Tricia Fox, entrepreneur, founder and CEO of Volpa, shares her thoughts on female entrepreneurship
“As we celebrate International Women’s Day, it’s as good a time as any to reflect. I’ve been an entrepreneur for 16 years. It wasn’t a career path I was encouraged to follow but, like many marketing and PR professionals before me, I sort of fell into running my own business. Most people I knew warned me not to. It was risky, they said. I had given up my job as a management consultant and found myself with free time pitching my writing skills to a former colleague, who subsequently hired me to do their PR as a freelancer. It was the beginning of a venture into self-employment, which then snowballed into the start-up of a limited company, the growth of an agency and here I am today.
“I came up through the ranks of running a business in the early noughties when women’s entrepreneurship was firmly on the rise. Events encouraging women to start their own business were as commonplace as fish and chip shops on a British High Street. I embraced it all. When you start a business your learning curve is steep, almost perpendicular. You are constantly learning on the job with the most wide-ranging responsibilities. From taking out the bins to setting the strategy, no stone of your company should be left unturned by you. You never know what’s lurking under stones.
“Movements like International Women’s Day and grassroot movements of women’s business clubs have all contributed to my career in scaling a business. But surely blokes run businesses too? Isn’t it sexist to have women only clubs?
“I’m all for equality. I believe in rewarding based on merit. But the truth of the matter is that the world behaves differently to women entrepreneurs. My husband runs his own business too. Unlike me, I can honestly say that he’s never been asked by his bank how much his wife earns when he’s arranging an overdraft because, you know, things might not work out… In his case they didn’t even ask him if he had a wife. Similarly there’s a whole load of business opportunities I’ve not been able to access because I’m not the least bit interested in golf/football/fishing/rugby and other male dominated sports. Now we’re bigger I can send my staff on these but, as a start up, I was unable to participate because I lacked the ability to play the game. Everyday sexism pervades our landscape but with female entrepreneurship on the rise, the tide is changing. If it takes a bit of female focused activity to turn the tables, then that’s ok by me.
“So for those who are swithering on the verge of entrepreneurship, whether you are male or female, take the jump. Do it. But if you’re a woman, be sure to know the ins and outs of your husband’s finances before you open your business bank account. Just in case.”