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Nearly half of female business owners said they sacrificed pay when starting a business opposed to a third of men

46 percent of female business owners said forgoing salary was their biggest sacrifice

New SME research1 conducted by iwoca, one of Europe’s largest business lenders, suggests that not being paid was the biggest business sacrifice for UK SME owners (37 percent), with nearly half of female entrepreneurs (46 percent) making this sacrifice.

iwoca’s inaugural Small Business Insights survey shows that more women may have sacrificed pay than men when starting a company, with nearly half of all female business owners in this study saying they sacrificed their income, opposed to just 34 percent of their male counterparts. The results also show that exactly a quarter (25 percent) of all respondents had to sacrifice time spent with family or a partner, however more men sacrificed time with family (28 percent) than women (18 percent).

The findings form part of iwoca’s new customer survey which looks at the biggest sacrifices made by SME owners. The study also analyses what business owners would change if they had a choice and reveals the best things about starting a business.

Sharon McGillion is the founder of Pressie Pouch, a company selling self-sealing gift wrap pouches, “You have to do without if you’re working with a limited budget, as most entrepreneurs or start-ups are doing. You put any extra funds back into your business in order to launch a product, with no expensive holidays or extravagant spending allowed. I have a teenage son and he’s my main priority; if he wants he gets, and I do without. I keep him posted every day on developments in the business, and we’ve had to sacrifice luxuries to make it work.

Sharon continues, “I battled on despite the tough financial challenge, because I believed in myself and I believed in my product. Recently, I shipped my first consignment to the USA as we are soon to be listed on Amazon. The American market is presenting many opportunities now. As a result of my work with US partners, I am now a product scout for consumer goods, sourcing products that potentially could be sold in the USA, Canada and beyond – all because I just did not give up.” 

Colin Goldstein, Commercial Growth Director at iwoca: added: “We all expect to make sacrifices when starting a company. Whether it’s spending less time with loved ones, reduced work-life balance or taking fewer holidays, you’d struggle to find a business owner who hasn’t had to forgo something in the early days.”

What would business owners change if they could? Almost two in every five (37 percent) wished they’d made better use of credit facilities to help their business grow. Late payments, which often lead to cash-flow problems, remains one of the key pain-points that small businesses would like to change (23 percent). However, far more male business owners (25 percent) saw this as a major issue, opposed to just 16 percent of female business owners.

Marketing and PR remains one of the most creative ways to grow the profile of a small business, however SME owners did not feel as if they had the necessary tools at their disposal. Having better tools to promote their business was the third most popular option, with 13 percent citing it as something they’d like to change.

Would you do it all again? An overwhelming 90 percent of small business owners would do it all again, even after knowing what they now know about starting a business. This leaves one in ten saying that they would choose not to start a business and pursue a different path instead.

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