In the latest instalment of our women in the workplace series, top women talk exclusively to Standard Life about the diverse world of female entrepreneurship. Today we meet the first five, kicking off with a Badass woman …
“There’s still so much untapped potential when it comes to women-led businesses. It’s not easy to list high profile women that have started a business that resonates with young girls and without this visibility they don’t know it’s a viable career option – which it is.
The more women that create their own wealth and live life on their own terms, the more power we can command. Women running businesses created by men isn’t enough: more women founding companies that appeal to the next generation is the challenge we must tackle.”
Sarra Bejaoui is co-founder of SmartPA, a UK company that provides outsourced professional administrative and business support to large corporations, SMEs and individuals.
“Although the tide has shifted and now more women are becoming entrepreneurs, they often face a set of challenges not necessarily shared by their male counterparts.
For example, female entrepreneurs are often confined by the notion of the ‘glass-ceiling’ that impedes the advancement of talented women professionals into senior executive roles.
Additionally, many mothers feel discouraged from starting businesses as juggling work commitments with children, along with the additional financial burden, can often seem too much for some.”
Cat Gazzoli is founder of Piccolo, the organic baby food brand. Piccolo launched just nine months ago but is already in Waitrose and Asda.
“Women make great entrepreneurs as they tend to be inherently sociable beings, who thrive on the networks and communities we create around us. These are invaluable for support, but also as a way to market, a way of testing products and for spreading the word.
Talking about multitasking maybe a cliché, but it is talked about for a reason. Starting a business means you have to be everything to everybody; no day is the same and you need to pick up skills and learn very quickly about all aspects of a business. Pretty much what all women do when they manage families, home and work.”
Neeta Patel is founding CEO of the New Entrepreneurs Foundation which aims to transform UK business by developing the entrepreneurial leaders of the future.
“There’s quite a bit of empirical evidence that female entrepreneurs get a smaller pie of investment funding than their male counterparts. I think this situation is getting better as new funds aimed specifically at women entrepreneurs are being launched, but we still have some way to go to achieve parity.
Women are in a prime position to lead the way in terms of starting and leading ventures. The recent explosion in female entrepreneurship and women-led businesses is down to a woman’s nature in times of uncertainty.
As women, we take a more measured approach to risk taking, thus acting as a safe anchor for any business in stormy waters. As a result, female entrepreneurs tend to engage in more thought-through strategies and approaches, which ultimately result in the creation of amazing businesses that have solid teams and good products. Women entrepreneurs’ patience of playing a long-term game therefore creates stronger businesses that boast the longevity and stability.”
Sophie Gibson is co-founder of marketing agency Team Eleven which was founded in 2016.
“My biggest achievement as a female entrepreneur has been growing a successful agency and a happy team. For a long time I felt like a ‘fraud’. That I should behave in a certain way, or try to be someone I wasn’t. I now realise more than ever that people buy people. Entrepreneurs wouldn’t succeed otherwise.
People choose to leave agencies to work with the founding partners: they did that for us. Clients trusted our experience and commitment in delivering for them. The team we have grown at Team Eleven is a family. Professionally, that is what makes me most proud.”
A big thank you to our first five fantastic females! Later today I’ll be talking to 5 more female entrepreneurs and business-women.