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“Don’t be scared, just do it!” entrepreneur tells women as report highlights gender ‘confidence gap’

Women needed more encouragement and fewer barriers if they were to realise their full potential as business leaders

A successful entrepreneur, who was forced to quit her job when she hit the menopause and went on to set up the only change-of-life education programme for employers, has lent her voice to calls for greater equality for women in business.

Kathryn Colas, who launched Simply Hormones in 2008 in response to the “10 years of hell” she experienced at peri-menopause, said women needed more encouragement and fewer barriers if they were to realise their full potential as business leaders.

“What holds women back is well documented and applied to me – lack of confidence, always waiting for approval, waiting for others to tell you, yes, you’re good at this, just do it!” she said.

Her comments follow the release of NatWest bank’s latest quarterly Entrepreneurship Monitor, which showed that a fear of failure haunted would-be female business starters.

It revealed more women than men worried that they would fail if they launched a business (32% v 30%); that they would not find the start-up funds (34% v 29%); that the economic climate would work against them (30% v 27%); and that they lacked the necessary skills to make their idea work (17% v 15% men).

Kathryn, who lives in Nutley, East Sussex, was among 100 influential female entrepreneurs at a parliamentary reception to discuss the Monitor’s findings last week and attended a Westminster dinner following the event to debate it further.

The report, which will inform NatWest’s new Women In Business advisory service, was used to highlight to MPs that by creating as many female entrepreneurs as men, £60bn would be added to the UK economy.

Kathryn, who is also part of the Entrepreneurial Spark business accelerator programme, said that in her experience women consistently undersold themselves.

“I was giving a presentation to a group of police officers last year and sitting at the table with them afterwards one officer said that she had the opportunity to go for an inspector’s exam but held back, thinking she wasn’t good enough, while other, less qualified men went ahead and applied,” she said.

“Her boss asked her why as she was more than capable – she was just waiting for that approval. So many women fit into that category, until, that is, they get over that hurdle and realise they are brilliant at what they do. Then their confidence grows and grows until there is no fear any more and they know they can accomplish anything.”

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