On International Women’s Day Liz Barclay, Small Business Commissioner and Enterprise Nation founder Emma Jones discuss women in business.
What are the biggest challenges for women in business this International Women’s Day?
Emma: “For female founders the key challenges are around delivering great products or services to happy customers, with motivated teams. And you have to keep the money coming in on time. Heightened challenges this year are around rising costs of business, supply chain disruption, logistics, and how to ensure your team feels safe when we all feel in a state of ‘perma-crisis’.
“Many women are very good at multi-tasking and know how to nurture teams so lots of female founders have the skills to manage any stumbling blocks they face.”
Liz: “I couldn’t agree more with Emma, especially on the point about getting the money in on time. Most of us don’t like talking about money but agree fair payment terms before you start any work. You need to know when you’ll get paid so you can manage your cashflow. Don’t just accept payment in three or four months’ time. You need to be paid within 30 days.
“The British Business Bank report out last week shows nearly a third of women in business would use funding rather than try to finance the business solely from income. It’s time consuming but make sure you find out about all the options open to you. It’s important to use the right funding for each stage of your business.”
What would you tell the next generation of women entrepreneurs aged 16-24?
Emma: “I was so pleased to see from the recent Rose Review progress report that women entrepreneurs are now the fastest growing when it comes to starting businesses. An impressive 14,000 new companies were set up by 16-25 year old females last year. Budding young founders should take inspiration from that. My advice would be to start your business one step at a time and surround yourself with support at every step.”
Liz: “Sign up to organisations like Enterprise Nation that will give you the support you need. There’s never such a thing as stupid questions, just ones you don’t yet know the answer to. Ask the people who do know. As you grow you may need a range of advice to get the right support and help at the right time. Paying professionals may seem expensive but the right help will be worth its weight in gold. Treat advisers as part of your team. They’re invaluable.”
How will you be spending International Women’s Day?
Emma: “Running Enterprise Nation and ensuring we are delivering the best support to as many female (and all other gender) founders as possible! We have several events for female entrepreneurs this month. On International Women’s Day itself, we have a fireside chat with inspiring business owners and expert advice on content creation.”
Liz: “Banging the drum for paying smaller suppliers quicker. Small firms are the backbone of the UK economy. They need to be paid fast so they have the confidence to invest, grow if they want to, and drive the recovery despite all the huge challenges we face in 2022.”