As someone who occasionally struggles to find her ‘inner entrepreneur’ it’s great to hear other women share their business start-up journeys.
I recently took part in some research at Women in Rural Enterprise (WiRE) at Harper Adams University about training needs for female entrepreneurs.
Nine of us gave up a few hours on a wet afternoon, tempted only by the promise of a cream tea from Lily’s Vintage Tearoom. We were really there of course to support an organisation that has helped countless women realise their business dreams with local networks, events and online resources at www.wireuk.org.
Female Entrepreneurs Growing at a Faster Rate than Men
According to the Office of National Statistics, the growth in self-employment in the UK reached a record high of 4.5 million in 2014, making up 15% of the total workforce. Women made up 32% of self-employed and the rate at which we are taking up self-employment is growing at a faster rate than for men.
It was very interesting to hear why my fellow WiRE members had set up their business. Most had turned to self-employment after a life event, whether that be redundancy, stress at work, illness, moving to a new area or even the death of a partner. I’ve experienced all of those at some time but for me it was my recent redundancy that gave me the opportunity to take a break and reassess my future.
What’s Good and Bad about Self Employment?
We discussed at length the amount of support and training available and the things that concerned our group were isolation, self-motivation, being confident in asking for work when representing ourselves and not another organisation, negotiation and time management.
Whereas the things we liked about being an entrepreneur were the control and freedom to use our skills and experiences to help others and being able to choose who we worked with. There was a lot less stress, more happiness and a lot better work-life balance.
Sharing, Caring, Networking and Referrals
Another great place to listen and learn is at the Telford & Wrekin WiRE networking meetings. We have an amazing mix of authors, artists and therapists, marketing and communication experts, along with business and professional services and culinary queens.
Some are serial entrepreneurs who have years of experience and are confident and knowledgeable yet more than happy to share their tips. Others are women who are in the early stages of growth and, like myself, taking every opportunity to learn from training, WiRE workshops and presentations.
This month, Jayne Smallman of Smallman Wealth Management an Associate Partner Practice of St James’s Place Wealth Management shared her motivators for setting up her business. Jayne advises people how to make the most of their savings, investments and retirement.
Jayne was stressed out on the corporate ladder, unhappy, unhealthy and missing her son growing up. Like many women, she woke up one day and decided enough was enough and decided to use her 17 years of experience to set up her own practice in 2015.
Top Tips for Keeping Going with Self-Employment
Jayne’s top tips were:
Thanks to our network leaders Lean Churm and Sandra Owen, our networking meetings are friendly, inspiring and I always leave with new ideas and a smile on my face. To keep that momentum going our group has recently started swapping business cards so that we can meet individual members for a coffee between meetings.
This is not about selling but learning what the other person has to offer so we can make referrals in the future. Let’s face it we all need an excuse to get out and take a break from work. Is that something you could adopt in your networking?
Telford & Wrekin WiRE meet at the Marches Growth Hub at the University of Wolverhampton Telford Innovation Campus on the third Thursday of each month at 9.45am.