Celebrating Women in Business | IWD 2020

Sarah Hiraki

 · 03/06/2020  · 03/06/2020

Starting a business takes courage, hard-work and determination. Being a woman in business requires a magnitude more – it demands grit, strong allies, and a refusal to accept the status quo.

In the world of self-employment, startups and entrepreneurs, inequality is universal. However, according to a 2018/2019 study conducted by the Global Entrepreneurship Research Association, levels of inequality compound in high-income countries, including much of Europe. For example, women in high-income countries are less likely than men to report that they see business opportunities around them. Additionally, only 79.5% of women surveyed believe they have skills to start a business compared to 84.2% of men. And this isn't due to a lack of skill; the more educated a population, entrepreneurship increases, but so does the gender gap. The study also demonstrated that women are less likely to know an entrepreneur personally, and women entrepreneurs are more likely to go solo in their professional pursuits.

In celebration of International Women's Day 2020, and in the spirit of community, we've asked the women business leaders on our platform to some of their hard-fought wisdom with us.

Brittany Ryan, Founder & CEO, Pointed Copywriting

"As a female expat and entrepreneur, it hasn't always been easy to assert myself. In the beginning, I was happy to let other people steer the ship because that way, I could stay relatively invisible and therefore 'safe'. After I had my daughter, everything changed. I realised it was more exhausting to stay quiet than to simply speak up and say what I want. In the beginning, it wasn't easy. I felt like I was fighting an uphill battle in my personal and professional relationships and most of all, with myself. But today, I can say that it was 100% a battle worth fighting. My advice to other women who want more out of their business, or life in general, is to roll up your sleeves and fight for it. Figure out what you really want, then demand it from everyone around you—with a 'please' of course, but never an apology."

Linda Blank, COO, Suitcase Group

"I’m of the firm belief that success is not about how far you’ve come but also how far you have helped others to come along with. I have been lucky to have had supportive mentors and peers in my life and am convinced it is everyone’s responsibility to share their knowledge and experience with the next cohort because that’s the only way to make progress overall."

Olga Miller, Innovator & Entrepreneur, SmartPurse

"To change the world, we must change the world of money. Women, more educated and more powerful than ever influence 80% of all purchasing decisions - yet 6 out of 10  delegate financial planning and with it part of their future to their partners. Since almost a decade I work with women across the globe to revolutionise the way money gets discussed and planned by women - for a more secure and independent future for all of us. The one thing I have learned along the way is that our personal money decisions are one of the most powerful tools to change the world. But the only person that can make it happen is you! So go and get it - ask for what you are worth and then put your money to work."

Deirdre Dudley-Owen, Founder, Access Medical Treatment

"If the idea feels right to you, don't ever give it up, believe in yourself, have confidence, the same confidence you put into managing your household, bringing up your children, organising your priorities around work and unpaid home work, you can do this as well as you do everything else."

Anushi Desai, Co-Founder, Plant Pops

"I believe that female-to-female mentorship has been integral to the success of launching my first business. I regularly consult a number of female entrepreneurs, including Jane Michell, founder of multi-million pound weight loss meal plan Jane Plan, who from the beginning has provided me with counsel on all aspects of launching a successful food and drink business in the UK, from raising investment, to PR & Marketing and the most effective networking strategies. I really admire Jane’s drive and outlook, and her advice has been invaluable. I’m now looking to pay this forward and have recently become a female-to-female mentor within the London Business School’s MBA Business cohort. I’m incredibly excited to see what lies in store for the next generation of female founders and entrepreneurs!"

Noemi Stauffer, Founder, Fresh Fonts

"I've learned that creativity is the ultimate competitive advantage. For every challenge a female founder faces, there is an unexpected solution. Cultivate your ability to think creatively and you will be unstoppable. The reality is that only 2% of startup funding goes to female founders. My advice to a fellow woman entrepreneur; don't waste your time and energy on trying to raise money. Instead, start very small, grow your own audience, and bootstrap your company. Not relying on external funding will also significantly improve your chances of success."

Maia Mitreva, Founder, Handmaids Cosmetics

"Handmaids natural skin care is a love story that started with a rash and grew organically one balm at a time. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, the saying goes. For me the beauty arises with the minimalist approach to mix essential oils with other natural ingredients to achieve maximal potency. I learned that we need to love and believe in ourselves to accomplish something valuable that will be appreciated by others.   Thanks to the support of my best friend and my family I was able to produce the outstanding products which we are selling today. I feel privileged for the valuable lessons the entire journey taught me and honored by the ongoing assistance of helpers."

Charlie Buckle, Fashion Designer, Charlie Buckle

"For me, any woman in business is a mentor to look up to. And particularly, women of colour. Women, in business or not, already do so much in the role they play within the home, with their families, and society as a whole. One building a business faces extra challenges in addition to challenges they already have. Women supporting other women within their industries would be a great place to start. Supporting and holding each other up, empowers us to do and be better ourselves."

Camilla Grøn, Strategic Copywriter

When I started my (now successful) copywriting business, I could’ve chosen to see all the odds against me: I was young. I never had a real job. I didn’t have an extensive network. And I was living half a planet away from my prospect Danish customers. But I chose to see my potential instead of my limitations. (And my business grew exponentially within the first year) I urge you to do the same. No one gets to decide what you can or cannot accomplish. Except for yourself. All you need to get started on your journey is the desire to learn from those who are more experienced than you. And the willingness to work for your dreams and desires. On your way you’ll make mistakes. You’ll learn. You’ll grow. And then you will succeed!"

Clara Canals Corral, Co-Founder, Goya Tequila

"Never try to start a company by yourself. You need to surround yourself with talented and inspirational characters. In the end, what separates you and your company from the competition is not really your product but the people who designs, builds and sells it. I am a firm believer that team work is the most powerful asset you will ever have for free.”

Thank you to all of our incredible contributors. If you have a story you'd like to share, you can get in touch with us here.

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