​Last month I attended a Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) Women in Business brunch and picked up some startling statistics that I wanted to share.

I am a huge advocate of women in business, especially of working mothers and of those who have been ‘negotiated’ out of their role during or after maternity leave as this is what happened to me. Although at the time it was very upsetting, in hindsight it was the best thing for my career as I then went on to start The Marketing Assistant thereby putting my qualifications and knowledge into my own business. Every time there is a new survey or article about women in business or working mothers, I read the statistics with great interest, and this time I found the latest stats so thought-provoking that I wanted to share them.
According to the FSB, in 2015 women-owned businesses contributed more than £105 Billion to the UK economy, with female-owned companies employing more than 2.9 million people which is 23.85% of all staff employed within the private sector. As these statistics were only recorded in 2012 then again in 2015, and show growth in that period, we can only hope that the current figures in 2019 will continue to increase.
Self-employment and those starting their own business are increasing year-on-year due to ever-improving mobile technology, the need for more flexible working, as well as the desire to achieve the perfect work-life balance, and yet it is still only 20% of women who are taking the leap of faith and starting their own business. The FSB is the leading business organisation for small businesses and the self-employed, and has recently carried out a survey amongst women asking what the biggest challenges they face are for starting their own business.
The results include:

  • a lack of female role models to follow
  • a lack of support for women in business, and in particular working mothers
  • a struggle to get the finance that they require

So, what can we do to encourage women to start their own business or to become self-employed?
Well, firstly we need to support our friends, sisters, daughters, neighbours and colleagues in their passions and dreams. Help them to work through any business issues and concerns, listen to them or point them in the right direction to keep them motivated and focused on their business dream.

Secondly, there are plenty of online communities set up to support women in business such as Facebook’s movement #SheMeansBusiness, Blooming Founders and Pregnant Then Screwed (who run a free legal advice line for women who have lost their job whilst pregnant or on maternity leave, they also lobby the government for legislative change and organise events to help mums find work that works for them). There are also hundreds of support groups, membership groups and online communities that bring together self-employed women, business owners or stay-at-home mothers with budding business ideas, such as the Female Entrepreneur Association, the Marketing Academy for Small Business, This Girl Means Business, and Women inspiring Women – a UK community with over 29,000 members. There are also lots of local face-to-face organisations that help bring women together to talk and share about their business ideas, problems and challenges such as the Women in Business Network, Ladies that Latte and The Athena Network.

Thirdly, support them in their business endeavours as best you can, purchasing something may not be an option (not many of my family or friends need marketing consultancy services or strategy marketing advice), but through sharing, ‘liking’ or commenting on The Marketing Assistant’s social media posts and blogs they are helping to spread my business name and content. Supporting a small business or a self-employed person doesn’t necessarily mean financially, in fact the best backing you can give a woman in business is your own physical and mental support, be a cheerleader, tell others about their business, listen to them when they have problems even if you can’t answer them but most of all just encourage them.

Useful Websites:
https://shemeansbusiness.fb.com
https://www.facebook.com/groups/bloomingfounders/
https://www.wibn.co.uk/
http://www.ladieswholatte.com/index.htm
http://pregnantthenscrewed.com/
https://theathenanetwork.com/
https://www.prowess.org.uk/

The findings quoted are based on analysis of UK data supplied by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) and the Office of National Statistics (ONS) between 2012 and 2015.