By Lea Pachta
· Only 14 percent of UK businesses are owned by women, yet they represent 42 percent of the workforce.
· Working with nine of the leading UK female entrepreneurs, Women Unlimited provides its top tips on helping women business owners to be extraordinary.
· Women Unlimited believes that more women should be choosing entrepreneurship as a way to contribute to the economy.
Women Unlimited, the UK’s fastest growing organisation focused on supporting women business owners, is calling out to the UK’s female entrepreneurs to ‘be extraordinary’.
Julie Hall, founder and editor of Women Unlimited, believes that now is the time for women to step up and start leading the way in business. She comments: “As we come out of the recession, this is the perfect time for women to fill the gaps that have been created in the market and increase their contribution to the UK’s economic recovery. Owning a business is the best way for women to break through the glass ceiling and take control of their earning potential.
“There are 602,000 female-owned companies in the UK, representing just 14 per cent of all business. This figure is particularly significant when we compare it to the statistics in the US, where women owned companies represent 28% of the total number of businesses. At Women Unlimited we are keen to explore the reasons for this, and our mission is to double the percentage of female entrepreneurs in the UK over the next 20 years.”
On Wednesday November 18th, as part of Make Your Mark’s Global Enterprise Week, Women Unlimited, in partnership with The British Library’s Business and IP Centre, brought together nine of the UK’s leading female entrepreneurs to host tables of business women. Each of the entrepreneurs discussed their experiences, and how they
broke the mould. The nine entrepreneurs were: Rachel Elnaugh, founder of Red Letter Days, Karen Hanton, founder of toptable, Kanya King, founder and CEO of the MOBO Awards, Saira Khan, founder of Miamoo, Gita Patel, founder of Stargate Capital, Laura Tenison, founder of JoJo Maman Bébé, Polly Gowers, founder of Everyclick, Natalie Ellis, inventor of Road Refresher, and Karen Darby, founder of SimplySwitch and Call Britannia.
The event included speeches from Lord Young of Norwood Green, and Sue Stockdale author of Secrets of Successful Women Entrepreneurs: How Ten Leading Business Women Turned a Good Idea into a Fortune, who shared her learning from interviewing the female entrepreneurs that were featured in her book.
Below are some of top tips from Women Unlimited, and from some of the attending entrepreneurs:
Follow Your Passion — when you work from joy/passion/love for what you do you magically start to attract amazing people and opportunities — it is the highest form of energy. Rachel Elnaugh
Trust your intuition — Women are incredibly intuitive creatures but unfortunately can lack confidence in their hunches. Every time I have gone against a hunch I have lived to regret it. So my biggest tip is to follow your feelings, as I think intuition counts for a lot in business and we have it in spades. Karen Hanton
Be prepared to make sacrifices — the onus is still on women to be the main caregivers. It is realistic to think you can be an entrepreneur and have a family, but something has to give, so be prepared to make sacrifices and make strict decisions as to how you will spend the hours in the working day. Kanya King
Never give up — never take no for an answer. If you don’t get the result you want first time approach the issue from another direction. Laura Tenison
Think big — time and time again evidence shows that if you strive for more you will achieve more. Women typically set lower expectations for themselves, but the extraordinary among us set no limits. Julie Hall (Women Unlimited)
Focus on your vision — know what you want to achieve and then test everything you are doing against whether it will help you achieve your vision. By focusing on your goal you will increase your chances of success ten times over. Julie Hall (Women Unlimited)
Don’t do it all yourself — build a strong team around you. Do the things that you are good at and bring in exceptional people to fill in the gaps. Your team should include mentors, advisors and team members who can each bring you one step closer to your goal. Julie Hall (Women Unlimited)
Julie Hall adds: “Women’s Enterprise Day offered the perfect opportunity to create a unique event that would help women learn from some of the UK’s leading entrepreneurs. I am a strong believer in modelling behaviour as a way of learning. And by giving the women in the room personal access to these extraordinary entrepreneurs, we are also giving them access to their success strategies and experience.”
Gabrielle Rose, business engagement manager at The British Library, says: “Launched in 2006 the British Library Business and IP Centre has worked to actively target aspiring female entrepreneurs, and worked with organisations like Women Unlimited to encourage more women to ‘take the plunge’. Three years on, women now make up over 50 percent of our users, which is an encouraging sign.
“In the future, the British Library hopes to be able to roll out the Business & IP Centre model across the country and help to create better opportunities for female entrepreneurs from all over the UK.”