In 2015, 34% of Australia's business operators were women, according to the Australian Women in Business report compiled for the Office of Women.
In recent years the number of start-ups founded by women has also been on the rise.
Monica Wulff, is co-founder and chief executive of Startup Muster1, a research survey that collects data from people engaging in a scalable start-up. The Startup Muster 2017 annual report data showed 25% of startups were done so by women, compared with 16% in 2014.
Working from home
“Technology and the internet has brought down considerable barriers to entry for starting your own business,” Wulff said.
“Mumpreneurs are an example of how the developments in technology and the internet have allowed people to pursue a business and generate an income without having to be in a traditional 9-5 work arrangement.
“I’m not a mum, but what I’ve been told anecdotally is that it’s a great way to earn an income, it’s flexible and allows for a work life balance that benefits the woman and her family, and that these women are able to maintain and further develop their current skill sets,” she said.
Lisa Stribley, partner at Deloitte Private, has worked with start-ups for the past 15 years. She herself is a female entrepreneur, and was the former owner of one of the first practices in Australia to move its business and client base to the cloud.
Stribley said key challenges for start-ups included financing, understanding legal functions of the business and knowing the landscape.
She added that for entrepreneurs starting from the ground up, it’s about putting the right teams together and making sure you have the right advisers in place that understand what's needed from the outset.
She said co-working spaces and incubators all help support new business growth.
Connecting to networks
“We find very often it’s a lonely place in start-up land,” Stribley said.
“For all founders including women, it’s about finding the right support network.”
Stribley said for women to work well in the entrepreneurial space she has identified some core questions that some paople may find useful.
- Have you identified a real gap in the market place?
- Are you absolutely passionate about your product service and end client or customers?
- Do you have the tenacity and resilience to get through the inevitable early stage challenges?
“You need to be sure you look at your people, your processes, your clients, and really know and understand your numbers.
“Unless you do this from the outset you are likely to find you are always playing catch up and can miss both problems and key opportunities.
Stribley also said those who were successful were often good at harnessing the power of social media networks.
“The successful businesses I work with have all created a very special experience for their clients. They build their own communities and followers under their brand umbrella.”
For businesses looking to launch, Stribley suggested exploring the current opportunities available including government grants and in particular recognition through awards programs. Deloitte, for instance, has a Tech Fast 50 program that has been a springboard for many successful female-run businesses.
Stribley names agility, flexibility and being outcomes focused as key traits for success.
“Don’t be afraid to give things a go,” she said.
Wulff said asking for advice from others was an important component in developing a business idea and getting the set up right.
How brave are you?
Wulff said a lot of early-stage founders were afraid of sharing ideas for fear of having them stolen.
“It’s a fear which can limit founders from having organic conversation that can help them build a better product or service or could stop them from making an important connection.
“Starting your own business can be one of the most amazing experiences you’ll ever have, but it can also be a rollercoaster of emotion,” she notes.
“It’s important to recognise that at the beginning you won’t have all the answers, the path might not be meticulously laid out and that’s ok.
“Trust your gut instincts and follow them where ever they’ll take you. Self-doubt is only hurting one person and that’s you,” she said.
1. Startup Muster 2017 annual report can be retrieved from https://www.startupmuster.com/