The dream of flexibility is driving women into entrepreneurship – and most aren’t looking back, according to new research from Small Business Britain.
- Over a third (39%) of women start businesses for better work-life balance
- Most (86%) are happier since starting-up – with 74% enjoying more flexibility
- Yet over three quarters (77%) say running a business has got tougher in the cost-of-living crisis
The desire for greater flexibility is the biggest driving force behind women starting businesses in the UK, as new research from Small Business Britain highlights most women are happier after starting their own businesses.
Over a third (39%) of female entrepreneurs surveyed said improving their work-life balance was the biggest catalyst for starting a business, while 30% wanted to choose where they work from and 25% reassessed their careers after having kids. Over a third (36%) were motivated to pursue a passion.
Despite the challenges of running a business during the cost-of-living crisis, most female founders (86%) say they are happier since starting-up. Three quarters (74%) report greater flexibility and almost half (48%) say their work-life balance has improved.
“I started my business to generate an income whilst also looking after my children, as I faced major challenges with the cost of childcare, and it didn’t make financial sense to go back to my previous role. I had a passion for natural gemstones and found there was an underserved market for socially and environmentally conscious products. I started making handmade jewellery and this led me to open my own store, Mia Strada London.
I am so much happier, having been able to create a business that allows for a better work life balance. To be working in something I really believe in is such a delight. I can’t say it is, or has ever been easy, but it is definitely rewarding.”
Female entrepreneurs also highlighted that running their businesses had brought a wealth of other benefits – with 68% developing new skills, 63% feeling greater fulfilment at work and 61% finding more freedom to be creative and innovative.
On the flip side, the growing challenges of running a business were also underlined, with over three quarters (77%) of women saying running a business is now harder due to challenging economic conditions. Rising costs were reported as the biggest obstacle by 56%, while 46% pointed to stress and exhaustion.
Michelle Ovens CBE, founder of Small Business Britain and the f-entrepreneur campaign said: “There has been a marked rise in female entrepreneurs across the UK, and collectively they make a phenomenal contribution to the UK economy. Despite the many economic challenges for business owners that need to be tackled, it is uplifting to hear that most women are happier for having taken the plunge into entrepreneurship and are seeing immeasurable benefits in their lives.”
The research comes as Small Business Britain opened applications for its annual #iAlso100 campaign, which showcases a line-up of the UK’s 100 leading female business owners.
Now in its sixth year, Small Business Britain’s f:Entrepreneur campaign aims to highlight the impact of the growing tide of inspirational, multi-achieving women running their own businesses, alongside a roster of other responsibilities, such as volunteering, mentoring and community support.
Data from the Rose Review earlier this year shows that over 150,000 new companies were started by women in 2022 – more than twice as many as in 2018. And last year additional research commissioned by Small Business Britain found that almost one fifth (17%) of women in the UK were considering starting their own businesses.
Delivered by Small Business Britain – the leading champion of small businesses in the UK – the f:Entrepreneur campaign offers a host of events, training, and networking opportunities to boost skills, capability, and confidence.
Indeed, Small Business Britain’s research also found that over half of women currently combat the stress of running a business by sharing experiences with other business owners, while 45% turn to networking.
“It doesn’t surprise me that so many female entrepreneurs feel happier. Since I started up, I have more control of my schedule, a five-minute commute and I feel a huge sense of pride and satisfaction when we get positive feedback or see an order come through. Whilst I got that in my previous employment, now it feels more personal. Having my own business has helped me develop and gain new skills both professionally and personally.”
Applications for female entrepreneurs to join the f:Entrepreneur #iAlso 100 are open, and will close on 30 September 2023.
“I’d encourage any woman running a small business in the UK today who has a fantastic story to tell, to get involved and put yourself forward for the next iAlso100,” said Michelle Ovens.
“It is so vital that we give greater recognition to these trailblazing women and the powerful contribution they make to society and the economy.”