Hannah Martin is a freelance copywriter and a founder of Talented Ladies Club, a website for mothers who are passionate about their career or business and which provides resources and inspiration to help them fulfil their potential. Here she talks about the barriers stopping women starting businesses – and how we can overcome these.
It’s official: women are great for UK business. In fact, according to RBS, boosting female entrepreneurship could deliver as much as £60bn extra to the UK economy.
So how can we encourage more women into business? And what’s stopping aspiring female entrepreneurs from making the leap from dreaming to doing?
Women are more risk-aware than men
The NatWest Entrepreneurship Monitor has identified that 56% of men and women say they’re held back by a fear of failure, and 38% say they don’t know where to go to get information about starting up.
Women in particular are also more likely to be put off by the risk of failure, and doubts about the economic climate. We’re more worried about our lack of skills than men, too.
The good news is that there are plenty of people working behind the scenes to encourage and support more women in business.
Women’s Enterprise Scotland is working hard to create an entrepreneurial environment where women-led businesses can flourish and grow.
And the Women and Enterprise All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) has established seven sub-groups to look at ways to ensure the challenges and opportunities for women entrepreneurs are considered and promoted cross-party and across both Houses (I am a member of the Business Support and Coaching sub-group).
Two ways we can help encourage more female entrepreneurs
So what CAN we do to help encourage more women into business?
Over the past four years, I have met or interviewed hundreds of female entrepreneurs (most of them mothers). And I believe there are two core areas we can help more women start businesses:
- Support. Running a business is daunting and often lonely. Accessing a knowledgeable support network to encourage you through the ups and downs of growing a business can make all the difference between success and failure – and indeed even getting your business off the ground in the first place.
- Advice. You may be the world’s greatest expert on your product or service, but how do you turn your expertise into a viable business? A step-by-step guide to starting and running a business, and access to tools to help you learn skills like marketing, PR and financial management would make it easier for more women to make the leap.
Certainly making both more easily accessible to women would make a difference in the number of women who do take a positive step towards starting a business - as would more female mentoring programmes (it’s worth noting here that every recipient of a Virgin Start Up Loan is enrolled on a free mentoring programme).
Women have more potential than ever
In 2011, when I first started researching the availability of online inspiration, advice and support for ambitious women, and mothers in particular, there was very little.
As a result I established my own website, Talented Ladies Club, in 2013. This was my first business and it was a big leap of faith for me – and has been a continual learning curve since.
But the hard work and learning has paid off. Today we have over 78,000 monthly readers and a growing library of training products to help women further their careers and start businesses.
And today I am delighted to note that there has been an explosion in the amount of business resources and support available to women. So if I could do it, you can too. Indeed, I believe that women have more potential than ever. So if you’re harbouring a dream to start your own business, seek out the support and advice you need. And stop dreaming and make that leap!
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