My Response to Boost Female-Led Businesses

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The latest reports on female entrepreneurship don't make an encouraging read. The most recent business statistics from the government have found that only one fifth of Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (SMEs) were owned or led by women in 2017. Statistics from the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor Report (2017) don't paint a brighter picture either. In the UK, the Total Early-Stage Entrepreneurial Activity (TEA) rate in 2017 was 5.6%, compared to the male rate of 11.9%. In other words, men are twice as likely as women to set up a business. The statistics about private investment are equally worrying. Research by Innovate UK has found that men are 86% more likely to receive private investment than women.

Concerned by the low start-up rates of female-led businesses, various organisations and financial institutions have researched into the specific barriers experienced by women – the logic being, if we know what the barriers are, then we can start to remove or reduce those obstacles to enable more women to pursue entrepreneurial opportunities.

As part of this investigative exercise, research by Deloitte (2016) has identified three underlying barriers experienced by women:

1. A lack of self-belief
2. A self-perceived lack of key business skills
3. Limited access to quality role models, mentors and networks

Whilst it is impossible to generalise about the barriers experienced by women – we are not a homogeneous group – these findings are a helpful starting point for improving the environment for female entrepreneurs.

So, what am I doing about it? For those of you who know me, you will know I don't like to faff around! I really like to get things done.

In 2018, I published Thrive – a free, quarterly business magazine in print and online which exclusively featured female founders and women in business. In parallel to the magazine, I also created a monthly Meetup group, which I facilitate as a peer support session, for female founders and women in business to expand their networks, develop their business skills, and boost their confidence: https://www.meetup.com/Thrive-Brightons-Small-Business-Meetup-for-Female-Founders/. Within one year, this Meetup group has grown to over 560 members!

In 2019, my goal is to expand my reach and impact, and offer support to female founders across the UK. Therefore, in May 2019, I will be launching a free digital platform aimed at female founders - particularly solopreneurs and those working in small teams - which will give them the inspiration, knowledge and connections they need to start and grow a thriving small business. The digital platform will be full of inspirational interviews with female founders we can relate to, as well as practical learning materials to enable female founders to develop their business skills and confidence, grow their professional networks, and ultimately, turn their entrepreneurial ideas into reality.

If you would like to write a sponsored content piece or write some accessible learning materials, please get in touch.