Female entrepreneurs launched almost twice as many new firms in the past 12 months as their male counterparts, according to a new report, as more women seek to strike a balance between work and motherhood.
A report by Bankwest, using data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, shows there were 42,000 more start-ups in 2010 than there were in 2009 and the growth rate for women running a business was 4.8%, almost double the growth rate for men (2.6%).
Over a five year period, the growth rates for women (7.0%) are more than triple that of men (1.9%).
The report’s author, Bankwest senior analyst Tim Crawford, says women are inclined to run a particular kind of business for a specific reason.
“One of the real trends that came out of the report was stronger growth in the number of women running their own business… particularly the growth in women running a small business by themselves, often part-time at first, while raising children,” Crawford says.
Peter Strong, executive director of the Council of Small Business of Australia, says women are more motivated to start-up a business than men, not for the financial gain but for the flexibility.
“They’re in business because they want to be in charge of themselves. They don’t want to answer to someone else,” he says.
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“Contrary to popular belief, you don’t start a business in pursuit of money; you become a merchant banker for the money,” Strong says.
“Most people start a business for the lifestyle and the flexibility it allows – they want to be in charge of what they’re doing.”
Nikki Parkinson, founder of home-based business Styling You, says running her own business allows her far more flexibility than a paid employee role.
“I have three children and, at that time when I decided to make the leap [and start my business], it was crucial that I have a position that would allow me to drop everything,” she says.
“Obviously when you’re running a business you can’t drop everything but if I have to do something for the kids, I’m just not available at that time.”
Strong says a lot of women who start their own business come from corporate backgrounds, but they become less interested in climbing the corporate ladder after having children.
However, he says women should be wary of starting a business primarily for lifestyle reasons because they often find themselves working more than they did in their former role.
Mandi Gunsberger, founder of online business Babyology, juggles her workload and her two young children.
“It’s the old story – you have a baby and you don’t want to go back to the full-time corporate world,” she says.
“I started it when I had a nine-month-old and was pregnant with another one, so I had them back to back, and it’s been busy ever since… The hours are very, very long as it’s generally not a nine-to-five job.”
“I run the website from home, and every night from 8pm until 11pm is when I work on Babyology.”