The opportunity for female founders to take time out from their business – to think, analyse and plan with other entrepreneurs, as you learn from each other to stimulate creative business ideas.

What’s involved?

Growing through Analysis

Take time to consider the different aspects of your business. We will focus on defining your current position, work in teams and use a four quadrant analysis to map out your business. We will look at the outside of the business when it comes to customers, value proposition, market, product development and strategic objectives. Our facilitator, Diane Roberts, will assist you to start to think about your strategy for the next 1-3 years, and to move beyond the operational day to day issues.


Growing through Marketing

Designed to challenge you, to make you think, to inspire and to refine your brand and marketing strategy. Our facilitator, Aisling Bremner, an experienced marketeer, will help you look at branding and provide actionable tips from the best local & global brands. You will gain clarity on your target consumer, their needs, frictions and problems. We will discuss your brand DNA and brand positioning to stand out in the minds of your target consumer. You will work on steps to develop a marketing strategy and cost effective activity plan that is aligned to your core brand proposition to reach and engage your target audience.


Growing through Sales

This workshop will look at your current sales methodologies and challenges. Brainstorm ideas to find prospective customers and plan how to reach out to them by understanding where they are coming from and their background in order to win business. Our facilitator, Jim Irving is a specialist in selling and will look at the Do’s and Don’ts of sales from his successful career in selling. You will gain new ideas and tools for your sales and marketing strategy as Jim brings a strong focus on ethical and professional selling to this session.


Growing beyond Northern Ireland

Guidance on your journey of selling products and services outside Northern Ireland. Drawing upon his experience in supporting clients entering new markets and winning new customers, our facilitator, Frank Given will help you explore the realities of finding the right market to ensure there is a good product market fit when it comes to different cultural and buying styles. You will then explore operational constraints such as customs, VAT, regulatory compliance, logistics, service delivery and the opportunities and constraints of our new trading relationship with the EU.


Growing through Leadership

Develop the personal leadership qualities that are needed to grow your business and take it to the next level. You are your business. Setting up and growing your business is a personal journey that takes resilience, determination and courage. Our facilitator, Anne McMurray, an experienced consultant in leadership and strategy, will help you take stock of where you are, help you identify the strengths and qualities that you can draw on and cultivate the sense of direction you need to achieve your goals.


Growing through Finance

The opportunity to learn from experts in the field of finance. We’ll fbe joined by Claire Stewart, Director of Cartmill Stewart Accountancy. Claire is an experienced Business Mentor & Accountant, who will take you through the key areas of operational finance, the ways to become more profitable and the issues to consider to enable your growth plan. She will be followed by Ulster Bank Entrepreneur Manager, John Ferris, who will look at investment for business. John will give you an overview of investment opportunities, how to be investment ready and he can answer any queries you may have on navigating funders and investors.


Growing through Planning

Reflect on the previous learning to work on a strategic plan and Objective Key Results to begin to build your business canvas. You will have a renewed vision, ambition and confidence for your business, with an easy to plot business plan. Our facilitator, Diane Roberts will lead this workshop.


Extra support for you

Peer Group Meetings | Relaxed evening group meetings with successful female founders and discuss your current business challenges and ideas.

Business Review | Avail of a 1:1 business review with any of the facilitators on the programme to look at all areas of your business or to focus on a particular specialism.

Online Forum | Connect with peers and learn from each other through our online forum.


Who is it for?

Female business owners based in Northern Ireland who would like to achieve growth or further growth in their business. The programme will be suitable for those who meet at least of the following criteria:

  • Full time trading 3+ years
  • Annual Turnover of £60k+
  • Other income/investment of £60k-200k
  • Employing staff

The programme is open to 15 participants. While each participant will join the programme to achieve further growth, it is expected that you will also work on the 14 other ideas and become part of a supportive network of women.



From Autumn 2023 to Spring 2024.



Meet the facilitators:

Diane Roberts


Diane is a growth strategist with proven expertise in start-up development, scaling businesses, building international growth plans, and acquiring funding. She spent her early career in international technology sales and marketing roles and brings over 25 years rich industry experience developing new business in the UK, USA, Europe and Asia Pacific. Diane delivered the Propel programme, a high growth start up programme, for Invest NI for 11 years. She is currently a lead mentor for the International Selling programme for Enterprise Ireland and TU Dublin. She regularly assists accelerators across Ireland and UK, including EIT Food, Portershed, and Queens University. As a seasoned business mentor, Diane has been a highly respected advisor, board member and senior executive coach to 100s of high growth firms.


Aisling Bremner

Aisling Bremner Marketing

Aisling has more than 20 years’ experience working with iconic global brands including Heinz, Budweiser, Coors Light and market leading local brands including Dale Farm, Queen’s University Belfast and Keylite. Today Aisling specialises in supporting the growth of businesses through the development of successful brand growth and brand positioning strategies and brings her two decades of senior marketing strategy leadership positions to local businesses and brand


Jim Irving

Jim Irving Consultancy

Jim is a Sales Consultant, having spent a lifetime in sales and marketing. He is author of B2B Selling, B2B Leaders Guidebook and co-author of B2B Sales Top Tips – 3 leading books plus winning a ‘Best Sales Books of 2021 and ‘Best B2B Audio Book for 2022’ Award from ‘BookAuthority’ position him as both an excellent author and thought leader in this space. Over the last 15 years, since leaving the corporate world and starting his own consultancy, he has improved the sales processes/results and mentored the founders and business leaders in many early stage and SME (Small to Medium Enterprise) organisations. He has worked with over 40 start-ups in NI. He is a Fellow of both the Chartered Institute of Marketing (FCIM) and a Founding Fellow of The Institute of Sales Professionals (FF.ISP).


Frank Given

Close Focus

Frank is a business consultant with over 25 years industrial experience comprising Technical, Commercial, Executive Leadership and Consulting. He currently works with both early stage and experienced businesses to sell more outside Northern Ireland. Frank has also worked as an independent consultant on Sales and Export focused programmes for Invest Northern Ireland, InterTradeIreland and Enterprise Ireland, supporting over 100 businesses on their export journey.


Anne McMurray

Anne McMurray Consulting

Anne established her consultancy practice in 2000, specialising in strategic leadership, organisation and team development. She has worked with women leadership development since 1990, supporting women from a range of sectors and is a Professional Certified Coach, credentialed by the International Coach Federation. Anne has completed the Master Practitioner Diploma in Systemic Team Coaching (2019) and Certificate in Coaching Constellations (2016). As a result of her continued efforts, Anne was awarded an MBE in recognition of her work in women’s enterprise and leadership in Northern Ireland.


Claire Stewart

Cartmill Stewart & Co

Claire is a Chartered Accountant and co-owner/partner at Cartmill Stewart & Co. She is a passionate supporter of female entrepreneurship and a business mentor, and while a finance specialist, she can support business owners with their overall growth strategy. She was NI Young Leader of the Year 2019 , NI 40 under 40 2018, Winner of Women in Business NI Customer Service Award 2018, and one of Top 10 Voices in Finance, Accounting and FP&A on LinkedIn in 2019 as voted by the public. Claire loves to be part of the local business community with her extensive business network.


John Ferris

Ulster Bank

As a journalist and editor at the North Belfast News, John ran Ireland’s most successful independent food website, Forked. In 2013 he launched a wifi software technology startup, which was used in restaurants, cafés, hotels, stadia and vehicles around the world. John joined Entrepreneurial Spark in 2015 to help support ambitious startups throughout Ireland. Since joining the team, he has worked to support 7000+ startups across the country. Since 2019, John sits as a member of Ulster Bank’s Regional Board and leads on climate and the drive to support a more diverse entrepreneurial ecosystem in Northern Ireland. In that time John has also taken on an additional roles in both Strategic Investment Board in NI and as Norther Ireland’s Dealmaker, Department for International Trade.


Roisin McDermott

Yes You Can Programme Manager

Roisin is a Business Mentor and Trainer with over 20 years experience in supporting entrepreneurship. She has a degree in Business Studies, an MBA, and an Advanced Diploma in Digital Marketing and was one of the primary founders of Women in Business. Roisin has re-joined the Women in Business team to lead the Yes You Can programme on a part time basis, supporting female entrepreneurship. Prior to being self-employed for 14 years as Seed Mentoring, she has worked in the enterprise agency network for North Down Development and East Belfast Enterprise. Roisin is also the Treasurer of Specialisterne NI, a social enterprise supporting neuro-diversity and employability and coaches a local girls football team.


New dates are on the way for Autumn 2023. This programme will be carried out in person and online. Places will be allocated on a first come first serve basis, providing you meet the criteria.

If you have any enquiries, please contact: