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Female entrepreneurs facing barriers to their potential

Australia’s female entrepreneurs are facing key barriers when it comes to realising their ambitions for business growth, EY has found.

The global professional services organisation conducted a survey of 143 female entrepreneurs as part of its Entrepreneurial Winning Women™ (EWW) Asia-Pacific program, which assists female-led businesses to become global market leaders.

An overwhelming majority (90%) of respondents reported plans to grow their business, with 60% planning to grow internationally and 16% working towards an initial public offering (IPO).

Entrepreneurs ‘intimidated’

Almost two-thirds (58%) of entrepreneurs had explored external financing options but most (73%) admitted finding the process “intimidating.”

Further, more than half (53%) lacked a clear exit strategy to help attract prospective investors and more than a quarter had not yet replaced themselves in operational roles, instead spending 40% of their time working in – rather than on – the business.

While building an advisory network has been shown to yield new opportunities and ways of thinking for businesses, only 35% of respondents reported having a network of trusted advisors. A majority, however, said establishing an advisory network was a priority.

For entrepreneurs seeking to expand globally, building a public profile has been shown to accelerate growth. However, only 10% of respondents felt they were “very prominent” and two in five (43%) spent less than 10% of their time on self-promotion.

Behavioural barriers

Annette Kimmitt, EY’s global middle market leader said female entrepreneurs contribute enormous economic value to the Asia-Pacific region, with this year’s 15 EWW Asia-Pacific participants alone generating a combined US$5.5b in 2015 revenues.

“Despite this, our ground-breaking survey identifies some key behavioural barriers among women entrepreneurs that could prevent them from reaching their full potential,” she said.

“Research has shown that the most successful entrepreneurs accelerate growth through a set of key behaviors, including their ability to evaluate financing for expansion, establish key advisory networks and build a public profile.”

“Through the EWW program, EY aims to provide the tools, guidance and networks needed to promote these behaviors among high-potential women entrepreneurs and help ensure that they are limited only by their own definition of success.”

About the EWW program

Last week, participants in the EWW program came together at a two-day conference in Shanghai, where they also joined EY for the Strategic Growth Forum China™ 2016. Throughout the year, they will participate in a series of e-conferences, in-country business sessions and workshops.

According to EY, the EWW program helps female entrepreneurs:

  • expand knowledge through the latest information, research and executive dialogues
  • identify and building strategic alliances
  • access formal and informal guidance and support networks
  • strengthen executive leadership skills and identify opportunities for business growth
  • increase their visibility and that of their companies.

For more information on the Asia-Pacific Class of 2016, visit ey.com/ewwasiapacific.

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James Harkness

James Harkness

James Harnkess previous editor at Dynamic Business

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