Move over Branson, Sugar and Caan, a new report from a leading academic reveals over two thirds (68%) of female business start-ups are so-called ‘everyday entrepreneurs’. Based on research conducted with 1,000 self-employed businesswomen, the Avon ‘Everyday Entrepreneur Report’ shows these women are breaking the Branson mould and hadn’t planned to be self-employed business owners. In fact, enterprising women are supporting the UK economy by running thriving enterprises, often from home, and appear to be motivated by flexibility and a passion more than the idea of money and power, with most not even connecting with the word ‘entrepreneur’.
For women to attain the flexibility and career progression they crave in the current economic climate, many are opting to start their own business, according to the new report authored by Professor Julie Logan of Cass Business School for Avon UK. The Avon ‘Everyday Entrepreneur’ Report was commissioned by the leading direct selling company to better understand the driving forces that will inspire future Avon Representatives to take up the mantle of business ownership, as Avon sets its sights on recruiting more Representatives in the UK.
The Avon ‘Everyday Entrepreneur’ Report – so-called by the report author because it has uncovered a new breed of business innovator – reveals that female entrepreneurs are opting to run their enterprises from home and often require little investment to get up and running.
Comments Angela Tucker, Avon UK Sales Director:
“The Avon ‘Everyday Entrepreneur’ Report demonstrates that self-employed women are contributing in multiple ways – to society, their families and, crucially, to the UK economy, with 84% of respondents expecting their business to grow or at least stay the same size over the next three years.”
The report, which today will be debated by leading businesswomen, including Avon mentor, Karren Brady, paints a picture of female-led enterprise and its value today and shows:
Why ‘everyday entrepreneurs’ are starting up their own businesses:
- One third (33%) of respondents to the Avon ‘Everyday Entrepreneur’ Report research, which was conducted by Ipsos Mori and polled 1,000 self-employed women and female business-owners, cited flexibility in their work life as the main reason for starting their own venture.
- With women in employment carrying the burden of longer hours and less stability, four in ten (41%) self-employed or business-owner women who had a career changing‘lightbulb’ moment experienced this whilst in a previous job and decided to go it alone.
What motivates them as business owners:
- Female business-owners are frequently “kitchen-table entrepreneurs” with 64% of businesswomen questioned running their enterprises from home. Forget swanky head offices, home-working enables ‘everyday entrepreneurs’ to fit their career around family or other commitments and keep overheads down.
- 59%of respondents stated flexibility was the most enjoyable part of running their own business.
- One in three ‘everyday entrepreneurs’ questioned started a business around a hobby or an existing passion (31%). Supplementing their own or family income was only a key motivation for starting a business for 13% of respondents
- That’s not to say there are no financial rewards – almost half (45%) of the women questioned said they were the chief income earner in their household.
- In response to the report findings, scores of Independent Avon Representatives and leading businesswomen, including Karren Brady and Emma Jones, founder of Startup Britain and Enterprise Nation have pooled their experience to create a checklist of essentials to help guide women who are just starting out:
Avon’s Everyday Entrepreneur Essentials
Julie Logan, Professor of Entrepreneurship, says: ‘If you are to succeed your service or product must stand apart from the competition. This doesn’t have to be a new invention, you could create a USP by offering better customer service or quicker delivery. Whatever the USP this will be the core around which you build your company.’
Passion – do something you love
When starting up a business, come up with an idea that you are truly passionate about. This will help you battle through the tough times and keep you enthusiastic.
Emma Jones, Founder of Enterprise Nation, says: ‘When your hobby, passion or skill becomes your full time job it never really feels like work. Figure out what makes you tick and take your first step on the path to self-employment. You’ll never look back!’
Research your chosen sector before making the leap
Do your research, make a plan and take tentative steps to get your business off the ground before you leave your current job. This will reduce the element of risk involved, so that you can build your business on solid foundations.
Gail Reynolds, Avon Sales Leader, says: “Before you start your business make sure you consider these three things; is the timing right for you and the market place, is it the right Opportunity for you and your target audience and are you in the right Place in your mind and physical surroundings?”
Business Plan – plot your path
A detailed business plan is a vital requirement for any business. It helps you to set out your vision, looking at every area of your proposed business idea, and ensure you have planned the best possible way of executing it. Don’t forget to include sound financials and review the plan every six months or so.
Network – seek advice and support
Develop your own support network of fellow entrepreneurs and advisers to regularly bounce around ideas. Encourage the support of immediate family and friends – you might be able to share your childcare responsibilities with someone else in a similar situation. Visit business forums like www.avonconnects.co.uk or join a business network like www.everywoman.com to build support from within the industry.
Jennifer Howze, Co-founder of Britmums, says: ‘Keep all the business cards you get and write on the back where you met the person, what you talked about, or other memory aids so when you come across it later you can place the person quickly.’
Make cashflow a priority
There are business opportunities out there with a low cash barrier to entry. Begin with saving as much capital prior to starting your new venture as possible. The Aspire Fund launched by the Government and matched by private investors, offers funding specifically for female-led businesses. Visit www.capitalforenterprise.gov.uk for more info.
Spread the word – use social media
Word of mouth recommendation works in any medium. Use your own social media channels including Twitter, Linkedin or Facebook to raise awareness of your product or service, create a personality for your brand and connect with your target market.
Avon Mentor, Karren Brady, says: ‘Lots of people are afraid of the internet and new technology because they have little or no knowledge of it but the best thing is to jump in, get online and start learning.’
Utilise a simple website to showcase your business
Think carefully about how your customers would search for your product or service online – what questions do they have, what specific words would they use? Write your website with these key terms to drive search results and traffic to your website. Promote on business cards, email signatures and using social media. You can get free website building tools from sites like this one.
Be Realistic – you won’t earn mega-bucks overnight
Starting off you can sometimes set the bar too high. Remember that running a business will entail working long hours with potentially little money for a while but the results will be worth the sacrifice.
A survey respondent, says, ‘When you first start out; think how many hours you will be working and double it. Imagine how much money you will make and half it!’
Determination – Believe in yourself and your abilities!
Self-belief is vital. You might be tempted to give up if things get tough but keep going and focus on your abilities. You need to be committed to your business for the first few years in order to reap the benefits later.
Angie Winter, Avon Sales Leader, says: ‘Persistence and determination are key to success. Never think your business is now established, always look for new clients, new products and new opportunities.’
———————————————-This is a guest post from Avon supporting women in business as part of their recent #womeninbusiness event on twitter. No payment has been received for this post but as a woman who has run her own business I was happy to support this campaign and offer a platform to promote the event and the findings of the report into women in business and the growth of mumpreneurs.