Businesses owned by women less likely to have reopened following lockdown

It’s been a tough time to run a business recently – we launched a survey to find out exactly what sacrifices business owners have been making during the pandemic.

28 August 2020

We surveyed almost 500 business owners – the findings indicate that women could be making even greater sacrifices than men when it comes to running their businesses, as they battle through the challenges from the pandemic.

Nearly 1 in 4 female-owned businesses remain closed post lockdown

The sacrifices that female business owners are anticipating could be attributed to how quickly they have been able to return to business as usual. 23% of female business owners reported that they are still not trading, compared to 14% of male business owners. In line with this, women were less likely than men to report having returned to pre-coronavirus activity, with 14% of women reporting business was at normal levels compared with 21% of men.

The biggest sacrifices: no holidays and using personal savings

When looking at all business owners in the study, it’s clear that not going on holiday with family, partners or children was the biggest sacrifice made during the crisis (53%). And looking to the future, it’s women who will suffer the most – the majority (60%) of women running small businesses do not expect to take time off work in the coming year, whereas under half (47%) of men don’t expect to.

Sacrificing holidays was followed closely by business owners having to use personal savings to finance the business (51%), and deciding not to pay themselves a salary (48%).

Samantha Guilfoyle is the founder of S G Accountancy. She also has a second business designing and selling jewellery in Wales. On top of single-handedly running two businesses, Samantha is a single mum with three children. She explains how she’s had to sacrifice holidays, pay, and her own wellbeing during the pandemic.

“The main sacrifice is the toll it's taken on me personally,” says Samantha. “I’ve wound myself up worrying about how other people are keeping and I've done an awful lot of free work for people I've worked with before. Unfortunately there’s been minimal invoice work, so whilst I’ve just been trying to do the best for the community, my income has taken a hit. I've also missed my own salary payments, but I don't pay myself much anyway."

“Normally I’d work part-time through the summer so that I can spend time with my kids and go out and enjoy life. We’d normally be at the beach in the van now. But this year we haven't done any of that – I’ve worked more hours but invoiced a lot less.”

And looking ahead, it doesn’t look like business owners expect to reintroduce their salary payments anytime soon either. The theme continues here as we find out that female business owners are more likely not to take a salary over the next 12 months, with 42% expecting to forgo wages compared with 38% of men.

""There is no right or wrong way to go through this. It's just about having enough confidence in yourself to do what is best for you and your family – that’s all you can do.”"

“What drives me to battle through is the fact that I want security for my children”

Samantha touches upon the potential reasons for this gender imbalance when it comes to running a business: “A lot of women – even subconsciously – feel that their role is to be a mum and the primary carer for their children,” says Samantha. “This isn’t because this is forced upon them, but they're worried about being judged if they put their business first. This holds women back unnecessarily without them even realising they’re being held back."

“What drives me to battle through is the fact that I want security for my children. The whole world has been dropped in the deep-end of something that we know nothing about. There is no right or wrong way to go through this. It's just about having enough confidence in yourself to do what is best for you and your family – that’s all you can do.”

If you run a small business and are looking for finance, consider applying for a loan with us through the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme or our Flexi-Loan.

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Charlotte is a PR specialist at iwoca. She previously worked as a senior account manager, helping our customers access and utilise iwoca funding for their businesses.

Article updated on: 28 August 2020

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