Pathways: A new approach for women in entrepreneurship

An independent review into women in entrepreneurship in Scotland, authored by Ana Stewart and Mark Logan. Based on thorough data analysis and stakeholder engagement the report's recommendations seek to address the root causes of female under-participation in entrepreneurship.

Appendix E: Entrepreneurial Voice Sentiment Survey

The purpose of this survey was to capture sentiment and an entrepreneurial voice from within the Scottish entrepreneurial ecosystem. The survey compliments the wider research work carried out as part of the review. Respondents comprised a small group of female entrepreneurs who are representative of the Scottish ecosystem at varying stages of their entrepreneurial journey, including pre-start-up, early stage and high growth businesses across multiple industry sectors.

The Survey was carried out as an online, anonymised Google questionnaire, using a combination of multiple choice and individual questions. The average completion time was 5 minutes. The Survey was sent as a link within a cover email to 45 respondents. 30 of those responded, equating to a 66% response rate.

This document provides an extract of the responses, below.

What was the main driver behind founding your own business?
A bar chart showing the main drivers reported behind founding a business
Business/product idea: 63.3%
Financial necessity: 10%
Lifestyle choice: 3.3%
Wanted to work for myself: 50%
Wanted to make a difference: 46.7%
Other: 6.7%
How long have you had your business?
A pie chart showing how long the respondents have had their businesses: have not yet launched my business: 3.3%; 
1-3 years: 23.3%
4-8 years: 26.7% 
9+ years: 46.7%
When you first looked into starting a business, from where did you obtain assistance?
A bar chart showing responses to the survey question “When you first looked into starting a business, from where did you obtain assistance?”

Local business gateway: 40%
Banks: 13.3%
University or other educational institutions: 26.7%
Female entrepreneurship support organisations: 30%
Other: 43.3%

Other answers included:

Other founders, family, SE, Entrepreneurial Spark, Edge, Converge

Do you feel that there is sufficient signposting and pathways in place to help female founders navigate through the entrepreneurial journey?
A pie chart showing responses to the question “do you feel that there is sufficient signposting and pathways in place to help female founders navigate through the entrepreneurial journey?”  23.3% answered yes, 76.7% answered no.
What is the current annual turnover of your business?
Pie chart showing responses to the question “what is the current annual turnover of  your business?”: 

13.3% business is not yet generating revenue; 
30% under £100,000 per annum.
3.3% between £100,000-£400,000 per annum; 
6.7% between £400,000 - £1m per annum; 
26.7% £1m - £5m per annum; 
3.3% between £5m-£10m per annum; 
16.7% £10m per annum;
Has your business received funding/financial support from any of the following?
Bar chart showing responses to the question “Has your business received funding/financial support from any of the following? 
angel investment syndicates: 40%, 
family and friends: 36.7%, 
bank loan/debt finance facility: 50%, 
funded myself: 73.3%
awards (Converge, EDGE, etc.): 46.7%
other: 20%

Other answers included:

Venture Capital, SEIS & EIS Funds/Scottish Venture Fund & Angel Investor(not syndicate), SIB, Scottish Enterprise matched funding

What do you see as being the current key risks for growing your business?
A bar chart showing respondents answers when asked “what do you see as being the current key risks for growing your business?”

40% of respondents answered ‘lack of sufficient investment’, 53.3% answered ‘challenges market conditions’, 36.7% answered ‘lack of resource and recruitment challenges’, 30% answered ‘demand on my time and 10% answered ‘other’.
What was most useful to you when you considered becoming a founder?
A bar chart showing respondents answers when asked “what was most useful when considering becoming a founder?”. 43.3% answered ‘expert advice’, 46.7% answered ‘access to finance’, 16.7% answered relevant education, 6.7% answered ‘having a female role model’, 60% answered ‘networking with other business people’, 16.7% answered ‘networking with other business women’ and 13.3% answered ‘other’.
Did your school education equip you with specific skills or learnings that helped you with your entrepreneurial journey?
Pie chart illustrating responses to the question “did your school education equip you with specific skills and learnings that helped you with your entrepreneurial journey ?”. 73.3% of respondents answered ‘no’ and 26.7% of respondents answered ‘yes’.

Please provide an explanation if appropriate:

  • school didn't offer much career advice never mind thoughts on being able to set up and run your own business.
  • had very little experience or understanding of business or entrepreneurship before I started my company.
  • It was never something touched upon in my school. I feel schools/ associations should do more to let young people know that it is possible to create a business for yourself rather than just being employed.
  • Can't think of anything at school which helped……
  • Entrepreneurship is not something I was aware of as a viable option when I was at school
  • There was no mention of entrepreneurial opportunities.
  • School education needs a complete overhaul. There needs to be more focus on real world skills and emphasis on EQ over IQ.
Have you ever experienced discrimination during your time as a female entrepreneur?
Bar chart showing responses to the question “have you ever experienced discrimination during your time as a female entrepreneur?”  responses were sought on a scale of 1 to. 5. 13.3% of respondents answered ‘0’, 20% of respondents answered ‘1’, 13.3% of respondents answered ‘2’, 23.3% of respondents answered ‘3’, 6.7% of respondents answered ‘4’ and 23.3% of respondents answered ‘5’. 0 being no discrimination and 5 being a high level of discrimination

How can Scotland (both public and private organisations/bodies) encourage more women to start/grow their businesses and how can we help them practically?

  • Money. Women don't need different advice to men. But they do need more people who are prepared to invest in their journeys
  • I have never once found a female mentor and more of these would certainly help build confidence by understanding and supporting female entrepreneurs.
  • PUBLIC There is support for young businesses in specific sectors, irrespective of sex, however it is very hard to understand what is available and how to apply, to even get to the right person in Scottish Enterprise to find out more and apply. Further the criteria are ever changing and the application process is painful and lengthy.
  • Ultimately it is very opaque and it should be very clear and I talk as someone who received several grants and mentors young businesses through the start-up process. EDGE - is fantastic, a great system. A tough application process, but excellent for preparing businesses for a fund raise - they should be given more money to disburse. BUSINESS GATEWAY -- more practical courses on finance, recruitment, software tools, etc. (although I am out of date of their current offerings) PRIVATE WES - Is fantastic, need more resources to increase outreach ANGEL SYNDICATES - introduce female only pitch events CODEBASE - fantastic to be surrounded by other tech entrepreneurs and hear their war stories and call on their support, had a significant impact on my learning journey.
  • By allowing women, especially mothers, to combine raising children with running a business. In Germany it costs less than £250 to have a child in full-time care.
  • Support needs to be delivered by local people, for local people but with access to national expertise
  • More funding availability in the early stages of Concept, MVP, Pre-revenue ... e.g. Early Stage Growth Fund ... much more of this - there is a funding void until substantial revenue generation
  • Easier access to start up and growth finance with less hoops to jump through
  • Highlight female leaders/entrepreneurs, get them into schools early on (primary/early academy years) provide funding for early-stage ideas
  • Provision of entrepreneurial advice and support targeted at female entrepreneurs, and which also takes into account female circumstances (raising a family, caring responsibilities).
  • Information is disparate - it is around but not particularly well put together. Various organisations offer the same information but if aligned would make more of an impact by expanding the offer. Most importantly, we need to get Business Education into schools and further education - as well as an understanding of Intellectual Property - and how to make money from something you create….More of the activities undertaken by Founders4Schools are required - big time. We have some fantastic role models but 'kids' need to hear from younger people as well as older people ... folks more aligned to their lives.
  • Access to funding is absolutely key. We do not have the same access to funding as men because of the lack of access to networks, and that has to be compensated for. We also tend to ask for too little and need to be challenged to ask for what we actually need to succeed. Focus on women of colour as well, as they are so often left out of initiatives like this. Build peer networking groups and masterminds so women can learn from each other and support each other.
  • I think the current support for female led businesses is growing and more angel firms are recognising female led businesses and looking to invest in them, however I think the VCs are still investing more in male led businesses than female
  • Internships/work experience: Access to this in more SME's perhaps shadowing someone high-level to see all aspects of business would be useful. Access to finance: I found that for some I could see why the Angel Syndicate pitches could be intimidating- not all- but some were more reflective of 'an old boys club' pitching in that sort of environment didn't bother me but there was definitely an element of sport I suppose in trying to one up each other on questions/interrogation. Peer network: One of the things that has helped me to no-end is actually making friends who are other female entrepreneurs at a similar or later stage Facilitating some sort of pathway-based knowledge share with networking events would be fantastic.
  • Free or discounted childcare from a younger age: I feel a lot of women feel like it has to be one or the other when running a business. Implementation of more equal rights in terms of paternity leave would also be useful.
  • Peer network: One of the things that has helped me to no-end is actually making friends who are other female entrepreneurs at a similar or later stage. It means you have someone who understands the frustrations and challenges that come along with running your own business.
  • Investing Women is exceptional. I come from a very male-dominated academic discipline, taking part in their meetings is such a breath of fresh air. They provide high concentration/ high quality/ high impact training and networking in timeframes that are compatible with busy lives (where a founder is perhaps juggling another job, caring responsibilities, and building their own company). It is not always possible to give up a week to participate in training, but fitting it into a lunchtime is ideal. Making more funding available specifically for female founders is important. More targeted encouragement of women:

What changes would you make in the advice/support offered to female entrepreneurs?

  • I'm not convinced separating women out is the right approach. Perhaps in the very early stages it helps to create educational cohorts for women to learn the basics, but after that i think it's better to have an integrated approach so the females calibrate to males and vice versa.
  • I have found that being female hasn't stopped me getting funding (I have been through 3 rounds). Investors are just looking for good business people with a clear plan.
  • We need to demystify tech, as a non tech founder it would have been useful to be able to ask the stupid questions I had to an experienced techie, out with my business.
  • I would stop making it out as if we are any different to men
  • It's not one size fits all (current accelerator hub model) much of which is geared to lifestyle businesses as opposed to real scale up support and opportunities ...
  • Less focus on being a "female" entrepreneur and more focus on growing business
  • More funding and more offices/lab space in innovation centres (such as Roslin Innovation Centre).
  • I would like female entrepreneurs to be treated as successful in their own right and the stigma of 'imposter syndrome' or 'you need wellbeing coaching' should be diminished/removed.
  • The learning experience of failure is celebrated on the other side of the pond ... here - particularly in Scotland - it is something which is seen as shameful
  • In general, Scottish business support focuses on business models that are more predictable and understandable, which is wonderful but also often excludes the potential high growth businesses with brand new, speculative business models.
  • Hard to do, but remove all bias. I have been given advice that I can never imagine a man being given
  • I'd include more programmes about scaling and include more on the role/benefit of Board and or advisors.
  • More female angel investors, more female executives available to be mentors/board members
  • Controversial but don't think of yourself as a female entrepreneur. You're an entrepreneur. Again, controversial, but for me, gender doesn't come into it.
  • We need to change the thinking of female entrepreneurs to "scale up and think bigger".
  • Signposting, inclusivity, new faces - a clique of women can be just as off-putting as a clique of men, so help to find your tribe is important. Relevant. Founder-led.



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