International Women’s Day: Inspiring Female Business Owners Share Their Thoughts

The UK is home to some truly amazing women in business, so we decided to ask them their thoughts, experiences and advice...

International Women’s Day: Inspiring Female Business Owners Share Their Thoughts

It’s International Women’s Day! So we thought, what better way to mark the occasion than to speak to some of the UK’s most inspiring female business owners – and get them to offer some pearls of wisdom for you to enjoy…

Believe in yourself

Claire Lister, managing director of Pitman Training Group:

“Know your rights and be realistic but confident of your abilities.  Make sure that you know what your rights are legally, and don’t let others make you question your abilities.  Have more confidence in your opinions. We all know that when we’re tired and under pressure, probably the first thing to take a knock is our confidence.

“If this happens, give yourself a pep talk, and develop a support network that will give you a good kicking if you don’t manage to pick up your own confidence without their intervention.”

Naomi Crawford, director at Brickendon:

The main thing is to believe in yourself and know you got the job because you can do it. You should use your personality to your advantage rather than seeing it as a disadvantage and learn to take risks and have confidence in what you can do. You will deal with things differently because you are a woman, but it doesn’t mean it’s wrong.

“You may find you are treated differently but the key is to manage it carefully and be assertive but not aggressive. In the end, it’s not about women changing to be like men, rather there needs to be a meeting in the middle. Don’t be ashamed to be female.”

Use your gender to your advantage

May Al-Karooni, founder and CEO at Globechain:

“Being a woman in tech and waste management, doing something innovative and new can also make you stand out and be noticed, there is a fine balance and the skill is to find your niche. I once had a person ask me what I did for a living and if I made any money, and in my response they stated ‘You don’t look like a woman that has her own business’. to which I responded ‘what does one look like?!”

Ike Sikuade, founder of Showerella:

“As an entrepreneur, I regularly pitch my business. At most pitch events, ten men in a row, stand up to talk about their tech company. It gets a bit repetitive, and then I come in and talk about helping girls in developing countries and I get heard because I’m different.”

Kate Hulley, founder of Boxed Up:

“I was recently asked to encapsulate my experience of being a woman in business in one sentence, in a word… empowering”

Jo Fairley, co-founder of Green and Black’s chocolate:

“I believe we’re better able to tap into instincts and gut feel – for trends, when appointing staff, or deciding which direction to take a business in. Certainly, that’s true in my case. In addition, BECAUSE women have so much to juggle, we tend to become very good at prioritisation and time management, because that time isn’t infinite.”

Let sexism motivate you

Steph Douglas, founder of Don’t Buy Her Flowers:

“When we looked at premises for the business, one landlord spoke to my brother the entire time even though I’d been introduced as the business owner. My brother was horrified, but it just makes me want to succeed further and hope that all the women turning to business and doing brilliantly means that the world will change by the time my daughter is my age.”

Rachel Murphy-Rutland, Imperial College Business School MBA and co-founder of Garçon Wines:

“Don’t listen to the haters! People say and do things for all sorts of reasons and often it has very little to do with you – your words, actions or decisions.”

Anna Frankowska, CEO of Nightset:

“It’s hard not to notice the lack of women in the tech industry and in business overall, and I feel like much of this is down to preconceptions about technology being ‘all male’. It’s changing though, and as technology grows as an industry I’m confident more and more girls will see it’s potential.”

Women can be equally tenacious as men

Sharon Richey, founder and CEO at BEcause Experiential Marketing: 

“My character and sheer tenacity had a big hand to play in getting me in front of clients for that all-important first conversation.”

Stephanie Alys, co-founder and chief pleasure officer at MysteryVibe:

“Be bolder, be braver and don’t always try to be likeable. There are times in business when you will have to make difficult decisions which not everybody will like. Have courage in your convictions that the decision you are making is the right one.”

Age shouldn’t hold you back either

Tricia Cusden, founder of Look Fabulous Forever:

“The desire to change attitudes about what it means to be an older woman in 2017. I want to inspire the women who buy our makeup to feel better and more confident about their ageing faces. I also want to challenge ageism in society which makes most women feel invisible after the age of 60 (or even earlier).”

Remember female pioneers who have gone before you

Bethany Koby, founder of Technology Will Save Us:

“Speaking as a woman in the tech industry, we owe so much to pioneering women such as Radia Perlman, Hedy Lamarr, and the many female software engineers who drove coding in the 1960’s, we need to combat pre-existing cliches and encourage women to apply for technology roles.”

Look to other women for support

Andrea Sexton, Andrea Sexton PR:

“I surround myself with other women who are positive and it’s like being in a brilliant supportive club”

Inequalities still exist

Sarra Bejaoui, co-founder of SmartPA:

“Nowadays, more women are becoming entrepreneurs, however, they often face a set of challenges not necessarily shared by their male counterparts. For example, female entrepreneurs are often confined by the ‘glass-ceiling’.

“In addition, many mothers are discouraged from starting  a businesses. It can be overwhelming for some as it requires them to juggle businesses commitments, their children and additional financial burden.”

Keren Lerner, managing director and founder of Top Left Design:

“While leaps and bounds have clearly been made in the search for gender equality, the pay gap is still well documented and it shows barriers do still exist for women in business. It’s important that women feel equally empowered in their positions to succeed in taking business risks that address this.”

Xanthe Vaughan Williams, director at Fourth Day PR:

“Confidence is still a big barrier for women – we have a tendency to doubt.”

Tara Chandra, founder of FLO:

“Funding and self-confidence are two that come to mind. We’re far less likely to receive funding – for example, only between 2% and 6% of female founders receive VC funding, according to a Wharton Business School article. Statistically speaking, we also don’t seek enough funding in our rounds and are less likely to attribute our success to our own talents and resourcefulness.”

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