Like Mother, Like Daughter: Two Generations of Entrepreneurs
22nd November 2016
A blog from our Chief of Operations, Mandy Weston
So Rachel (our marketing executive) has been nagging me to write this blog for ages and this morning -even with a little hangover- it felt like a good time. It’s award season and both myself and my daughter, Cariann, were finalists at the Entrepreneur Wales Awards and the Caerphilly Business Forum awards in a few different categories over the last two weeks. Last night, I was honoured to pick up the Women in Business Award at the forum event but typically as a mum, even though super proud of my achievement, I would have given anything for my daughter to have picked one up too.
So how did this all start? I am blessed with three amazing daughters and was fortunate to have a great career in the corporate world of which I could write a whole book. However, my career and real love for work started in 2012 when I left that world and became the founder of Wize Consulting and (shortly following that) Welsh ICE.
Luckily for me, Cariann (my eldest) –after achieving a first degree in Sports and Exercise Science- came to work with me for the summer and thankfully never left. I think it was as much a surprise for her as it was for me as it was far from her original career choice. Soon, with her influence the business was rebranded and Wize Virtual Admin was born and has grown at a steady pace with a team of five supporting a large and varied range of clients.
By 2015 as my other role in Welsh ICE grew, I was really only playing the role of mentor to Cariann, now 27, and was proud to hand her the reigns pretty much full time. It may sound corny but it has worked so well as a direct result of the strength of our mum/daughter relationship. We are great friends and enjoy being in each other’s company, this is true of all my girls though, so lucky me!
Thankfully, we are not alone and this article is worth a read for anyone in or thinking of developing a family business.
However, what the above success has allowed me to now become is someone who is very passionate in getting women of all ages to consider entrepreneurship as a career path here in Wales. I take time out to speak to young women in schools and have influenced friends in their 50’s to give it a go.
There is a clear trend that this is happening with the UK and there has been an increase in the number of women in self-employment increasing by 40% since the recession of 2008. However research from RBS Enterprise Tracker suggests that women are still less likely than men to start their own business (30% v 38%). This same research suggests that if we continue to try to change this trend and boost female entrepreneurship, it could add an extra 60bn to the UK economy, now that’s a big number and worth investing time and focus into. I strongly believe myself and others have a responsibility to do more to help.
Slightly disappointingly, research also shows that many of the reasons women tend not to take that leap is due to a lack of confidence and some risk aversion, especially financial ones. Organisations like Chwarae Teg and our very own Welsh ICE 5-9 clubs go some way into proving that with the right guidance and support women can achieve great things whether in industry or entrepreneurship.
Finally to end this article any women reading this who are really considering that leap whether a promotion, a change of role or setting up their own business should take the time to read Sheryl Sandberg’s book “Lean in”. Sheryl is COO of Facebook and articulates her journey in an easy to read fun book. I related to so many situations in this book that there are notes all over it, something I have not done in a very long time.