To help understand why British women are holding back, we’ve taken a look across the Atlantic to America, where women are far more likely to start up on their own and where levels of male and female entrepreneurship are almost equal, with 7 per cent of females involved in early-stage entrepreneurship compared to 8 per cent of men. Indeed, if the UK had the same level of female entrepreneurship as the US, there would be approximately 600,000 more women-owned businesses .
We’ve spoken to five successful entrepreneurs and business women who have worked in the US or with US counterparts, to find out what their recipe for success is.
Five tips from America
“Never underestimate the value of good customer service”:
“Some Brits find the ‘Have a nice day” and “Hi, I’m Mary how can I provide you with excellent service today” rather tacky, but I have found that it’s key to engaging the customer and making them feel valued and comfortable enough to trust you.”
Rochelle Peachey, Founder of Iloveyouraccent.com
Rochelle Peachy is an English entrepreneur who runs transatlantic dating website Iloveyouraccent.com. Rochelle moved to America with her husband for his work and sought advice from American business-people when setting up her business. She had a personal business consultation with Donald Trump in New York who told her “If you’ve never failed, you’ve never lived”. Just because something you started doesn’t take off immediately you must not give up.
“Seize every opportunity”
“I worked for an American boss in my first job out of University, and she was amazing. At a young career age she taught me a lot about making the most of, and seizing every opportunity that comes your way, even if you think it’s out of your reach. Her advice has been invaluable for my development as a confident businesswoman.”
Claire Young- Ex-Apprentice star and entrepreneur
As a businesswomen, Claire has two main areas of focus: School Speakers – a business providing speakers for schools, colleges and universities. She also has a site called Girls Out Loud which aims to inspire young girls, between the ages of 13 and 18, and to raise their work and life goals and aspirations.
“From working in American markets, I have witnessed the sheer boldness of how Americans do business – if you really want to get your product and business out there; get out there and be proactive, learn about your customer base, network, get the right advice and dedicate everything you have to making your venture a success, which is always the best reward for hard work.”
Lucie Follett, Director of Arklu Ltd, manufacturer and distributer of the Kate Middleton “Princess Catherine” doll
Lucie Follett is Director of Arklu Ltd, the company behind the best-selling Princess Catherine Doll. Lucie adopted the American way of doing business when approaching US markets by being bold, proactive and aggressive in her approach, achieving huge success.
“Never put off until tomorrow what you can do today.”
“I have worked for American companies for over 15 years now and whilst I think the skills and attitudes I have developed are a result of having my roots firmly embedded in British culture, I know that I have a lot to thank my American colleagues for. Working with Americans has taught me the value of never giving up; ignore the “No’s” and just find another way of getting what you want or what you think is right, and tackle each task with enthusiasm and energy.”
Simone Barratt, President of e-Dialog Inc
Simone Barratt is President of e-Dialog Inc, having established the UK branch of the company in 2000. Simone is responsible for the profitability of the business and global leadership of the company as a whole. This follows an 11 year tenure leading the UK and EMEA operation, as well as supporting the expansion of the company into Asia-Pacific.
“Do what you love and have total confidence in you”
“The only way to be successful as an entrepreneur is to turn your passion into your business, and to be completely confident in who you are, your abilities and what you bring to the table. In America there is a relentless work ethic and entrepreneurs have to wear many hats to make their business run successfully, so being passionate about your work is key. American business people have a fantastic sense of confidence in what they can do, which I think UK entrepreneurs should try to emulate in order to be successful.”
Shannon Houde, Founder of sustainability career coaching business, Walk of Life Consulting Limited
Shannon (an American) mentors and trains professionals. She chose sustainability career coaching to combine her experience as a hiring manager, a life coach and a CSR consultant, after having started her career 16 years ago in corporate recruiting.
Top tools for women entrepreneurs
To empower women who might be considering the entrepreneurial route, Business Link has launched two new online services to help people to start-up and grow their businesses.
The Start-Up Service, called My New Business, which has been launched alongside the Growth and Improvement Service, is for budding entrepreneurs in the beginning stages of starting their business. The service provides a list of recommended start-up tasks to guide entrepreneurs from the first inkling of an idea, right through to running and managing their own business. These tasks can be filtered to create a personalised list of key tasks, specific to each individual, which can be listed by priority and given due dates.
Women considering starting-up on their own will find a number of tools on the Start-Up and Growth and Improvement Services which will help them to think through the options and get started.
- Decide if you’ve got what it takes to be your own boss: This tool helps people see if they have the skills and characteristics to work for themselves: a quiz helps them see if they’ve got what it takes, while a mythbuster shows what it really means to run a business.
- Create your business plan: Creating a business plan is key to any new business, and the business plan template can be used as an outline to get started, along with a step-by-step video which covers everything that should be included in plan.
- Develop your business idea: This tool shows people how to develop an idea from that ‘eureka!’ moment right through to a fully fledged business. Plotting goals against current positions, the tool helps identify the challenges ahead; making sure each business idea is built to succeed.
- Easy access to grants and support schemes: The updated Business Support Finder provides details of publicly-funded grants, loans or offers of expertise that individuals may be entitled to, as well as information on publicly or privately-funded business recognition awards.
- Access to business advice: For entrepreneurs looking for sources of business advice, the improved Events Finder can put them in touch with local networking, training, and peer support opportunities; while the new Mentorsme.co.uk service can help businesses across the UK to find a mentor.
- Understanding regulation: The new Business Link services can help start-ups to understand the regulatory environment, collating all relevant information on legislation and regulation so they are up to speed with the things they need to know. The service provides access to all of a start ups necessary in
teractions within government in one place, such as registering for taxes and incorporating their company online.
Ray Lambe, Director, Business Link said: “Despite many women believing that there are start-up opportunities where they live and more than a third saying that they have the skills and experience to start their own business, only 4% of women are actively engaged in early-stage entrepreneurialism.
“By improving our services we want to help people, including women, who have toyed with the idea of setting up their own business but not acted on it. Amongst other things, My New Business provides potential entrepreneurs with tools that can help them to work out whether they can work for themselves; see if they have what it takes to be their own boss; and find links to financial help or expertise they may be entitled to.
“The first step is the toughest, but we’re here to help guide people through the start-up process, and ensure they have the information and support they need to help their business succeed.”