How women are changing the game
The business landscape is changing with the rise of female entrepreneurs breaking through the traditional stereotypes of women in the workplace. The representation of women in the industry has varied greatly from those of their male counterparts, with women only accounting for a small portion of entrepreneurs.
However, statistics from the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor show that this trend is changing, with 126 million women owning their own business over a period of three and a half years. Women owned corporations now make up over 37% of businesses around the world, increasing their stake within the industry.
So why are more women deciding to make their mark in the business world? To understand why women are taking the plunge and starting their own businesses, I reached out to design professional Melinda Love who founded The Furniture Collective.
With a passion for all things interior, Melinda’s extensive knowledge of furniture sourcing and procurement enticed her to branch out on her own, endeavouring to make a name for herself within the industry. Melinda started off her entrepreneurial journey by founding the Grand Little Shop, a tiny lamp and cushion design house where she sold her unique and eye-catching designs. Her love of design has taken her around the world and is evident in her beautifully designed office where a large collection of fabrics adorns the room.
The history of women in the workplace hasn’t always been a positive experience. Recently the conversation around equality within the workplace has intensified, with more women seeking the same opportunities as their male counterparts. “When I reflect on the 80’s, there was no concept of Equal Employment Opportunities and there wasn’t much hope for females in the business” Love says. With the implementation of the Workplace Gender Equality Act of 2012, there have been more stipulations put into place to create more equal opportunities for women.
Starting your own business can be daunting for anyone. Leaving the comfort of a guaranteed pay check can be enough to deter most from branching out on their own, but for those that persevere, it can make all the difference. “Being employed has been a safe way to gather experience and skills but you’re ultimately fronting up to fulfill someone else KPI’s or business dreams. At some point I had to take a leap of faith and back myself” Love says.
It is inevitable that amongst the successes that entrepreneurs experience, there will always be trials and tribulations that they will face. The desire to build a successful business can leave entrepreneurs fearful of the potential struggles that they may encounter, placing pressure on the business to be financially viable. “Pushing fear to the side has been my greatest challenge to overcome so far. There is no time to entertain thoughts of fear or failure. There is no place for it. You need to take immaculate care of yourself to stay well, strong and firing on all cylinders” says Love.
Melinda welcomes the challenges that are associated with starting her own business as at the end of the day, the feeling of running your own company offsets any fears you may have. “The timing never seemed right, however, the desire to start a business for myself started to strongly outweigh my desire for the security of being an employee” says Love. Spending 35 years in the business industry, Melinda however sees the value of being an employee as it has allowed her to build up her skill set and increase her knowledge of the industry. From her experiences within the workplace, she has been able to gather what she has learnt and implement it within her own business.
For those who haven’t had the foundations of over three decades working in the business industry, the struggle of starting your own business can be unnerving. This feeling is well known to Alyse Gretton who has recently founded ‘The Scrunchie Bunch’, selling beautiful handmade scrunchies and small bags. Unlike Melinda whose main source of clientele comes from contacts within the industry, Alyse conducts her business exclusively through social media.
The innovation of technology and the creation of social media has proved to be an invaluable tool for entrepreneurs, allowing them to speak directly to their target market and promote their products or services for free. “Social media lets me sell my Scrunchies on a free platform, rather than having to fork out money for a website”, Gretton says. The introduction of social media has allowed small businesses to cut down their costs and to utilise a platform where their target market is there waiting for them.
The ‘Scrunchie’ has made a noticeable comeback within the fashion world, with more and more people bring back the 90’s trend. “There is a big demand for scrunchies at the moment, there are a lot more people selling them”, says Gretton. One of the biggest concerns for small business owners is being able to draw in new customers.
Although there is an overwhelming demand for scrunchies, getting them to purchase your products or services can prove difficult. “I have found it extremely difficult for people that don’t know me to buy a scrunchie. I have had people tag others on posts on my Facebook page but I haven’t had many people I don’t know buying them”, says Gretton. The struggle for small business owners to branch out from their existing network can cause a barrier between them expanding their business and remaining financially feasible.
With the traditional working week becoming less desired, the shift towards a more flexible work lifestyle has seen people engage in side hustles for some extra cash. Studying at University and training in Gymnastics full time, starting her own side hustle has become invaluable for Alyse. “I loved the idea of having a side hustle or another job on the side as I wasn’t getting as many shifts from work and it gave me more money to be able to save”, says Gretton.
If you are considering taking the plunge and starting your own business it is important to remember that it takes time to grow, and being in a financially secure position going into it can help give you the best chance of being successful. “I think starting your own business is a great idea, but perhaps start your business out with a stable job or at least a part-time job so you at least have some security of income to fall back on” says Gretton.
It is important that when you feel lost or are facing challenges throughout your journey, to remind yourself of what enticed you to start it in the first place and how your initial passions led you to create your own business. “Hold your vision tight, even if it’s quite loosely formed, try to hold onto the bits that excite you the most and the rest will form around it. Starting your own business is not for the faint hearted, and you must absolutely take care of your health, be physically agile to the pressures that present themselves and be mentally strong” Love says.