Girls run the world, according to Beyonce. That is why we like to work with women. And yet it is less than 100 years since women were granted the power to vote! A Bill was passed in 1928, The Representation of the People Act, which finally gave women the same voting powers as men. This was an amazing achievement by the suffragettes who fought for over two decades for the freedom of women to vote and to be seen as equal to men.
Look how far things have changed in less than 100 years. A famous quote from Emmeline Pankhurst, the most famous suffragette of them all, is still as important today as it was then –
“Women had always fought for men, and for their children. Now they were ready to fight for their own human rights”.
When Starfish Accounting was established, over a decade ago, our founder believed firmly in helping women in business. Women have the same education as men, the same opportunities (until you reach that glass ceiling which is finally being shattered) and the same abilities as men. Yet somehow it all seems that much harder as a woman to break out into the world and make a mark.
Why is this still happening in 2023?
Companies led by women disproportionately attract less investment than those led by men, according to a large-scale study of female entrepreneurship in the UK. Research undertaken by The Gender Index in 2021 identified that just under 17% of all active companies are led by women, but they only managed to attract under 12% of 1.3 million investments made in UK firms. In comparison, 61% of active companies are led by men, and those firms attracted two-thirds (66%) of all investment. The value of the investments made is even more distorted – female led companies received 0.1% of UK private equity investments (by value) and 0.5% of UK venture capital investments (by value).
The study also found that women-led companies also generated lower turnover than those run by their male counterparts, with average revenues of £1.3m a year, compared with £3.1m for businesses headed up by men.
Yet the number of women starting companies is higher than ever before. In 2021, there were 145,200 brand new companies with 100% female directors, as compared to 56,200 in 2018. This represents an impressive year-on-year growth of 37% per annum.
The Gender Index is chaired by Jill Pay, who said that mapping the impact of female-founded companies was a first step towards “uncovering their potential and supporting their growth”, which is “paramount to a more inclusive, diverse and stronger economy”. She also comments that “But women-led companies are a good investment: research tells us that they’re risk-averse and they sustain longer. It’s a huge opportunity for investors.”
Feel like you’ve heard those words before?
Why do we like to work with women?
We can’t profess to having the same fighting spirit as Emmeline Pankhurst. Nor do we feel the need to chain ourselves to railings to make a point. But we feel that we like to work with women because, well, we are a team of women for a start! We share the same values, the same primary care responsibilities be it for our children or our aging parents, and we understand how hard it is to juggle home and work.
Flexibility around family care is the number 1 reason to start a business for women with children according to the Rose Review of Female Entrepreneurship in 2019. We hear you! Almost all of the team have children, and we all cherish the flexibility that our workplace provides. Modern man may be becoming more adaptable and able to look after his family, but it is still predominantly women who chose to work as self-employed to help to combine their family commitments with their business.
Women, we want to help you! Women still make up around 60% of our client base. However you will be glad to know that we offer the same level of excellent service to all our clients. We don’t want men to feel that they are excluded from working with us, and we have a strong bond with all of our clients. But the suffragette within all of us in the Starfish team wants to help women to achieve the same success as men, the same levels of funding as men, and the same potential as men.
It is so important to raise awareness, and we want to be right there with you, making sure that some of the amazing role models out there are more visible to encourage others to do the same.
What can we do to support female led businesses?
Jill Pay recommends “One of the things I would advise any woman to do is to find a mentor very early on, before you even think about which kind of investment to go for. Find someone who’s probably not done the same as you’re doing, but who has set up and successfully grown a business because they will have made the mistakes and learned from them. It’s a lonely place being a woman business owner, so it’s good to have someone to bounce ideas off, who’s non-judgmental and gives you support.”
As a female led business ourselves we know it can be lonely and challenging. But we are in your corner. We can help to support you, from business plans and forecasts, to working through your goals and providing accountability.
Maybe in another 100 years, women really will run the world!!