Later this week (Thursday 11th June) Real Business will host its annual First Women Awards, which rolls out the red carpet for senior-level businesswomen and professionals. This year’s event will be presented by prolific power woman Clare Balding and will recognise successful females from a range of different sectors. Ahead of the ceremony, we’re exploring today’s emerging generation of female entrepreneurs, as savvy becomes the new sexy.
Women in the workplace has been a controversial topic since time began. First, the very idea of a woman stepping one stocking foot over the threshold of man’s world of work was an utter outrage. Then, it became a sweeter pill to swallow as social conventions loosened and women were permitted a little more wiggle room. Now, there is a relentless nationwide outcry protesting against a serious lack of female figures in the professional sphere. We just can’t get enough of ‘em these days!
The gender gap appears to be most prominent in the technology, science and digital sectors as few females opt for STEM subjects during their schooling and higher education choices. According to the recent Make or Break: The UK’s Digital Future report issued by the House of Lords, this is partly because these careers are seen as ‘boys’ club’ and partly because careers guidance in general needs a complete overhaul.
Let’s look at it from a different angle though…
This absence of women in the workplace could, however, be accredited to a widespread surge of girl power as the number of females embracing the entrepreneurial route and building their own empire increases. Women, it seems, may not actually be afraid of knocking on the door of the boys’ club but rather, are establishing an intelligence of their very own. There are already around one million female-fronted small and medium-sized enterprises in the UK and should this rate continue to rise to that of the male sector, there could be a million more women-led ventures on the horizon.
We’ve pulled together a list of just a few of the power-hungry women who are now sitting pretty, high up there with the big boys when it comes to doing business. Famous faces and non-glitterati alike, it seems a sense of entrepreneurial savvy is the new accessory for today’s generation of autonomous gentlewomen.
Jessica Alba – Alba started out her career in the spotlight as a Hollywood actress famed for her girl-next-door, butter-wouldn’t-melt roles. However, she has now climbed her way up the business ranks by founding her own business specialising in non-toxic baby products. The Honest Company has earned Alba entrepreneurial acclaim and a pretty cushy turnover to boot.
Beyoncé Knowles – We’re sure this one doesn’t require much introduction no matter which walk of life you come from. Beyoncé’s presence is pretty much unavoidable wherever you turn but is this not a tactic all successful brands need to possess? From perfumes and her own fashion label, House of Dereon, to a multi-billion dollar music career, this girl’s got all angles covered like all great business leaders should.
Sara Blakely – At the tender age of 29, Sara Blakely mustered up the admirable courage to invest her entire life savings of $5,000 into a lightbulb moment based on personal experience. A gamble worth taking, Blakely is now the owner of internationally recognised, multi-million brand Spanx which specialises in slimming shapewear and intimates for men and women.
Michelle Mone – As a former model, Michelle Mone understood the demographic and target market for high quality underwear and tanning products. This valuable insight led her to gain a 20% stake in multi-million pound lingerie brand Ultimo through founding MJM International, as well as a more recent acquisition of a 100% stake in tanning brand UTan.
Victoria Beckham – At the end of last year, Victoria Beckham (wife of professional sportsman David Beckham) was crowned top of Management Magazine’s Britain’s 100 Entrepreneurs list. The title came about after the turnover of her fashion business rose from £1m to an impressive £30m in just five years. The former Spice Girl also juggles the nurturing of four children with the maintenance of her empire and as most of you are probably aware, balancing parenthood with professionalismis no mean feat.
We’re proud to be seeing a growing number of female-led start-ups and established businesses added to our client portfolio. As Julie Deane, founder of The Cambridge Satchel Company which is no worth over £10, says: “’it’s often not as straight forward a career path for women as it is for men”.
If you’re a businesswoman running your own enterprise or considering doing so in the near future, comment below and share your own pearls of wisdom.
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We work very closely with our expert accountants to bring you the latest factually correct tax and accounting news. We also enjoy writing about small business news that we hope you find useful!