Despite a dramatic increase in the number of women starting a business in the UK, women here are still lagging behind other more mature entrepreneurial communities. Women in the US are still twice as likely to start a business as British women.
MP Lorely Burt’s recent report Inclusive Support for Women in Enterprise, concluded that if support meted out by Government Departments and local authorities were ‘inclusive’, it could lift Britain’s GDP by 10 per cent by 2030.
According to the Office for National Statistics, the number of self-employed women has increased by 34% since 2009. By comparison over the past five years the number of self-employed men has risen by just 15%.
Enterprise Nation’s Home Business Report 2014, found that of the 2.9m homepreneurs in the UK, 64 per cent of them were women – equating to around 1.7m women running businesses from home, contributing an estimated £180bn to the British economy alone.
So why are they still not reaching their potential?
Studies show that the problem around women starting is not ability or commitment – more that they are likely to find it more difficult than men to obtain finance, they also have a lack of awareness of the support available – as well as that level of self-belief that often propels men towards higher growth.
Self assessment kit
A new Government-funded Skills Assessment Kit (launched last week) works on the basis that women have exactly the same ability as men to start-up, and through gentle questioning, identifies gaps, and suggests an individual training and advice programme to address these issues and unlock female potential.
This in turn will help in time to dispel the myth that to be a successful entrepreneur, you need to display the qualities of a classic risk-taker stereotype. The hope is that it will lead to a world where being steady, careful and competent is also a key predictor of entrepreneurial success.
The Self Assessment Toolkit is designed to help women-led firms reach their potential by identifying gaps in knowledge, experience and confidence, and offering practical help to take their business to the next level.
It has been developed by small business network Enterprise Nation in conjunction with psychology experts and moderated through focus groups and early-stage trials conducted with female entrepreneurs.
Open to both men and women, although concentrating its efforts to attract and help more female users, the kit teases out niggles and worries through subtle questioning, analysing the answers to build a picture of strengths and weaknesses and outlining a programme of support. It will even supply contacts and offer introductions to relevant accredited experts via the Enterprise Nation Marketplace.
The marketplace lists more than 11,000 experts and business coaches all over the UK including Northern Ireland and Scotland, who can offer advice on marketing, leadership, building a team, digital know-how or finance.
Hosted by small business network Enterprise Nation, it is hoped the new free-to-use kit, which comprises a questionnaire and produces a bespoke training programme, will also encourage more women to consider entrepreneurship as a career path.
To take the test, go to follow the link here.