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Majority of women who own their own business in Scotland believe in their skills, knowledge, and experience

A survey from Business Gateway, Scotland’s national business support agency, has revealed that 70% of women who run a business in Scotland believed they had what it takes, and this was the primary factor behind their decision to set up on their own.

19th April 2022

Respondents highlighted confidence in existing skills, knowledge, and experience as key motivators when it came to launching their businesses.

The survey, which reviewed challenges facing women starting and growing their businesses, was completed by 356 business owners in Scotland.

A further 59% of respondents highlighted that running their own business enabled them to make better use of their skills and expertise. A high percentage of respondents were also interested in more tailored support for women, with 82% saying this is something they would like more access towards.

Gillian Timmons, Business Gateway Manager, Forth Valley, said, “Launching your own business can be daunting and stressful, and it’s to be expected that business owners experience self-doubt and a fear of failure as they start on their own.

“Despite this, it is extremely positive to see so many women starting their own business because they believe in the strength of their expertise and skillset. Female-led start-ups account for 48% of the start-ups we support and provide a critical contribution to the Scottish economy which will be vital as the country continues to recover from the pandemic.”

However, despite a belief in their abilities, when asked about the primary challenges faced 75% stated a ‘fear of failure’ or a lack of funding as the main drawbacks.

Over a third (39%) of women stated a ‘fear of failure’ was the main challenge faced when starting their own business, followed by 36% who felt a lack of funding was the primary challenge. This is reflected in the findings as 38% of women used their savings instead of applying for external funding when they started their business.

One business owner who worked with Business Gateway to start up and overcome a fear of failure was Lisa Rolland, owner of Edinburgh-based KTSU. KTSU provides practical and stylish bags for women’s shoes and was launched in 2021 when she spotted a gap in the market.

Lisa, owner of KTSU, said, “I have faced many challenges throughout my life and starting my own business was no different. It was four years before I got my first prototype in 2019 and my initial profile of customers, which was women walking to work, had suddenly gone because of the pandemic. I also intended to sell my bags at fairs and pop-ups, but the pandemic severely limited that market.

“At times I wondered if I should even launch but I knew I had to keep going and through Business Gateway, I was able to meet a community of women-led businesses. These connections, and my adviser have encouraged me and bolstered my confidence as I went about starting up KTSU.

“My business is now growing and is stocked in shops and online. I also feel it’s vital to support other women who want to pursue a great idea, so 10% of my profits go towards funding and mentoring women who have lived through difficult times and need support launching their own business.”

Gillian said, “We also know that funding is a crucial factor for people who want to start their own business. With connections across Scotland’s support network, our advisers are extremely knowledgeable about what finance options are available and suitable for start-ups, whether this is a loan or grant funding. We would encourage everyone in this position to contact their local office and see what is right for them.

Other challenges included a lack of professional support or mentors (28%), childcare or family reasons (18%) and bias against women in business (11%).