do it you should model someone who does!”

I took the challenge and what I realised was with all the events that I was going to; open networking, organised networking, breakfast events, industry specific events, no one was given any direction. I came away feeling frustrated and that I had wasted my time!

I was seriously out of options. “Surely there must be a network I want to be in; a network that will teach me what to do!

Should I Start My Own Networking Organisation?

The trainer in me took the challenge and instead of attempting to find a network that suited me I decided that I would create my own!

In 2005 The Athena Network was launched, in 2006 it was incorporated and with 27 groups in Home Counties. There was a massive demand for more groups to be set up in areas where we didn’t have one. So, the next stage in the development of the business was implemented and the business was franchised so that other women all over the UK were able to experience not only networking but lessons in how to network and develop their business! The missing link, the training, needed to be provided for us to be able to achieve success.

The training doesn’t start when ladies arrive at our events, it starts from our first communication. What I had learnt early on was that I was most likely to not go to an event if I didn’t know what was going to happen. With preparation and planning I felt resourceful and confident. A communication structure and meeting format was created so that everyone got the opportunity to present their business and each delegate was able to support others in the group.

Each of our Regional Directors (franchisees) is trained to network and to support other business women to do the same. Following the same business methodology we have a formula that works for us in all of our groups

Not unlike Ray Kroc, who worked closely with the MacDonald brothers before launching the MacDonald’s Franchise, I researched extensively so that I learnt my craft learning more about networking strategies, developing networking groups and became a very willing student in the study of ‘word of mouth’ marketing as well as how to become an excellent franchisor.

Integrating this with my knowledge of business development, coaching, training and franchising this enabled me to create The Athena Network to provide an environment for business women that they were searching for … interestingly they didn’t know it until they attended their first meeting.

In the first year, 23 groups were set up in the Home Counties;

“Like a magenta and silver army we are moving across the country connecting women; and when women connect they don’t just move mountains, they do it in heels and manage to sort the laundry out later.”

Why am I telling you this? Only one reason. I wanted to establish my credibility with you. I know that lots of people dream of starting their own business… escaping the nine to five grind … achieving financial independence … and giving their families the lifestyle they so richly deserve, I certainly did. Yet many have been frustrated by the supposed money-making opportunities they’ve come across and I wanted you to know about my track record and my background so that you’d know that I am ‘for real’.

Athena is now recognised as THE LEADING INTERNATIONAL NETWORKING, TRAINING AND DEVELOPMENT BUSINESS COMMUNITY FOR FEMALE EXECUTIVES AND ENTREPRENEURS which means that we are now looking to take on additional franchisees to ensure that even more women have the opportunity to benefit from our proven networking methodology both nationally and internationally.