Female entrepreneurs. It’s a fast moving trend, and who knows what opportunity might turn a side hustle to a hugely successful enterprise. But why do some women seem to struggle to say yes to opportunities that could springboard their business to the next level?
“One of the things women often do badly is respond to opportunities when it comes to business” says Kate Carnell, Australia’s first small business and family enterprise ombudsman.
Kate however, is a woman who’s said yes to each professional opportunity to cross her path, despite experiencing significant adversity.
After recovering from debilitating anorexia as a teenager, Kate studied pharmacy and started her own business at 25 years old.
A thriving business and young family did not dissuade her from accepting a role in politics.
After a rapid rise, Kate found herself the chief minister of the Australian Capital Territory and facing the glare of the media spotlight while navigating a high profile divorce and raised a family.
In an interview from The Constant Investor Success Stories podcast series, Kate talks about the challenges of finance and juggling commitments holding women back.
Say yes. Even if the ducks aren’t all in a row
About one third of small businesses in Australia are owned by women, yet many of them make the mistake of waiting for the right time to say yes to an opportunity.
Saying yes to an opportunity when it presents could mean difference between expansion or remaining in the mirco realm.
Of the women Kate mentors, those who feel they can’t say yes to an opportunity often have these reasons in common:
- The timing isn’t right
- My husband has just taken a new job
- The children are too young
Kate understands these challenges well, as a mother and business owner she too has walked the tightrope between family and career commitments. A rule of life though, she says, is the timing is never right for the next move and if you wait for all your ducks to be in a row, you’ll wait forever.
A natural risk taker who describes herself as a responder to opportunities, Kate’s advice is be game to jump and say yes to opportunities. Get the right people around you, give it your best shot and you’ll be surprised at what’s possible. Above all, back yourself.
Borrowing. Be confident, not cavalier.
While she doesn’t encourage being cavalier and borrowing without a business plan, Kate believes the attitude of backing yourself must extend to business finances.
Saying yes to an opportunity may mean wading into deeper financial commitments to take a micro business to the next level.
Although access to capital is a challenge cited by many female entrepreneurs, Kate believes the opportunities are there, but women need to be more confident in stepping up the amount they invest to grow their start up and not be fearful of borrowing.
She says women often fund a start up off the back of a credit card but then baulk at the commitment of a business loan, which may mean putting the family house on the line.
Men on the other hand are more comfortable in taking on greater financial risk when it comes to business.
Although fewer women go broke in business than men, what women fail to do well is actually grow their business.
Kate believes the challenge is to help women have the confidence to take the next step financially