Women & Own Business – What is Holding Them Back?

There is huge interest in becoming self-employed – including among aspiring female entrepreneurs. Yet there is often a gap between wishful thinking and reality as the international "METRO Own Business Study" shows. What drives those women who dare to take the step into self-employment? Two female entrepreneurs tell their story.

"When I was a little girl, I always wanted to open my own café," Stefanie Fehlmann recalls with a bright smile. The dream of being one's own boss and going into business by themselves is shared by many women. But only few of them are able to turn their dreams into reality. This is the result of the second part of the international "Own Business Study" conducted on behalf of METRO in ten countries. The study shines the spotlight on the experiences made by female business owners. Almost half of all women surveyed (45%) are dreaming of starting up their own company. But only 12 percent of them thought it was "highly likely" that they will be able to actually turn their ambition into reality. The study identified a number of different obstacles holding them back, such as insufficient financial support (49%), the overall economic situation in their country (43%), the high tax burden (29%), excessive red tape (28%) and lacking assistance services (16%).

In the end, the café didn't happen for Stefanie. But she did start her own business - and is now the proud owner of a food truck business. The truck is the storefront from where Stefanie and her partner sell their delicacy at weddings, company events and public happenings: The Pastrami Burger is made with a beef patty that has been marinated for 72 hours and smoked for 8.

"In hindsight, the way to being my own boss was a very bumpy road," the young businesswoman remembers. She didn't have much of a business plan. The food truck community provided her with some initial funding. Members of the community, which is still young and novel even for experienced restaurateurs, extended their helping hand and offered mutual support.

To own a café was also the dream of Olga Gallina. "I had already worked in many different coffee bars and knew that I would have to pick a good niche for my own café business." The choice was easy - coffee. She turned her dream into reality six years ago when she opened her own coffee roasting business with attached café. Her biggest challenge was to secure the initial funding. She had to convince the banks that she is well prepared to take on the risk, tackle the challenges of self-employment and will ultimately be able to repay the loan.

The Own Business Study also highlighted the deep-rooted prejudices often faced by businesswomen: More than half (56%) of female business owners are afraid of being discriminated against in the business world by those who believe women are less skilled or assertive than men.

"To stand one's ground as a tradeswoman - it often provokes a belittling smile, especially in those traditionally male-dominated professions where women are a rare species," she explains. She speaks of the enormous effort and courage it took to navigate the many obstacles thrown in her way.

Both female entrepreneurs were lucky enough to have the support of their families. They both agree that a strong reliable support base is extremely important. The study also shows that there is a need to intensify the promotion of female entrepreneurship. 80% of all persons interviewed - men and women - are in favour of government initiatives to promote women in business and female entrepreneurship.

Both of our female entrepreneurs agree that a differently calibrated approach to assistance programmes is needed for female entrepreneurs to assist them on their path to self-employment. Olga Gallina mentions the difficulty of many women to successfully juggle their multiple roles as women, mothers and business persons. Stefanie Fehlmann thinks that women are well advised to take position for themselves and must avoid falling into the trap of outdated and imposed role expectations. 

The love of these two women for their own business is at the heart of both of their success stories. They both had the courage to take the step into self-employment and have no regrets about their decision.

The study

The study focuses on female entrepreneurs. How do women go about starting up a business? What drives them? And what is slowing down those who have become female entrepreneurs? The study was conducted in 2017. Approx. 10,000 men and women, employed and self-employed, in ten different countries were interviewed. The survey had the special focus of women who run their own business.

How the new Federal Government in the coalition agreement is dedicated to this issue and what measures are planned to facilitate business start-ups, reports the Digital Office in Berlin (only German version).

The complete METRO Own Business Study and a podcast with Anila Brahmakulam and Ivonne Julitta Bollow accompanying the study are available here on mpulse.de

Olga Gallina started her own business with coffee

Olga Gallina turned her dream into reality six years ago when she opened her own coffee roasting business with attached café. In their coffee shop "Die Kaffee" in Düsseldorf, the hearts of many coffee lovers beat faster. Over twenty different varieties are freshly roasted at Olga Gallina, offered for sale or directly tasted.

die-kaffee.de

Stefanie_Fehlmann_2

Stefanie Fehlmann started her own business with a food truck. The truck "Bordsteinschwalbe" is the storefront from where Stefanie and her partner sell their delicacy at weddings, company events and public happenings: The Pastrami Burger is made with a beef patty that has been marinated for 72 hours and smoked for 8.

www.bordsteinschwalbefoodtruck.com