Women have an increasing role in business and yet all day I’ve heard reports on the radio highlighting a distinct pay divide that remains.
One thing for certain is that the opportunities of education and development that are offered to men are, on the most part, now also offered to women. In honour of our female heritage, surely we owe it to ourselves to grab those opportunities by the proverbial and show the world what we’re made of?
As it’s International Women’s Day tomorrow, I thought I’d take the opportunity to share three of my top women entrepreneurs – from who I take so much of my inspiration and drive:
One woman that certainly springs to mind when discussing female entrepreneurship is Tamara Mellon, former Chief Creative Office and co-founder of Jimmy Choo.
After meeting cobbler Jimmy Choo in the mid nineties, Tamara secured a £150,00 loan from her father and turned it into a £500 million pound business with 100 shops in 32 countries.
The website of her latest self-titled venture explains: “Tamara Mellon was born out of a simple, but groundbreaking philosophy: we are living in a world where women want to buy now, wear now.”
Ladies around the world have Michelle Mone to thank for the Ultimo bra. Now recognised as a lingerie tycoon, Michelle is a classic story of rags to riches. She grew up penniless in a Glasgow tenement, but it was whilst on holiday in Florida that her fortunes turned.
Whilst reading about the latest craze of plastic surgery, Michelle realised that putting silicon in a bra had the same effect as a boob job – just minus the surgery!
She’s quoted as saying: “You have to work your socks off, there’s no shortcut. Always think big in life. You are just as good as anyone else.”
Hilary Devey is another “rags to riches” tale that I really admire. She left school at sixteen and began work in sales and logistics. It seems as though one day she had a light bulb moment and within just three years she was a millionaire!
Articles suggest that the banks initially shunned her approach to logistics and freight, and Hilary had to sell her own house and car to make her £112,000 business model happen.
Fifteen years later, her company PAII-Ex is recognised as having revolutionised haulage and turns over £100 million a year. Her advice to start-ups: “Focus and tenacity: understand the market, people, competition and the opportunities.”
If I were to share any advice myself, I would have to paraphrase a statement that I gave to the Entrepreneurs Forum: “Anyone can have a big turnover, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they are making a profit. It’s a lesson I firmly believe all would-be entrepreneurs need to learn.
“For me, the driver is the passion and the ambition to do something. I’m big on profit. Profit means you can grow, it means you have security and it means you can take on staff.”
[Images courtesy of the BBC and Yahoo Finance]