WHEN professional businesswoman and mum-of-three Cathryn O’Grady took redundancy from her job in November 2008 she set her sights on something she had been ‘threatening to do for years’ and started up her own business.

As an Events & Communications Specialist, since becoming self-employed, Cathryn has already organised a number of high profile events across the region and is confident of her ability to succeed as an entrepreneur.

“With more than 15 years experience in the industry I knew I could make it on my own” said Cathryn, “it was just difficult taking the plunge and actually making that first step.”

But 40-year-old Cathryn, who has three year old twin boys and a one year old baby boy, knew it was the right decision to make.

She said: “When I was working in Manchester I was travelling up and down the M6 and doing 12 hour days, and seeing my kids only to put them to bed. As a working mum it is extremely difficult to get the balance right, but now that I work for myself all that has changed and it is so much more flexible.”

Cathryn worked for the most part of her career for Trinity Mirror starting off in newspaper sales before working her way up to Regional Head of Sponsorship, Events & Exhibitions, where she organised and developed a number of large scale corporate and consumer events. She later moved on to work for an events agency in Manchester as Operations Director.

And, having built up a good name and reputation for herself Cathryn found the transition of being employed to becoming self employed far easier than she thought it would be.

“Luckily for me” continued Cathryn, “I had built up a great deal of contacts over the years and this made it much easier when setting out on my own. I got work straight away off my own reputation and have already organised events for a number of prestigious companies and charities across the region.

“All of this work has given me a fantastic start to the business and has also triggered a number of collaborations with contacts I have established over the years, which will enable me to secure work that wouldn’t have been open to me on my own due to having only just set up in business.”

Cathryn, who now lives in Burscough, has set up her business in the North Liverpool area and as well as receiving help and advice from women’s enterprise agency Train 2000, she has also benefited from the Stepclever programme. Cathryn received a grant from Stepclever which she used to help fund office equipment and also to develop a strong brand for her business, as well as stationery, a website and a marketing campaign which will allow her to compete for tenders on a larger scale both inside and outside of the region.

She said: “The support I have received from both Train 2000 and Stepclever has been excellent and being awarded the Stepclever grant has really helped me in these initial stages.”

As a confident entrepreneur, Cathryn undertakes a great deal of networking and socialising and is always looking for opportunities to meet new contacts and develop business relationships. But, she recognises that as a woman in business this can be extremely daunting.

“There are so many barriers that women face when they become self-employed” said Cathryn, “and for many women I think the biggest barrier is confidence. I consider myself to be an extremely confident person, but even now when I go to a networking event I can still feel a little uneasy about it and can see how for some women this would be completely daunting, it is always easier to go with other people first.”

Cathryn believes that other barriers faced by women include accessing financial support and managing a family round having a career.

“Despite the barriers” continued Cathryn, “there are so many positives about becoming self-employed and I would certainly urge any other women who are thinking about it, to have a go.”

It is early days for Cathryn’s business but already she has big plans for the future. She said “I am making more and more contacts all the time and am really getting my name about. I plan to continue to work collaboratively but am also very keen to develop more of my own projects, so watch this space.”

“I have massive plans for the future, but for now I am thoroughly enjoying my work and am so glad I took the decision to become self-employed.”

If you need support with project or events management and would like to find out more about the work undertaken by Cathryn O’Grady please contact her on 07918174176 or email cath@eventfulonline.com

And if you are a woman from the Stockport or Merseyside area who is interested in starting up your own business please contact Train 2000 on 0151 236 6601.