Calling More Women to Thrive Through Entrepreneurship – By Felix Schuchter
“Surround yourself with the right people, lean in, be confident and do things you care about”
It is no secret: we are passionate about encouraging more women to become entrepreneurial leaders and for that reason we decided to host a special NEF speaker event! A tremendous panel of inspirational women who have created innovative and impactful businesses provided plenty of encouragement and an enthusiastically involved audience filled the room with infectious energy and asked the right questions about what it takes to lead the sometimes uncertain yet thrilling and fulfilling life of an entrepreneur.
Women make up 50% of the UK’s workforce, yet female entrepreneurs are seriously outnumbered in the world of entrepreneurship. Women too frequently shy away from pursuing their entrepreneurial ambitions simply because they feel they lack the experience or feel that their idea is not good enough, often not realising if they already have the entrepreneurial drive and passion a “good enough idea” could suffice to make it big in the world of business.
There are many reasons as to why people start businesses. For Rikke Rosenlund, Co-founder of BorrowMyDoggy.com, it was to have and grow her own “personal project” and do something she cared about.
For Jane Michell, Founder of Jane Plan, it was a moment of realisation. Her option was stay a nutritionist for the rest of her career or combine passion and professional background and turn it into a business. In entrepreneurship actions do speak louder than words: Jane launched her venture from her kitchen table, with literally no investment. For her the ultimate key to success is staying committed to delivering the best customer experience possible.
Lucy Stonehill, CEO and Co-founder of BridgeU, an education technology business, insisted that confidence, charisma and people skills and the ability to “tell your story” were essential attributes for any entrepreneur. She stressed several times that women with great ideas needed to be more confident. Too often did she meet amazingly talented women who just didn’t think that they were good enough to launch their own businesses. The rest of the panel couldn’t agree more.
Reshma Sohoni felt that the VC scene in Europe was doing entrepreneurs a disservice, so she left the States to apply her skillset and know-how in London and launched Seedcamp. She told the audience to “get over the fear of rejection” and to learn your lessons. Her advice to one member of the audience, who had experienced the difficulties of working in a start-up, was to be open and never personal when things go wrong and move on.
With the UK’s digital industry thriving, the question of the importance of being able to code naturally came up. Reshma mentioned it was the “language of the 21st Century” and an absolute necessity. Reassuringly she pointed out that coding wasn’t rocket science but down to “basic logic”. Phew! A slightly “nervous” Jane Michell admitted she wasn’t able to code and stressed the importance of playing to your own strengths.
“Do something you care about,” was Rikke’s final bit of advice; Lucy added to “surround yourself with positive people” and “very powerful networks” (all of which the NEF can provide!); and Jane mentioned that it was key to be prepared for the highs and lows of the “journey ahead”.
“Find a good partner. The entrepreneurial journey isn’t a one year journey, so you need the right person beside you,” was Reshma’s genuine and heartfelt final remark.
We loved every moment of the evening and we are one step closer to achieving our goal of inspiring more women to create businesses. Remember to be CONFIDENT!