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Female Entrepreneurs

Work/life balance – one of the biggest challenges or benefits for female founders?

Starting and growing a business is one of the most rewarding and challenging things you can do. For female entrepreneurs, one of the drives for this is the opportunity to be your own boss and work to your own schedule. But being your own boss and wearing many hats can make finding that balance hard. There’s always an email to respond to, a customer query that needs answering or a fire to fight. Having the confidence to close the laptop, put the phone away and have family time is very difficult.

The primary aim of the Start Up Loans programme is to ensure that viable start-ups and early-stage businesses have access to the finance and support they need in order to thrive. The Start Up Loans programme provides personal loans for business purposes of up to £25,000 at a 6% fixed interest rate per annum and offers free dedicated mentoring and support to each business.

Since its inception in 2012, the Start Up Loans scheme has delivered almost 100,000 loans, providing more than £941 million of funding, with 40% of loan recipients going to female entrepreneurs.

Here are some of the insights we captured during a roundtable for The Nurture Network, in collaboration with Start Up Loans and its campaign, Take the Leap, Start-up, Innovate and Thrive. Insights below are shared by Start Up Loans recipients Claudia Mariza Rosado e Costa, founder of Mama Claudia and Emma Airley, co-founder of Pastéis Lisboa; as well as Gemma Young, Chief Growth Officer at TechPassport; and Sophia Browne, Customer Experience Director, British Business Bank.

Here’s what our experts had to say…

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Women often carry the burden of emotional support

Female entrepreneurs often find themselves solving problems at home as well as in the office. Immediate and even wider family members often turn to the senior women in the family for answers – further adding to the load placed on busy founders.

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Family business means 24/7 business

What if you’re married to your co-founder? Spouses or life partners building businesses together are increasingly common, so how do you ensure you stop talking about it in the evening, when you go to bed or when you’re brushing your teeth in the morning?

Compartmentalising is key – but hard.

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Supporting men in the workplace

One of the indirect ways we can support female entrepreneurs is by changing the culture around the burden of responsibility. Let’s make it easier for men to take paternity, to take days off sick when a child is ill or ask if they can go to Sports Day.

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Lead by example

One of the virtues of running your own business is that you create the culture. Women leaders can choose to create the kinds of inclusive, flexible workplaces that they and others want to work in.
Leading their industries and proving that it can be done.

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Self-help can support

One of the book suggestions to re-frame responsibility is Fair Play: Share the mental load, re-balance your relationship and transform your life. The book offers strategies to help cope with the overload and societal pressures placed on women.

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Insights shared at the roundtable

Many of the women gathered at the roundtable started their own companies to create the lives they want to lead. This leads to freedom but it is no easy road. Setting boundaries, understanding your priorities and protecting them enables founders to embrace the busy periods but ensure they embrace the huge benefits too.

This article and content were originally published on as part of the partnership activity between Lemon Quarters and British Business Bank entitled, ‘Take the Leap. Start-up, Innovate and Thrive’. Written by Lemon Quarters.