Where have all the women gone? A shortage of media coverage of women-in-business is a cause for concern. Whatever your views, and experiences, of the period we were governed by Margaret Thatcher, the film ‘The Iron Lady’ reminds us just how far women in positions of leadership have travelled in the intervening 33 years. The same can be true of women who have had the courage and enthusiasm to start their own businesses, most noticeably during troubled economic times.
I’m reminded of the time I graduated in 1982, a particularly tough recession when there were too many graduates chasing too few jobs. I took myself off the job market with a year at Durham University Business School to learn about the joys of working for a smaller firm; I was hooked and never looked back. Then there were the two outbreaks of Foot and Mouth disease in 2001 and 2007 which left many farms perilously close to bankruptcy but stimulated a wave of rural enterprise by women whose income would keep the farms afloat. Women in Rural Enterprise has continued to support such women by providing networking, encouragement and advice.
So we come to the most recent recession. Are we seeing an upswing in women turning to self-employment? Well, according to the Labour Force Survey, numbers of self-employed women has increased quite dramatically – up 10% since 2009. Sadly, I don’t see the equivalent volume of news coverage or commentary to tell us this is happening or to encourage others to be their own boss. Are we too modest to broadcast our achievements? Having handled the PR for Prowess for several years, and also for WiRE, I know there are plenty of good stories to share – and that journalists are genuinely looking to feature positive news in the current gloom.
So ladies, set modesty aside and write or talk about your successes. For example, a business can be news-worthy if it ticks the following boxes:
- The business delivers a new service, or innovative product, which fills a need;
- You have an interesting or unusual background (career change, history of overcoming challenges);
- You have famous or unusual customers;
- Your approach to marketing or PR is imaginative, and effective;
- You are creating jobs, and sales are looking healthy.
These are just a few of the many reasons why others will find you and your business of interest. I’ll leave it to a future blog to talk a bit more about how to get your story better known. Given that self-promotion is the single most effective key to women’s success, not just in business but romance and friendship, too, let’s get promoting.