Building on the messages in a report from the Women’s Business Council published in June, it is clear that if business does not adopt flexible or innovative working practices, it will continue to lose impressive women who decide to set up their own businesses to achieve a better work-life balance.
‘Inspiring Female Entrepreneurs,’ the second report in a three part series by the CIPD on entrepreneurial practices, highlights that there are more than 2.4 million unemployed women who want to work and that if there were as many female entrepreneurs as there are male entrepreneurs, GDP could be boosted by 10% by 2030.
To gain insight into what motivates female entrepreneurs and makes them successful, the CIPD interviewed a number of women to find out what made them go solo, what has made them thrive and what they think would encourage more to set up on their own. What became clear is that employers could have much to gain by creating the conditions in which these talented and committed women could thrive in the corporate world.
The CIPD’s research shows that female-run enterprises are often particularly successful due to their unique approach to leadership and running their businesses:
They tend to be motivated more by a sense of purpose than by solely the prospect of generating wealth
They tend to grow their businesses incrementally and sustainably, avoiding debt in favour of self-financing wherever possible
They tend to take a personal approach to marketing and relationship management, taking great care to protect their brands and enhance their reputations
They tend to demonstrate great self awareness and business acumen, with ability to spot opportunities and recognise where bringing in new expertise can drive the business forward.
Dianah Worman OBE, Public Policy Adviser at CIPD, said: “It’s clear from our research that women have a lot to offer to the economy – be it by starting up their own businesses or by letting their entrepreneurial flair and business savvy shine in the corporate world. Employers need to act out of self interest to broaden the pools of talent available to them and ensure they do not lose out on the skills, energy and passion women can bring to their workplaces if they were allowed to work more autonomously and flexibly. Government is right to actively stimulate the wider take up of flexible working by employers and to seek to support women in setting up and growing their own enterprises. It makes perfect sense to find ways of helping them to do this in order to build economic growth.”
The research found that the key drivers that motivate women to set up on their own are the desire for more autonomy and the need for greater work-life balance and flexible working. However, the women interviewed in the report also revealed some of the challenges associated with going it alone, stating that more women would be motivated to start successful businesses if they had access to a central business advice portal with quality guidance on financial business planning, franchising, up-skilling and training.
Naomi Timperley, Co-Director of Enterprise Lab and Director of Social Media Boom, who famously turned down Deborah Meaden on Dragon’s Den, offers her recommendations for female entrepreneurs in the report:
“Women are increasingly savvy at recognising and tapping into emerging trends but there needs to be greater guidance out there for enterprising and creative women. I learnt that you can start a business with very little money but you need to make sure that you have done your research and know your market.”