Life as a female entrepreneur: Good and ‘bad’ traits of a woman in business

Introducing new columnist, Cuckoo Bircher muesli founder Anna Mackenzie, who kicks off with the different traits female entrepreneurs often share

Childhood friends Anna Mackenzie and Lucy Wright launched their tasty breakfast cereal brand Cuckoo Bircher muesli in 2013.

Quickly, the pair, who are mentored by Neil Burchell, the ex-managing director of Rachel’s Organic, managed to win over the buyers at Selfridges, Waitrose, Tesco, Ocado, and The Co-Op, giving the young brand a nationwide distribution reach to envy.

So we’re delighted to introduce co-founder Anna to the audience as our latest columnist. Each month Anna will be sharing business insights from her life as a female entrepreneur and start-up business owner. This month, she looks at the qualities and character traits her gender brings to the business.

It’s a great time to be a female in business; there’s so much opportunity for female entrepreneurs to make their mark in today’s business world and you only have to look around to see how many are doing just that.

When considering my life as a female entrepreneur and that of my business partner Lucy’s, I don’t think one can justify stereotyping too much, as qualities that are considered to be rifer in females can be found in the average male and vice-versa, but I do think there are certain behavioural traits that come very naturally to us as female entrepreneurs that are very positive and useful, and others that are more prohibitive and need to be worked on.

Starting with the positives…

We’re both good listeners and furthermore, we seek out opportunities where we can listen and take advice from anyone that is willing to give it. And for this we have mentors and have done since day one. We have just about the right amount of confidence, but not so much that we would make the mistake that we didn’t need advice regularly; we would never be too proud to turn it down.

Being good listeners and tuned in to what people are saying and how they’re behaving also helps us manage our employees and creates a healthy and positive company culture. Importantly, it also means listening to customers and being tuned in to their needs too which is invaluable in a sales role.

We’re also good at building strong professional relationships and creating opportunities for collaboration and building and maintaining a supportive network constantly.

And where more work is needed…

Although in our professional relationships we come across as confident entrepreneurs, when asked in our personal lives how the business is doing, we always find ourselves hesitant to say that it’s going well and don’t exude the positivity and confidence that would probably be more beneficial to portray.

It’s not that I’m discouraging honesty, but It’s important to accept a compliment and keep up positive aura and energy around business and whilst we’re confidently rocking it on a day to day basis at work, we fail to recognise this when we step out the door and tend to immediately think of the issues and areas not going so well when asked the question.

The final tendency that I have a personal issue with (and have a feeling may be overrepresented amongst females) is being too far along on the analytical spectrum when it isn’t productive, and having a tendency to overthink.

As an entrepreneur it’s crucial to be analytical but there are some situations which need to be let go, and moved on from, and often I find myself going over details where no productive outcome could arise from repeatedly going over that memory. In these situations, it would much more useful to be able to reflect briefly then move on.

You can follow Cuckoo Bircher on Twitter or find out more about Anna, Lucy and their muesli on their website:


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  1. The ability to learn new things and to hear other people’s advice is very important when doing business. Go girls!