An entrepreneurial mum of two who started a free Facebook group to support fellow women in business is in the running for a top award after building a community that now reaches around 25,000 people.
Niki Hutchison has been named as one of six finalists in the Women’s Champion category of the Digital Women Awards 2022 after her huge success in offering online support.
“I was delighted to have made the shortlist,” she said. “To get recognition at a national level really does give you an extra boost and remind you why you’re working so hard.”
Edinburgh-based Niki, 43, started her group in 2017 when she set up The Simplicity Concept to help support women in business. Two years later she rebranded to her own name and niched down to focus on supporting entrepreneurial women to grow their audiences.
Pre-pandemic, Niki hosted in-person networking events in Edinburgh but pivoted online and now focuses on running a free Facebook group – the Audience Growth Collective – a weekly podcast called the Audience Growth Podcast and a group programme called the Audience Growth Club as well as running her marketing agency, Enjoy Marketing. With thousands of members and many more followers on social media platforms, she is reaching up to 25,000 women every week.
Niki, who is married to John and has two children, Ian, 17, and Anna, 11, said she first set up the community to grow her own support network and create opportunities to work with other women and help them to grow their businesses as well.
“I needed a new challenge and I was really keen to surround myself with like-minded women in my working life,” she said.
“Entrepreneurial women growing all sorts of businesses are now part of the community. They live all across the UK and beyond and are ambitious, determined and inclusive. They want to support each other on the journey.
“Women in the community regularly work with each other. As well as teaching members how to grow their audiences and ultimately sell more, I always buy from as many of them as I can and the opportunities that come from the group are great to see. Just this week someone in the group shared that they had space for a new client, and another member booked a call with her the same day. It can happen that fast!”
Members of Niki’s group get marketing and business tips and can access her regular, free masterclasses. In February, Niki plans to team up with other entrepreneurial women to bring together marketing experts and host a large scale in-person event in Edinburgh.
Niki also runs free online challenges, regularly attracting hundreds of members to sign up to each one. These challenges include competitions where women can win prizes for being the most engaged, the most creative and the most supportive.
“Everyone is allowed to promote their business once a month in the community and also invited to share their own business tips that have worked for them,” said Niki.
“We then select our favourite tips and highlight those within the community, meaning that the person sharing the tip gets extra exposure. I also share business offerings from other women in my community on my Instagram stories and interview them on my podcast.
“I believe in the potential of everyone and we all have to start somewhere. I benefited from lots of free advice when I first started in business and have gone on to invest regularly in further support.
“I see the power of community in action again and again; sometimes women will be part of the community for years before being in a position to work with me and I love hearing that they’ve been paying attention all that time and have made enough progress to be ready to invest.
“Other clients will jump straight in after bingeing on a few podcast episodes. I’ve got a background in traditional advertising and brand strategy, so it comes naturally to me to put myself out there and I love providing value whether that be via the Facebook group, the podcast, the regular free workshops I host, the information I share in my newsletter or on Instagram. I love learning from and working with other women so it feels good to be the person on the other side of that too.”
The Digital Women awards ceremony is on Friday, October 14, at The Ivy, Tower Bridge, London.