Of course female-led businesses can scale up, they just need to be given a fair chance

Of course female-led businesses can scale up, they just need to be given a fair chance

It’s 2019 – and men and women are still not equal in business. Three-quarters of the fastest-growing companies in Europe and the US have no women in senior leadership.

Because women spend more time on child rearing than men, they face a “motherhood penalty”, where earnings plummet and career trajectories slow after their first baby is born. And today the Rose Review – a Treasury/RBS report initiated by the Telegraph Women Mean Business campaign – highlights a gender chasm at various stages of the entrepreneurial journey.

At almost every point – from the initial idea through to scaling – UK women are less likely to pursue, persevere, and ultimately succeed at entrepreneurship than UK men.

As a result, our economy is missing out on huge untapped potential. Up to £250bn of new value could be added to the UK economy if women started and scaled businesses at the same rate as men.

We are the start-up and scale-up capital of Europe, with companies attracting more venture capital than any other country on the continent.

Yet only one in three entrepreneurs is female, firms with at least one female founder receive just 10 per cent of the funding pie, and women-led businesses are, on average, just 44 per cent of the size of male-led companies.

Far from being a “women’s issue”, the scale-up gap has an impact on the UK economy as a whole. An economic mystery of the last few years is the productivity crisis, and there is a growing concern that a divide between “superstar” firms pushing forward at the technological frontier and a long tail of small firms lagging behind is to blame.

With male SMEs five times more likely to scale up to £1m turnover than female SMEs, the economic case for more female growth businesses is hard to ignore.

Can female-led businesses scale? Of course. Debbie Wosskow OBE – now well-known thanks to her third venture Love Home Swap and networking club AllBright – founded her first firm with a £3,000 bank loan and the plucky mantra “nothing to lose”. When Darjeeling Express restaurateur Asma Khan started out, she had never done a PowerPoint presentation. She is now an author, winner of multiple business awards, and will be the first British chef to join the cast of Netflix show “Chef’s Table”.

Keely Deininger became an “accidental entrepreneur overnight. No company name. No business plan. No research. Just action.” Today, I’ll be chairing a panel to mark the launch of the Rose Review with Rosaleen Blair, whose high-end recruitment and outsourcing firm Alexander Mann Solutions was sold last year for £820m. The list goes on. And on.

Many previous studies into female entrepreneurship eagerly remind us that women’s ambitions, determination and abilities match those of men. What’s missing, many claim, are the resources to let them fly. More role models, money, mentors, they plead. But this puts the cart before the horse, which is why reports like the Rose Review are vital in offering tangible, actionable recommendations to ensure female-led firms thrive.

For instance, it recommends that a digital one-stop shop be created to aggregate existing information and later tailor content to each visitor to offer personalised recommendations on services and resources. Too often, (female) entrepreneurs are in the dark about the schemes out there designed to support them.

But perhaps most potently, the RBS report makes industry-specific recommendations to boost female founders, including the creation of new banking products aimed at entrepreneurs with family care responsibilities; and improving access to expertise by expanding the entrepreneur and banker in residence programme.

Female-led scale-ups are no chimera. I’ve met countless women at the helm of multi-million pound businesses and there is a pipeline of inspirational entrepreneurs hot on their heels.

A century ago, the Sex Disqualification (Removal) Act 1919 had yet to be passed and the most talented women weren’t even close to being able to fulfil their potential. Fifty years ago, women didn’t even use the word “entrepreneur”: their businesses were called “sidelines”.

We’ve come a long way: today we just need to level the playing field and ensure Britain becomes the best place for women to start and grow a business.

Author: Annabel Denham is the Communications Director at The Entrepreneurs Network

3 Ways to Change the World With Your Wonder Woman Mindset

3 Ways to Change the World With Your Wonder Woman Mindset

When growing up the TV series Wonder Woman was a big hit in our house. As a young girl, it was great to see a strong female superhero who was strong, smart and challenging and off course, able to beat up the boys…Lol, and still be feminine and sexy. In this blog by Dr Patti Fletcher ‘3 Ways to Change the World With Your Wonder Woman Mindset’ I love that she reminds us to be true to ourselves by recognising that we are not defined by our past, failures or other peoples opinions. My favourite point shared by Patti was – Feedback is rarely about the person receiving it and so much more about the person giving it. When someone tells you what he or she thinks of you, your business, your product or anything else, what he or she is really saying could be reworded to, “This is important to me.” Enjoy the read and let me know what your favourite point was. Maureen Egbe

In the beginning of the Wonder Woman movie, Diana Prince openly reflects on the darkness consuming mankind. Although that gloom-and-doom sets an ominous tone, Diana immediately shifts her mindset and turns into the Wonder Woman we know and love:

“I used to want to save the world. To end war and bring peace to mankind; but then I glimpsed the darkness that lives within their light. I learnt that inside every one of them there will always be both. The choice each must make for themselves — something no hero will ever defeat. And now I know . . . that only love can truly save the world. So now I stay, I fight and I give — for the world I know can be. This is my mission now. Forever.”

Mindset is powerful. It determines values, construction of meaning, where you place your energy. Everything. It takes into account how you intellectually understand a concept and transforms it into how you live your life. Being open to shifting your mindset, especially about deep-seeded beliefs, is one of the best Wonder Woman traits you can adopt. Let’s look at three mindset shifts you can apply today to start your transformation.

1. Your past does not define your future.

Mindsets take hold at multiple stages in life. Much of what we believe to be true can be traced back to childhood, a time when the world told you who you were and you believed it. The family of Lisa Morales-Hellebo, serial entrepreneur, executive producer of #INCLUDE and founder of REFASHIOND moved from Brooklyn to Westchester, N.Y., when she was a child. Her parents’ intention was to give their children a good life filled with opportunity. But, it didn’t work out so perfectly. 

“We were the only brown family in our town for quite a while,” Morales-Hellebo says.

They moved into a neighborhood with a racist who was not afraid to show his disgust, leaving severed deer heads on the Morales-Hellebos’ lawn and beating his children if they had willfully interacted with Morales-Hellebo or her family. Morales-Hellebo realized in her thirties that she had spent a lifetime proving the racists beliefs about her wrong and that it was time to shift what drove her to make an impact on the world.

Just a few years before, Morales-Hellebo met a client, Carmen Ortiz-McGee, a fellow Latina, and they became fast friends. Ortiz-McGee was Morales-Hellebo’s first Latina friend. She brought Morales-Hellebo to a networking event with The Marathon Club, an organization of diverse highly successful leaders, and Morales-Hellebo soon discovered that she herself held bias. “It was the first time I have been exposed to a roomful of black and brown people that were millionaires and billionaires. It was mind-blowing and that shocked me. I couldn’t help but ask, why didn’t I expect this of myself?” Morales-Hellebo says. Meeting so many highly accomplished people who had similar stories to hers but found that they asked themselves different questions and asked those same questions of her: “What are you going to contribute to the world?” Her mindset was shifted forever, and so were her actions.

Morales-Hellobo’s advice on how to adopt a Wonder Woman mindset: Surround yourself with people who fuel you. “[The Marathon Club event] was the first time I really understood the saying ‘your potential is limited or increased by the people with whom you surround yourself.'”

2. Success and failure do not determine your value.

Like Morales-Hellebo, Harriet Minter, journalist and host of the Badass Women’s Hour podcast, held several unconscious biases that trace back to her childhood. Having grown up watching her entrepreneur parents struggle, Minter had a healthy fear of striking out on her own. “I had grown up with firm belief that if you wanted to earn money, you had to work for a company and be paid a regular salary,” Minter says.

Minter’s mindset shift came when, as a journalist for The Guardian, she traveled with a group of female entrepreneurs to New York. The kinship of the entrepreneurs changed her mind about starting her own business. “I started to look at my network differently: who I could team up with, who would help me and who I could help,” Minter says. She has since started freelance writing, consulting and co-hosting the highly successful Badass Women’s Hour podcast. She adopted the practice of creating a monthly MAP (measuring and planning) to set targets and hold herself accountable for achieving them.

Minter’s advice on how to adopt a Wonder Woman mindset: Question your beliefs about what makes a good life — your hang-ups and your actions. “I have become less attached to success and failure. When things don’t work out, I let them go, and when things work, I go with it,” Minter says.

3. Opinions are inputs, not directives.

The biggest mindset shift for both Morales-Hellebo and Minter came when they were able to shift away from internalising other people’s opinions of them to neutralising them. Whenever I am coaching female entrepreneurs and corporate executives, the feedback they receive from others is always a topic for discussion. While I am a huge fan of soliciting, gathering and analysing feedback, I caution about what feedback actually is by starting with what feedback is not. Feedback is rarely about the person receiving it and so much more about the person giving it. When someone tells you what he or she thinks of you, your business, your product or anything else, what he or she is really saying could be reworded to, “This is important to me.”

The work of Carol Gilligan, the founder of feminist leadership theory, teaches us that women are innately relational in decision-making. Women tend to consider the impact of a decision in relation to the people it will impact. It’s no wonder that women take feedback and opinions of others into consideration. That is the power of Wonder Women just like you: You use opinions — even when it’s disguised as constructive feedback — as data points instead of as directives.

My advice on how to adopt a Wonder Woman mindset: Accept the context you are in but don’t let it define you. As a board member who holds three director seats on public technology companies told me, “You have to accept that you are dealing in an imperfect world. Some people are going to be comfortable dealing with me — some people are not — but I’m my own judge.”

Author Dr Patti Fletcher

Updating Your Business Plan

Updating Your Business Plan

 

 

 

Why constantly updating your business plan is the key to growing successfully.

 

“When should I update my business plan?” The answer to that question is always. You should be updating your business plan every month, every week and every day; whenever things change, you update your plan. And things always change. You should update your business plan when you’re alone in the shower, when you’re caught in traffic on the way to work, and when you’re walking alone. Update your business plan when listening to customers and other managers.

 

While this might seem like chaos, it’s actually the opposite; the constantly-updated business plan is what makes order out of chaos. It becomes a long-term planning process that sets up your strategy, objectives and the steps you need to take by constantly being aware of the results of these steps.

 

Managing the Planning Process

 

The Annual Update

 

Update your plan thoroughly at least once a year. You can start with an old plan and revise, but make sure you’re taking a fresh look–distance yourself from the trees and look at the forest.

 

  • Talk to your customers and potential customers.
    Review your value proposition. What are your customers buying? What problems do you solve? What other solutions can they choose?
  • Try to come up with a new market segmentation.
    Segmentation is the grouping or divisions you see in the market. For example, if you normally view your market by type of product, look at it by channel or buyer. If you divide by region, divide by size of buyer company. Think up a new segmentation to give you a fresh view.

 

  • Look at the larger potential market for the problems that need solutions.
    Look at contiguous businesses. Look at changing trends and technologies.

 

The Monthly Update

 

Accounting and financial analysis normally works in months since the books close after every month. Make sure you have a monthly review of the difference between planned results and actual results for your sales, profits, balance and cash.

 

  • For each of the standard pro-forma projections, always maintain a table with the plan, another with actual results, and a third with the difference between plan and actual, which is called variance.
     
  • As an annual plan marches through the months, you can use the table reserved for actual results to include changes in budget that affect the near future. For example, if the annual plan starts in January, then by the end of May you have an actual Sales Forecast that includes actual results for January through May and the latest revised forecast for June through December.

 

  • You must also review the activities, deadlines and planned results that don’t fall into the financials. A good plan is full of milestones, assumptions and tasks, all of which should be measurable. Make sure you review and update these measured results every month.

 

Managing the Major Revisions

 

The business planning process involves an important paradox. Strategy works only when consistently applied over a long period, which means that you can’t implement strategy without following a long-term plan. However, blindly following a long-term plan can also kill a company that stubbornly insists on following a plan that isn’t working.

 

Resolution of the paradox is called management. It involves judgment. The owners, operators and managers of the business have the responsibility of distinguishing between consistently applying long-term strategy and blindly following a failing plan. There are no easy rules for this, but the first place to look for clues is in false assumptions. Has the real world proven wrong the assumptions on which your strategy is based? This kind of subjective judgment is what makes business management so important. The planning process, with its regular review, is critical.

 

Every Business Plan is Wrong

 

You have to realize your business plan is wrong. All business plans are wrong. Plans are about the future–and nobody gets the future right very often, so keep the plan fresh and watch closely as reality moves forward. A planning process constantly watches the difference between the plan and actual results. Reality swallows our assumptions and we need to keep track of where, why and how we were wrong. This kind of tracking becomes the key to management.

 

A Good Business Plan is Never Done

 

Author: Tim Berry – Entrepreneur.com

Is the secret to productivity really just doing what you want?

Is the secret to productivity really just doing what you want?

This blog by Oliver Burkeman made me chuckle. I totally agree that when you enjoy what you are doing, you are more productive. However, being self-employed, a business owner, or an entrepreneur, there will be lots of things that you will have to do that you won’t enjoy. So how do you keep yourself motivate to complete those tasks, especially when delegation isn’t an option?

What are you going to do with your time today?

Is the secret of productivity really just doing what you enjoy?

The problem with the genre of “life lessons from the world’s most successful entrepreneurs” is one of causal direction: just because Elon Musk works 120 hours a week, it doesn’t follow that if you work 120 hours a week, you’ll experience Musk’s success. (Whether or not Musk has an enviable life isn’t the point here; that depends on your enthusiasm for space travel and defaming cave divers.) Musk works insane hours because he wants to. We can argue about the psychological roots of that wanting: does it stem from a big-hearted desire to help humanity, or a pathological workaholism and desperation to prove himself? But either way, in some sense, Musk likes it; whereas if you tried to follow that schedule, you’d have to make yourself do it. The same applies to less extreme advice. “Write every day” won’t work unless you want to write. And no exercise regime will last long if you don’t at least slightly enjoy what you’re doing.

This clicked into place for me as I read about the hyper-productive German sociologist Niklas Luhmann, in a fascinating book called How To Take Smart Notes by Sönke Ahrens (based on the intricate index card system Luhmann used to organise his knowledge). How did Luhmann publish 58 books and hundreds of articles – plus, impressively, several more books after his 1998 death, thanks to manuscripts he left behind? Because, said Luhmann, “I never force myself to do anything I don’t like. Whenever I am stuck, I do something else.” That sounds scandalously self-indulgent – except that, as Ahrens writes, “doesn’t it make much more sense that the impressive body of work was produced not in spite of the fact he never made himself do anything he didn’t feel like, but because of it?”

I’ve experimented with countless time-management techniques, but the results leave me forced to agree: by far the biggest predictor of whether something gets done is whether it’s fun to do. The secret of productivity is simple: just do what you enjoy.

Oh, you have some objections? Thought so. A big one is the fear that if we just let ourselves do what we enjoy, we’d waste (even more) hours each day on social media, or eating Nutella from the jar, instead of doing what mattered. There’s some limited truth to this: when you’re just beginning a session of challenging work, you often need to give yourself a push, reminding yourself you don’t need to “feel like” starting in order to start. But after that, it’s enjoyment that’ll sustain your motivation, not productivity techniques. Indeed, they can make things worse: if you tell yourself you must spend, say, four hours every day on a certain project, come hell or high water, you’re liable to turn something that once inspired you into something you can’t bear to do.

The other big objection is that countless people don’t have the luxury of enriching, meaningful work, so they can hardly organise their days by focusing on what feels good. This is true. But it’s not a problem with Luhmann’s enjoyment-based approach to productivity. It’s a problem with society – the kind of problem, in other words, that no productivity technique is ever going to fix.

https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2018/oct/05/secret-of-productivity-time-management-theory?CMP=share_btn_link

 

 

Have To VS Get To

Have To VS Get To

I came across this short blog by accident and it really resonated with me. When I think of the goals that I either found really hard or challenging and in some cases I didn’t complete. There was that feeling attached to the goals that I had to do it. Now where there is a ‘have to’ attached to a goal for me, then there is usually a bit of resistance in the air to, this all leads to either things being completed last minute or being delayed. Now changing my mindset from ‘have to’ to, ‘get to’, feels so much easier and chilled. Have a read and see whether a change of mindset can help you move forward with much more ease.

 

Have Versus Get

My secret for creating the right mindset is focusing on a “get to” versus a “have to” mentality. When feel we have to do something, we remove the choice which blinds us to opportunities and creativity in business. When we think of things we “get to” do, we take ownership and build fun and excitement into our activities. Looking at what we “get to” do adds excitement to business and transitions a mindset of victim-hood to a mindset of choice and leadership where we make the most of every day.

Acknowledgement to Jackie Vanover.

 

Networking – The Power of Proximity

Networking used to be an area where my confidence would be challenged. Each time the same anxieties would take centre stage. 🤦🏽‍♀️
😲 I’m going to be surrounded by people I don’t know
😲 I’m going to have to talk about myself and my business. Have I got my pitch right⁉️
😲 Will people even want to speak to me ⁉️

And the list went on. 🤦🏽‍♀️

As you know, networking is an essential if you want business success, visibility, and for people to understand who you are and what you do. So I needed find a way to boost my confidence to settle my anxieties. I remembered a point Anthony Robbins made at an event. ‘The people you surround yourself with have a large impact on reaching your goals. PROXIMITY IS POWER.’  With this in mind, I decided to just chill and enjoy the moment with like minded people. The anxieties started to settle down, there was less pressure to be or perform a certain way. My confidence grew as I began to understand and experience what networking was really all about. Having positive conversations with like-minded people that can support you in business or with your personal development. With that said, I encourage you to get networking and have those positive conversations.

Next Wednesday 29th August 2018, there is a great opportunity to meet some awesome like-minded entrepreneurs. Click Here for more details about the event and to purchase tickets. Can’t wait to see you at the event 😊 .