An interesting post from our enterprise colleagues
Women-led enterprises contribute around £70 billion to the economy, but women are half as likely as men to be entrepreneurs. Last month, the Burt Report Inclusive Support for Women in Enterprise was published, outlining ways in which government can support women into business. Why is enterprise different for girls?
- 19% of small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) are majority-led by women (either run by a woman or have a management team that is over 50% women).
- 49% of SMEs are entirely led by men.
- In 2012 6.3% of working age women involved in entrepreneurial activity compared with 11.6% of men.
- Despite the increase in self-employment among women (last year 70% of new self-employed were women) women’s businesses are likely to get less support and are less likely to survive.
Different motivation for starting a business
Women express different motivations to starting a business than men. According to research, women are attracted to starting a business that will fit around their family commitments. Men are more likely to be motivated by money and look for self-employment opportunities when they are made redundant. Women, and younger women in particular, are more likely to start a social enterprise.
Different Types of Business
Businesses led by women on average are likely to be smaller and be in specific sectors; generally women-led businesses are overrepresented in the service sector. The BIS Small Business Survey in 2012 found that women tend to stick with what they are familiar with and start businesses in sectors they had already worked or studied in. There is also a trend for women to transition a hobby to a business. Interestingly, women’s businesses may have greater job-creation potential than men’s because they tend to be more labour-intensive.
What are the barriers?
The Women’s Business Council, set up to advise government on how women’s contribution to growth can be optimised, identified three main barriers for women starting a business.
- Finance Women perceive access to finance as a barrier to starting and are less likely to use external finance However, those that did apply were more successful in getting funding than male led SMEs. Women may be more averse to getting in to debt than men. In business performance, there is no difference between women and men, but women-led enterprises generally start with lower levels of resources.
- Lack of skills Women are less likely than men to think they have the skills needed to start a business. Research in 2011 showed 45% of men believed they had the skills they needed to start their own business compared with 29% of women.
- Fear of failure Women are more likely to be put off starting up their own enterprise because they are afraid of failure.
Why should more women be supported into business?
Aside from the financial contribution to the economy, the EY Report, Time for Diversity recognised the different skills that women bring to the workplace. Women have strong listening skills, greater levels of empathy and patience and are willing to understand the perspectives of others when making decisions. They are also more inclined to take a longer-term view of the business and be interested in issues such as sustainability and developing talent.
What support is available?
There is an array of support available to support women into business from networks, government advice and organisations to online resources. Here are a few.
http://www.greatbusiness.gov.uk/women-in-enterprise/ this is a huge online resource which includes links to information on skills, finance, funding and networks and includes a section specifically aimed at women entrepreneurs.
http://www.greatbusiness.gov.uk/mybusinesssupporttool/ My Business Support Tool is an online tool providing tailored information on sources of funding and guidance for wherever you are in your business cycle.
https://www.everywoman.com/ This is a British Library IP and Business Centre partner providing training, resources and support services for women in business
http://www.womenunlimitedworldwide.com/ A community for women who want to start a business, or grow an existing business
Mentors can be invaluable guides and a source of useful contacts. There are many mentorship programmes that women entrepreneurs can access across the UK.
http://www.mentorsme.co.uk/ List of business mentoring organisations across Britain.
http://www.bitc.org.uk/london/what-we-offer/social-enterprise-mentoring-programme Support for anyone starting or running a social enterprise.
http://www.prime.org.uk/ Mentoring for entrepreneurs aged 50+.
http://ioee.uk/ Find a mentor using this web-based networking community.
https://www.facebook.com/EastLondonCreativeBusinessWomenNetwork East London Creative Business Women’s Network