Women in Business

Starting up

17 January 2017

While once we might have been talking about why the representation of female entrepreneurs was so low, now we can talk about its meteoric rise – and the ways in which you can be bold or change and challenge inequality.

The trends are exciting, the implications are big and the news is very good for women starting a new business.

Growing representation

Prowess, the female-focused business hub, notes that women still account for just one-third of self-employed people in the UK. However, those stats are changing fast, and are likely to increase. For example, around 40% of self-employed professionals are female, with women choosing to go freelance at a faster rate than men.

A big part of this change can be attributed to a generational shift in attitudes. According to research released in March 2016, while just 16% of entrepreneurs over 55 are female, that rises to 30% of business founders aged 35 to 54, and when it comes to the under 35s, women represent the majority at 59%.

Measurable successes

Success isn’t just measured by the growing number of women starting their own companies, however – it’s also measured by the number that build their enterprises and deliver good services, with strong financial gains.

Stats from Barclays and the University of Cambridge show that, on average, female-run businesses report higher pre-tax profits than those run by men. As a result, it’s not hard to conclude that more female entrepreneurs would mean a massive contribution to the economy. In fact, RBS has done the maths and calculated that boosting female entrepreneurship could add around £60bn to the UK economy.

Eye for innovation

There are approximately 300,000 businesses run by women who are also full-time mothers, contributing around £7.4bn to the UK economy every year. Fitting business around other commitments and find innovative solutions to problems could be a factor in the success of women-led businesses.

Research suggests that women are more innovative when it comes to solving problems. In the US, the 2015 Kaufmann Index on start-up activity reports that female entrepreneurs are proving themselves more adept at spotting gaps in the market and seizing the opportunity than their male counterparts.

Hunger for more

Whatever the reason, the signs suggest that this is not a short-term trend. 50% of female entrepreneurs are keen to start another business, compared to 20% of men, and this kind of extra ambition will surely result in more successes. Particularly when you consider that many of these aspirational entrepreneurs are not simply dreamers, but business realists keen to bring their visions to life.

As well as sites like Prowess, new innovations like AllBright, the crowdfunding platform focused on female entrepreneurs, seek to encourage a whole new wave of entrepreneurs.

International Women’s Day

Each year, International Women’s Day is a global celebration of female achievement. This year, the theme is #BeBoldForChange, a call to create more equal working environments. If you run your own business – or you’re thinking of going into business – be bold and change and challenge inequality for all women.

It’s not a man’s world

If you’re just starting out in business, don’t be reluctant to explore opportunities within typically male-dominated industries. Be bold for change. According to our figures, only 5% of women are working in the trades industry. With excellent pay and prospects, and a general skills shortage, why aren’t more women joining up?

Be bold, speak up

According to one study, men do 75% of the talking in meetings. If you lack confidence, it can be difficult to speak up. And that’s not just an issue for women, it can affect men too. Making your voice heard will help build your confidence a get you the respect you deserve.

Be bold for change and eradicate gender bias in meetings for good.

Don’t be discouraged

Don’t let negative comments or fear of failure discourage you from chasing your business dreams. Women are more likely than men to be discouraged by remarks from family and friends (17.6% as opposed to 10.2%). Self-belief, passion and a positive mindset can go a long, long way. But if you’re compelled to convince your doubters, share your business plans and explain your ideas.

Be inspired

There are so many inspirational role models for female entrepreneurs (here’s just some leading female figures you should follow on twitter). If you would like hands-on support, seek out a mentor. You may already know someone who can encourage you, or your Chamber of Commerce can put you in touch with local businesswomen.

Boldness comes from knowing that both sexes can be equally talented in business. Nobody should be judged on their gender, but on their attitude, ethics and skills and with the realism, success and innovation women in business are already bringing to the table, we can’t wait until the next generation arrives.

If you have just started your own business, or are thinking of doing so, then you should consider public liability insurance from AXA. We all like to think the worst will never happen to us – but public liability claims can happen to anyone. If it’s your business involved it’s you that could be held responsible.