WOTB Research Finds Risk Averse Attitude Stifles Growth Of Female Startups

As female owner-managers ourselves it was home from home this week writing about women’s attitudes towards risk in business on behalf of Women Outside the Box.
Making for some very interesting reading and featured by the likes of Real Business Magazine, we’d love to know if you agree with the findings?

New research from Women Outside the Box (WOTB), Bristol’s October 7th festival of female entrepreneurship, has found that women’s risk averse attitude often holds them back from making it big in business.

The research, which compared attitudes towards risk of male and female business owners, found that men were much more likely to take a risk in order to fulfil their professional ambitions and build their business more quickly and on a much bigger scale.

The fact that double the amount of women (43%) than men surveyed thought that ‘throwing in your job to take a trip of a lifetime’ was highly risky behaviour compared to just 21% of men highlights the differences between the genders when it comes to their self-belief, before they’ve even got off the starting blocks of building a business.

When it came to business risk, women seemed less willing to invest to the hilt. For example, while 34% of men surveyed wouldn’t think twice about re-mortgaging their house to fund their business plans, only half the number of women said they were prepared to do so (17%).

Men were also found to be much more willing to invest in taking on the staff they needed to grow their business quickly, with 68% of those surveyed saying they’d invest in taking people on to ensure their business reached its full potential. By contrast, just 25% of female business owners are willing to invest in employing people, held back by the fear that they might not succeed.

Commenting on the research findings, Women Outside The Box founder, Joni Farthing, said;

“The research findings show that women are still holding back when it comes to thinking big, taking a chance and really going for it. Sadly this is what often keeps women’s business small and stops so many intelligent, driven women with great business ideas from the success they are more than capable of achieving.

“This is the whole point of putting on the Women Outside the Box Festival in the first place, not because we want to patronise women or believe they need ‘special’ treatment, it’s simply to encourage women to adopt a ‘She Who Dares’ attitude and fulfil their true potential.”

The research also found that how women perceive themselves may go some way to explaining their behaviour when it comes to taking risks. While 21% of men said they would consider themselves ‘serial entrepreneurs’ just eight per cent of women said the same.

“In reality, I suspect many of the women surveyed who didn’t see themselves as ‘serial entrepreneurs’ could have given the 21% of men who did, a run for their money in terms of their business track record! However, it comes down to perception. Perhaps women just don’t feel comfortable describing themselves in that way and this in turn relates back to how women view their successes and failures in business.

“If you see several attempts at making a go of business as proof of failure rather than practice, then little wonder you might be less willing to invest and take the business risks that will allow you to grow a sustainable and profitable business,” added Farthing.

One of the keynote speakers at the WOTB festival, who has taken risks to get ahead in business is Sue Tugman. Owner and director of Bristol-based Brunel Promotions and BrunelOne.com, Sue has bought and sold a number of businesses.

Commenting on the research, Tugman said; “Women are often very good at taking their time and weighing up the pros and cons of a particular deal or investment, which shouldn’t be undervalued. However, it’s an inevitable part of business life that sometimes to get ahead you have to be prepared to take a risk and really go for it.

“I don’t take risks for the sake of it but in my experience the ability to follow your gut instinct and taking a leap of faith can really pay off.”

The Women Outside The Box research survey also reviewed the differences in men’s and women’s motivations for starting a business, with findings to be released shortly.

Taking place on Monday 7th October 2013 at Arnolfini with a ‘She Who Dares’ theme, the inaugural Women Outside The Box event attracted over 700 women last year. The business exhibition and market areas are free to enter and, with an international speaker line up and 18 ‘how to’ workshops, interest from sponsors, exhibitors and visitors is up on last year.

Headline speaker Julie Meyer MBE, one of Europe’s most influential entrepreneurs, will be joined by Bristol business big-hitters Sue Tugman and Janis Sinton.  Geeta Sidhu Robb, Louise Presley Turner and Susan Hayes complete the keynotes.

As well as the opportunity to hear from some of the most successful women in business in the UK today, visitors will be able to attend workshops on a diverse range of topics including setting up a publication, how to start an online shop, getting crowd-funded and running an ethical business.

Women who wish to book for keynote speakers and workshop sessions at WOTB 2013 should visit: http://www.womenoutsidethebox.co.uk/page/speaker-timetable/57/

To find out more about exhibition or sponsorship opportunities please email Festival Director Joni Farthing at wotbfestival@gmail.com.

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