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Why 2018 is the Year of the Woman

Is 2018 the year of the Woman?

There are still many hurdles to jump – especially if you’re a female entrepreneur.

2018 is Year of the Woman – or so many are saying. This year marks the centenary of women’s right to vote and the #Metoo and #TimeUp’s movements have begun crucial conversations. In January, Davos – the biggest boy’s club in the world – was chaired by an all-woman committee. Yes, we’re still under-represented, but we’re sure as hell making headway.

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The picture isn’t quite so compelling, however, if you’re a female entrepreneur in the UK. In 2017, the Entrepreneurs Network found that only 9% of funding went into startups run by women, and men are a staggering 86% more likely to be venture capital funded. (An important side note: a Harvard Business Review study also found that women investors weren’t necessarily investing in women either, indicating that a much bigger and more complex cultural shift is needed). But it’s not just the lack of funding that’s problematic. Two female entrepreneurs in America got so bored of the sexist attitudes in the industry they created “Keith”, a fictional male co-founder to make their working life easier. Underfunded, unsupported, undermined and massively outnumbered – it’s not looking good. Yet now is not the time to give up hope. Not least because, whether investors believe it or not, women are as good, if not better, at being entrepreneurs.

The same study revealed that women bring in 20% more revenue, with 50% less money invested and their businesses are less likely to go under. But are we really surprised by those stats? After all, women are masters of doing more with less – less time, less confidence, less money. And, arguably, women are more likely to commit to what they’ve started than bullishly throw the towel in and jump to the next thing. Plus, it’s news to absolutely nobody that women have what it takes to be great business leaders; they’re professional multitaskers, develop skins as thick as rhinos, all whilst running a schedule with military precision. And most of all, women know that they have more to prove, so when they deliver, they soar – often outperforming men.

But it’s not just financial investment women need to succeed. The study underlined the importance of mentoring and role models with 83% of women who have started thier own business having known someone else to do so. And so maybe we’ve found a potential loophole around stale attitudes towards female entrepreneurs? After all, it takes a village, as they say. Or in this case a mentor or a network of women in the same boat. When women come together, it’s the surest route to independence and success.

Yet there’s one more thing women need: cast-iron self-belief. One that drowns out the statistics, drowns out the sexist hum of VCs asking about plans to get pregnant in pitches. A self-belief that doesn’t let the odds stacked against them derail them. If anything, it makes them want it more.

And 2018 might be just the year to develop just that; a cast-iron self-belief, with the support of other brilliant women, to life on your terms, fuelled by this moment of global empowerment. As women’s voices are being heard, and as women are coming together  – marching, meeting, mentoring, creating networks and groups, offering support and friendship – now is the time to add self-belief to our skillsets.

2018 must be the year of all women – even those daring to be entrepreneurs.

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