Neeta Patel- CEO of New Entrepreneurs Foundation

Neeta Patel- CEO of New Entrepreneurs Foundation

If you have always dreamt of running your own business and believe nothing more would make you happier than being your own boss, but you’re still yet to take the plunge to make your dream a reality. We have expert advice from CEO of New Entrepreneurs Foundation, Neeta Patel, on making moves towards entrepreneur status along with Top Tips to make the bold move much easier and achievable.

Neeta Patel's advice on becoming an entrepreneur

An entrepreneur needs to have certain key skills and personality traits in order to be successful. I have had many discussions and debates about this, and yet gender has never come up as a particular element. I am reluctant to single out women entrepreneurs in some ways because by doing so, the inference is that they need special help and advice. They don't.

However, there are a number of factors which hold women back when contemplating setting up as an entrepreneur, and I feel it’s important to encourage them to overcome these and discover how good life as a female entrepreneur can really be.  Below, I share some of the wisdom from leading female entrepreneurs I have met over the years, which may help anybody wavering over whether to take the plunge.

Women-led businesses add £70 billion to the UK economy. The latest stats from the Department of Business, Innovation and skills show that the number of Women starting their own business has increased. It still stands at only 19%, but is heading in the right direction. More encouraging is the fact that a quarter of new businesses which are two to three years old have been started by women.

So why do women need extra advice, if they are doing so well anyway? The reason is that not enough of them are taking the plunge.

Lack of self belief seems to be one of the main reasons. Many women tell me they don't think they will be taken seriously, that they don't think they will be viewed as credible when they pitch for investment and that the business world is too tough to make an impact.

Having had years of pitching to some of the scariest venture capitalists around during the early stages of my career, I know what I am talking about when I say that success is nothing to do with gender but with how well you prepare and how well you know your numbers and your business and the market in which it operates. 

Remember that women often have far better emotional intelligence than men, and this is very useful as an entrepreneur in a whole host of ways including negotiating, picking your team and reading people and situations effectively.

Successful Entrepreneurial Women

Eleanor Mills, Associate Editor of the Sunday Times and one of Britain's most high profile commentators is fantastically inspiring to potential entrepreneurs.  At one of our recent events, she was adamant that women must support each other in business. There is, she says, a specific place in hell for women who don't.

Another great example is Geeta Sidhu-Robb. After her marriage ended, she had three small children to look after on her own, but, armed with the qualities which mark out an entrepreneur; she set up a new business called Nosh Detox, which she ran from her kitchen, delivering personalised organic food packages. She is now very successful and urges other women to become self-sufficient. The only thing that gets in the way of your success is yourself, she maintains.

Adele Barlow also has some great tips and advice for wannabe female entrepreneurs, cautioning women to choose their female friends wisely, ignore the nagging from your mother about your love life, and the importance of choosing a good hero, or heroine. 

Finally, I would say think really positively about being a female entrepreneur. You have far more flexibility and freedom to run your business and balance your quality of life than you would have in regular employment and if you relish a challenge there are few things more exciting in life than making your own business succeed.

Top Tips for Female Entrepreneurs 

You have nothing more to prove just because you are a woman

Don’t think you are at a disadvantage because you are not male, even if you are considering a business in a traditionally male-dominated industry. Business and enterprise is not a male-only pursuit.

Surround yourself with a great support network

Make sure you have a supportive group of friends and family, and your partner is also supportive of your entrepreneurial ambitions. More than likely at some point, you will need their help when you are getting started, so it’s important that they are ‘on board’ with your success.

Get used to thinking like an entrepreneur

It’s all too easy to take things for granted and get into a routine, but try to approach everything with a critical eye and an open-mind. Not just with your business, but with everything you do in life. You will soon find that you spot opportunities for new businesses, come up with ways to improve existing products or services, and learn more efficient ways to get things done.

Stay focussed and tenacious

You can easily get side-tracked with other aspects of running your business, and people can also cast doubt on your idea or plans. Take all feedback on-board and try to understand any that is particularly negative, but don’t always heed it. And don’t always just take no for an answer.

Stay intuitive and creative

If you are used to working in a male-dominated environment, it can be easy for their way of thinking to rub off. Don’t let it! Women tend to be much more creative and intuitive, and trust their emotions to inform their decisions, which is a great asset. If you passionately believe in something, you are far more likely to be dedicated to it and make it successful.

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