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Facebook launches UK initiative to help women start their own businesses

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Do you have a bright idea for a business, or have you always wanted to try your hand at being an entrepreneur? 

If so, you're in luck, as Facebook has today launched a new initiative to help women in the UK get their small business ideas off the ground.

Called SheMeansBusiness, the initiative will see Facebook partner with a number of specialist organisations to offer that all-important support, advice and knowledge to those of us looking to start our own businesses. 

The social media giant decided to launch the initiative after discovering that new businesses run by women could contribute an extra £10.1 billion to the UK economy by the end of 2020, confirming what we at stylist.co.uk have always known: that women in business are extremely powerful.

The SheMeansBusiness facebook page

The SheMeansBusiness facebook page

Having undertaken a study of 2,232 women, compiled by Development Economics and YouGov, Facebook found that one in every ten women in the UK wanted to start their own business.

They calculated that if just a fifth of these 2.7 million women were to start a business, there would be 340,000 new businesses growing across the country, creating an additional 425,000 jobs.

However, only one in every five new small businesses in the UK is founded by a woman, with the study suggesting a whole array of factors are holding women back from taking the plunge and going it alone. A lack of self-belief was, unfortunately, one of the most cited reasons, with 37% of women saying they didn't feel ready to launch a business while 25% blamed their confidence and 24% said they didn't have the right skills. Finance was also a huge barrier, with 34% of women saying they didn't have the right funds.

And with figures showing such a low number of women starting their own businesses, it is perhaps not surprising that almost three-quarters of the women (72%) couldn't name a female role model who was running a business in the area they were interested in.

34% of women said they didn't have the funds to start their own business

34% of women said they didn't have the funds to start their own business

But don't panic: it's not all bad news for female entrepreneurs in the UK. Facebook also found the number of small business pages owned by women on the site grew rapidly between 2014 and 2015, with a 70% increase over the year. 

And with more and more women turning to social media to publicise and grow their businesses, the site believes now is the ideal time to launch SheMeansBusiness.

"Based on what we're seeing from the Facebook community, we believe we have an opportunity to help more women," said Nicola Mendelsohn, VP EMEA at Facebook. "Women make up half the population, they make effective business leaders and unbelievable entrepreneurs, so it's shocking that more aren't part of the UK's small business community today.

"We're calling on the brilliant friends, amazing mums, determined wives, and grandmothers with an idea to realise their potential and help inspire others to do the same."

New businesses launched by women could be worth £10.1 billion

New businesses launched by women could be worth £10.1 billion by the end of 2020

Facebook's research found that women wanted access to technology and digital skills (54%), financial support (52%), practical help (41%) and advice on how to attract customers (39%) to help them with their goals of starting a business.

To help provide this access, Facebook has partnered with two expert companies: The Federation of Small Businesses' 'Women in Enterprise Task Force', to provide inspiration and online learning sessions, and The British Chambers of Commerce, who will provide support to 10 chambers around the UK.

Sandra Dexter, National Vice-Chair of the Federation of Small Businesses, described the campaign as a "real boost for female entrepreneurship".

Facebook will also be providing a digital learning stie called Blueprint, which provides access to 50 online courses covering everything from creative best practises to direct response marketing.

That dream of starting a business from your kitchen table could very soon be a reality...


Feeling inspired? Take a look at some our most popular careers pieces below and get planning now...

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You can learn more about SheMeansBusiness on its dedicated Facebook page here. Plus, look out for our interview with Facebook's Chief Operating Officer and all-round pro business woman, Sheryl Sandberg, in next week's issue of Stylist.

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