It’s no secret that female entrepreneurs are vital to modern Britain’s economic health. That said, a recent study by Facebook found that the UK is missing out on over £10 BILLION by not doing more to encourage women to set up their own businesses. What to do!?
We asked Mandy Garner, editor of Workingmums.co.uk, for some advice. She shares her thoughts below (and if you enjoy this make sure you check out our infographic on male vs. female entrepreneurs!).
Georgina Nelson has turned her tech business idea into a thriving start-up employing dozens of people both in the UK and internationally despite no specialised knowledge of the technology sector.
Just over three years ago Georgina was working as a lawyer at Which?, the consumer organisation, advising the government and the European Union on tax policies from a consumer perspective.
The idea for her consumer ratings business, truRating, was percolating for a year before she did anything serious about it while she was on maternity leave. She has always been a hard worker, but when she had her daughter, she thought “if I am going to work hard I want to be in control of the outcome and how the business grows”.
Georgina is just one of a growing number of women entrepreneurs, many of whom opt to leave steady employment after having children.
Workingmums.co.uk‘s recent annual survey shows 58% of mums say they are interested in starting their own business or becoming a franchisee, with 40% of these actively pursuing ideas and plans.
Research has shown that the ability to be more in control of their hours – not necessarily to work fewer hours – is a key driver for those women who want to start businesses after having children.
Indeed many end up working longer hours to get their business up and running, but being able to break off to do pick-ups and then work later makes it easier to make it all work.
Mums said the main thing that would make starting their own business easier would be access to small business funding. Options include crowdfunding, start-up loans, business grants and business loans from banks.
It’s not just women starting their own businesses though. Many are creating flexible business models that others can benefit from. Franchises set up by women are another fast growing area, providing women with a ready-made business model. In return, working mums offer franchisors years of experience in business and a determination to make self employment work for them and their families. One ex-City high flyer franchisee I spoke to joked that she was running her franchise like a FTSE 100 company.
Women entrepreneurs are also providing self-employment opportunities for mums who have taken a career break. Heather Black is managing director of Economic Change and has set up a programme for business analysts which not only provides the training they need, but also supplies them with a steady stream of work in non-profit companies.
There is a definite sense of momentum building for women in business and the growing number of women who are choosing self employment are building networks and other forms of support to make it easier for those who follow them.
Mandy Garner is editor of Workingmums.co.uk, which provides advice, support and news about all forms of flexible working and has a dedicated section on home businesses and self employment.
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