Entrepreneur Kim Sprague, 37, launched her business coaching consultancy Flamingo Life as a new mother four years ago. On her entrepreneurial journey, she found that many women risked early burnout by attempting to run both a household and a new business on their own.
“In the first six months of a start-up, you need either someone to help at home with the cleaning and/or childcare, plus a personal assistant who can help you wade through the paperwork,” she says.
“In my case, I had just two hours a week with a virtual assistant, but it allowed me to focus on how I was going to fill a gap in the market.”
While Sprague had prior experience of brand-building via a 10-year career in PR and marketing, she had “literally no experience or knowledge of legal, payroll, finance or the other back-office stuff that can quickly overwhelm you”, she says.
Although free online resources plugged some of the knowledge gaps, her first major hires – an accountant and lawyer, both brought in on a consultancy basis – proved pivotal.
She believes that women often put themselves under pressure to be experts in every aspect of running their business, as well as being a ‘super mum’ in their free time, and this can lead to mental ill-health.
This is where NatWest can help as they can offer expert digital mentoring skills, resources and guidance all in one place.
By drafting in specialist expertise as soon as funds allow, women-led firms can be confident that everyday business management is under control.
“Many women entrepreneurs worry that if they can’t pin down every last detail of income and turnover, they won’t secure investment,” says Sprague.
While there is no doubt that women can find it hard to attract backers, having the right team behind you can only make your start-up more investible.
“It’s your own confidence in the ability of your new business to stay afloat and make good money that really attracts investors,” she adds.
With a wealth of guidance and inspiration on everything from building a brand, using social media, franchising, networking or developing leadership skills available via its Women in Business hub, NatWest is helping women up and down the country realise their entrepreneurial dreams.
Networking is a crucial step in building up confidence and expertise, says Sprague, who stresses that a growing number of successful female business-owners are keen to share their knowledge with the next generation of female entrepreneurs.
Managing cash-flow ‘particularly challenging’, says Jules Shorrock
Jules Shorrock, 55, who launched the Suffolk-based Citrus Sharp Security Shredding in 2014, agrees.
“Whether as an entrepreneur, home worker or employee, attending networking events can be motivational and supportive and, on the whole, is time well-spent.”
As a new entrant in the male-dominated security business, she found that managing finance was “a steep learning curve”, with the intricacies of cash flow proving to be particularly challenging.
In order to manage the financial complexities of the business, a professional accountant was hired and within two years, a business growth adviser helped diversify the firm from data shredding to recycling and total waste management.
In the process, says Shorrock, revenue and profits were significantly increased.
While Covid-19 ended the entrepreneurial dreams of many women, for Rebekah Lowther, operations director at the Anglesey-based North Wales Recycle IT, the pandemic has, if anything, strengthened her vision.
“We launched in September 2019 as a not-for-profit social enterprise that donates unwanted tech devices to local charities and community groups, and given the impact of the pandemic, still being able to trade in 2022 is my greatest business success to date.”
Aside from distributing devices to disadvantaged families and the long-term unemployed, Lowther, 44, is also keen to extend work opportunities to disabled people.
“The company has benefited enormously from employing a number of individuals with autism and ADHD, and while some of them may have in the past struggled to find paid work, we have found their skills to be invaluable,” she says.
Selected to be part of the Female Focus campaign spearheaded by NatWest and Getty Images – which aims to replace women in business stereotypes with more relatable case studies – Lowther has one last piece of advice for other women looking to start up their own business.
“Whatever your fears and whatever the obstacles, go for it.”
100 Female Entrepreneurs to Watch
Are you a UK-based female entrepreneur? The Telegraph and NatWest have launched 100 Female Entrepreneurs to Watch, which will celebrate women who are redefining success and helping others. Share your entrepreneurial journey for the chance to receive a £10,000 grant and expert mentoring to help elevate your business to the next level. Plus, you’ll also feature in our list of 100 Female Entrepreneurs to Watch.
All entrants will also receive a two-year digital subscription to The Telegraph.
Enter now »
NatWest is dedicated to helping women succeed in business. To find out more, visit natwest.com
Credit: Source link