Public recognition and celebration of success is an essential component to the continued encouragement and support of entrepreneurs all over the UK. It’s one of the main reasons that I, like many others, always look forward to seeing the surge of broad support for International Women’s Day each March. Yet there is no reason why these moments of celebration should be isolated to a single day or month.
At Start Up Loans we have a great track record of supporting aspiring business owners from all walks of life to achieve the dream of being their own boss. Since 2012 when the programme began, 40% of all loans, worth more than £300 million, have been taken out by women. This percentage is rising year on year ‘ a clear sign that as a nation, the ranks of self-starting and ambitious women in business continue to grow.
The 2022 Rose Report highlighted this beyond any doubt when it found that growth in UK female-led companies is outpacing that in male-led businesses for the first time. More than 140,000 all-women businesses were established in 2021, with the key growth area among women between aged 16 and 25 starting their own enterprises.
A month on from the boost in awareness around the success of the UK’s women, both in business and elsewhere, I want to showcase some of Start Up Loans’ own female entrepreneurs and their key observations about being a business owner, how they have navigated key challenges and their advice to others who might be thinking of creating their own company.
Chloe Bruce, founder of Chloe Bruce Academy:
One of the scariest things I have done in life is invest in my business. I put my whole heart and every last penny into it. I was so anxious that no one would sign up, but I had 64 people sign up within the first two days of going live. I was so inspired to give back to the sport of martial arts, and empowered to grow and work harder than ever before!
I think the hardest part about being an entrepreneur and the face of your own business, is learning to market it as a serious venture and really sell yourself. I never used to like talking about myself, but that’s all I seem to do these days! I implore any women considering starting their own business to just go for it.
Cirian-Marie Beddoes, founder of Bramble Bees Florist:
As women we need to have the courage to speak up and stand up for ourselves as business leaders. It’s unfortunate that we need to put in more work to convince people to trust and invest in us but progress is definitely being made.
My biggest piece of advice for any women thinking about launching their own enterprise is that if you want to do something, don’t find out how you can’t, find out how you can. All too often women convince themselves out of taking the leap when actually, there are so many reasons why they should.
Eleanor Howie, Founder of Valiant Lingerie:
Deciding to start your own business is exciting, exhilarating, and daunting! My advice would be to take time to create your business plan. Do your research to understand your competitors and the market you’ll be going into. I would also recommend anyone starting out to look into finding a support network or mentor. It really can be game changing.
Cara Melzak, Founder of Cara and the Sky:
The challenge I face in terms of being a business owner is that because I look and sound relatively young, people often don’t take me seriously. But I want to build strong lasting relationships with those connected to the brand. I want them to come on the journey with me, to realise that although I’m small now, my dedication to succeeding means it’s going to continue growing into something a lot bigger.
Cirian-Marie Beddoes’ line of Don’t find out how you can’t, find out how you can has a particular resonance for me. What is abundantly clear time and time again is that, when supported properly, there are tens of thousands of inspiring and enterprising people around the UK who can create successful businesses.
Despite having seen International Women’s Day come and go until next March, we must continue as a collective across the business arena to keep up momentum on what is a clear growth appetite among self-starting women around the country. If you are an aspiring business owner, I would encourage you to look at our accessible guides that will help you on your journey here.