It’s no secret that men are far more likely to start a business than women, but why is that? Is the gap between male and female entrepreneurs simply due to more men than women wanting to start a business, or is it related to something more serious? We spoke to three successful women to get their thoughts on what should be improved to bring more women into business.
Stop calling it an issue
Joanna Montgomery is the founder of Little Riot – a hardware company that received over £80,000 in its Kickstarter campaign for their product Pillow Talk. For Joanna, looking at the lack of women in business isn’t what people should be doing – they should be trying to change it.
“Instead of continuing to discuss this ‘problem’, we should be talking about solutions and benefits. A gender-balanced team has the advantage of being able to produce roadmaps, teams and executions that are more considered, balanced and informed.”
By not talking about how there needs to be more equality with the gender split, but how teams made of both men and women can be more successful, we both acknowledge the need for a more gender-balanced team and produce better results.
Teach business sense in schools
Lisa Tse, the co-founder of award winning Chinese Restaurant Sweet Mandarin, says that women are often fearful of starting their own businesses because they don’t understand the financial side. Lisa believes business skills should be taught in schools to help children learn it from a younger age, and be more confident in business in the future.
“Far more female business leaders than men I meet are unable to read a balance sheet, understand cash flow analysis or a profit and loss account. These are essential business skills and without that key financial knowledge, women are fearful that they don’t understand this side of the business and thus don’t push forward to start their own businesses”.
Teaching children the skills they need to succeed in business allows them to be more confident in the workplace – whether as an employee or a leader.
Lyndsey Simpson, co-owner of HR services company The Curve Group, says that cash is king and any money you generate should be reinvested to ensure a healthy business.
“I would say in the first three years, you need to reinvest every penny possible into the business. Giving any of your life savings to the government when you’re making a loss is really desperate – it should be going on something that will add value to the business like stock or marketing.”
By making every penny you earn work for you and by reinvesting all possible money, you make your chances of success as a start-up far more likely. Really questioning whether the money you’re spending is being spent in the right place will help you stay afloat in the first few years.
What can the government do?
The onus of enabling more women to get into business shouldn’t be placed entirely on women though – the government could be doing far more to encourage more women to get into business.
- Childcare – currently not an allowable business expense, the cost of childcare can put many people, both men and women, off becoming an entrepreneur. With the cost of childcare often running into hundreds of pounds a month, making it a business expense would help business owners everywhere.
- Teach entrepreneurship in schools – teaching entrepreneurship and business skills in schools will allow boys and girls to learn the skills necessary for starting their own business and teach girls that it’s not just for boys.
- Promote the benefits of a gender-balanced team – boardrooms are still overwhelmingly run by men – of the 2011 FTSE 100 companies, 5% of the people on the board were male. By addressing this and bringing the lack of diversity in boardrooms to the forefront of business, the government could look to change it for the better.
What can women do now to get into business?
For any women wanting to start a business, our top tips are:
- Bank loans aren’t the only source of income – as showcased by Joanna, a bank loan isn’t the only way you can raise money for a start-up. Kickstarter and crowd funding is becoming an increasingly popular way to fund products, while looking at other channels like angel investors – people who invest money in return for shares – can be invaluable to people who aren’t as confident in running a business but have a great idea.
- Find a mentor – nobody will be an absolute expert in all areas of business when they start-up. Even the most experienced people will need a hand to keep on top of everything. Finding a mentor – someone who’s willing to help you make decisions and impart advice while remaining outside of the business – will be priceless.
- Create a well-balanced team – creating a balanced team will help your business to grow by ensuring you have a range of ideas, skills and solutions.
For more on information on women in business and tips on how to start your own business, see Bizdaq’s blog post here: https://www.bizdaq.co.uk/blog/female-startup-entrepreneurs