Welcome to our new blog series #womeninbizrock!
We're so excited to be launching this new series to celebrate International Women's Day this week.
To launch in style, we're featuring a truly inspirational woman who knows a thing or two about what it takes to launch and run a successful small business...
Meet Emma Jones, MBE, business founder, best-selling author and small business government trade ambassador.
She was awarded an MBE in 2015 for Services to Enterprise.
She is also a trade ambassador for the government, supporting small businesses to benefit from opportunities to work with the government.
Enterprise Nation has recently launched a campaign with Facebook, She Means Business to deliver skills to women to inspire creativity, create empowerment and confidence when launching their own small business.
Did you know that..
· 44% want to set up a business to turn their hobby or passions into their career
· Between 2014 and 2015 the number of women-owned SMB Pages increased by 70%
(Statistics taken from YouGov polling conducted for Facebook in January 2017 with over 2,000 UK women)
Let’s hear from Emma on motivation, what challenges she’s faced and her views on entrepreneurial gender disparity….
What’s your secret to staying motivated… even when things are going wrong?
Great question! As we've grown as a business over the past couple of years, this has presented challenges and I have, on occasion, had to dig deep and question if it was all worth it! The way I got to a 'yes' was two-fold; having faith that we were heading in the right direction of our vision to support people to start and grow their own business, and also reflecting on advice from proven entrepreneurs who often say they had to go through tough times to achieve their aims ie. those who succeed are the ones who just keep going. My motivation has come from the small businesses we serve and entrepreneurs who've been on the journey.
What's the toughest challenge you've faced since setting up in business?
I think the greatest challenge has been recruiting the right team. Hiring and management are not my strong suit (ask the team!) so this has been a skill I've had to master and it's been a challenge when I've got it wrong. Fortunately we now have a great team in place, a COO who has the skill of keeping us in good shape, and that frees me up to do what I most enjoy which is business development and campaigning. I think it's important for a founder to do all the tasks required in business such as making sales, hiring people, doing the finances etc but I'm also a big believer in 'do what you do best and outsource the rest' which means as soon as budget becomes available, hire people who are experts in the areas you're not. This means you go through a process of facing a challenge - getting through it - and then recruiting someone who can hopefully ensure you don't meet that particular challenge again!
What advice would you have for someone thinking about setting up a small business in the near future?
Do it! We help people in this position every day. My advice is: take small steps towards getting started. Keep hold of the day job, or keep studying/parenting or caring by day and build the business at nights and weekends as this then gives you the security of a salary etc whilst you give yourself time to build confidence and cashflow in the business. Start by writing a plan, launching a blog, selling your product to friends and family and then beyond. It's a great time to start a business as costs are low to start and by embracing technology you can quickly and cost effectively reach customers all across the globe. But you have to start somewhere so why not start today!
What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?
That building a strong and successful business takes longer than you think.
In your view, is there a gender disparity when setting up a new business?
No. One of the great benefits of starting a business is that enterprise is gender blind. In the past few years, the number of women starting businesses has surged as the creative sectors have grown. Customer appetite for hand made goods, creative services, food & drink, fashion etc has played well for women wanting to be their own boss, but whether man or woman, the opportunity of starting and growing a business is open to everyone. You just have to seize the opportunity and then make the most of all the support on offer.
Is gender disparity more or less of an issue for SMEs than larger companies?
Less - as above! When starting your own business, you decide where you work, how you work, what you wear to work! Such freedom and flexibility is not quite so available in larger businesses and this has encouraged many people - men and women - to start a business. As a founder and business owner, you are your greatest limitation ie you can grow your business as much or as little as you like - the decision on promotion and expansion is yours!