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Deciding to go self-employed or start your own company is a big decision at any time, but when you are a woman who has taken time out to have a family and wants a better work life balance it can be a daunting prospect. There can be perceived social expectations put on women to be able to juggle a career and family life which when looking to start your own business can make it feel even harder. Here are 5 potential barriers you could come up against whether you are male or female, but particularly women, and how to overcome them.

Confidence

Why is it that some women lack the self-confidence to run their own business? It seems difficult to understand in a modern world, but a lack of self-confidence and belief can be one of the biggest barriers standing in the way of getting a business off the ground. Believing in what you do or what you offer being a success will only come across if you believe in it yourself. Ways to demonstrate this are ensuring you do thorough research in the field you want to run the business before you start. Be able to combat any arguments to others of why it won’t work. You can only do this if you have done your research showing how in fact it can indeed work. There is no guaranteed formula that will prove your business will be a success, but you stand a far better chance if you do your research which in turn can give you the confidence to make it work.

Selling

Sometimes one of the most difficult things women in business find to do, is promote themselves. It doesn’t come naturally to self-promote about how good one’s services are or how good your business is. In general, we seem to find it easier to be able to say how good someone else’s services are, and feel comfortable promoting and providing testimonials for them, but find it awkward saying positive things about ourselves. Learn to listen to what others say about you and your business and what works well and use that information to help promote.

Lack of expert knowledge

When starting or running a business it can feel like you are expected to be all things to everyone. The reality is most people start a business because of a passion or skill they have. Not because they are an expert in every area such as Accounting, Legal, Health and Safety, Marketing etc. Therefore, if your time is better spent on the things you are good at than spending time doing your books, for example, look to outsource to someone who can do them in far less time leaving you to get on with running and growing your business.

Recognition

Working on your own can feel like no one fully understands the hours and work you put in to your business. So it is all the more satisfying when someone else external recognises your achievements. One way for that recognition is to enter Business Awards. There are local ones, national ones and also specific ones relating to membership organisations such as the FSB for example. There are also specific Women's awards that can be entered. Even if you are a brand new start-up, there is still likely to be a category to enter. These can be invaluable for getting you to look at the business with fresh eyes to see how others might view it. It’s also a great way of documenting your progress and how far you have come and using it for publicity afterwards.

Isolation

When you run your own business, sometimes it can be a bit isolating if you are not in an office or don’t have any employees. A good way of keeping abreast of things and also sharing ideas with peers is attending Networking groups. There is a wide choice of Networking Groups around, many of which are women only groups. They are run at various times of the day to fit in with the demands of family life but also your business needs so you should be able to find one that suits both you and the needs of your business.

By Geraldine Puttock, online advisor, Mi Ventures