The biggest barriers facing female entrepreneurs today

Elsa Caleb of the Start Up Loans Company wants more women to realise their business dreams. Here are her five pointers to help you take the leap...

There was once a time when older men in smart suits dominated the world of business but, fortunately, a lot has changed since the Mad Men-esque days of the past.

The last few decades have seen an increase in the number of female business owners and more women are adopting a ‘can do’ attitude towards start-ups.

Funding has also been made more readily available to new business owners. Low interest loans and grants have now made it easier than ever for people to start a company.

But despite this, many women are still put off by the idea of going it alone, with many would-be successful ideas being shelved as a direct result.

Financial worries? Find an investment option that works for YOU

Start Up Loans recently quizzed the nation’s budding female business owners about their start-up ambitions. The study sought to find out more about the factors preventing them from going it alone and, unsurprisingly, 36% cited a lack of financial support as their main worry.

Our advice to anyone trying to start a business would be to research all the funding options available to new business owners – there are now many options available.

Don’t just assume that a business loan from your bank is the only way forward; there are also grants, investment opportunities and government-backed initiatives such as the Start Up Loans scheme.

Do your research and find the one that works best for you.

If you’re unsure about marketing, get reading

How you market your business can have a real impact on its success. If you fail to take the marketing of your company seriously, you could jeopardise your chances of success.

The ‘m’ word shouldn’t be daunting, but unfortunately it is for 13% of the women we spoke to. There’s a common misconception that you need a marketing or business degree to get your company off the ground – that’s not true in the slightest.

Nobody’s born with marketing prowess; it’s something you learn over time through trial and error. There are hundreds of thousands of great books that cover all aspects of marketing and advertising, as well as websites and blogs that cover the basics.

Look out for successful marketing campaigns and don’t be afraid to draw inspiration from existing sources.

Trying to balance a business with motherhood? Why not get your kids involved?

If you’re a mum then you may think that it’s almost impossible to balance running a business with family life. But while each have their own challenges, it is possible to do both.

One of the great benefits of being your own boss is that you have opportunity to manage your own time – which could mean being able to spend more time with your family.

The best way of alleviating the pressure is to get your little ones involved in your business. You could ask for their opinions and suggestions; no one will give you a more honest opinion than your children!

Government plans to bring in tax reliefs for childcare are being drawn up, so always keep an eye on what benefits are available to you as a self-employed parent.

Lacking knowledge and experience? Seek the help of a mentor

Some (9%) female business hopefuls say they lack the knowledge and experience needed to set up a business – you can’t let this get in your way.

Nearly every successful business owner has had some form of mentoring from someone who’s been there before. Your mentor could be a self-employed friend, the CEO of a company you admire, or someone working in your chosen industry.

Most people would be delighted to be considered as a mentor. Start by getting an email address and setting up a meeting to discuss key matters, like your business plan and marketing strategy.

Be fearless. If you believe in your idea, there’s a good chance others will too

For some women, start-up apathy has nothing to do with marketing, funding or parenthood. 9% of the women we surveyed simply cited a fear of failure as the main reason for their business ambitions being halted.

The only option is to become fearless; you’ve got to believe in your business idea and maintain a positive attitude about success.

The main thing to remember is that if you believe in your business, there’s a good chance other people will.

Business is all about taking calculated risks and making executive decisions. By taking the initial leap and setting up a company, you’ll already be better prepared for whatever the future holds.

Elsa Caleb is a business advisor for the government-backed Start Up Loans Company. To find out more about Start Up Loans Company or to apply for a loan, click here.

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