The Yorkshire Post

Breaking down barriers in sport and business

Jen Workman, Virtual Assistant and Founder and Owner of Business OwlWe were recently announced as a finalist for the VA (Virtual Assistant) Awards again, which got me thinking about the recent barrier-breaking victory by the women’s English football team this summer and the barriers women face in business. One of the many things the Lionesses’s World Cup win showed us, is that a win for women, is a win for all.

So much has changed from times when it was illegal for women to inherit property or own a bank account. In fact, earlier this year the Rose Review Progress Report 2022 showed that the number of women starting businesses in Yorkshire has doubled since 2018, and nationally, newly founded all-female teams outstripped male ones for the first time.

While the findings within business are very encouraging, there are still huge disparities. For example, only one per cent of venture capital funding goes to women-led businesses according to The Alison Rose Review of Female Entrepreneurship. It’s worth saying this is not a women-only issue, it’s a business and social one and working together is the only real way we will see change.

If women founded and scaled businesses at the same pace as men, up to £250 billion would be added to our economy.

There are signs of progress popping up in different ways. There are lobbying groups such as Radikl fighting for female business owners to have better access to funding, while Investing in Women Code is forcing businesses to monitor how they support female-led businesses.

There are a mixture of reasons why women-led businesses have access to less investment. For example, women approach risk differently to men and existing frameworks do not necessarily account for this. The number of female investors in the UK, though rising, is still relatively low. Also, women often have additional caring roles, be that with children or parents, at much higher rate than men.

For those female founders who do have additional caring or familial responsibilities, finding the time and mental space to focus on becoming investment-ready may be a challenge.

If you are a man and have a female founder in your immediate social circles, finding ways to remove these obstacles, whether that’s in a domestic setting or otherwise, is a very tangible way to help bring change.

Becoming investment-ready can also be achieved with outsourced help such as a virtual assistant. While documents like financial statements can be pulled together by an accountant or bookkeeper, there are other elements that take a lot of time and require stepping back from the day-to-day. For example, getting help with a pitch deck for an investor. A pitch deck is a good way to see where the gaps are in a business.

Outsourced help can also support businesses to demonstrate and enhance their green credentials.

Clearly, these considerations are a good guide for any business with investment in mind and we support all organisations with such tasks.

It was great to see the shared joy across the country when the Lionesses won. As female entrepreneurs access more funding, enabling them to build long-lasting businesses, the benefits will most definitely be felt by all.

This article was first published in the Business section of the Yorkshire Post on Tuesday 27th September 2022. You can view the full article here.