Happy International Women’s Day!
Every year, International Women’s Day (IWD) has a theme. Last year it looked to promote individual responsibility to challenge stereotypes, fight bias and broaden perceptions – the campaign was called #ChooseToChallenge.
This year the campaign wants to #BreakTheBias. It looks to imagine – and create – a gender equal world. One that is free of bias, stereotypes, and discrimination. And to kick off this year, the Rose Review found that for the first time, female-founded businesses account for a record share of new firms, outstripping growth in male-led firms.
Inspiringly, there were more than 140,000 companies established by all-women teams in 2021 – and this shows no sign of slowing down as the figure is growing by a third each year.
It’s not only encouraging to see the change that has happened since last year's Rose Review, but the potential we have to bring positive change for everyone if we move past biases in the working world. To highlight this point, the Rose Review originally stated that if women started and scaled new businesses at the same rate as men, up to £250bn of new value could be added to the UK economy.
#BreakingTheBias is not only a benefit to women all over the country but it’s a benefit to the country as a whole.
To understand first-hand what it’s like to start, run and grow a business as a woman, we spoke to Nikki, The Female Money Doctor, Rachel from Blue Leaf Accounting and Holly from Holly’s Classroom. They shared some advice for those looking to take the leap and start something themselves, and shared what #BreakingTheBias means to them.
Nikki, The Female Money Doctor
What was it like starting your own business as a woman in finance?
‘To be honest, I've never really thought about it, I just did it. I felt a real calling to help other women with their finances in the same way I had been helped.
The finance space is still very male-dominated, so I felt it was important to add my voice to help increase diversity and access to financial education. It's also what keeps me from quitting whenever it feels tough. I have an essential message to share, and I will keep going to make sure it’s heard.”
How have you broken the bias by starting your own business?
‘I help women to start investing in the stock market as beginners. Investing is still something that many women are put off by, and I am doing my bit to change that.
Plus I help to break down the stigma of having debt by celebrating with the women in my community over every bit that is paid off. We have paid off over £1,000,000 in debt over the last few years which I am super proud of!’
Rachel, Blue Leaf Accounting
This year’s theme is #BreakTheBias – how have you broken the bias?
‘For me, breaking the bias is about being empowered to make a choice about my family and my career. I retrained in my 30s and took a 75% pay cut to do it. My husband is also part-time and so it was a decision we made together to do what we felt we needed to do, to put our children first.
It was all a bit mad and the motivation was my family and small kids. I really feel for the women who feel like the choice they have to make is work over family.’
Do you have any advice for women and working mums who want to start their own business?
‘Surround yourself with women in business! When I started out I didn’t have any business connections in my town. Before I started my own business, I used to have to commute and so my work life and connections were in a different city to my home life.
But I found a local women’s business networking group which has been so wonderful. There’s no one-upmanship. It’s very supportive and everyone really champions each other. I love being part of a community of women who have similar views and struggles to me and who love to see each other succeed.’
Holly, Holly's Classroom
What was it like starting your own business as a woman?
‘In my set of circumstances, it was empowering. I almost left a profession [education] I loved because I wanted to be there for my three daughters. But setting up my own business in the education sector has shown my daughters that you don’t have to sacrifice your dreams if you want to be a present mother.’
Do you have any advice for women wanting to start their own business?
‘Don’t be successful despite being a woman, be successful because you are a woman! Be proud of your skills, qualities and passion and let that pave the way to your success.’
You can find out more about International Women's Day here.