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Report calls for targeted support to assist female business owners

18 June 2020

The Achieving Scale: Breaking through Barriers for Female Founders report, which was spearheaded by Jan Easton, Advisory Board Centre COO and Female Founders Program Lead, draws on respondents from across Australia.

“Within the business sector there has been a marked increase in the number of women starting their own businesses. What sparked our curiosity was the gap between starting a business and significantly scaling a business, if that journey was different for women, and what barriers might exist,” says Jan.

The report reveals that there is no shortage of ambition amongst female founders with revenue growth, profitability improvement and product development cited as the top 3 ambitions and a sky high 91% of female founders identifying growth opportunity in the next 18 months compared to the broader business sector, which sits at an equally respectable 75%.

Data was gathered from female business owners ranging from pre-revenue startups through to A$200M annual revenue.  However, the majority of female founded businesses (65%) generated revenues of under A$500K, with findings revealing this figure as a ceiling that female business owners are struggling to push through.

Advisory Board Centre CEO and report co-Author, Louise Broekman notes that “the intent of this research is not to identify ways to make business “easy” for Female Founders but to move the conversation beyond the challenges that exist for all business owners and identify barriers that may be specific to or more prevalent for female founders.  Amongst the findings, we were surprised to find the half-million dollar annual turnover is a real threshold point for female founders.”

According to the report, access to funding remains a major barrier for female led businesses with less than 9% of respondents accessing external funding, including investment or capital raising for their business.  Using the data, the report authors identified four key areas for consideration throughout the founder support ecosystem.

According to report co-Author Jan Easton, “growing businesses have a significant impact on the overall economy- which will be extremely important as we navigate the effects of COVID-19.  With an increasing amount of women moving into business ownership, there is an opportunity for a positive return on investment in developing strategies across all stakeholder groups to support women in overcoming the barriers to scale, or significantly grow, their businesses.”

The Achieving Scale: Breaking through Barriers for Female Founders report was produced as part of a national research project led by the Advisory Board Centre in collaboration with research partners including Australian Government’s Landing Pad Program (AusTrade), Advance Queensland, Queensland Government’s Advancing Women in Business initiative and Mullins Lawyers.   

Access the full report here

About the Advisory Board Centre

The Advisory Board Centre is the professional body for the advisory sector. We provide research-based best practice training, certification and connection to support the professionalism, growth and impact of the advisory sector for professionals and the organisations they serve.

The Advisory Board Centre developed and delivers specific initiatives to support diversity in entrepreneurship and board representation including the Female Founders Advisory Board programs and Advancing Women on Boards programs.  In Queensland, these programs are delivered with the support of Advance Queensland and Queensland Government.


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