Women in Business

3 barriers to women in business

Starting and scaling up – the extra challenges for women in business.

People face multiple obstacles when setting up in business, but it should be a level playing field as far as women in business is concerned!

Many women choose to work from home because they can do this regardless of their partner’s work and balance it with a family life.

Julie Deane, CEO and Founder of the Cambridge Satchel Company did her own review of self-employment survey, and found that 86% of self-employed people are happier in self-employment than if they were employed. However and despite all the talk and initiatives, we haven’t found a happiness metric for women in business and perhaps that’s a sign in itself!

So why are only 1 in 3 entrepreneurs women?

Alison Rose, now CEO of RBS, was commissioned to report to government on women in business. The comprehensive full report is published on the government website but we’ve lifted some key issues from the report for this blog.

Is it ability or ambition?

NO! Women do not lack ability or ambition. The number of women in small businesses is increasing every year although male entrepreneurs are five times more likely to scale up their businesses to £1million turnover than female entrepreneurs.

–  The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB). “Women in Enterprise: The Untapped Potential.” (2016). Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS). Business Population Estimates for the UK and Regions 2018 (2018).  YouGov 2017 Business Survey, RBS Analytics.

Is it access to support?

YES! Women, and especially homeworkers, are less likely than men to know other entrepreneurs or to have access to sponsors, mentors or professional support networks. So, check out the many support networks on Facebook and Twitter – here are some examples:

    Talented Ladies ClubFacebook – TalentedLadiesClub     Twitter @TalentedLadies,

    Military Mums in BusinessFacebook – militarymumsinbusiness     Twitter @MilitaryMums

    Spouses HourTwitter @SpousesHour

    Homeworker MagazineFacebook – thehomeworkermag     Twitter @Homeworkermag

These businesses are run by highly motivated women and are useful jump-off points to find help from like-minded women.

Is it access to finance?

YES! It is hard to get loans and finance as a self-employed person or SME but its worse if you’re a female or even a mixed team!

vct deals for female and mixed gender women in business

Perceived bias within the UK venture finance community is a concern. Only 13% of senior people on UK investment teams are women, and almost half (48%) of investment teams have no women at all. Less than 1% of UK venture funding goes to all-female teams and just 4% of deals.


Alison Rose stated that the biggest opportunities to help female entrepreneurs fell in three areas:

  1. Increasing the funding directed towards them;
  2. Greater family care support; and,
  3. Making entrepreneurship more accessible for women and increasing support locally, through relatable and accessible mentors and networks.

We’ve been Tweeting to #IWD2020 with some of the comments from last year – do you think it is getting better?

However, we believe that better support to women starting in business and being gender friendly is important for a business. It should be everybody’s objective for next year and I hope we’ll be able to blog on some great improvements for International Womens Day 2021.

Remember to protect your intellectual property and consider the right insurance covers as part of your business risk management. You can find out more about Business Insurance or even get a quote for various products from our home page.