Recent research by the Women’s Business Council has estimated that there would be one million more female entrepreneurs if women were setting up businesses in the UK at the same rate as men.
Although there has been an increase in the number of businesses being set up by women over the last 5 years, only a fifth of UK businesses are majority owned by women. So why aren’t more women running businesses and what are the pros and cons? Today as I sit in my garden and write this, is astounds me that more women are not enjoying the flexibility I have known and appreciated most of my working life. Before I became a mum at 25, I had succeeded in my career and managed three insurance offices, whilst also running the admin and finance side of my husband’s growing furniture company. Just four weeks after having my first child, I set up my own insurance business from home, which enabled me to work evenings and weekends around my husband’s schedule.
The family business grew and my first two came to the office and played at my feet as I took on the role of Finance Director. Having our own business gave me the opportunity to advance my career and enjoy my (by then) three children. When I talk to women today, the number one reason they give for setting up in business is the flexibility this will bring them. It’s not always about children but this is a key factor.
Let’s look at some more pros:
Making your own choices:
So many of us find our creativity stifled because we are not enabled to use our initiative at work to test and develop our own ideas. If individual entrepreneurialism isn’t nurtured by employers, it can lead to frustration and stress, which further stifles creativity. Diane Johnson of Straight Talk, one of Role’s associates, shares her thoughts on setting up on her own:
“I love the flexibility, being able to set my own strategy and agenda and knowing all my efforts are being channelled into something really worthwhile… But I hadn’t appreciated when I set out how liberating it is to be able to target clients, associates and partners who I respect and have shared values with. So every day, I’m surrounded by people who give me energy rather than draining my energy. Love it!”
Developing a passion:
How many of us go to work to earn the money and then try and create slots in our calendar to do the stuff we really love? In my mid-thirties, I set up my own business – I chose Finance and Management Accounting as that’s what I’d always done and was good at. I built a great business with six employees but outside of work, I supported Women in Business. I set up networks, presented at conferences in the UK and Europe, represented women’s enterprise as an Non-Executive Director (NED) on steering groups and boards. Finally, seven years ago, I followed my passion and developed my first range of programmes and qualifications for future female leaders; now it’s 100% of my business and I have never been happier.
Saving money on childcare costs:
UK childcare costs have risen by a third in the UK over the past five years, for many couples the cost of two children in pre-school childcare is almost 50% of their joint earnings. Getting to and from childcare on time, juggling care in the school holidays and dreading your child becoming ill, is immensely stressful. Working from home and spending precious time with children is a huge attraction for many women.
Working from home:
Technology has revolutionized the way that businesses are set up and run and possibly the biggest winners here are women. You can now build a global business from your back bedroom: indeed Rita Sharma, one of the UK’s most successful entrepreneurs, built a £100 million turnover travel business from her garage, with just £4000 startup capital. Digital connectivity means we can employ anyone anywhere or work with freelance associates from across the globe and many women choose to build businesses using this model. My own business, run from my home these days, works exactly like this, with 15 superb associates there when I need them to deliver joint contracts. Just a few pieces of advice: You do need self-discipline to work from home, you have to shut the office door and ensure you turn off your phone and email for a few hours each day to spend time with the people you love or importantly, have some ‘me’ time. You need to value your expertise or skill, many skilled and experienced women who have held responsible positions in the corporate world, undervalue themselves or their product and work long hours for very little pay. Do some market research, be competitive but don’t sell yourself short.
You need to build a support network; it can be lonely setting up on your own. Get your kids involved with your social media, chores and cooking – the meals can be unique but you are teaching them great life skills! Join one of the great business networks in Lancashire.
Start with Unique or Pink Link if you’d like to network with women to gain confidence before joining a mixed group. Join your local Chamber of Commerce for advice and training and find funded business support through http://www.boostbusinesslancashire.co.uk
Role designs and delivers courses and qualifications for Women in Business and female managers. Our Women Aiming Higher programme, enables you to plan for growth, develop leadership skills, increase self confidence and be mentored by incredible industry leaders. Currently we have some fully funded places available for businesses based in Lancashire who mainly trade B2B. I will leave the final words to one of my clients, they really sum up why Running Your Own Business is such a good choice for a woman.
“Setting up my own business is one of the best decisions I’ve made. Not only have I structured a business around the aspects of my career I most enjoyed, but I now get to set my own hours and own pace of work. It’s a cliché to say it gives you freedom, but it so does. It means you can flex your work around childcare and when/where you work most effectively. It’s not for everyone and to be successful you do need to be hard on yourself and take the knock backs head on (and on your own), but with all the positives it is still so worth it.” Suzi Wynne, Director, Wynne Business