Why we’re on a mission to help YOU start a business

As children start summer holidays we’re on a mission to help you start something else: a business. In this article we explain why and how we’re helping you to do it.

Over the past eight years we’ve been helping women unlock their potential and achieve their ambitions by starting businesses and launching freelance careers – with great success. But this summer we’re stepping up our work with a campaign to help YOU start YOUR business.

Why? Because we believe it’s never been more important to support women in self-employment. Let’s look at some statistics to find out why.

The pandemic has been tougher for women financially

Over the past 18 plus months the world has been rocked by the COVID-19 pandemic. And financially, women have been hit much harder than men. A 2021 European Commission report on gender equality in the EU found that female employment was reduced by 2.2 million across the EU during the first wave of the pandemic.

This was primarily because women are more likely to work in the sectors most affected by the crisis, including retail, accommodation, hospitality, residential care and domestic work. However, sectors that tend to employ more men – such as information and communication, finance and insurance, saw an increase in employment rates. As a result, employment trends from last summer reveal that women gained only half as many jobs as men.

In a financial double-whammy, as our opportunities for paid work diminished, we found ourselves doing more and more unpaid work in the home. On average, women spent 62 hours a week caring for children (compared to 36 hours for men) and 23 hours a week doing housework (15 hours for men) in lockdown. And the burden was even greater for single parents.

And while the short term financial impact of this gender imbalance is tough enough now, it could have even more devastating consequences in the future, leading to lower pensions for women, and widening the gender pension gap and other gender inequalities for decades to come.

Women make up just 27.9% of all UK business owners

So what’s the answer? For many women, including ourselves, entrepreneurship has long been the solution to earning the money they need while raising a family.

We know from history that tough times – including recessions – are actually great times to start a business. And times of crisis, such as a pandemic, are often catalysts for brilliant business ideas and innovations. Necessity really is the mother of invention, it seems.

However, the bad news is that women are less likely to take advantage of this opportunity and start a business. In fact, according to the data, women make up just 27.9% of all business owners in the UK. Research also shows that women are half as likely as men to start a business.

So why is this? What are some of the barriers standing in the way of women?

A survey by Unilever Foundry found that there were too few female role models in business. Women also encountered greater discrimination, with investors less willing to invest in their firms on gender grounds. Even Justine Roberts, the founder of Mumsnet failed to gain investment in the beginning.

We’re also apparently more afraid of failure than men. A 2018 report by Vistaprint found that female business owners find failure harder to overcome than male entrepreneurs, with more than two-thirds of female entrepreneurs admitting they find it hard to bounce back from failure, compared with 55% of men.

This fear of failure is apparently holding back women from starting a business. According to research from FreeAgent and OnePoll, one in eight working women wants to start a business, compared with just 8% of men. And yet, as we know, less than 28% of UK businesses are run by women.

Women need more business support than men – but are less able to find it

So what can be done to help encourage more female entrepreneurs? The 2019 Alison Rose study on female entrepreneurship found that one of the three biggest opportunities to help women was, “Making entrepreneurship more accessible for women and increasing support locally, through relatable and accessible mentors and networks.”

Women are seemingly (and understandably) put off by the idea of starting a business without help. The report found that we’re “55% more likely than men to cite fear of going it alone as a primary reason for not starting a business”.

We also have less self-belief: “Only 39% of women are confident in their capabilities to start a business compared to 55% of men. This is a perceived gap in ability, rather than an actual gap in skill sets.”

And not only are we more in need of support, but we’re less able to get it: “Women are less likely than men to know other entrepreneurs or to have access to sponsors, mentors or professional support networks.”

And sadly, “Across all opportunity areas, these barriers were, for many women, intensified by their perception that there is an underlying attitude among some men – whether family members, potential funders, possible mentors or business partners – that women do not really belong in the entrepreneurial world.”

To add to the bad news (sorry!), when women do start businesses, we earn less than men: “The gender parity gap between male and female entrepreneurs in the UK has been worsening steadily since 2013.”

What we’re doing to help you

We don’t think this is right, so over the summer we’re on a mission to help you launch a profitable business or freelance career with our Start it up! campaign.

Over the next few weeks we’re going to share inspirational stories and advice, and talk about what a good business idea looks like, and how to create one. (You can download our free, five-step IDEAS business idea formula here now if you’d like help to come up with a business idea.)

And if you do launch a business, we want to help ensure it’s a success. So we’ve created a new 12-month course – the TLC Business Club – to give you the advice and mentorship you need to survive (and thrive) through that important first year.

Whether you’re starting a business from scratch now, or have started and feel you need more guidance and support, we’re here to help you with the knowledge, resources, mentorship, community and confidence you need to bring your entrepreneurial dreams to life – and make your business or freelance career a success.

What’s the TLC Business Club?

The TLC Business Club is a 12-month programme that helps you build the foundation of a successful and rewarding business. It’s based on 14 years of experience in running successful businesses ourselves, and seven years of helping others do the same.

Over our 12 months together you will:

  • Hone your brilliant business idea, and write a mission and plan
  • Set SMART business goals that will increase your likelihood of success
  • Understand how you will make money and plan systems that save you time
  • Fix your pricing so you attract customers and MAKE MONEY
  • Identify your REAL customers and write your marketing plan
  • Master the psychology of sales and devise a strategy that works
  • Develop a strong brand identity, design your website and start SEO
  • Grow your brand and find customers through social media and PR
  • Create evergreen content that nurtures customers through your funnel
  • Build a resilient business mindset to give you the edge over your competitors

The TLC Business Club will give you everything you need to make smart decisions about your business, and the confidence to implement them, with the support and mentorship of us and your fellow TLC Business Club community.

In practical terms, here’s how the TLC Business Club works:

  • You work through 12 inspiring self-paced online modules to acquire business knowledge and skills
  • You get essential weekly support with group Q&A calls (we break for school holidays)
  • You get access to the brilliant Group Brain where you can submit questions and search for answers
  • You join a supportive community of fellow entrepreneurs on the same exciting journey

The process we guide you through over the year is a combination of practical and emotional support that we know works fantastically well from previous business courses we’ve run, including Kickstart and Double Your Profits.

Who is the TLC Business Club right for?

The TLC Business Club is perfect for you right now if:

  • You have a business idea but don’t know if it’s any good or how to bring it to life
  • You love the idea of running your own business or going freelance but don’t want to go it alone
  • You feel ready to start a business and would love guidance and support
  • You’ve already launched a business but feel lost and lonely and aren’t getting the results you want
  • You NEED your business to earn money and want to give it the best possible chance of success

And to help you get off to the right start – whatever stage you’re at – before the 12-month programme begins we’ll send you your pre-course preparation kit.

This includes our Business Ideas Health Check – a workbook that guides you through a proven process to ensure your idea is business ready, and gives you actions to take to improve and hone it. And to ensure you’re psychologically prepared, you’ll also get our Mindset Rewire – an easy exercise that will literally change your mind and set you confidently up for success.

So as children return to school and nursery, you can join the ranks of successful entrepreneurs, and get started on creating a profitable business for yourself, with our help.

You can find out more about the TLC Business Club and secure your place on our 2021 cohort here.