A new survey highlights how women-owned business owners are having to sacrifice more in terms of holiday and salary than their male counterparts as a result of Covid-19.
Women who are owners of small businesses may be facing more challenges deriving from the coronavirus pandemic, according to a new survey.
The research, undertaken by one of Europe’s largest small business lenders, iwoca, found that in the coming year a large majority (60%) of female small business owners do not expect to take time off work, whereas under half (47%) of men don’t expect to. Female small business owners were also more likely to have forgone a salary during the pandemic. Half of the women (50%) responding to the survey reported that they hadn’t taken a salary since the beginning of the lockdown, compared with 47% of men. And they are more likely not to take a salary over the next 12 months, with 42% saying they expected to go without wages compared with 38% of men.
iwoca says these sacrifices may be in part due to women-owned businesses being less likely to fully re-open following lockdown.
Women were less likely than men to report having returned to pre-Covid activity, with 14% of women reporting business was at normal levels compared with 21% of men. The research found that nearly a quarter of women-owned businesses are still closed following the lockdown, with 23% reporting they are not trading, compared with just 14% of male-owned businesses.
Samantha Guilfoyle is the founder of S G Accountancy and a single mum with three children. She said: “A lot of women – even subconsciously – feel that their role is to be a mum and the primary carer for their children. This isn’t because this is forced upon them, but they’re worried about being judged if they put their business first. This holds women back unnecessarily without them even realising they’re being held back.
“The main sacrifice is the toll it’s taken on me personally – I’ve wound myself up worrying about how other people are keeping and I’ve done an awful lot of free work for people I’ve worked with before. Unfortunately, there’s been minimal invoice work, so whilst I’ve just been trying to do the best for the community, my income has taken a hit. I’ve also missed my own salary payments, but I don’t pay myself much anyway. Normally I’d work part-time through the summer so that I can spend time with my kids and go out and enjoy life. We’d normally be at the beach in the van now. But this year we haven’t done any of that – I’ve worked more hours but invoiced a lot less.
“My drive to battle through is the fact that I want security for my children. The whole world has been dropped in the deep-end of something that we know nothing about. There is no right or wrong way to go through this. It’s just about having enough confidence in yourself to do what is best for you and your family – that’s all you can do.”
Generally, the survey shows not going on holiday with family, partners or children was the biggest sacrifice made by business owners during the crisis (53%). This was followed closely by having to use their own savings to finance the business (51%) and just under half of all business owners (48%) saying that they made the decision not to pay themselves a salary.
Seema Desai, Chief Operating Officer of iwoca, said: “The pandemic has fundamentally changed the way business owners operate and many will be making sacrifices they have never had to consider before. It is clear that the last few months have been extremely challenging for all businesses. Women-owned businesses make a huge contribution to the economy, so it is incumbent on everyone working within the small business community to ensure we’re doing enough to support them.”