The theme for International Women’s Day 2022 is #BreakTheBias and at Harper James we support and seek to empower women in business to do just that. To celebrate the achievements of female entrepreneurs and founders, we’ve interviewed six of our inspiring clients, who share their successes, the challenges they’ve faced and how they’ve overcome them.
Last year, a record proportion of start-ups were being founded by women. All-women teams established more than 140,000 companies last year and the figure is growing by a third each year, with particularly strong growth in female-led start-ups among those aged 16 to 25. However, despite these positive signs, female founders are still often struggling to raise funds to grow their businesses.
According to one report by the Harvard Business Review, which was released last year, only one in five businesses with revenue of £1 million or more is women-owned.
The report also found that in 2019, 2.8% of funding went to women-led startups; but in 2020, that fell to 2.3%. Figures for 2021 are yet to be released.
Kate Wright, Head of Client Services at Harper James said the figures underline how much more needs to be done in this area.
She said: ‘It’s fantastic to see record numbers of women setting up businesses. But the reality is that many women still face huge challenges in growing their businesses and often struggle to access the kind of support available to male counterparts. More women’s voices should be heard in the business world.
International Women’s Day is a great moment to celebrate the successes but also to be open about how much we need to do to maximise the huge talent many female entrepreneurs have.
Offering her advice to female entrepreneurs, Corporate Partner Jas Bhogal said: ‘Believe in yourself – you can achieve whatever you set your mind to. Make your business investable by preparing very clear and detailed business plans based on reasonable growth and projections and include rationale for your projections. Network with other women who are in similar positions as they may be able to offer further guidance on how they have overcome obstacles. I have a number of companies I work for now which have female founders and they are securing investment which is a positive sign.’
Among those to contribute to our series is Whitney Bromberg Hawkings, Founder of FLOWERBX.
Last October, the luxury direct-to-consumer flower delivery service, announced the closing of an £8m Series A financing round. It was the latest success for a business which has seen revenues double every year since its inception, leading the company to be billed as one of the most promising businesses in the $50 billion global flower market.
Offering her advice to other female entrepreneurs on IWD, Whitney said: ‘Be prepared to work harder than you ever have in your life, and make sure you have a great support network, both at home and at work, as the highs are high, and the lows are lower than you can imagine.
Surround yourself with entrepreneurial women. Whether that’s as mentors, angel investors, or women just starting out on your journey; no one supports women like other women and this network will be crucial to help propel you forward.
Those comments were echoed by Rebecca Sloan, from start-up PiddlePatch. She recently wowed investors on TV’s Dragons Den in an appearance which led to Steven Bartlett investing £50,000 in her business.
Rebecca said: ‘The Government should invest more in educating and empowering girls and young women in the practical knowledge of how to develop and evaluate an idea, identify the resources and support they need to make it happen, understand the finances behind it, and act on it.
‘For many, the current system is about passing tests instead of taking risks and understanding opportunities. A lot of talent and experience goes unrecognised because we do not do enough to empower young people, and especially females, to recognise their own strengths, abilities, and how to market them to others and create value. Providing more mentoring and grants for women and new ideas, and support infrastructure and access to resources and knowledge would also help.’
Our CEO and Founder, Toby Harper said that the increase in female founders is promising for the future of equality in start-ups:
‘Having previously worked in-house at a VC firm, I experienced first-hand that far fewer female led than male led businesses were coming through for funding. Although the share of VC funding reportedly remains highly unbalanced, it’s really encouraging to witness the significant increase of start-ups being founded by women, a trend which is also reflected in the growing number of successful female-led businesses we support at Harper James.
‘It’ll be exciting to see what the next 12-18 months will bring and whether the sharp uptick in start-ups will result in a higher and fairer proportion receiving funding too.’
Join us throughout March as we learn how to break the bias in business with stories from our inspirational clients who share the secrets of the success behind their growing businesses, the challenges they’ve faced and how they’ve overcome them. We also share tips and insights from female solicitors at Harper James, who discuss the necessary changes that need to be made to allow women’s voices to be heard.
Throughout the series, we’ll cover a breadth of topics in each episode and you’ll hear from:
- Whitney Bromberg Hawkins (Founder of FLOWERBX) & Kate Wright (Head of Client Services) – on female mentoring
- Rebecca Sloan (Founder of Piddle Patch) & Abby Watson (Senior Corporate Solicitor) – on family
- Hawaa Budraa (Co-Founder and CEO at Onaria Technologies Ltd) & Jas Bhogal (Corporate Partner) – on investment
- Sarah Bridget Dees (CEO of My EU Pay Ltd) & Lillian Tsang (Senior Data Protection and Privacy Solicitor) - on mistaken identity
- Jennifer Young (Founder of Jennifer Young Limited) & Sally Gwilliam (Senior Employment Solicitor) – on confidence
- Mariani Robinson (Founder of Naturally Lady) & Sarah Gunton (Commercial Partner) - on work/life balance