Sahar Hashemi: six reasons why women have a competitive advantage

Serial entrepreneur and Coffee Republic founder, Sahar Hashemi, shares why women shy away from entrepreneurship, despite having a competitive advantage, and offers practical advice.

Despite all the happy talk of leaning in and having it all, the number of women at the executive director level in British business remains pitifully low. The situation when it comes to women CEOs at FTSE 100 or FTSE 200 companies is even worse.

Yet, 35% of those starting businesses are female. 600,000 businesses are expected to launch this year. Entrepreneurship has many benefits for women. Not least the chance to eschew traditional, male-centric corporate workplaces and, thereby, walk away from the draining fight to fit in, juggle or break the glass ceiling.

>See also: 7 entrepreneurs leading the way for women in technology


But despite the high profile of some successful women entrepreneurs, the opportunities and advantages of pursuing your own ideas for yourself still too often get overlooked as a life and career path. As result, many women still don’t see entrepreneurship as a realistic option nor realise, because of different values that women often have, that they hold many advantages when it comes to creating and starting successful start-ups.

Though generalisations and stereotypes make me uneasy, I have always believed in the power of entrepreneurship. There is no set way. Everyone takes their own unique path. While every woman has a different personal journey, I have seen some patterns emerge, some common themes. I’ve come to believe that there is a new, feminine way of starting up.

But what are these patterns and common themes?

The different values with which women are successfully starting businesses include:
1)    The women entrepreneurs I’ve met are aligning their businesses much more closely with their personal values, aligning who they are and what they care about with what they do and how they work. 


2)    Acknowledging that individual entrepreneurs vary greatly, I find women tend to start more nurturing businesses. They offer flexibility not grudgingly, but as something they truly believe in. They choose their suppliers differently, making sure they have a shared ethos.


3)    They confidently employ qualities like empathy and intuition.


4)    They aren’t afraid of different techniques – for example, visualization – or difficult questions to power them forward.


5)    They communicate more.


6)    All of these are right-brained skills innately possessed by women that, while once considered too flaky for the workplace, are now highly valued both within a corporate setting and in entrepreneurship circles.  
 
The current generation of woman founders has the confidence and the necessary technology to do things better and differently than even my most notable and successful entrepreneurial contemporaries – whether it’s Jo Malone, Natalie Massanet, Cath Kidson, Chrissie Rucker or Marcia Kilgore.

>See also: The real reason women become entrepreneurs


About: Sahar Hashemi OBE founded Coffee Republic, the UK’s first US-style coffee bar chain with her brother and built it into one of the UK’s most recognised high street brands with 110 bars and a turnover of £30m. After leaving Coffee Republic in 2001, she founded Skinny Candy, a brand of sugar free sweets, and sold the business in 2007.
 
Entrepreneur and former lawyer, Hashemi was named Pioneer to the life of the Nation by Her Majesty The Queen and a Young Global leader by the World Economic Forum.  Hashemi is also recognised as one of Britain’s most successful philanthropists, investors, mentors and advisors.