Business development · 17 August 2015

Female entrepreneurs more likely to succeed than male counterparts

Kleinwort Benson has seen a 30 per cent rise in female entrepreneur clients, following in the footsteps of those like Martha Lane Fox
Kleinwort Benson has seen a 30 per cent rise in female entrepreneur clients, following in the footsteps of those like Martha Lane Fox

Female business founders are more likely to set up a successful firm than men, according to new research from private bank Kleinwort Benson.

The survey of 500 business leaders found that while females are more likely to succeed – 11 per cent said they had failed to set up a successful business compared to 17 per cent of men – they did have a greater fear of failure than male counterparts. Some 40 per cent of female entrepreneurs confessed to being worried about failing in the startup process, while 36 per cent of men admitted to a fear of failure.

Women were also more likely to report having to overcome obstacles to succeed with 42 per cent agreeing with the statement, while 32 per cent of men said the same.

The research also suggested that older entrepreneurs were the least concerned about failure among all the age groups, at 34 per cent and less likely to report having to circumvent barriers in order to be successful. Age UK recently reported on the rise of the “olderpreneur”, with the level of self-employment in the 50-plus age group at about one in five – higher than levels across other ages.

A fifth of business founders aged up to 45 said they had witnessed negative moments while running their business, such as being overlooked by investors. For those aged 46 to 54, this dropped to just four per cent, suggesting they may have built up contacts and a track record that makes getting turned down less likely.

However, some business founders disagree on an anecdotal level. The founder of events discovery platform Frugl said she didn’t think it could be underestimated “how difficult older women in tech have it”. Suzanne Noble is 54 and added that while experience can be “really valued”, in some situations it doesn’t always seem to carry much weight, and too often investors seemed to be expecting someone who “looks like Mark Zuckerberg”.

Suzanne Noble
Suzanne Noble

Noble added that VCs were keenly aware of the need to invest in more female-founded businesses though.

Kleinwort Benson noted a 30 per cent rise in the number of female entrepreneur clients over the past two years. Paul Bentley, head of entrepreneurs at the private bank, said: “Our new female clients are from a wide range of industries but we are seeing significant numbers from technology and property, which is borne out by the research.”

He added that women were successfully overcoming obstacles, “such as funding, late payments and generating sales, to become models of entrepreneurial growth”.

Bentley said those entrepreneurs encountered by Kleinwort Bank tended to be “more risk averse and position themselves better to create long-term value” meaning they often avoid the pitfalls that befall early-stage businesses and will establish a more consistent track record.

Image: Kmeron

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Rebecca is a reporter for Business Advice. Prior to this, she worked with a range of tech, advertising, media and digital clients at Propeller PR and did freelance work for The Telegraph.

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