Women are more successful entrepreneurs than men - but they don’t want to shout about it

Female-run businesses are more successful than businesses run by men, but women are much less likely to boast about their success.

New research from Barclays and the University of Cambridge reveals that only 42% of women claim that their businesses are prospering, compared to 62% of men.

On average, businesses run by women are reporting higher pre-tax profits than businesses run by men, the figures appear to show that entrepreneurial women are simply downplaying their success.

The study also reveals that women are more ambitious in business, with 50% keen to start another business in the next three years, compared to under 20% of men.

The tortoise and the hare?

One of the reasons that women might be enjoying greater business success is that they tend to take things slow and steady.

While male entrepreneurs are likely to take risks to grow their business quickly and then find an exit route, women typically aim for controlled growth and avoid taking gambles.

The research seems to disprove the common stereotype of entrepreneurs as fearless, independent disruptors. Although achievement, motivation and the need for autonomy were all identified as key character traits, so were less-celebrated traits like introspection.

These results “debunk the myth of the CEO superhero” according to Vesselin Popov from the University of Cambridge. He led the research team, and he says that although the average entrepreneur does differ from the average employee, entrepreneurs “are still incredibly diverse and often misunderstood.”

International study

Over 2,000 people were surveyed for the research, including both people who had started their own business and those that hadn’t. As well as people from the UK, the researchers also gathered responses from entrepreneurs and employees in Germany, Singapore and the US.

The study honed in on three groups in particular: women, migrants, and seniors. As well as the intriguing findings about female founders, they found that older entrepreneurs were more liberal, artistic and extraverted on average, and that business founders from abroad tended to be more conservative.

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