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Revealed: only 30% of UK small businesses are run by women

3-minute read

Karren Brady EWIB 2023
Zach Hayward-Jones

Zach Hayward-Jones

8 March 2023

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Less than a third of UK small businesses are owned by women, according to new Simply Business data.

Our Empowering Women in Business initiative, which launches on International Women’s Day, looks to help female entrepreneurs overcome the challenges they face in business.

That’s we’re offering the chance to have a one-to-one mentoring session with our Small Business Ambassador Baroness Karren Brady CBE. Read on to find out how to enter plus more insight from female business owners.

Sexism and gender inequality remain widespread in 2023

Our recent survey of over 900 women business owners shines light on the challenges female entrepreneurs face while running their businesses.

The vast majority of respondents (81 per cent) say they’ve experienced sexism, gender inequality, or unequal opportunities while running their own business. The survey reveals how widespread the problem truly is – with responses from female business owners showing that:

  • 47 per cent believe there is a need to call out gender bias and inequality as it happens
  • 46 per cent believe more education on gender bias and its impact is urgently needed
  • 39 per cent say investors, colleagues, and customers make quick assumptions about them or underestimate them when compared to men in a similar position
  • 33 per cent would categorise the issue of gender bias and inequality in business as ‘severe’
  • 28 per cent say they aren’t heard enough compared to men or taken as seriously as men when pitching their product or business
  • 28 per cent believe that they aren’t given the same opportunities as men as a result of having children

Almost all respondents (92 per cent) are demanding that the government do more to change this.

The three areas called out for desperate improvement are:

  • childcare support
  • access to mentoring and networking
  • government-sponsored funding

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Barriers to business growth

In response to our findings, Baroness Karren Brady CBE said:

“The level of gender bias and inequality within the small business sector revealed, is quite frankly astonishing. Sexism and bias, whether conscious or unconscious, must be called out for a genuine chance of equality in business.

“The economy needs the support of small businesses in the UK and we must inspire women to get into business, and help abolish the challenges they face daily.”

Despite the overwhelming majority of women entrepreneurs (85 per cent) wanting to grow their business, almost half (44 per cent) said scaling up remains one of their biggest challenges.

What’s more, the cost of living crisis is having an overwhelming impact on women business owners, with one in four (27 per cent ) having to put their business plans on hold as a result.

It’s clear something needs to be done to support women business owners to manage these circumstances.

Empowering Women in Business

Our research shows that to help overcome these barriers, women business owners would like:

  • support and encouragement from a business mentor or coach (46 per cent)
  • greater access to business funding (45 per cent)
  • more support from like-minded business owners and networks (39 per cent)

That’s why we’ve partnered with Baroness Karren Brady CBE to offer a one-to-one mentoring session with a female entrepreneur. Entries are open until 5 April and business owners can sign up here.

Karren had this to say about our partnership: “Simply Business is a brand that has a track record of supporting women entrepreneurship, a value that I have prioritised throughout my career.

“That’s why I’m delighted to partner with Simply Business to support small business owners, across the whole sector, at a vital time, starting with a one-on-one mentoring session for a female entrepreneur.”

Levelling the playing field for women in business

The mentorship is just one aspect of our Empowering Women in Business initiative that focuses on five key areas that will help level the playing field for women in business:

  • accessible and affordable childcare for all – so women don't need to choose between their family and their business
  • more support for the self-employed when pregnant – so women and men can take the right amount of maternity and paternity leave
  • greater access to funding – enabling women to scale their businesses to match their ambitions
  • awareness of the impact of the perimenopause/menopause – and more support for those experiencing it
  • more training, networking, and mentoring opportunities – so women can be equipped with the tools they need continue growing their business

How do you think the government can support women in business? Let us know in the comments below.

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Zach Hayward-Jones

Written by

Zach Hayward-Jones

Zach Hayward-Jones is a Copywriter at Simply Business, with six years of writing experience across entertainment, insurance, and financial services. Zach specialises in covering small business and landlord insurance. He has a particular interest in issues impacting the hospitality industry after spending a number of years working as a pastry chef.

We create this content for general information purposes and it should not be taken as advice. Always take professional advice. Read our full disclaimer

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