Posted: Wed 7th Dec 2011
So what do you think are the ten most popular types of business started by women in the UK this year? Simply Business have compiled this list, based on the 117,000 start-up business requests they've received so far in 2011: 1. Cleaner 2. Beautician 3. Hairdresser 4. Pet Minder 5. Cakemaker 6. Market Trader 7. Caterer/Chef 8. Teaching/Training 9. Accountant/IFA 10. Fitness instructor We can certainly vouch for cakemakers (and for dance instructors, who come in at number 11) as a result of the applications to Fund101. Simply Business points out that the list shows a prevalence of creative businesses and service businesses and they argue that women are capitalising on emerging lifestyle trends. But they also pnote that there's an increase in the proportion of what they term 'hard skills' businesses - education consultants, accountants, lawyers (16% more female self-employed lawyers than last year), and so on.
Of course, it's great news that more women in a wider range of industries are going it alone. But the best news is that there's been an overall 25 per cent increase in the number of start-ups run by women in the last year, from 34,116 in 2010 to 42,928 in 2011. What this also means is that the total proportion of start-ups run by women is rising: in 2011, women have started 37 per cent of new businesses. Last year, it was just 25 per cent - that's a massive change. Jason Stockwood, chief executive of Simply Business, hints that this is down to the current employment situation: "With unemployment at its highest for 23 years it is encouraging to see that more and more women are embracing the opportunity to set up on their own," he says. "Entrepreneurship can provide fantastic lifestyle and financial benefits, not to mention the boost it can potentially bring to the economy."
This all sounds great, but what Jason's comment also implies is that one of the reasons women are starting businesses at a greater rate is because women are being made redundant from workplaces at a greater rate than men (contentious, but I'm throwing it out there). Even in 2011, there's still this lingering problem that the workplace and the world of business is seen to be a 'man's world'. Emma Walker, a former BBC Young Apprentice competitor, addresses the point more directly. She points out the battle to encourage more women to start enterprises is far from over. This year, the 19-year-old entrepreneur set up Enterprise Days, an education consultancy which provides schools and sixth forms with one day business challenges run by successful young entrepreneurs. "There's a perception among many of my peers that business is hard-nosed, aggressive and too demanding for a balanced lifestyle or healthy family life," says Emma. "But I believe that isn't the case and, although it is hard work, if you shape your business around something you love then it is also the most rewarding career I can imagine. "There need to be more opportunities for young women to engage with and feel inspired by business," Emma continues. "Many of the networking events I attend are almost exclusively attended by men and that definitely needs to change." Well said, Emma. But maybe you should get down to one of our Enterprise Nation events - you'll meet plenty of other female entrepreneurs! Simon, Enterprise Nation editor
Is the top 10 list a fair reflection of the kinds of business being started by women? Is Emma Walker right to say that women entrepeneurs still face hurdles because of their gender? Please leave a comment below or contact us on Twitter. Photo credit: Orin Zebest