Research highlights more women than men sacrificed pay for company start-up.

The cost of leading.

Research from iwoca, one of Europe’s largest business lenders, suggests that not being paid was the biggest business sacrifice for UK SME owners (37 per cent), with nearly half of female entrepreneurs (46 per cent) making this sacrifice.

iwoca’s inaugural Small Business Insights survey shows that more women may have sacrificed pay than men when starting a company, with nearly half of all female business owners in this study saying they sacrificed their income, opposed to just 34 per cent of their male counterparts. The results also show that exactly a quarter (25 per cent) of all respondents had to sacrifice time spent with family or a partner, however more men sacrificed time with family (28 per cent) than women (18 per cent).

The findings form part of iwoca’s new customer survey which looks at the biggest sacrifices made by SME owners. The study also analyses what business owners would change if they had a choice and reveals the best things about starting a business.

Sharon McGillion is the founder of Pressie Pouch, a company selling self-sealing gift wrap pouches: “You have to do without if you’re working with a limited budget, as most entrepreneurs or start-ups are doing. You put any extra funds back into your business in order to launch a product, with no expensive holidays or extravagant spending allowed. I have a teenage son and he’s my main priority; if he wants he gets, and I do without. I keep him posted every day on developments in the business, and we’ve had to sacrifice luxuries to make it work.”

Sharon continues, “I battled on despite the tough financial challenge, because I believed in myself and I believed in my product. Recently, I shipped my first consignment to the USA as we are soon to be listed on Amazon. The American market is presenting many opportunities now. As a result of my work with US partners, I am now a product scout for consumer goods, sourcing products that potentially could be sold in the USA, Canada and beyond – all because I just did not give up.

Colin Goldstein, Commercial Growth Director at iwoca: added: “We all expect to make sacrifices when starting a company. Whether it’s spending less time with loved ones, reduced work-life balance or taking fewer holidays, you’d struggle to find a business owner who hasn’t had to forgo something in the early days.”

Almost two in every five (37 per cent) leaders wished they’d made better use of credit facilities to help their business grow. Late payments, which often lead to cash-flow problems, remains one of the key pain-points that small businesses would like to change (23 per cent). However, far more male business owners (25 per cent) saw this as a major issue, opposed to just 16 per cent of female business owners. Marketing and PR remains one of the most creative ways to grow the profile of a small business, however SME owners did not feel as if they had the necessary tools at their disposal. Having better tools to promote their business was the third most popular option, with 13 per cent citing it as something they’d like to change.

An overwhelming 90 per cent of small business owners would do it all again, even after knowing what they now know about starting a business. This leaves one in ten saying that they would choose not to start a business and pursue a different path instead.

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