Celebrating International Women’s Day

In recognition of International Women's Day, Charlotte Keenan, head of our Office of Corporate Engagement in EMEA, reflects on the contributions of female-led businesses in the UK and the successes of women business owners from the 10,000 Small Businesses UK programme.

Graduates of '10,000 Small Businesses' UK

By Charlotte Keenan
08 March 2019

The 8th March  marks International Women’s Day - an opportunity for us to celebrate the incredible female talent leading small businesses across the UK.  

Over my last 4 years at the firm, I have had the privilege of working with some extraordinary entrepreneurs and female Founders through 10,000 Small Businesses UK.  These businesses cover all sectors, from water treatment and geophysical surveying to marshmallow manufacturing and childcare support. They include 22 year old visionaries, those taking the reins of family businesses, experienced business leaders many decades older and everything in between. Hundreds of extraordinary business leaders. But after countless conversations, I think there are three qualities that unite all of them: 

Tenacity & Courage

Running a successful, effective small business with the capability to grow year on year is indescribably tough. Against the odds 10,000 Small Businesses' women succeed in doing this day in and day out. Having the courage to realise their vision,   to take others with them on that journey. To laugh when things are difficult. And to keep going. These women have put everything on the line, demonstrating remarkable resilience and creativity.

Organisational Excellence

Without exception, these women are seriously organised. They drive their dynamic businesses forward, balancing the unique pressures of small business leadership with the everyday ups and downs of family life. Caring for elderly relatives, managing children, recruiting senior management teams, taking on finance, expanding into new product lines and markets. Whatever challenges they face, these growth heroines have an extraordinary capability to lead, guide and support in both their professional and personal lives.

The Art of Understatement 

Receiving royal honours and industry recognition, acting as government advisors,  succeeding in traditionally male led sectors. These women are achieving incredible things and in spite of their success, almost all of our women fail to shout about it. They are quietly getting on with it, focused on what they can accomplish rather than what they can be credited for.

In the UK, only 20% of small businesses are female-led, it is incumbent on all of us not only to grow that number but also to celebrate our community of inspirational female business leaders and share their stories.