It’s no secret that female founders are continually faced with a complex web of challenges that often obscure their path to success. Despite remarkable strides towards gender parity, female founded businesses frequently find themselves contending with systemic biases, subtle (and unsubtle) prejudices, and deeply ingrained stereotypes that hinder their access to vital funding.
The struggle to secure adequate investment remains a daily struggle, as women-led startups grapple with disproportionately limited capital allocations.
Despite the incredible businesses female founders are creating, success stats in favour of female founded businesses and the grit and determination shown by some of the most impressive founders of our day, many female founders have to confront a labyrinthine journey, characterised by resilience in the face of adversity, as they seek to conquer the barriers not experienced by their male counterparts.
Democratising access to capital is something we feel incredibly strongly about at Uncapped and is one of the reasons we are excited to partner with Female Founder Finance, who exist to help female founded brands and businesses access vital capital in order to achieve their potential.
We spoke to the founder of Female Founder Finance, Roxanne Goodman, to get her thoughts on the current challenges facing female founders and how they can best set themselves up for success in today’s climate. Here’s what she had to say:
The funding landscape for female founders
I started Female Founder Finance because starting your own brand as a female entrepreneur is an exciting journey, but it can also come with significant challenges, particularly when it comes to funding.
Despite the increasing number of women-owned businesses, female entrepreneurs have been historically disadvantaged when it comes to obtaining finance, a fact that can make starting and running a business significantly more challenging and less attractive for aspirational women entrepreneurs.
This lack of fair and equitable access to capital could potentially be a contributing factor to why we are seeing fewer female-led businesses in the UK despite women having the appetite, capabilities and drive to lead successful businesses.
Despite this appetite and drive, ugly stats continue to raise their ugly heads. Stats such as 35% of women seeking funding have reported encountering gender bias from financiers. This can have both professional and personal consequences.
For example, we are much more likely to see female start-ups being funded by savings and credit cards potentially jeopardising their livelihoods, whilst men are more likely to receive external funding. This is made all the more staggering considering the amount of female-led businesses that have adverse data is substantially less than male-led businesses.
It’s also particularly staggering due to the fact that, if women scaled their businesses at the same rate as men, £250 billion more could be added to the UK economy, and investors could reap the rewards of that growth!
What else do we know? We know that the majority of female founded businesses are purpose led. They were created to solve a problem that their founders had encountered themselves. Through a report by Data Gardener, we also know that only around 4% of all ccjs in the UK are to female founded businesses, as their passion and drive for their businesses means they refuse to let them fail. All this points towards female founded businesses being a better lending prospect than a male one.
The data we have collected so far confirms that the majority of women in business have faced either conscious or unconscious bias when trying to access finance. We have challenged this head on by asking our founding funders to provide us with a female chain of command from the ground up with the aim of women being able to support each other to unlock their potential for growth.
We have been overwhelmed by the support of key male advocates in the industry too, who clearly see the need for this. A different perspective, an equitable outlook and a desire to level the playing field will do wonders for the commercial finance industry and one we know will have an incredibly positive outcome for all involved.
To give yourself the best chance of securing funding as a female founder, and getting your business to where you want it, there are lots of things you can focus on. Some of my key recommendations are below:
Develop a Strong Business Plan
A solid business plan is essential when seeking funding. It demonstrates your knowledge, skills, and ability to succeed as a female entrepreneur. Make sure your business plan is well-researched, clearly outlines your brand's vision, mission, and target audience, and includes a detailed financial forecast.
Build a Supportive Network
Networking is crucial in the business world, especially for female entrepreneurs. Connect with other female founders, join industry-specific organisations, attend conferences and workshops, and leverage social media platforms to expand your network. Building a strong support system can open doors to funding opportunities and mentorship. We are rapidly building out our ecosystem to accommodate female founders to provide them with the platforms for these discussions.
Perfect Your Pitch
Whether you're pitching your brand to investors or potential customers, it's crucial to deliver a compelling and well-crafted pitch and have it up your sleeve for those opportune moments. Practice and refine your pitch, highlighting the unique aspects of your brand and the opportunities it brings. Consider participating in pitch competitions and accelerator programs that offer support, mentorship, and exposure to investors. It’s also vital to have a pitchdeck ready in the wings. I was recently told that a deck is more likely to be read if it's less than 10 pages long. Investors don’t have the time to trawl through a 50 page document to get into the details. The sooner it grabs their attention the more likely the chance of securing a meeting/call.
Explore Government Funding Programs
There are several funding programs and grants for entrepreneurs. Research the funding opportunities provided by your local council or agencies that support women in business. These programs often offer financial assistance, resources, and mentorship to help female founders succeed. We can direct you to your local specialist.
Build Your Online Presence
In today's digital age, having a strong online presence is essential for attracting investors and demonstrating the potential of your brand. Sifted recently reported that the most-followed Unicorn CEOs who posted regularly on LinkedIn and Twitter raised as much as 20% more than their less-followed counterparts. Build a professional website, establish active social media profiles, and create compelling content that showcases your brand's unique value proposition. Building a strong online presence can help generate interest and increase your chances of securing funding.
Find a Mentor
Having a mentor is invaluable as you navigate the challenges of funding your brand so seek out successful founders and female entrepreneurs who have experience in your industry and can provide guidance and support. A mentor can offer insights, advice, and connections that can help you secure funding and grow your brand.
Seek Out Female-Focused Funding Sources
While it can be challenging to secure funding as a female founder, there are now several funding sources that focus on supporting women-owned businesses. That’s why we have partnered with Uncapped, as they fully support the journey female founders have to go on to raise vital working capital for their business.
Research and explore options like women-led venture capital firms, grants for female entrepreneurs, and organisations that provide resources for women in business. Here at Female Founder Finance, we have built the first complete female led eco system, with female professionals across our funding lines and professional services. We are absolutely best placed to support with access to finance as the only wholly female focused commercial finance broker in the UK and are specialists in securing capital outside of the traditional routes
Living in a world where funding disparities still exist between male and female founders can be frustrating, but don't let it discourage you. By staying determined, you can overcome the challenges and secure the funding needed to take your brand to the next level.
It’s important to remember you are not alone, and there is a growing community of female entrepreneurs supporting each other through these challenges.
I truly believe that we can change the face of commercial finance for women entrepreneurs for the better, allowing female founders the same opportunities to start and scale business and adding back to the UK economy.
A powerful message and one that all of us at Uncapped are committed to addressing head on both through our own actions, support and active encouragement and development.
As stated by Roxanne, we have a journey ahead of us, one that will be paved with more challenges, naysayers and obstacles. But by surrounding ourselves with the right people, being prepared and constantly upskilling ourselves, we have the potential to change the funding landscape for good and for the better.
If you want to get in touch with Roxanne and her wonderful team at Female Founder Finance, follow the link to their website here or get in touch with us and we can make a direct introduction.
To explore how Uncapped can help turbocharge your brand via capital and beyond, give us a call today and let’s take the next step in growing your business.