It was a great honour recently to be mentioned in an article by Chief Operating Officer of Facebook; Sheryl Sandberg. The post was in Stylist’s People section and was entitled “We can shine a brighter light”: Sheryl Sandberg is on a mission to change women’s lives via business.
The article explores the gender gap in small businesses. While this is, at the moment, firmly skewed towards male entrepreneurs, with just one in five businesses in the UK run by women, things may actually be starting to change. According to Sheryl at least one in ten women are thinking about becoming entrepreneurs and beginning their own business venture. If this comes to fruition, then we could see that gender gap close quite quickly as we head towards the next decade.
Facebook Champions UK Female Entrepreneurs
So what is stopping women taking a bigger role in small businesses? While many have ambitions to start their own business, they also cite lack of confidence and fear of failure as major factors that stop them. As Sheryl points out this isn’t just a problem in the UK but across the world – women tend to be more risk averse than their male counterparts. The good news is that technology and the ease with which a business can be set up nowadays is beginning to have a positive impact.
The Last Hurdle was mentioned in this respect because of our focus on helping businesses to promote themselves better. Our emphasis on using Facebook and driving online sales was also mentioned. What the article highlights though is the lack of role models for female entrepreneurs – or, to be slightly more contentious, the lack of visibility of strong female business role models.
Of course, as Sheryl points out in her article, it’s not simply enough to celebrate those female entrepreneurs who have made a success of it. There needs to be the right support in place to enable them to feel confident of going out on their own. This includes developing those technological and digital skills that business owners need to thrive – including aspects such as CRM systems, web development and social media management.
This need for support has led Sheryl and Facebook to launch the #shemeansbusiness initiative, partnering with the Women in Enterprise Taskforce run by the Federation of Small Businesses. It’s designed to provide the sort of information and advice that can help women become entrepreneurs and give them the tools to succeed.
There are plenty of women out there who have a good business idea but lack the confidence to step out into this brave new world. If you think this applies to you then the good news is that things are beginning to change.
According to Facebook there are some 2.7 million women who are thinking about starting a business in the UK. If just a fifth of these took the plunge that would mean the creation of 340,000 new businesses run by women. And it’s not just the new millennials who are hoping to lead the way. Women who have spent their working life in employment are beginning to think more entrepreneurially, potentially using their skills and knowledge to develop companies that are changing the small business landscape of the UK. What’s stopping you?