Women tend to be cautious by nature and often need some encouragement before setting up their own business. However, when they do, statistics demonstrate that they are 13 percent more likely than men to be successful.
This and many other inspiring facts and personal experiences emerged at the Make It Your Business event for women that took place earlier this month, despite extreme weather conditions and a last-minute change of venue. Hosted by Alison Cork and moderated by Gail Laser of Love Barnet, it was an opportunity to hear from four distinctive local female business women with some introductory words from Chipping Barnet MP, Theresa Villiers.
Podiatrist Karen Wright of Love Feet explained how as a dyslexic child, encouraged away from academic subjects at school, she pursued a more practical career. After starting out with the NHS she has worked independently since she was 23 and now has a thriving local practice that gives her the freedom to juggle demanding work with family life.
In contrast, Mandy Kent of Hadley Green Dental Practice set up alone only six and a half years ago after the practice where she had worked for 15 years had a change of ownership. Her family was growing up and she was caring for her mother, so she needed the flexibility of self-employment.
The two others, designer Laura Mulligan of Laura Felicity and Paige Sinnott of Odette Beauty both bit the bullet and started their businesses in their early twenties having worked elsewhere first. Laura studied art despite major set-backs at school such as having to redo all her AS coursework in a week as her teacher had lost the originals. She has gone on to specialise in screen printing, hand producing wallpaper and other household items with a fresh, uncluttered glamorous style. She also teaches part-time at Queenswood School.
After years of being frustrated by mainstream beauty sales in department stores and with a skin condition herself, with support from her family, Paige Sinnott decided to open her own shop. Initially she wanted to focus on retail sales backed up by knowledgeable advice, but local demand led to creating a treatment room and employing two beauticians. This way, customers are able to experience the benefits of the products before buying (as well as enjoying first-rate treatments).
All women talked frankly about the highs and lows of running your own business. Key points were focus on your strengths, learn when to delegate and seek specialist advice, and follow your gut instincts. However, always ensure you retain control over key areas like your finances. They all touched on the isolation of being self-employed, so supportive networks are particularly valuable.
Despite having to trudge through the snow to Hadley House, it was a fascinating, reassuring evening in great company and hopefully the first of many to come. Future events are planned and we’ll keep you posted.