Women leading businesses to success

Women leading businesses to success

Fewer than 5% of high growth startups are owned by women – a sobering statistic, particularly when compared to the fact that 50% of Australian small businesses are founded by women.

Despite this, the case for female leadership within high growth business models is compelling. Research shows that female operated, venture-backed companies have 12% higher revenues, and companies with more equalised executive management gender distribution get 30% better results from IPOs.

Representing these facts and figures, a panel of female CEO’s stood tall last Wednesday 10th August at the ‘Women Leading Businesses to Success’ conference in Melbourne, headed by Michelle Bourke, Founder and CEO at Artlivemedia, Charlotte Petris, Founder and CEO of Timelio, and Sarah Hamilton, Founder and CEO of Bellabox.

Michelle, Charlotte and Sarah presented alongside Startup Victoria’s newly appointed female CEO, Georgia Beattie, who gained her stripes with the launch of her own companies, Lupé and Beattie Wines. Touching on different stages of growth and a range of business models and target customers from B2B, B2C, Retail, Software as a Service and Professional Services, the panel discussion opened Pandora’s box to shed some light on the honest experiences of being a woman in the modern business world.

As a female-headed business, The Fashion Advocate is among the 5% of Australian start-ups owned by a woman, and we’re also entirely operated by women too. Gender is not something we’ve ever felt as a hindrance for The Fashion Advocate, but as a ‘start-up’, there’s been many factors that contribute to doubt when running a small business. There’s a transitionary period between the ‘start-up idea’ and the ‘fully fledged business’ stage, but the opportunity to acknowledge this growth achievement is often overlooked, because every single day, a new list of tasks and goals are added to the pin board.

Michelle Bourke, Founder and CEO at Artlivemedia, agrees. “The most difficult thing for entrepreneurs is the pace of moving fast and hard, and it’s difficult to step back and celebrate. It’s important to acknowledge your team and you have to recognise the effort that they’ve put in as well. Accomplishment comes with rewards, but it’s a step by step process.”

As much as celebrating success is important, it’s just as important to remember your roots, maintain your purpose and stay true to your mission and ethos, no matter how big the business may grow. Sarah Hamilton, Founder and CEO of Bellabox, believes that this method of ‘thinking small’ ensures constant growth. “Always try to improve. Never feel like you’re a grown-up company.”

Most start-ups launch from a home office or the spare room – it’s not as glamorous as you may think, but it’s the reality, and when you work from home, it can be difficult to separate the two. Charlotte Petris, Founder and CEO of Timelio and VP at FinTech Australia, is no stranger to this feeling. “When you work from home, it feels very ‘start-up’, but you can control the way you think about it; treat it as taking the time to put customers first, as opposed to being ‘slow moving’ or ‘small’. When it comes to juggling life and work – you think about work problems at home and you think of relaxing when you’re at work, so it’s important to separate the two and leave time for yourself, and for personal growth.”

Start-ups are not simple, but as Michelle, Sarah, Charlotte and Georgia have proved, being a female entrepreneur in a male driven business world is rewarding. There are highs and lows of entrepreneurship, but it’s important to remember to keep plowing through. The three qualities essential in any entrepreneur or CEO are perserverence, being a jack of all trades, and most importantly, passion. When you work with passion, ‘work’ isn’t work!

The Fashion Advocate x

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