Women more likely to feel isolated when starting up businesses

28 October 2014 -


Research shines a light on different gender experiences in the early days of forming new companies

Jermaine Haughton

Female entrepreneurs are almost twice as likely as men to feel lonely and isolated while starting a business, according to a survey by Entrepreneurial Spark. In its exploration of the challenges that affect both genders as they strive to get companies up and running, the UK startup incubator found that 20% of businesswomen reported feeling isolated, compared to just 12% of men. 

Across the board, the findings generally show that men and women share many of the same difficulties and ambitions with starting businesses, but there are a few notable exceptions.

For example, there are gender differences in the motivations for establishing companies. Men are much more driven to start their own firms because they want to be their own boss (58%) than women (46%). On the other hand, women are far more driven by having a great idea (31%) than men (19%).

Interestingly, men reported greater difficulties in gaining access to finance for their startups, with one in five calling it their biggest challenge, compared to just 14% of women.

Meanwhile, many aspiring businesspeople look to enlist one or more mentors to gain advice and feedback from people who have experienced the difficulties first hand. The report suggests women are keener to seek such guidance than men, with 59% of females agreeing that mentors are helpful, compared to 48% of male entrepreneurs.

Entrepreneurial Spark CEO Jim Duffy said: “If we are truly going to create an entrepreneurial revival across the UK, then it is not enough to rely on the individual. Almost 60% of business owners told us there is not enough practical, free support and advice out there for people to start a business or grow an existing business. We know that it is tough in the startup world, and having the right support from an early stage hugely increases the chance of success.”

As a business accelerator that provides facilities and support to growing firms, Entrepreneurial Spark is using its findings to mark the beginning of Accelerate Your Business Week – an initiative dedicated to helping start-ups expand.

The research highlighted October as the best month to grow a business, thanks in part to the close proximity of Christmas and the pressure to achieve goals that had been set for the year. Stephanie Robinson – managing director of HR and employment law consultancy Solve – agreed, saying the company has achieved record sales throughout this month:

“October has always been a great month for us,” she said. “Everyone is back from summer holidays and back in the workplace and people can see Christmas and the end of the year looming. We have had record sales for October, almost double September’s revenue alone. It seems almost counterintuitive with the dark nights looming but perhaps the ‘carefree’ summer feeling goes and people are more serious about business and concentrated on achieving their half-year performance goals.”

Want to take the plunge as an entrepreneur? Sign up to this forthcoming CMI seminar Setting Up Your Own Buisness.

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