International Women’s Entrepreneurship Day will be celebrated on November 19th 2021.
Organised by the Women’s Entrepreneurship Day Organisation (WEDO) / #ChooseWOMEN, the day has been described as involving “a global movement to celebrate and support female founders and shed light on some of their challenges.”
For entrepreneurial women and female business leaders across the world, International Women’s Entrepreneurship Day is a day to celebrate how much women have achieved.
The growth of women entrepreneurs has intensified since the 2008 financial crisis, and the Coronavirus pandemic has inspired more women to take charge of their destiny by launching their own businesses. In 2021, 34% of UK SMEs were run by women. Despite this, however, the 2019 Alison Rose Review of Female Entrepreneurship demonstrated that up to £250 billion of new value (equivalent to one million SMEs) could be added to the UK economy if women started and scaled new businesses at the same rate as men.
International Women’s Entrepreneurship Day provides an opportunity for female business leaders to come together and plan how to achieve gender equality.
LawBite is a passionate supporter of all entrepreneurs, providing specialist legal advice from the start-up process, to taking on investors and scaling up, and finally selling your business. Earlier this month, we spoke to Bev Hurley, CEO of YTKO, and Liz Ratcliffe, General Manager at Outset CIC (Community Interest Company). These extraordinary women entrepreneurs offered some inspirational advice for women looking to launch their own venture.
We asked Ms Hurley and Dr Ratcliffe why companies would benefit from having more women in senior positions. They responded:
“I believe that women bring an improved way of thinking. If it's not a balanced environment, you can get really skewed, same old thinking and I think women do bring a much more sort of creative perspective.
I also think women make sure all the voices around the table are heard, we take a more collaborative approach. I do think women have the same characteristics as men in terms of resilience, determination and professionalism.
Because women are still taking the lion share of the responsibility, it can be really hard, whether you're in a corporation or a small business. Most women still manage most of the caring responsibilities at home, whether that's children, the groceries or the home, and running a business of considerable size is really difficult to do when you have a family.
I couldn't have done what I do now, particularly the hours I work, when I was a single mum. It's both challenging and stimulating.”
“I think it is so important that women can face the fear and start their own businesses because they're going to be successful doing it with the right support. In terms of larger businesses, I think there's a whole suite of reasons why businesses would benefit from females at the top.
I think that women are much more open to change, particularly women, like myself, who've come up through very male-dominated environments.
We tend to really question the status quo and the ‘traditional way of doing things’ perhaps because we want to get rid of the ‘old boy networks’ which still exist and we are generally more open to change and exploring innovative process re-engineering."
When asked how women could support each other in business, Dr Ratcliffe said:
“I think that being an informal mentor or a formal mentor in a programme is so important – especially for female entrepreneurs who are starting their own business for the first time. As a mentor who has been there (having started and grown two successful start-ups), faced the challenges and the loneliness as a business owner, I am well placed to help guide them through their challenges, be a sounding board when they need it, and just someone who will tell them they are doing a great job and to provide the encouragement to keep going.
The other way to support women is to become a member of a female networking group, like www.enterprising-women.org – where you can connect with like-minded women and join in discussions. This is another great way to help the next generation and also to bounce ideas off peers in the community.
My advice to future generations is:
1. Believe In yourself
I like this quote from Christopher Robin in Winnie the Pooh that says:
“You’re braver than you believe, stronger than you seem and smarter than you think.”
If you live by this – and remember it whenever you doubt yourself- you will be OK!
2. Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone
The biggest leaps taken in my career have inspired me to do more – so leap at opportunities when they come up.
3. Stop worrying
As women, we set ourselves very high standards and we worry about not achieving them – give yourself a break and stop worrying – you are doing a great job!
4. Focus on what is important
What is going to make YOU successful. Don’t fall into the trap of doing work for someone just because they say ‘but you are so good at doing this work’. Ask yourself – should you be doing this?
5. Just because someone is senior or confident does not mean they are right
Your ideas may be better! So be confident in yourself and your ideas.
6. Find out what your ‘buttons’ are that others may use to get a reaction from you or persuade you to do something for them
If you know what your buttons are, then you will be aware when someone is using them against you and you should react in the way they do not expect.”
Following on from Women’s Entrepreneurship Day is #ChooseWomen Wednesday on December 1st 2021. Participants are being encouraged to shop at women-owned businesses, read women authors, watch films made by women, and share women’s social media feeds because “every time you choose one woman, you support all women, everywhere.”
When we asked Ms Bev Hurley what she believed to be the biggest factor in her success and what has helped her the most to make a career as a woman, she answered:
“I think it's a really interesting question because when you get to a certain age, you know you've had a lot of influences on your life and it's difficult to pick out which ones were the most important. My dad, my mum and my stepfather all ran their own businesses.
But actually, when I was at school, I wanted to be a barrister or a surgeon and I didn't really pay much attention to what my parents did when I was a kid. And so, although I was brought up in that kind of hard working environment, I'm not sure that influenced me, and I think I probably got into running my own business more by accident. My first career experience was in social housing in London, working in very deprived areas in an organisation where I had a wonderful boss, but I realised I actually couldn’t progress more than I had until my boss retired.
I was working very closely with a building conversion renovation company and I'd passed my housing management qualification so I knew quite a bit about that area. I thought the world of business was quite interesting, so I took the leap and started my very first business when I was 25 in partnership with this renovation company that taught me a lot, and gave me a taste for all sorts of different things, like running the show and being responsible for your own success.
I think what has helped me be successful is resilience, because things can and will go wrong. You have to be pretty determined. If you're certain about your direction, you have to hang onto that, even when it's really hard. I was a single mum for a lot of that time so I remember some tough moments, but my daughter also helped me get through those times because she obviously was a huge motivating influence.”
Women’s Entrepreneurship Day 2021 is a day to celebrate the achievements of women business owners across the globe. But it is also a time to recognise that there is still a long journey ahead when it comes to tackling female poverty. Around the world, 22% of women have a persistent low income, compared to approximately 14 per cent of men. Depravity coupled with caring responsibilities for the young and old, cripple many women’s ability to be creative and find the confidence to launch their own business. In marking Women’s Entrepreneurship Day 2021 and #ChooseWomen Wednesday, LawBite is determined to do everything it can to support female talent in the UK and abroad.
“Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, 'I will try again tomorrow.'” – Mary Anne Radmacher
For over 40 years, YTKO has been supporting business growth. We help companies of all sizes and from all sectors to increase their revenues and create new jobs, ultimately contributing to the UK’s economic prosperity. We work in both the private sector and via government-funded programmes, enabling businesses to overcome the key challenges to growth and reach their full potential.
YTKO provides a blend of commercial expertise, 1:1 coaching, mentoring, P2P networks, elearning and a suite of proven accelerator programmes and workshops for all stages of the business growth journey.
About Outset CIC
Outset is a Community Interest Company, a social enterprise delivering award-winning start-up support service, committed to achieving social and economic inclusion through the creation of successful, sustainable new enterprises across the UK. Our service and its core programme of content has been refined over a decade, incorporating acknowledged best practice that can be easily adapted for any audience, anywhere. We are particularly focussed on providing support for those who live in deprived communities, such as inner cities and coastal communities, and those facing the biggest barriers to enterprise.