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Success Stories

Supporting the next generation of female entrepreneurs

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Supporting the next generation of female entrepreneurs

Kelly Hodgkin, Founder and CEO of KMH Events

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As female leaders and business owners, we know creating an entrepreneurial environment where women can excel is crucial. Thankfully, we’re seeing a lot of positive changes. In 1972, 402,000 women owned a business compared to 12.3 million today. Of the total number of entrepreneurs globally, around 43% are now women. Women also make a good choice for investors; according to Boston Consulting Group, businesses founded by women deliver higher revenue – more than twice as much per dollar invested – than those founded by men. However, women still face challenges in launching and growing their start-ups. Finding funding can be difficult and when they do attract investment, women generally receive less early-stage capital.

I have been running businesses for 15 years, but when I was younger, female entrepreneurship was rarely talked about. There were very few female business owners to look up to, and it certainly wasn’t presented as a possible career path at school. Thankfully, I had the drive and commitment to make it happen on my own. Still, the journey would definitely have been easier if I had been exposed to other people’s experiences. Seeing others in a similar situation is how we grow, recognise their mistakes, and make better decisions.

If we really want to facilitate female entrepreneurship in the long run, the first step is ensuring the next generation of female leaders can fulfil their potential. Here are some ways to share your knowledge and support younger women to succeed.

  • Help them make connections – Building the right network is essential, especially when you’re starting out. See if you can introduce women in your network to others they could collaborate with. Or actively recommend and refer people to each other. As a business mentor, one of the most satisfying things is seeing my clients’ influence grow the more they connect with other like-minded business owners.
  • Be generous with your time – As someone with more experience, consider ways to pay it forward by offering your insights. There may be opportunities to speak at schools and universities, or join associations where you can guide people new to your industry. You could offer internships in your organisation and let younger women shadow you.
  • Explore mentoring – Many people use business mentors to identify gaps in their skillset and overcome limitations. But mentorship doesn’t always have to be formal. You can also mentor younger women informally by having regular catch ups and offering a sounding board if they have any issues. If you work in senior leadership, or run your own business, consider how mentoring might be effective in your organisation.
  • Spread the word online – If you have a strong social media presence and know someone could benefit from a shout-out, tell your followers what they do. Also, comment on their posts and repost their content.
  • Invest in female-led businesses – I am a big believer in actively investing in other female-owned businesses. As well as the financial element, I also usually offer strategic support in other areas, such as marketing and sales.

When people ask what advice I would give women wanting to start their own business it’s always never take no for an answer. Don’t let other people tell you what you’re capable of, and stay focused on what you want to achieve; it’s absolutely possible, regardless of what educational background you did or didn’t have. With three sons and a newborn daughter, I am very aware of how we discuss work and pursuing the things that make you feel fulfilled. Let’s keep talking, at home and at work, with men and women, about the opportunities and challenges, so that more women can make an impact in an equitable business world.

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