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Women business owners more buoyant about business' future than men

04 April 2018

Ruby Women In Business

SMEs according to the latest Westpac-Melbourne Institute small and medium enterprises survey believe better times are ahead.

In an article by Westpac Wire’s Michael Bennet, Bennet reports that “…SMEs also appear to have been getting ready for an uplift in future activity, the research finding 40 percent upped investment in the past year and one in three increased working hours.”

Some of the negativity among business owners may stem from the entrance of large online and international businesses into the local market. Having spoken to a number of Ruby business owners, the feeling is that customers often want advice and there’s still a large audience who prefer buying local rather than going to impersonal, anonymous online businesses . Also, online and global entrants don’t necessarily understand local markets and customer needs, giving local businesses an edge.

The SME survey found that women's confidence for business conditions is good. Women are in fact more confident than men looking forward; women 123.9 compared with men 118.6.

The majority of women-led SMEs surveyed, revealed that connectivity/networking was important to their business, responding 77.9 per cent in favour. This was very slightly below men, 0.4 per cent less.

According to the women surveyed, professional networks have impacted on women led SMEs by increasing existing business (sales, customers) 76.6 per cent, as well as new business/customers - 63.1 per cent, and raised awareness of opportunities -  71.6 per cent.

With more freelancers and people establishing small businesses and/or joining the 'gig' economy, there are more reasons for proactive connectivity. Starting a business or joining the gig economy isn't just a career add-on, it’s often a necessity.

Co-working spaces provide opportunities for networking and connecting with other entrepreneurs and businesses. The environment often supports businesses to find co-operative solutions rather than fostering potentially damaging competition.

Co-working hubs, which are opening at a rate of knots to meet the needs of those working in these areas, have their own success stories to tell. Sheree Rubinstein and cofounder Gianna Wurzl’s female-led co-working space for women-led businesses, One Roof, is an example.

The Collective Hub reported on Sheree’s business and the Southbank space in Melbourne. It had this to say: “The reality is that even though Australia is the second-best place in the world to be a female entrepreneur, no country in the world has come remotely close to achieving gender parity in entrepreneurship,” explains Sheree Rubinstein.

“Key barriers include access to funding, networks, mentors, a confidence gap, unconscious biases and structural inequalities. We need to stop trying to fit women into traditional paradigms that have typically excluded us and create an entirely new paradigm.

“One Roof puts women at the heart of everything we do. It’s about understanding and addressing the unique challenges, motivations and needs of women. One Roof creates a space and environment that ensures women feel confident, included and supported.”

The NSW Government recently opened a co-working space in York Street, Sydney, called the Sydney Startup Hub. The Hub has resident businesses calling it home and there is a drop-in area for entrepreneurs. Startups and entrepreneurs can apply for desk space in the Sydney Startup Hub via its tenants.

The starting tenant line-up includes:

Fishburners

Stone & Chalk

Tank Stream Labs

The Studio

Please, contact these organisations directly for enquiries about desk space if you believe this may assist you.

One of the things we can do in business and life - outside of networking and increasing our business connections - is “stop and reflect”. As John Eales, business man, ex-Rugby Union player and 2017 Business of Tomorrow mentor, noted in a recent Wire article: “Often in life, perhaps because the milestones are not as defined as they are in the rigor of the sporting calendar, we don’t as routinely take stock of where we’ve been and where we’re headed.

“But successful people do.”

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