Every International Womens’ Day there is a discussion around gender parity. As there should be. Generally, this conversation has centred around females in the workforce and the boardroom. But I believe the conversation we’re forgetting is the difference that exists in the one area where women should be on equal footing – our own businesses.
A 2015 Startup Muster survey discovered the percentage of start-ups founded by females had risen from one in six in 2011 to one in four in 2014. So, it’s fairly clear women are starting businesses faster than ever.
What concerns me is we’re generally not doing it as well as our male counterparts. A 2015 ABS study reported that women were earning on average $423 per week compared with $890 for men for an unincorporated business and $998 as compared to $1,451 per week for an incorporated business. While female business owners were also likely to have less money per week from all sources than their male counterparts and other employed women.
It’s also clear from research and reports that women who run their own businesses are neglecting to pay superannuation and other benefits for themselves. Which means sure, women might be starting businesses at a faster rate, but at what cost?
Now I’m all for the rise of the female entrepreneur. After all, I am one. But I’m for the rise of the fempreneur who refuses to use the word ‘just’ when describing their business and who is determined to make their business, whether it’s a two day a week enterprise or a global business, the most successful, profitable one it can be.
After all, you don’t need to avoid money to do good, in fact wanting to make a profit can mean you affect more social good as Audette Exel from Adara Group and many other incredible female entrepreneurs have shown.
How do female business owners start to close the gap? I believe it comes down to accepting an updated version of Jim Collins’ the hedgehog concept which involves three equally important parts:
- Developing a passion for business. Collins in his book Good to Great, talks about developing passion for what you’re doing but generally women start a business based on passion, so they already have that in spades. Instead, they need to develop a passion for business. Often this means putting on your big girl pants and choosing to understand the numbers side of their business. That includes embracing business basics such as budgets, business plans, costs, capacity, pricing, critical numbers and more.
- Being best in the world at what you do. Now I know many male business owners who truly believe they’re best in the world at what they do. That’s because they have something many female business owners lack – confidence. But the point isn’t being best in the world but rather being the best version of you doing the thing in your business that you do. It’s not being a carbon copy of something or someone you think you should be and not being afraid to embrace your femininity.
- Figuring out what drives your economic engine. There are some women (and men) who are calling their hobby a business and they’d be much better off going and getting a job because what they’re doing and what they’re able or willing to price it for just isn’t viable. Figuring out what drives your economic engine is all about understanding your numbers, understanding where your profit pools are and making smart decisions about what you’re going to spend your time and business doing.
There are more and more people and organisations championing the rise of the fempreneur and I think that’s a great thing. However, what I’m advocating this International Women’s Day (and let’s face it, every day) is not just more females starting businesses but rather more women committed to understanding how to run successful businesses, who are paying themselves superannuation, building wealth and through their influence, truly creating a difference. After all, when it comes to parity in the business world, it really is up to us.
Melissa Browne is a money and business strategy expert and founder of A&TA and The Money Barre. Melissa works with small and medium business owners to save tax, grow their business and reduce their stress. She is the author of More Money for Shoes and Fabulous but Broke. For more information visit www.byata.com.au or contact [email protected]