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Ideas, inspiration and secrets of success shared by the UK's leading female entrepreneurs


There are over 1.4million self-employed women in the UK and that number is growing every day.

It's no surprise that women want to embrace the potential for creativity and flexible working hours offered by self-employment but it is still an upward battle as far as visibility and recognition is concerned. 

Women currently make up a fifth of small businesses in Britain and our female entrepreneurial rate is slightly behind the US, at 5% (in the US, it's 10.4%). The proportion of women in the early stages of entrepreneurial work in the UK stands at 6%, compared to 9% for men. 

Clearly there's work to be done.

And where better to start than by drawing inspiration from the successful female entrepreneurs who've already blazed a trail in their given fields? The folks over at Kleeneze have put together an infographic of the UK's highest-earning female entrepreneurs, along with the stories behind their success. 

JK Rowling, for example, got the idea for Harry Potter on a train - a brainwave which has led her to be hailed as one of the greatest novelists of all time with a net worth of £583 million. Ultimo founder Michelle Mone left school aged 15 without a single qualification but came up with the concept for her £35 million lingerie franchise after wearing a particularly uncomfortable bra to a dinner dance.

Come find out more about Britain's leading business women and the secrets of their financial prowess with key facts from the infographic, below.

Business secrets from the UK's leading female entrepreneurs

JK Rowling has an estimated net worth of £583 million

  • JK Rowling came up with the idea for Harry Potter in 1990 when the thought just popped into her head on a crowded train to Manchester.
  • Michelle Mone left school aged 15 without a single qualification. The idea for Ultimo lingerie came after she wore a particularly uncomfortable bra to a dance. 
  • Linda Bennett, of LK Bennett, work as a shop floor assistant in north London branches of Whistles and Joseph before going on to establish her own massively successful fashion line.
  • Specsavers co-founder Dame Mary Perkins is the UK's first female billionaire. She was born and raised in a Bristol council house before studying optometry at Cardiff University.
  • Jacqueline Gold transformed Ann Summers from a run-of-the-mill sex shop to a erotic lingerie and accessories business run by women, for women.
Michelle Mone

Michelle Mone, founder of Ultimo lingerie

  • Friends Sophie Cornish and Holly Tucker established the retail site notonthehighstreet.com in 2006, to showcase unique, handcrafted products. It's since turned over £100M in trade. 
  • Judy Craymer sold her flat so that she could make her dream for the West End show Mamma Mia! a reality. It was an overnight success and she went onto produce the movie version starring Meryl Streep, which became the highest grossing musical film of all time.
  • Rita Sharma is the UK's richest Asian female entrepreneur. She dropped law after one term in at Sussex University to begin Worldwide Journeys, the travel agency that now has a net worth of £7 million.
  • Business Dragon and the founder of Weststar Holidays Deborah Meaden began her first company, a glass and ceramics business, aged just 19 years old.
  • Hilary Devey was continually refused by bankers she approached to support her proposed venture for palletised freight network Pall-Ex. It now has a combined turnover approaching £100 million. 
Female entrepreneurs infographic

Britain's top 10 female entrepreneurs


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