Does Being A Woman Make A Difference To Starting A Business?
I’ve read lots of reports over the years stating that women need more support when it comes to starting, and running, a business. They are less likely to apply for finance, less likely to receive funding from investors when they do apply, and less likely to grow a large business.
Women are more cautious and considered when it comes to predicting financial forecasts and growth, and female founders make up only 17% of business owners in the UK.
It all sounds pretty negative, doesn’t it?
Yet my experience of coaching women who want to start and grow their own businesses is that women make phenomenal entrepreneurs.
It’s the very fact that they take running a business seriously, and that they spend significantly longer planning, researching, and honing their offer, that means that – in fact – their business is more likely to be successful.
So how do the other factors impact on women starting a business? And does the female brain hinder or help the entrepreneurial process?
Given that a large proportion of female founders don’t want to grow huge companies, happy to run a business that suits their needs, or the needs of their families, we might imagine that not being able to access funding at the same rates as male founders, wouldn’t prove to be a problem. After all, if you don’t want to run a multi-national, you don’t need investors.
Quite the reverse.
All businesses need support from investors, banks or otherwise, at some point, so the undeniable fact that women are less likely to be offered the financial support they require – surprising given that funders want their money paid back, and women are more likely to do this – is shortsighted. This attitude would explain the increase in new funders coming into the market with products specifically aimed at women owned businesses, including the Fredericks Foundation Women’s Loan Fund.
So perhaps there is change afoot for women who want to source funding for their business? Let’s hope so.
But what about the female brain? Is it geared up to business in the same way that a male brain is – especially since the process of doing business is very male centred.
YES IT IS!
We forget, in amongst the technical stuff, and the finance, that business is essentially creative - it requires innovative thinking. Making sure that customers and clients are happy and get the service they are looking for requires empathy.
Women have these traits in spades. They have, without doubt, the abilities to develop and grow a successful business.
They may not always think it, and may need a push to get off the ground (sometimes they can spend a little too much time planning!), but they can absolutely do it.
I’ll be honest with you. I’ve never once thought that my gender has had an effect on my business – good or bad. It’s irrelevant to me. I may, or may not, have brought in new clients. I may, or may not, have obtained finance for my business. I may, or may not, have grown my business and its reputation. In all cases there are yes’s and no’s. But it’s never crossed my mind that the no’s – and the yes’s! – were as a result of being a woman.
As far as I was, and am, concerned, it’s about my business. About my idea, my ability to make it happen, my skills and my personality.
As long as female founders believe in themselves, and their business, they will have every chance to fulfil their dream, whether it takes a little longer or not. Remember this: life isn’t fair, and we’re not all equal. Despite that, we can all do whatever we want, and achieve the goals we set ourselves.
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