Women are coming together in support of equality and empowerment at home and in the workplace. The recent rise of girl power has been harnessed by many women-led enterprises to encourage and show young girls that they can be anything they want to be!
Did you ever imagine that you could be part of this movement? Being a female entrepreneur can be lonely, cut-throat, stressful and demotivating at times, but once you learn to navigate the process and realise your worth in the marketplace – great things can happen.
There is no lack of talent or appetite preventing women from entering the business world as leaders or board members. Rather it is the patriarchy and old school mentality of the baby-boomers that place unnecessary obstacles in the way of aspiring young women. Being a woman in business or trying to start a new venture as a female leader is hard. Very hard.
The issues around equality and empowerment must be addressed and corrected in order for the world to evolve and grow in a positive direction. The fact that we have the need for these sorts of discussions can be disheartening, but it has to be done and changes have to be made. The trick is to keep having the conversation and keep pushing for change in order to revolutionise an outdated business model designed to benefit only men in the working world.
You can't, however, wait for change; you must be the change and forge your way into the world of business and entrepreneurship. If you have started a business at home and have become so successful that you need to expand, don't fret, you have a lot of support around you. You only need to know where to look.
According to Mastercard, 25.8% of business owners in the UK are women. Statista shows that in women starting their own businesses, a 72% increase occurred between 2000 and 2016, with female entrepreneurs generating 18,000 jobs in 2015, adding to economic growth and GDP.
Looking at these stats, one can see how significant women are to society and the economy. With this in mind, consider hiring women from diverse backgrounds to take your business from start-up to FTSE listed. Hiring women only is a good human capital model to encourage the model of equality and empowerment within the business world.
The untapped potential of female entrepreneurship can be a significant boost for the UK economy and needs more funding and attention to bloom. 'RBS has calculated that boosting female entrepreneurship could deliver approximately £60B extra to the UK economy,' according to Prowess. This astronomical figure alone should be enough motivation for leaders and governments to invest time and money into female entrepreneurship.
Funding For Growth
Accessing funding for businesses is still a stumbling block for women. Start-ups are especially difficult to finance with a female-only board. Research has shown that a women-only board is four times less likely to qualify for funding than one made up of men. Besides appearing on an episode of Dragon's Den, what other financial opportunities exist for women wanting to make their mark in the world of entrepreneurship?
Fortunately, there are funding opportunities and business grants available for women to take their business to the next level. The difference between a business grant and a loan is that the grant is given with the specific purpose of investment into the business. A loan must be paid back with interest over a specific period of time. In essence, funding is given, and a loan is money that is lent.
If you are considering approaching a bank, a start-up or business loan can be an answer to your financial needs. Start-up loans have also been popular of late which offers the opportunity to expand and grow your business with interest rates tailored to your needs.
Office Space For Employees
Finding appropriate office space will depend on what your business needs and budget are. Will you be needing an office type set-up, warehousing or manufacturing space? The best way to find office space is to speak to experts in fit-out, design, refurbishment, and furniture solutions first and then find office space to house your business.
If you are in Scotland, finding an office to rent in Glasgow can be daunting but also exciting as Glasgow is one of the top 15 cities in the UK for start-up and small business growth in the UK. Amos Beech offers refurbishment and re-design of office spaces all over the city at an affordable rate to suit your business needs.
If you find a space which you think is suitable for your business needs in Glasgow, try incorporating sustainable work processes and materials, which will pay off in the long run. Not only will you be a savvy businesswoman but an eco-conscious one too!
Stick to your budget and keep the end goal in sight. Getting your business up and running is a priority so at times just a simple coat of paint and upcycled office furniture used in clever ways may be just what you need.
Creating an office space with your business vision and mission in mind should accommodate your employees too. Consult with an HR professional to ensure that your contracts and workspace are all above board and compliant.
When hiring women, consider their needs – working remotely when they are needed at home could be a great perk! Create an environment and culture of understanding and empowering women which speaks back to your business strategy. Hiring diverse women can be beneficial for innovation, collaboration and cultivating a female entrepreneur-rich culture.
Gaining momentum or traction on female-led businesses can be achieved by networking with people or industries that are passionate about female-led enterprises locally and globally. Attending or hosting networking events at least annually provides the opportunity to grow your business by having the right conversations with the right people.
Keeping your finger on the pulse of entrepreneurship and women in business is achieved by subscribing to or reading publications that promote and understand the plight of a businesswoman. Books and talks on women empowerment are available at the click of a button. Simply YouTube or Google these keywords to stay up to speed on what is happening within the world of girl power.
Certain programs or events also allow the opportunity to not only network but mentor young girls and ladies in achieving their potential.
Initiatives such as Business Women Scotland Awards, showcase women-led businesses and place them in the spotlight. Not only do they have categories that highlight and celebrate women entrepreneurs, but they support a charity initiative for women. Proceeds from their evening soiree go towards a charity which provides interviewing skills and clothing for women in need.
Social media is a powerhouse for women in business, as the organic reach and potential to promote women-led enterprises is enormous. This is partly due to the fact that the majority of active social media users are in fact, female. Creating awareness of the gender funding gap for female entrepreneurs can be done on social media platforms and attract investors
Women are natural communicators and social media provides the platform for engagement with like-minded individuals and companies which can add value to your company. Marketing and networking on social media can be done without cost, which makes it perfect for a start-up.
Women can engage with thought leaders and business minds to foster relationships that can be instrumental to business growth and awareness. Having a solid presence on social media can also establish women entrepreneurs as thought leaders in the business world too. Leveraging the reach of social media is important in creating awareness around equality and inclusion.
Unfortunately, when starting a business, there will be trying circumstances as most female entrepreneurs continually have to defy stereotypes to be taken seriously. Sexist tendencies still dominate the business world and women have had to accept that proving themselves to male counterparts or leaders is par for the course.
Constant education and lobbying for equality are needed to bridge the gender pay gap and support equality. When starting out in the world of business as a female, accept that you will be a guiding light and a role model in the industry. Take this responsibility seriously and help set the standard for women in business. Celebrate every victory, no matter how small, and promote those around you who are disrupting the status quo for female kind.
As exhausting and trying as this can be, there is light at the end of the macho tunnel. Turning to mentors, role models or peers for support can be a proper boost when fighting for equality has got you demotivated. It helps to remember that you are not alone, that there are many more women (and men) fighting the same fight, raising the bar and achieving their business goals. Find these people, build a rapport with them, and use them as a sounding board from time to time.
For decades, women have been unknowingly suffering from PSD and intergenerational trauma, but now Dr. Valerie Rein wants women to reclaim their power through mind, body and healing tools.
As women, no matter how many accomplishments we have or how successful we look on the outside, we all occasionally hear that nagging internal voice telling us to do more. We criticize ourselves more than anyone else and then throw ourselves into the never-ending cycle of self-care, all in effort to save ourselves from crashing into this invisible internal wall. According to psychologist, entrepreneur and author, Dr. Valerie Rein, these feelings are not your fault and there is nothing wrong with you— but chances are you definitely suffering from Patriarchy Stress Disorder.
Patriarchy Stress Disorder (PSD) is defined as the collective inherited trauma of oppression that forms an invisible inner barrier to women's happiness and fulfillment. The term was coined by Rein who discovered a missing link between trauma and the effects that patriarchal power structures have had on certain groups of people all throughout history up until the present day. Her life experience, in addition to research, have led Rein to develop a deeper understanding of the ways in which men and women are experiencing symptoms of trauma and stress that have been genetically passed down from previously oppressed generations.
What makes the discovery of this disorder significant is that it provides women with an answer to the stresses and trauma we feel but cannot explain or overcome. After being admitted to the ER with stroke-like symptoms one afternoon, when Rein noticed the left side of her body and face going numb, she was baffled to learn from her doctors that the results of her tests revealed that her stroke-like symptoms were caused by stress. Rein was then left to figure out what exactly she did for her clients in order for them to be able to step into the fullness of themselves that she was unable to do for herself. "What started seeping through the tears was the realization that I checked all the boxes that society told me I needed to feel happy and fulfilled, but I didn't feel happy or fulfilled and I didn't feel unhappy either. I didn't feel much of anything at all, not even stress," she stated.
Photo Courtesy of Dr. Valerie Rein
This raised the question for Rein as to what sort of hidden traumas women are suppressing without having any awareness of its presence. In her evaluation of her healing methodology, Rein realized that she was using mind, body and trauma healing tools with her clients because, while they had never experienced a traumatic event, they were showing the tell-tale symptoms of trauma which are described as a disconnect from parts of ourselves, body and emotions. In addition to her personal evaluation, research at the time had revealed that traumatic experiences are, in fact, passed down genetically throughout generations. This was Rein's lightbulb moment. The answer to a very real problem that she, and all women, have been experiencing is intergenerational trauma as a result of oppression formed under the patriarchy.
Although Rein's discovery would undoubtably change the way women experience and understand stress, it was crucial that she first broaden the definition of trauma not with the intention of catering to PSD, but to better identify the ways in which trauma presents itself in the current generation. When studying psychology from the books and diagnostic manuals written exclusively by white men, trauma was narrowly defined as a life-threatening experience. By that definition, not many people fit the bill despite showing trauma-like symptoms such as disconnections from parts of their body, emotions and self-expression. However, as the field of psychology has expanded, more voices have been joining the conversations and expanding the definition of trauma based on their lived experience. "I have broadened the definition to say that any experience that makes us feel unsafe psychically or emotionally can be traumatic," stated Rein. By redefining trauma, people across the gender spectrum are able to find validation in their experiences and begin their journey to healing these traumas not just for ourselves, but for future generations.
While PSD is not experienced by one particular gender, as women who have been one of the most historically disadvantaged and oppressed groups, we have inherited survival instructions that express themselves differently for different women. For some women, this means their nervous systems freeze when faced with something that has been historically dangerous for women such as stepping into their power, speaking out, being visible or making a lot of money. Then there are women who go into fight or flight mode. Although they are able to stand in the spotlight, they pay a high price for it when their nervous system begins to work in a constant state of hyper vigilance in order to keep them safe. These women often find themselves having trouble with anxiety, intimacy, sleeping or relaxing without a glass of wine or a pill. Because of this, adrenaline fatigue has become an epidemic among high achieving women that is resulting in heightened levels of stress and anxiety.
"For the first time, it makes sense that we are not broken or making this up, and we have gained this understanding by looking through the lens of a shared trauma. All of these things have been either forbidden or impossible for women. A woman's power has always been a punishable offense throughout history," stated Rein.
Although the idea of having a disorder may be scary to some and even potentially contribute to a victim mentality, Rein wants people to be empowered by PSD and to see it as a diagnosis meant to validate your experience by giving it a name, making it real and giving you a means to heal yourself. "There are still experiences in our lives that are triggering PSD and the more layers we heal, the more power we claim, the more resilience we have and more ability we have in staying plugged into our power and happiness. These triggers affect us less and less the more we heal," emphasized Rein. While the task of breaking intergenerational transmission of trauma seems intimidating, the author has flipped the negative approach to the healing journey from a game of survival to the game of how good can it get.
In her new book, Patriarchy Stress Disorder: The Invisible Barrier to Women's Happiness and Fulfillment, Rein details an easy system for healing that includes the necessary tools she has sourced over 20 years on her healing exploration with the pioneers of mind, body and trauma resolution. Her 5-step system serves to help "Jailbreakers" escape the inner prison of PSD and other hidden trauma through the process of Waking Up in Prison, Meeting the Prison Guards, Turning the Prison Guards into Body Guards, Digging the Tunnel to Freedom and Savoring Freedom. Readers can also find free tools on Rein's website to help aid in their healing journey and exploration.
"I think of the book coming out as the birth of a movement. Healing is not women against men– it's women, men and people across the gender spectrum, coming together in a shared understanding that we all have trauma and we can all heal."