Interestingly, of the Financial Times's Top 50 Women in World Business, 30 percent work either in a family business or for a firm they've built themselves. It makes sense for us to try an alternative route. Let's face it, we face a battle with part-time work, balancing family and a career, and are under constant pressure to compete with male counterparts. In the long run, being your own boss may lead to more success and happiness.
Most women who launch a business are successful at building one specifically targeted at their local and regional communities. But in Europe, we're in danger of falling behind. If we're to remain competitive in a global economy, we must encourage women to become and remain entrepreneurial.
Females in the U.S. are twice as likely to be entrepreneurially active as women here whereas the rates for men are roughly the same in both countries. Between 1997 and 2007, the number of female-owned companies in the U.S. grew 44 percent, twice as fast as male-owned firms. And in China, women own more than 40 percent of private businesses.
Businesses run by females in Britain generate £130 billion for our economy. What's more, women starting a business will provide a more immediate contribution to the economy: around one in five come into self-employment from joblessness compared with around one in 15 men. But there's another reason why we will see more females launching businesses: personal fulfillment and happiness.
In new international research by Euro RSCG, young women are clear that money is only one of many things that are important to them. They're more likely than men to say work is mostly about personal fulfillment. And in the U.K., only a quarter of men but four in 10 women cite work-life balance as their top priority when choosing a job.
With support from mentoring, networking, and marketing, women can make a serious contribution to the U.K.'s bottom line. In 2009, we set up One Young World, a global forum to nurture and connect some of the world's most talented young people. The experience proved how crucial it is to provide intelligent, ambitious trailblazers with support and advice from mentors. But we need more female global leaders—for our 2011 summit we're already talking to Melinda Gates, Queen Rania, Indra Nooyi, Fatima Bhutto, and Güler Sabanci.
If we boost mentoring help for women wishing to start, or grow, businesses or social enterprises, our economy—and the wider society—will benefit.
Kate Robertson is U.K. group chairman of Euro RSCG and co-founder of social enterprise One Young World.
This post originally appeared in Director.
Image credit: OECD@flckr.com