Last week was Global Entrepreneurship Week and as a female entrepreneur it left me feeling: POWER CHARGED!
That’s what Enterprise is all about - the Power Charge!
I feel it every time I plug myself into my Enterprise Network: a power-source made up from start-up charities, grant schemes, co-workspaces, business mentors and digital communities. The network is powered by a philosophy that we all have the potential to succeed no matter what gender, race, class, or age we may be. For that reason ambitious women (like me) feel a strong magnetic pull toward it and once inside we bounce ideas, hatch plans and Power Charge ourselves up to conquer the world of business!
The reasons why women are making such an impact in the world of Entrepreneurship has been a hot topic for discussion during this years GEW 2016. In the wake of the US election results that left Hilary Clinton reminding us all how women have “still not shattered that highest and hardest glass ceiling” - my fellow female entrepreneurs and I have been sharing our success stories and embracing the opportunities we have on offer today. And why not? Even the UK government is supporting us more - with an announcement in last weeks Sunday Times Business News that they will “put £750,000 of state cash behind female entrepreneurs” as part of their latest Innovate UK scheme. And it makes total sense to back us, after all by encouraging more women to enter into entrepreneurship it is the UK economy that will ultimately benefit- BOOMED by the brilliant businesses these women will inevitably create.
I say “inevitable” because once women cross the enterprise threshold the pace by which they accelerate forward is fast! When I embarked upon my enterprise journey (18 months ago)- establishing my performance company Pomba Girls as a business offering immersive experiences for events - even the challenge of juggling a Masters degree did not slow the pace. On the contrary, I made good use of my departments studio facilities, enlisted my colleagues as freelance performers and secured £2000 in student grants to enable me to develop my business (T&P Student Project Fund + Innovation Award for Creative Enterprise). As Goldsmiths like many other Arts institutions has a predominately female student body they hold the potential to be a powerhouse for female entrepreneurs. Proof of this can be seen in the Make it Happen film Goldsmiths launched to celebrate Global Entrepreneurship Week - which features myself and three other female entrepreneurs sharing our thoughts on why more creatives should enter into entrepreneurship.
The success stories of female entrepreneurs were brought into focus at number of events during GEW 2016 , The success stories of female entrepreneurs were brought into focus at number of events during GEW 2016 , including the Hackney Enterprise Conference hosted by enterprise charity The Startup Kitchen and Hackney Council which culminated in a Women in Business discussion panel. For the past six months I have received continuous business support from the The Startup Kitchen program - including 1-2-1 mentoring and masterclasses. Before the Women in Business panel kicked off I got chatting with The Startup Kitchen executive director Fay Cannings about why she felt it was important to give visibility to the successes of female entrepreneurs and leaders during this years conference:
"Having seen so much talent and innovation in the start up world especially over the last year, from the young female founders who are starting business in their twenties to the variety of women leading change in the Tech and start up eco-system I was convinced it was the perfect opportunity to showcase that and also inspire others to follow their passions. Whether that's taking the plunge to fully explore that business idea that's been whirling around for a while, becoming an intrapreneur (we need them!) or even becoming a mentor or change-maker - its about tapping into your unique talents and taking the next step". Fay Cannings: The Startup Kitchen
WOMEN IN BUSINESS PANEL
The panel was comprised of a mix of women from different industries ranging from law, journalism, fashion & food all united by their genuine passion and fierce determination to turn their ideas into something concrete. They did not shy from talking openly about the challenges they had faced as women wanting to tap into industries wherein the influential decision makers are “still typically men”. Taslima Khan founder of fashion Brand Taslima K recounted her own frustration when she was once asked “are you the assistant?” by the male CEO of a company she was pitching her business to. Pippa Murry founder of nut spread Pip and Nut spoke of her experiences dealing with all male manufacturing teams who “treated me like their daughter” and reflected on how women’s “need to prove it as an age old problem.” The advice from Peggy Pauwels - lawyer and business transformation leader who has substantial experience of being the only women in the board room was quite simple:
“don’t let it stop you. Be yourself and be proud of being a women”.
Understanding how to be successful doing business whilst embracing being a women is one of the greatest challenge faced by female entrepreneurs. It is interesting to me given that my breakthrough as a performer came about when I discovered how to harness both my femininity and feminist frustrations as a powerful tool for expression. Figuring out how to do exactly that as an entrepreneur will I feel be the equivalent of unlocking my own inner power source, generating for me both financial success and personal fulfillment in the business world. To achieve this I need To keep practicing putting myself out there as an entrepreneur and embrace the experience It awards me as a women. By doing so you realise even sexist preconceptions aired by men sitting in the power seat become a power fuel when they are converted to lively banter shared with other female entrepreneurs over bottle of prosecco after sealing the deal.
One final point well worth mentioning whilst reflecting on the resources women have at our fingertips for combating business is that of our capacity to impact digital culture. This point was raised in the earlier part of Hackney Enterprise Conference during a workshop by Lesley Stonier Founder of female focused marketing consultancy We Mean Business. She drew our attention toward the impressive enterprise successes of Kim Kardashian who has used her personal brand to design her very own App - [Insert Link] which is now worth 7.1 billion. Whilst Kim’s personal brand has never been something I have wanted to buy into myself - the example is proof of how women can conquer a male dominated industries by being highly resourceful about what they can bring to the table. It is also evidence of how technology can be a powerful weapon for female entrepreneurs- giving us control over how the world perceives us.
So when I question whether female entrepreneurs have what it takes to shatter the glass ceilings of the business world- my resolute answer is YES!
As a measure for my own enterprise success I think of how this past year I have crossed the threshold of more impressive glass buildings than ever before. And no it has not been shattering glass that has got me inside -but rather by using the talent and resourcefulness I possess as a female performer and entrepreneur to convince business men and women to let me in because they want to discover more about what I can do.
And believe me - performing to top influences on top floors in glass buildings is undeniably POWER CHARGING!
Text by Emma Symes founder of Pomba Girls: "Empowering Female Performers though Enterprise"
Twitter: @ LoRIOca
Pomba Girls: Female driven performance company who host parties & create immersive experiences at events.
The Startup Kitchen: Where young ambitious founders pair with proven successful entrepreneurs, advisors and business experts for 1-1 mentoring and masterclasses.
We Mean Business: London based Marketing Consultancy supporting entrepreneurial individuals and women in business
Hackney Enterprise Women in Business Panel:
Pippa Murry - Founder of Pip and Nut (Food)
Jaycynth Basset - Founder the Bias Cut (Fashion)
Taslima Khan - Founder of Taslima K (Fashion)
Peggy Pauwels- Lawyer (Commercial business)
Lisa Williams- Founder of Tantrum (Lifestyle and Children)