It is not for lack of ambition that women-owned businesses often fail to reach the same levels of growth as their male counterparts, a survey of more than 220 businesswomen across the UK has found.
Founder of Enterprising Women community, Bev Hurley, argues that, whilst managing time pressures between the demands of family life and running a business prevents some female entrepreneurs from realising their potential, there are significant skills-based issues which get in the way of their ambition. “Women’s business needs are not being properly catered for. Publicly funded support has largely failed to enable women to gain the real strategic expertise needed for effective marketing, sales, human resource and finance, and yet these are the issues which are holding back women’s business growth.”
The report, published to mark the 100th International Women’s Day, looks at the factors inhibiting women’s progress in business. Enterprising Women collected further in-depth information on key barriers to growth identified by participants in its Growth Programmes – courses that provide tailored support for small businesses with significant growth potential. Crucially, these programmes help women to really understand and develop the necessary personal and business skills to enable women entrepreneurs to expand their businesses.
Of the various challenges explored in the survey, marketing was viewed as by far the most significant barrier, with 45% of respondents unsure about how to ensure marketing spend brings in sales. Marketing is crucial for raising awareness of a company’s offering, building interest amongst its target audiences and generating revenue, yet lack of real know-how is preventing women entrepreneurs from achieving sustainable growth.
Ms Hurley feels the findings represent an opportunity for policymakers to revisit funded provision. “Current policy on business support has not been effectively gender-proofed and the huge economic potential of women will not be unlocked. This rich feedback both validates our Growth Programmes and offers a blueprint for how women’s enterprise can flourish. There is so much to be gained – the government cannot afford to overlook the opportunities for sustainable job and business creation.”