Helping Women into Business
I didn’t set out to be a business owner. I had no desire for late nights at the office, a giant stationary bill (seriously – where do all the pens go?) and that perpetual nagging feeling that you should be a lot better at social media promotion than you are. That was what other people did. BRAVE other people who knew with certainty what they were about and why their business can change the world.
It was daunting. A prospect out of my reach. For 12 years, I was happily (or unhappily) employed and there was a general consensus around me that I was in the right place. A woman in financial services, making great strides for my sex as I became first Chartered and then a Fellow, but not a business owner. Oh no, not that.
A change in family circumstances brought me to Gibraltar and though wonderful to live with 300 days of sunshine, the safety net of gainful employment was gone. That’s when things changed. Necessity is a wonderful thing and without the ability to get a job, I had to do something new. I had to do something BRAVE. I had the skills. I had the experience, but I was missing something … a helping hand.
That is until I met my co-director Michaela. She had felt the fear some years before me and with the help of a friend had founded her first business, a highly successful accountancy practice. A business she then used to empower many more women into their own business ventures. She knew that building a solid business took belief, not just in your ability to do the job but that as a woman, you can stand up in male-dominated industries and be counted. Its not brow-beating, bra-burning stuff, just good old-fashioned belief in another person’s ability.
It made all the difference. And now we stand, two years on, the proud owners of two successful businesses.
Here are our top ten tips for helping women (and men) in business: –
- Make sure your business has a good solid reason for existence: Make it an extension of your skills/knowledge/interests
- Do your research first: Know your market, the demand and the competition. You may have to change direction afterwards but best to know upfront
- Build a business plan: Have the plan scrutinised by that friend who believes in you, they will give you good feedback
- Plan your budget/forecast your profit and loss: Get your funds in place before you begin and be prepared to make a loss in your first year, it is common and you shouldn’t be disheartened.
- Invest in software: There are a handful of good book-keeping, database and project management tools out there, some of them free like www.free-agent.com which will save you precious admin time
- Look at incorporation: Protect your assets and your trading name. Build your reputation within a company that is all yours
- Don’t try to go alone: Bounce ideas of friends and ex-colleagues. The banks run useful seminars as do a lot of the professional associations. It’s also a great place to network
- Get professional help. You can’t be an expert in everything, an accountant and or business strategist can save you precious pounds by setting you on the right path from outset.
- Check the Legals. Dependent on what your business is, there may be requirements for registration with governing bodies, trade licencing or professional indemnity insurance. In partnership? Consider a shareholders agreement, it can save a lot of potential heartache.
- Believe. Go into your new business with all your heart and soul and you will succeed. There has never been more opportunity for women in business. Now is our time.
I look forward to reading your story this time next year #InternationalWomensDay
Director, Knightsbridge Incorporations Ltd
Helping Women in Business