10 things all female entrepreneurs need to know

Is entrepreneurship a man's world? A handful of the UK’s leading women in business share their top tips to help you achieve start-up success….

According to the popular song “it’s a man’s world” and in the enterprise space that saying, sadly, often rings true.

Yet the growing number of female entrepreneurs in the UK, targeted support for budding female business owners and recent female initiatives such as Girl Geeks are all helping to change this perception.

In celebration of International Women’s Day, we’ve compiled 10 key pieces of business advice from some of the country’s most prolific female entrepreneurs and trailblazers to help women looking to start a business; ranging from advice on marketing and pitching to juggling family life.

Read on for advice from the names behind Ann Summers, notonthehighstreet.com, Zaggora and more…

On starting a business

1. Children’s author and food specialist Annabel Karmel MBE:

“Don’t expect [starting a business] to be easy. I’ve learnt that entrepreneurship is a lifestyle, not a part-time or full-time job. I feel sorry for the people that have to live with me as I work all hours of the day and night.”

2. Dessi Bell, co-founder of Zaggora:

“If you have an idea, find a way to put it in front of customers as soon as possible. You need to get feedback from the customer; as what you think is a great product, may not be what the customers want.”

3. Fashion designer Anya Hindmarch MBE:

“I always hire people who are much cleverer than myself – and I would say that culture fit is really, really key. I’ve learnt that EQ is actually more important than IQ.”

4. Harley Street Skin Clinic co-founder Lesley Reynolds:

“Don’t buy expensive equipment until you need it, watch your cashflow and if finances are not your thing hire an accountant to do it for you.”

5. Michelle Clothier, co-founder of Livity:

“Understand the numbers side of your business. Whether you like it or not, if you don’t get your head around the key numbers it will be a long uphill struggle at the very least, and catastrophic at worst. Understand the numbers as best you can and get someone in to look after the numbers as soon as you can.”

On marketing your business

6. Jacqueline Gold MBE, CEO of Ann Summers:

“I regret that I didn’t network more in the early days. I didn’t really know about networking then but I would have networked like mad if I could go back in time! Making connections is so important, I think a lot of women are nervous about networking, which is natural, but it’s so valuable.”

7. Holly Tucker MBE, co-founder of notonthehighstreet.com:

“All entrepreneurs understand spirit [and that makes a great pitch]. It’s the spirit you have from day one that can see you through what is always a rocky road.”

On being a mumpreneur

8. Karmel:

“You have to find your guilt level. I know that when you’re at work you feel you should be with your children and when you’re with your children you feel you should be at work.

“I was at a talk recently and Mumsnet co-founder Justine Roberts asked a journalist ‘what do I do when my son says to me please Mum don’t go to work today, stay with me?’ The journalist replied ‘well kids will always go for the jugular and if you’re staying at home with them you’re doing them a disservice because then they’ll say to you ‘mummy why is it you stay at home and dad goes to work?’. You have to figure out what kind of mum you are.

“I started writing because I knew I could spend time with my kids while doing that, I fitted in writing while looking after them. I started my career slowly and I only really went into food [her food range] when they had finished schooling.”

9. Hindmarch:

“It’s very hard to balance family and work when you’re so engaged in your business, especially when it’s young and growing. My mother in-law gave me a really good piece of advice ‘include your children, but remember that children remember mood more than details. If you’re happy, your children will be happy.’ That’s key and is true for partners too.”

On self-belief

10. Gold:

“I’m a strong advocate for women in business. You need to believe you can be whatever you want to be regardless of your background. There’s a great story about Michelle and Barack Obama that I love:

“The Obama’s often visit local businesses in their area to show their support. One day they went to eat at a local pizza restaurant, the owner comes over and says hello, I think his name was Pedro. Pedro goes away and Michelle is acting awkward and embarrassed, Barack asks her ‘what’s the matter’, she replies ‘I can’t believe it, I used to go out with him at high school!’

“Barack pauses and says ‘well just think, if you hadn’t of met me you would have been the co-owner of a very nice pizza restaurant with Pedro’, Michelle replies ‘no, if I hadn’t of met you Pedro would have been the president of the United States!”

For more female business inspiration, make sure you follow these 10 women on Twitter and visit our dedicated women in business channel.

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  1. Thank you very much for this article.
    It is so difficult to be a woman in the business world…