Women in business

10 Mar 2022

Female entrepreneurs run a third of SMEs in the UK. Although this number can appear low when measured against gender demographics, the number has risen sharply in recent years.

Female entrepreneur

Despite figures that Women mostly set up businesses in the hair, beauty, wellness and pet care sectors, they’re making great strides in previously male-dominated sectors, with nearly twenty per cent of financial services businesses in Britain being female-owned.

So, let’s look at what it takes to be a successful woman in business, what networks and courses are available and what funding could support female entrepreneurship.

How women entrepreneurs can become empowered

Let’s consider how you can empower yourself as an entrepreneur.

·    Don’t be afraid to fail

Setting yourself up in business is risky, especially if you’re stepping away from a secure job with salary and benefits. But nothing risked, nothing gained. It’s up to you to make sure you’ve done your market research, have a plan and have the funds to cover the set-up costs and early cash flow needs.

·    Act on feedback

Whatever feedback you get (good or bad) can be cleverly used to shape your business’s future. You can send out regular surveys to your customers to discover your strengths and weaknesses and make sure you constantly analyse your competitors’ strengths and weaknesses.

·    Keep learning

Many of the jobs we do now didn’t exist twenty years ago, demonstrating how quickly adapt and re-train to take advantage of new opportunities.

Never stop learning, and you’ll become an expert in your field. You continue to grow and innovate when you increase your knowledge. CEOs research intensively, with many signing up for online courses or classes at a local university.

·    Become the go-to expert

If you’re the boss, you should be considered an expert in your field. For example, if you’re a mortgage advisor, your colleagues (male and female) must be able to get the answers quickly and accurately from you.

It’s OK if you’re not the best at sales, you can employ an expert in that area, but as an empowered boss, your strength lies in projecting your confidence and expert knowledge gained through experience in every aspect of your business.

·    Cut out negative people

Negativity can suck the energy out of business. Surround yourself with people who share your passion and get the vision. You could blame a lack of orders or customers on the state of the economy, but turning that into a positive only takes a shift in mindset to a can-do attitude.

·    Network

Think about networking in women-only business groups and networks, online and offline. You can share ideas about the problems you’ve faced which may or may not relate to your gender. Building up valuable contacts doesn’t happen by accident; people don’t come to you.

You can be naturally shy but be hugely passionate and talkative about your business. The more you put yourself about, the luckier you get. The business world is full of stories where people talk about their lucky break having met someone by chance rather than design.

The other advantage of networking is building up a support network you can tap into when necessary. You might get a free consultation rather than paying for legal or accountancy advice. A personnel issue could get quickly resolved by a contact you’ve developed with HR experience. You can also selflessly offer your professional expertise in exchange.

·    Mentor

If you had a mentor helping you begin your journey as an entrepreneur, you know how valuable that support can be. Putting yourself up as a mentor can raise your profile, open up more opportunities, and project authority on your c.v. and among your networks.

Women in business statistics

According to 2020 research, 32% of small businesses in the UK are women-owned and run, quite a shift from 2016 when only 17% were founded and run by females. This shift is mainly due to creating one-person companies and businesses. Women appear to be very agile and enthusiastic; 38% of one-person enterprises are run by women, while women own only 22% of companies with four or more employees.

Hair and beauty, wellness, pet care, domestic services, gifts and occasions and hospitality are the main businesses female entrepreneurs set up and run successfully. Women are, however, underrepresented in electronics, construction, outdoor and garden, with only 13% of women working in construction.

Many business sectors with few female entrepreneurs also have the fewest female workers. However, financial services and lessons buck the trend; nearly 20% of businesses are female-owned. It takes stamina to curate a thriving business. According to some recent European research, female Spanish entrepreneurs might have the edge of staying power. Most companies that fail are male-owned. The study showed that 30% of the businesses started by women failed, compared to the 58% started by men, based on a sample of 1,585 projects worldwide.

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Zoe Cornish

Chief People & Operations Officer

Zoe Cornish is the Chief People & Operating Officer at Funding Options. Zoe has an extensive background in human resources and in developing and implementing people strategies within companies, covering employee engagement, performance management, organisational culture, coaching, as well as policies and practice. Prior to Funding Options, Zoe was the COO at Emerald group (acquired by Mind Tools).

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