Female entrepreneurs soar 10% in recession

Women want “more flexibility” than before the downturn

The business world has long been renowned for its dearth of women business leaders. Now, a new breed of recession-era female entrepreneurs are smashing through that glass ceiling.

The number of women starting their own businesses, or taking over the running of an existing venture, has soared more than 10% since the recession began – increasing from 20.13% in 2008 to 30.22% today.

That is according to XLN Business Services’ study of more than 100,000 of its small business customers – with the sharpest increase in start-up activity recorded in the north west of England.

A decade ago, the north west was the least active area in the UK for new and existing women business owners. However, the proportion of female entrepreneurs rose from 13% to 18% between 2009 and 2012.

The increase is thought, in part, to be due to a rise in redundancies and an increasingly competitive job market – as well as the low-cost of starting a business from home, and the greater flexibility this provides.

Catherine Longton, the female entrepreneur behind specialist book shop Moorland Books, in Oldham, said: “Women are setting up their own businesses now because they want more flexibility.

“Many women want to manage work and home life easily, and running businesses from home, and going into partnerships with likeminded women, means they can get a better work/life balance.”

She added: “An economic downturn can be a good time to take the plunge, as there is more availability of vacant premises and landlords are prepared to be more flexible. If you can survive the downturn, your business will be thriving in the better times!”

An increase in support for female business owners is also thought to have affected the rise. Business secretary Vince Cable recently stated that three quarters of the government’s small business adviser roles are now held by women.

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