THE IMPORTANCE OF SUPPORTING WOMEN IN BUSINESS
This time last week I was preparing to join fellow local business women in my area at a small private reception with the opportunity to meet the Home Secretary, Theresa May MP. Organised by Amanda Ayres the Founder of The Business Girls Network in Maidenhead, Berkshire, this was a fantastic chance to network with other local business women as well as meet Theresa May the Member of Parliament for Maidenhead and, regardless of your political leanings, an inspiring mentor, person of influence and also herself a woman in business.
Today I wanted to share a few photos from the occasion but principally offer some thoughts and facts about the importance of supporting women in business. How we can mentor and sustain each other, the challenges that women face and some resources that might come in useful - not just if you're based in Berkshire but from wherever you may be reading this post. I'd also like to invite you to share your thoughts and the places to which you turn when you're in need of such support. Your ideas are more than welcome in the comments section at the end of this post.
As the above quote from the meetings presentation says: "A woman with a voice is by definition a strong woman. But the search to find that voice can be remarkably difficult." Melinda Gates.
If I can turn to some of the fantastic statistics that Amanda brought to us during the meeting, some key points really stood out:
- 33% of the female population (in the UK) would start a business if it wasn't for a fear of failure.
- 85% of female managed start-ups are underfunded, driven by a lack of confidence, risk aversion and feelings of 'not being prepared.'
It's sad that these fears, that I'm sure we all do recognise, are stopping incredibly talented women from taking the risk of stepping forward and putting their fantastic ideas into action. As Amanda also shared - if in the UK women started businesses at the same rate as men then we would have up to 150,000 extra start-ups each year. Imagine the jobs, talent and business opportunities such an additional figure would create. Something we can all work harder to support. RBS has calculated that boosting female entrepreneurship could help to boost the UK economy by up to an extra £60 billion a year.
However, aside from the stats above there are also many positives to take away and some truly fantastic women out there stepping into the world of business. With many young people coming up behind them demonstrating the passion and drive to follow in their footsteps.
This is where fantastic support and networking groups such as The Business Girls Network can really do their very best and most important work. Bringing like-minded women together with an opportunity to share their expertise, their successes and indeed (perhaps most importantly) lessons from their failures. To help support and mentor each other. To be that someone online at the same time as you when you're tearing your hair out at 2am and say 'it will all be ok' and 'you can do this.'
I will be thinking about this topic a lot more over the next few weeks and will have more to share for those looking for further ideas and inspiration. For today I will leave you with some additional resources (see below) that you may find helpful if you are in need of mentorship and support yourself. This list is by no means complete and I would love it if any of my readers have any other inspirational resources that they could share.