Female entrepreneurs: learn the rules of the game before you get on the playing field
This article was first published in Business Connections, 20 April 2015.
With almost a million small and medium sized businesses in the UK headed by females, there are now more women-led businesses in the UK than ever before. But despite this encouraging trend, more female entrepreneurs still need to learn the art of self-promotion if they are to compete with their male counterparts.
It is a sad fact that a woman’s upbringing is more likely to affect levels of self-esteem and confidence throughout her life compared to male counterparts, irrespective of talent and ability. And, in my experience, this seems to have a direct impact on the success of women in business.
In order to overcome the gender bias, women need to understand that prejudices exist both subconsciously and consciously in business. Consequently, females need to be much more confident at self-promotion and demonstrating their value. This is what men often do very naturally – as women we need to learn the rules of the game before we get on the playing field with them.
What female entrepreneurs need is the belief, confidence and gravitas to sell themselves, not only to potential customers and clients, but also to investors. According to a study by Babson College in the US, just 2.7 per cent of all the venture capital finance raised in the US between 2011 and 2013 went to companies led by women.
Meanwhile, the UK government has found that if women were setting up and running new businesses at the same rate as men, our economy could benefit from a million more entrepreneurs and RBS has calculated that boosting female entrepreneurship could deliver approximately £60bn extra to the UK economy.
Currently, just 17 per cent of UK companies are headed by women, but by eradicating self-doubt – and thinking big – more women can realise their dreams of setting-up or expanding their own businesses. Have confidence in your abilities and the sky’s the limit. What have you got to lose?
Julia Meighan is the CEO of VMAGROUP, a leading international interim and permanent recruitment and executive search specialist for communications, digital and marketing. She is committed to helping more women achieve their professional ambitions by identifying what is really holding female professionals back and addressing this challenge. Julia is also a specialist mentor for the Prince’s Trust.