News#other
Read time: 01'38''
24 March 2021
Unsplash © Leon

Women business owners struggle to operate during pandemic

New research conducted by Academy for Women Entrepreneurs (AWE) has found that 61% of women business owners have found operating a business during the pandemic a struggle.

The survey showed that women’s businesses have experienced financial turmoil in this time, with 28% stating work had completely dried up, 31% reporting work had reduced during the pandemic, and a further 11% said work was booming but they were not able to fulfil it due to competing demands.

It seems the economic uncertainty of the current times has also fed into decision-making for women business owners, with 62% stating that it was their biggest barrier to business growth or success at this time.

Ceylan Boyce, cofounder of Academy for Women Entrepreneurs, said: “Whilst there are many practical challenges facing women in this pandemic, there are also mindset challenges. One of those relates to risk.

Women business owners struggle to operate during pandemic

Ceylan Boyce, AWE.

“My experience coaching women is that we perceive risk differently to men. We are perhaps more risk-averse and in the global pandemic with things feeling so uncertain, I do worry that women may be more averse to taking decisions that could ultimately lead to success and growth.”

Seeking to understand the competing demands and responsibilities faced by women business owners, the survey highlighted that 67% of respondents with children had the responsibility of home educating, whilst 49% of respondents said ‘more housework and cleaning’ was an additional responsibility during the pandemic.

Strikingly, 67% of all respondents cited ‘more emotional support for relatives and friends’ as an extra responsibility caused by the pandemic.

The survey also sought to understand their living circumstances. It found that 8% lived alone, 42% lived with a partner or spouse and 40% lived with a partner or spouse and/or children. 77% of respondents had a partner or spouse who was full time employed.

Boyce added: “I have long held the concern that when women set up their own businesses, there is an outdated perception that it is simply a ‘supplementary income’ — and indeed I think many women also believe this about themselves.

“I do see this as a limiting belief as many women-owned businesses have such potential, but there are several institutional factors holding women back and I think the pandemic has laid those bare and created new ones.

“In the context of the pandemic, I can empathise with people prioritising the job of the full time employed partner, but I wonder at what cost and whether there may be greater earning potential — not to mention lifestyle freedom — were perceptions different.”