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 and 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.
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 a 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 women have when successfully starting businesses include:
- They often align their businesses more closely with their personal values, aligning who they are and what they care about with what they do and how they work.
- They 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.
- They confidently employ qualities like empathy and intuition.
- They aren’t afraid of different techniques – for example, visualisation – or difficult questions to power them forward.
- They communicate more.
All of these are 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.
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.
In this article, you learned that:
- Women tend to start more nurturing businesses and offer flexibility more openly
- Women confidently employ qualities like empathy and intuition
- They also often align their businesses more closely with their personal values