Back in February I wrote Are business growth schemes being dominated by the male agenda? because it was my experience, as a business owner, that they were.
That was part of ongoing research and debate about women and their business growth needs here in Lancashire.
In Lancashire, as across the UK, we’re witnessing a growth of women setting up in business. In 2013 there were almost 1.5 million women registered as self-employed in the UK, which represents an increase of around 300,000 since before the economic downturn.
Self employment is a great option for many women as it provides the flexibility that isn’t offered by many employers. According to Resources for Entrepreneurs, most self-employed women are in midlife, a life stage that usually brings greater confidence , and yet we are aware that fewer female business owners are accessing business growth support.
What business growth managers and business educators are now having to take on board is that many of these women coming into business are not working to the more traditional business model.
- Many women start businesses for different reasons from men and this can impact on how and when they are able to benefit from business support:
- Only 2% of men cite family commitments as a reason for becoming self-employed, compared with 21% of women
Women-Owned Businesses (WOB) in the 21st Century found that there are lower expectations of growth of women led business, partly because of dual roles that women have.
When I compiled the stories for my book The Super Women of Lancashire what became clear was that women business owners are still mostly the ones who look after the children when they are sick, take responsibility for most of the domestic duties and, because of the Sandwich Generation phenomenon, many are now also responsible for looking after elderly parents – all on top of running a business.
That is my story too, as a single mum with an elderly mum of my own, I have to juggle many roles. So for me it was crucial to get a coach or mentor that understood that, but it took a few attempts to find the right support.
Of course women are setting up their own informal support networks, women and business growth needs to be on the agenda in Lancashire – and nationally.
I had the pleasure of talking to Catherynn Dunstan, the officer responsible for the Cumbria Rural Women’s Growth Network. She made a decision to put some resources into providing regular training and support for women business owners and she concludes that there has been considerable regional business growth as a result (plus 5 new members joining per day!).
With all that in mind, I’m delighted to say that Lancashire business growth support providers got together and agreed that they want to listen and adapt to these trends, so that they can offer relevant support. To get this started we have pulled together a group of partners to organise a day event – Listening Out Loud on June 19th.
The day will give women business owners the opportunity to find out what exactly is on offer by having providers all together in one room, as well as a facilitated session to enable participants to identify their own needs in terms of growing their business.
There is also a choice of workshops to attend to take some new thinking back to the workplace and I’m very pleased to be running 2 of those workshops.
We expect that this event will be the first step to ensuring that women business owners in Lancashire are able to access good, relevant business growth support and this is perfect timing as Boost has just had it’s next round of funding confirmed.
Listening Out Loud is taking place on 19th June at Samlesbury Hotel.
Click this link to Find out more about this free event and book your place
Come along and take some time for you to consider your business growth needs.