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Self-employed women create new breed of ‘everyday entrepreneur’

2 May

Many of the women who run their own businesses – often from home – and support their families often don’t even think of themselves as ‘entrepreneurs’. But a generation of enterprising women are propping up the economy with their passion and their daily dedication to their businesses.

Research carried out by Ipsos-Mori and written by Cass Business School on behalf of Avon – called the Avon Everyday Entrepreneur Report – shows that, contrary to the belief perpetuated by programmes such as Dragon’s Den, women are in business more for flexibility and passion than for money or power. Their businesses typically took little investment to get started, but the women running them are often the main breadwinners in the family.

Two-thirds (68%) of female start-ups are regarded as everyday entrepreneurs, according to the report – and 59% say that flexibility is the main reason they enjoy running their own business.

Report author Julie Logan, Cass Business School Professor of Entrepreneurship, said: “Contrary to the popular view, our findings show that when it comes to female entrepreneurs, they are not powered by ego but by the promise of flexibility, fulfillment and fun. The report explores how young women are more likely to embrace entrepreneurship as a career option and embark on this career trajectory from the outset.”

Here are some more results from the Avon Everyday Entrepreneur Report:


More women are choosing entrepreneurship

7 Dec

More women have launched their own businesses in the last 12 months than in the previous year, according to figures from online business insurance broker Simply Business.

The company analysed its data on 117,000 start-up business quotes, and revealed that there is a 12% increase in female-run startups, and women account for 37% of all start-up businesses, up from 33% last year.

Creative and service-driven businesses – including cleaners, beauticians and hairdressers – are are the most popular choices, followed by pet minders, cake makers, market traders, caterers, teachers, accountants and financial advisers and lawyers. Complementary therapy has grown 16% year on year, education consultants by 61% and nursing businesses by 46%.

Jason Stockwood, chief executive of Simply Business, said: “With unemployment at its highest for 23 years, it is encouraging to see that more and more women are embracing the opportunity to set up on their own.”

Global partnership to break down barriers for women entrepreneurs

23 Sep

UN Women and The Coca-Cola Company have announced a new global partnership to support, train and mentor more women entrepreneurs.

This initiative aims to build on the strengths of UN Women’s strategic plan and Coca-Cola’s 5 by 20 scheme, which aims to inspire and support five million women entrepreneurs by 2020.

UN Women – the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women – is encouraging companies to sign up to its Women’s Empowerment Principles – Equality Means Business to support women in the workplace, marketplace and community by promoting training and professional development for women, and to measure and publicly report on gender equality.

The public-private partnership aims to break down the barriers that women entrepreneurs face, and provide access to business skills training, financial services and support networks of peers and mentors.

Muhtar Kent, chairman and CEO of The Coca-Cola Company, said: “We believe there is no better time to invest in women as engines of economic growth and sustainable development. Women are the fastest-growing economic force and no business or economy will be able to grow without them.”

Michelle Bachelet, under-secretary-general and executive director of UN Women, added: “Now more than ever, the world needs to unleash women’s talent and energy if we are to make our economies and societies stronger. We can no longer afford to waste the potential of half the world’s population. It is both a matter of justice as well as good business and economic sense.”

Women business owners value creativity and innovation during a downturn

9 Aug

Female entrepreneurs may avoid taking huge risks, but are willing to try out new ideas and approaches to growing their businesses, are creative during a downturn, and are in business for passion rather than money.

That’s according to the findings from the first PNC Women Business Owners Outlook, a survey carried out among 1300 women business owners in the US between 30 March and 11 May 2011 (ahead of the US losing its AAA credit rating).

Eight out of 10 of the business owners surveyed said they anticipated growth over the next two years – and only 7% said they planned to sell. The majority prefer to avoid risk, with just 39% willing to accept moderate risk to grow their businesses.

However, more than half (56%) said they would rely on new ways of doing things rather than sticking with what has worked in the past. While 62% rely on their own ideas, 45% would make a decision  using their intuition – with 55% preferring to take an analytical approach to their decisions.

Interestingly, just 22% said there were in it for the money, with 45% citing ‘passion for their business’ as a top reason for running their own company.

Beth Marcello, director of women’s business development at PNC Bank, said: “Creativity is paramount for a business to navigate through a down period. Our findings validate the value that women business owners place on creativity and innovation. Their willingness to try new ideas can result in new products or services, social media marketing tactics, or even expansion into international markets.”

Women can’t have it all, says new female Dragon

1 Aug

BBC2’s Dragons’ Den has drummed up some marvellous publicity with its new female dragon Hilary Devey, multi-millionaire owner of a freight distribution company.

While making her millions herself, she claims in a Telegraph interview that women just aren’t genetically cut out for top roles – but men are. She says she has sacrificed family life for her career, as women can’t have it both ways (especially not in the ‘man’s world in which she operates).

Viewing figures for the new Dragons Den series have apparently been higher than usual – though whether that’s down to the new Dragon I imagine will be analysed in due course. And I’ll be curious to see whether, in the course of the programme, she chooses to invest in other female entrepreneurs.

In the meantime, figures that don’t back up what Ms Devey contends is that British men have increased the amount of time they spend on domestic chores by 60% over the past 30 years – suggesting that men are beginning to share the burden of housework that has traditionally fallen to women. There’s still some way to go, though. While men may help with homework and cooking, they’re still not brilliant at doing the washing.

But, for now, perhaps women are still giving them the choice and picking up the slack.

Are business meetings at the hairdresser the ultimate in multi-tasking?

5 Jul

The latest trend to hit high-flying City businesswomen is apparently the ‘power cut’: a trip to the hair salon that combines a haircut with a business meeting.

As reported in the Evening Standard, the power cut gives a whole new meaning to the working lunch. Senior businesswomen come in to the salon for their manicure or their blow dry, and continue their conference call – or brainstorm ideas with colleagues – while the stylists unobtrusively do their work. They do this for breakfast meetings as well as at lunchtimes and after work. One salon – Charles Worthington in Covent Garden – has even given this phenomenon a brand name: Executive Meet and Treat Service.

I’m all for multi-tasking; anything that ticks several things off my to-do list at once gets my vote. You can be there with your Blackberry racing through your emails, or catching up on those important calls – buying into that 24/7 culture of always being at the beck and call of your bosses and your business. Maybe the power cut is fine before an important meeting or presentation when I have to look my best – or perhaps for a novel way to catch up with a colleague.

However, there is a part of me that treats a visit to the hairdressers as a sacred space in my diary that’s just for me. Without the interruptions. Sometimes, it’s a relief to keep a little distance between work time and play time.


Women 1st reveals shortlist for Shine Awards

15 Mar

Women 1st has announced the shortlist for its 2011 Shine Awards, which recognise and celebrate female success in the hospitality, leisure, travel and tourism industry. From the 250 nominations for this year’s awards, here’s the shortlist:

Outstanding Entrepreneur:

  • Jillian MacLean, founder and managing director, Drake & Morgan
  • Wendy Shand, founder, Tots to Travel
  • Camellia and Namita Panjabi, co-owners, Masala World
  • Lou Willcock, founder and director, IndiCater

Woman of the Year:

  • Jill McDonald, chief executive officer, McDonald’s UK & president Northern Division
  • Victoria Sanders, managing director, Teletext Holidays
  • Jane Sunley, chief executive officer, Learn Purple
  • Michelle Hanson, commercial director, Sodexo


  • Carrie Wicks, director of operations, Firmdale PLC
  • Lou Willcock, founder and director, IndiCater
  • Jez Langhorn, vice president people, McDonald’s

Rising Star:

  • Xoe Donovan, general manager, The Longford House Beefeater and Cannock South Premier Inn
  • Anna Baker, senior marketing executive, Bourne Leisure
  • Wendy Halsall-Bennett, general services manager, Sodexo

Lifetime achievement award:

  • Robyn Jones OBE, founder, CH&Co
  • Gill Benwell, director, Bourne Leisure
  • Vivien Sirotkin, operations director, Q Hotels
  • Maggie Berry, chair, Farm Stay UK (retired 2010)

Natalie Bickford, Sodexo’s UK and Ireland HR director and chair of Women 1st,said: “All of those shortlisted are an inspiration to us all. Showcasing females in the industry who have worked hard to achieve their career aspirations will inspire countless others to emulate that success and continue to make a valuable contribution.”

The shortlist for the large and small business of the year awards will be announced separately.

The winners will be revealed on Thursday 31 March 31 at the Savoy Hotel, London – along with the publication of the Top 100 Most Influential Women in the industry listing.

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