In a report by Lord Young published today, we learn that there are now a record number of small firms in the UK, 5.2 million, an increase of 760,000 since 2010. Indeed they account for 48% of employment and 33% of private sector turnover. Incredibly 19 out of 20 companies in the UK employ fewer than ten people. Small business is BIG business.
Technology has played a significant role in reducing some of the more traditional barriers to starting your own business. It has never been easier to engage with your potential clients through social media; just about everybody searches online first to find a supplier or provider. No longer does your ‘local’ business need to be right on your doorstep. Purchasing products or services is never more than a click away. Naturally the report highlights many of the ways that the Government supports small business and startups.
The Small Business Survey (SBS) published in 2012 tells us that 18% of small business are run by women. And 21% of businesses with no employees are run by women. When you look at the business type, if you look at the other services sector, 39% are run by women. Other services excludes sectors such as construction, manufacturing, etc.
Yes there are a lot of women out there – often mothers – who ARE running their own business and doing it successfully. But what does it take?
During The Confident Mother, I interviewed Sarah Buchanan-Smith, the Kitchen Table Consultant, who has been successfully running her own business for ten years. Like many successful women entrepreneurs, Sarah stopped working as a full-time employee after having children. Like me, Sarah has had a very corporate career. What stood out for me in this interview is the thought that launching and then running your own business is a BIG challenge and it may seem daunting. However the rewards are incredible.
When I first launched my business three years ago, it seems incredible to say this, but I didn’t know exactly what I was going to do. I knew what I was good at, I had great connections, I loved the corporate niche that I worked in, however I believed that I could offer several different services to my potential clients. Having worked in law firms nearly all my life, I have learned to be fairly conservative and risk-averse. Though, to be honest, that’s partly my nature. I tend to be cautious, compliant and conscientious (C in DISC world – you might want to look at an earlier blog to understand more about DISC profiling). So launching a business without a clear roadmap might seem to be completely at odds. This is the high D in my DISC profile at work here!
You CAN do anything that you believe you can do. I knew I could set up and run my own successful business. As Napoleon Hill, author of think and grow rich says “Desire is the Starting Point for All Achievement”. I wanted more flexibility; I wanted more time with my children; I wanted to be at home when my children were at home; I wanted to attend the school concert without having to ask for time off work; I wanted to run during the day; I wanted to pick and choose the clients and projects that I work on.
However … there’s more to it than desire. That is simply the starting point. What I find with some of the women I work with, is that they don’t feel they’re good enough to start and run their own business. They’re scared they don’t have the right skills; they’re worried the business won’t bring in enough income; after a career break, they have lost confidence in themselves. Running your own business is not for everyone however if you understand what is most important to you, if you can be objective and analytical about your own skills and strengths, if you are prepared to work hard, if you have a vision and the desire, then it can be absolutely fantastic.
Are you good enough to run your own business? I am pretty sure you are. So what’s stopping you? Leave me a comment – I’d love to know. And if you want some help, let’s have a chat and see what help you need.