The issue of female entrepreneurship is a bit of a conundrum. While I was still based in Holland, there were regular discussions about the need for special incentives and special support.
And depending on who you talked to, you would get a range of views.
- 'Yes, absolutely, women entrepreneurs are at a disadvantage'
- 'We need more role models'
- 'Study socio-biology and you will understand why there are fewer female entrepreneurs' (read "Why men don't talk and women can't read maps")
- 'No, every business proposal and business person should be reviewed on their merits'
- 'Not at all, women are better'
- 'Let's set up a support group and get some grants'
- Variations on the above themes
They now have sorted it in Holland. There are currently more female start-ups then male start-ups (socio-biology was wrong).
As we were preparing for the launch of our new Business Women Can initiative, I talked to a lot of people, and the views here haven't changed. Although, they appear to be more militant between the 'yes' and 'no' camps.
Being Dutch, I would be in the "every business proposal and business person should be reviewed on its merits" camp, but I do recognise there are still obstacles for female entrepreneurs, which I think are cultural. (Who does most of the child minding in your house?).
In my training days, I did a lot of sessions about 'future trends'. I used Faith Popcorn a lot. Look her up. She is spot on about future trends. One of the trends she predicts is "she-change" (sea-change; get it?). Women will take over.
There is some compelling evidence from studies that women are better at business, better at management, leadership and social media. Better in general. And women are more capable of dealing with the rapid changes that are coming our way.
Personally, I think it is men that will need a lot of help.
Whatever your view is, what we want to do with Business Women Can is to celebrate success of women-led-businesses (and I'd be much obliged if you would be willing to share stories like the two great stories on these pages), help where we can, share the lessons and find out what the issues are on the ground.
Which is what Small Business Can is all about.
Ron Immink is the co-founder of Smallbusinesscan.com