Ruth Clougherty: 'The business.connected programme is so inspiring – and incredibly generous with its support.'

Ruth Clougherty: 'The business.connected programme is so inspiring – and incredibly generous with its support.'

Posted: Tue 21st Nov 2023

We partnered with Vodafone Business to launch business.connected, helping 800,000 small and medium-sized businesses take their digital skills to the next level over the next three years.

Business owners can take part in e-learning modules, digital workshops delivered by business.connected advisers and Lunch and Learn webinars, and have a free consultation with a Vodafone V-Hub adviser.

The business.connected programme covers a range of core digital topics, from SEO and e-commerce to cyber-security and connectivity.

We're catching up with some of the business owners who have been taking part in the initiative to find out about how it's benefited them so far.

Here, we talk to Ruth Clougherty, founder of Gin & Yin Retreats, a business that organises wellbeing retreats and events that are a little out of the ordinary.

Ruth, what led to you starting your business?

When I was a professionally stretched, time-poor mum, I decided I needed to invest in myself to support my emotional and physical wellbeing before I burnt myself out.

I wanted to experience something on a deeper level, to have space and time to myself, to learn something new in a country I'd never been to before, but also have fun and enjoy a glass of wine and a G&T here and there too.

I couldn't see anything available which ticked all the boxes, so I launched my first trip/holiday/retreat for friends to Marrakech. It included elements of wellbeing, exploration and fun and I'm delighted to say it was a great success.

I continued to run the retreats as a hobby for over 10 years, each year researching special, slightly off-the-grid properties in different countries with different itineraries and different friends. Some of the ladies who came to Marrakech with me over 15 years ago still retreat with me to this day, which makes me so happy.



How did you launch Gin & Yin Retreats?

While running the retreats as a hobby, I began to recognise not only my love of curating these wonderful escapes for women but also the energy, value and positive lasting impact they had on us. So, in 2018 I decided the time was right to launch it as a business and the name Gin & Yin seemed apt and summed up my offering perfectly.

I thought, what's the worst that could happen? It was COVID! On the positive side, the pandemic forced me to pivot. I created Events in a Box, which were 90-minute retreats in a box, delivered to the customer's front door.

It contained mini craft gins and mixers, artisan treats, a wellbeing gift and a live online creative expert, making something for ourselves at home and learning a new skill, while sipping and sampling delicious UK produce.

I'm now back to researching and running more new retreats and I look forward to creating more in-person and online events going forward. 

What are some of the key challenges you've faced?

Having enough hours in a day to do everything I want to do with the business, while making sure I keep time aside for myself and my family.

How have you benefited from the business.connected resources so far?

I've enjoyed the Lunch & Learn sessions but I do need to utilise more of the amazing content on offer. It isn't always easy as a small business owner!

Is there a specific part of the business.connected programme that's inspired you the most so far?

It's all inspiring – the programme is incredibly generous with its information.



What's the best advice you've received while taking part in business.connected?

  • It will never be perfect, just get it out there.

  • Accept that your 'to do' list will never end. So focus on your 'ta-da' list and celebrate what you've achieved.

  • Being a small business owner can be overwhelming, so recognise your strengths and weaknesses sooner rather than later. Get help with what you can't do, which leaves you to focus on what you're good at.

  • Deal with the jobs you've been putting off first – it's much better that way, and you enjoy your day more.

Finally, what would you say to anyone who's considering starting a business?

  • Do your research and trust your instincts. Be clear about your mission and your ambitions. Stay strong, as there will always be naysayers. Shout about what makes you different. And tell your story – it's more interesting than you think.

  • Don't forget to enjoy the journey. More often than not, there's a rainbow after the rain – you might just have to look for it. Remember to give yourself a hug, or a pat on the back, for a shot of oxytocin when needed.

  • Get out there and meet other aspiring entrepreneurs. It's great to talk and share ideas, and who knows, it could result in a wonderful collaboration one day.


business.connected: Grow your business with free digital training

Free video training, exclusive offers and workshops

The business.connected hub is a free online training programme of workshops, webinars and e-learning modules designed to help businesses go digital, adopt new technology, and stay safe online. Take me to the hub now

Enterprise Nation has helped thousands of people start and grow their businesses. Led by founder, Emma Jones CBE, Enterprise Nation connects you to the resources and expertise to help you succeed.

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