business woman (10)

Britain is missing out on a potential £10.1 billion boost to the economy by not tackling the challenges facing women who want to start a business, according to new research released by Facebook.

The study found that one in 10 women in the UK - equivalent to 2.7 million women - want to start a business. If just a fifth of those were empowered to launch a business, they would unlock a pontetial £10.1 in the UK economy, create 340,000 new businesses and 425,000 jobs by 2020, based on calculations by Development Economics, which co-conducted the research on Facebook's behalf.

So what's stopping these women from starting up on their own?

Facebook found that a lack of self-belief is the overarching factor. Its research found that not feeling ready (37%), lack of confidence (25%), and not having the right business skills are the main reasons holding women back from taking the leap.

These impact women at every stage of their life – in fact, confidence remains the key barrier for women even into their 50s.

Perhaps more concerning is that nearly three quarters (72%) of women could not identify a female role model running a similar business to the one they’d like to set up. Access to finance was also a factor (34%).

However, Facebook said there is a positive, growing trend on its own platform, with the number of women operating small business Facebook pages rising 70% in 2015.

Nicola Mendelsohn, VP EMEA at Facebook, said: “There’s nothing small about small business. They are an important part of the UK economy. We all know someone who runs one – a family friend, neighbour, someone you went to school with – but only a fifth are currently set up by women. Women make up half the population, they make effective business leaders and unbelievable entrepreneurs, so it’s shocking that more aren’t part of the UK’s small business community today.

“Based on what we’re seeing from the Facebook community, we believe we have an opportunity to help more women. So today we’re kick-starting an effort called SheMeansBusiness to help more women turn their great ideas into thriving businesses. We’re calling on all the brilliant friends, amazing mums, determined wives, and grandmothers with an idea to realise their potential and help inspire others to do the same.”

The barriers stopping women from setting up businesses are surmountable. Aside from financial support and advice (52%), women said the following would help to turn their business idea into reality:

  • Practical help, such as skills workshops (41%)
  • Advice on how to attract customers (39%)
  • A network of support (35%)
  • Better access to technology and more digital know-how (54%)
To tackle the challenge, Facebook is partnering with organisations who have expertise in this area, to provide advice, knowledge and tools to help give more women across the country the practical support they say they need including:
  • The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) 'Women in Enterprise Taskforce' to bring inspiration, tools and online learning sessions to FSB members across the country.
  • The British Chambers of Commerce, to take resources to people across the country by providing support and advice to 10 chambers across the UK.