According to Startup Britain, a remarkable 80 new businesses were born every single hour in the UK last year, with 325,000 new companies registering between January and June alone. These are incredible figures and I am incredibly proud to say that my e-commerce venture can be included in them. I am also incredibly proud to say that I. Am. Female.
So a bit about me. I left my somewhat highflying job towards the end of last year to embark on what most (including myself) would deem to be an utter gamble. I had an idea, an idea I thought could actually become something real, and so I decided to put everything on hold, my life, my salary, fun, all for the sake of my baby, Styledlike.com.
I have to admit, there was a reason why I chose the tender age of 27 to take such a gamble, and it's a reason I'm not particularly proud of. That reason is fear.
Like a lot of females my age I can't seem to shake the feeling that I'm starting to tread close to the boarders of the dreaded 'settling down' age. I have so much I want to achieve in life; marriage, kids, my own business, an amazing house, possibly a charity, luxurious holidays and not necessarily in that order. These are goals that I have set myself. The timeline in which I want to achieve these, I do not feel I set myself.
For me, if I wanted to give my little startup baby a real go, it needed to be done in the next few years. Before the questions of 'when are you getting married?' 'When are you having kids?' started. Before I had real responsibilities, other than making sure my rent gets paid on time and that I can afford a pint at the weekend. And so it comes to be that that time is now.
So those are my reasons. A lot of people will disagree with my reasons. I don't really agree with them myself! But for now, it's the plan I'm sticking to.
Dipping my feet into the ice-cold pond that is the startup world has opened my eyes to a lot of sad realities. Not just my own sad admission and realisation that I want to take my risks before someone reminds me about my supposed biological clock. But the spikey harsh reality the there is a severe female startup drought out there.
I'm lucky enough to be able to attend various startup events in London. At a lot of these events there is an opportunity for founders to stand up and talk about their business and idea. I'll happily admit that I am yet to do this myself, but what I won't happily admit is that I'm not the only one not putting myself out there.
These events, not always, but more often than not, have about a 70/30% split of men to women. With my first one alarm bells rang within the first five minutes, telling me that I was stepping into a male dominated space. The more events I went to, the more this was cemented. Where are all the women? I know they're out there. Online you can find some of these women, often hiding in the 'female only' startup groups on social media, or putting forward outstanding ideas in forums. They are out there, the sad reality is, there just aren't as many.
So, why aren't there as many female startup founders as there are male? I like to think that it has nothing to do with my own personal fears but unfortunately I'm just not sure. Perhaps it's a confidence thing? Again, I really hope not.
And so now we find ourselves at the start of a new year. Excitingly the startup figures will probably rise even more in 2017, as more and more innovative companies present themselves to be judged.
So I ask this, my entrepreneurial sisters, let's make sure that women are at the forefront of it!