Last week I was one of the 7 startups to pitch in front of investors for the first time. While I heard some great ideas and met nice people, I was the only female founder. The lack of women in business and entrepreneurship in the UK is not uncommon. I believe I know all the barriers, but this post is how we can help more women to follow their dreams.
I always look for opportunities to help women. Last week a local lady connected with me on LinkedIn. She spotted my video case study and wanted to know how I went from an idea to now. While I often get connection requests that don't amount to much, this one was going to be an interesting one.
I offered my mobile number to call, she quickly replied and called me later that day. We spoke about my background and how I was in a very similar place to her several years ago. She is still in a 9–5 job dreaming of making her idea in the beauty industry a reality one day. While I quit my 9–5 when I still had no valuable idea to proceed with, it did allow me to build up a marketing business. Eventually a year after quitting I came up with an idea that is now a reality — AirCook for You.
This lady was grateful for the help and my advice and asked if we could stay in touch. I always say yes to women who are trying to achieve. See I know first hand while there are women out there who fight for equality and all, there are not many who would actually help or give you any minute of their day. Yes, we are all busy (I still have a marketing business, 2 kids and building a startup along with other normal things like having a social life). I reached out to so many women in the industry and asked for advice, partnerships, even investment (!) and so many turned me away. A local food writer seemed a promising connection at first, but then she shut me down so quick it took me nearly a week to get over it. I do not take things like that personally, but how many women ask you for help on a daily basis? Probably not that many. So why say no? Why not help in any way you can?
I was never one for girl power and that. I always believed women should be women and men should be men. However, since I had my little girl in December 2018, the whole idea of making it happen and help as many people, especially women along the way became one of my several ambitious goals. I would like my girl to grow up knowing that I gave my dream of bringing authentic culinary experience and private chefs to curious travellers best shot and that the world is not a scary place and that there is help out there and that she can follow her dreams if she is passionate about something and works hard. What mother would not want that for her girl?
This is not to say I want something different for my boy, but having both, I can see the differences. I can see how confident and assertive boys are compared to girls. I can see how harder it is for girls to go out there and just be who they want to be. So knowing that makes me want to help women, not ruin their days, hours and minutes.
I get knocked back on a weekly basis. My emails are left unanswered, my calls don't get returned and it all affects my confidence daily. I bounce back because I am strong, old and wise, but not every woman out there has the same confidence to go back and people who hurt (perhaps no intentionally) knock the confidence to the floor in some cases. Why do that when you can help? And even if you cannot now, just say when or refer to someone else or at least try and be kind when you say NO. It is so simple and has a better outcome for everyone. You feel good and they do too.
There are many ways you can influence and inspire girls and women, you don't have to wait for a call or message or a cry for help. Reach out to local schools and offer help/talk or a workshop. If you have any books or other resources that helped you why not pass them on?
I hope you can see how by saying yes to women, girls or helping in any way, we can build a better society and raise more confident girls.
If you need advice or help or just support, please reach out to me. I am always happy to chat, advise and listen.