The rate at which women are starting businesses is on the rise. Of the 500,000+ new companies formed each year, around half are started by women. Women of all ages and backgrounds are spotting gaps in the market and taking a passion, hobby or skill and turning it into a way of making a living. We want to see this positive trend continue!
Over the past five years, we’ve seen a rising tide of women give up the day job and give self-employment a go. What these savvy entrepreneurs soon realise is that running your own business may require hard work and dedication, but it does deliver the freedom and flexibility that’s hard to find in the corporate workplace.
With over 70% of businesses started from home, this means there’s no commute, minimal set-up costs and the business can be run round the family. Women (as indeed do men) tend to start a business by doing what we call ‘Working 5 to 9’ which involves keeping hold of the day job and working on the business at nights and weekends. It’s the best way to give yourself time to build cashflow and confidence in the business, whilst holding onto the security of a salary.
A global audience
As well as starting from home, many female entrepreneurs are keeping production at home. The ‘Made in Britain’ brand in sectors from food to fashion, homewares and cosmetics is selling well abroad and it’s women who have powered the recent maker movement that sees millions of artisans and experts turn a passion for making, baking, drawing and designing into a profitable livelihood. They have been enabled by low-cost technology and powerful marketplaces such as Etsy, Notonthehighstreet.com and Upwork that allow you to share products and services with a global audience.
To support women who are starting and growing a business, we have developed a self-assessment toolkit with the government’s Gender Equalities Office to enable women to spot any gaps in skills and, critically, source training and advisers to help plug these gaps.
Knowing female entrepreneurs want to meet each other, hear the stories of others and pick up practical tips on everything from social media to sales and tax to tech, Enterprise Nation are hosting the UK’s largest gathering of female entrepreneurs. The Festival of Female Entrepreneurs takes place on 22 October at Colston Hall in Bristol and features a keynote programme with City superwoman Nicola Horlick, gold-winning Olympian Sarah Gosling, tech entrepreneurs including Alex Depledge (Hassle.com), franchise owners Lee Dancy (Barking Mad) and Gabrielle Lixton (Turtle Tots) and goal-setting business owner Julie Creffield of Too Fat to Run. Alongside keynotes will be networking and workshops. It will be a day of information and inspiration for all entrepreneurs.
*Emma Jones is Founder of Enterprise Nation. Follow Emma @emmaljones. Enterprise Nation is the UK’s most active small business network Follow @e_nation