Lessons from the UK’s Leading Female Entrepreneurs

2016 NatWest everywoman Awards. Photo by Steve Dunlop

2016 NatWest everywoman Awards. Photo by Steve Dunlop

Today marks the 15th annual NatWest everywoman Awards, the UK’s most recognised programme that celebrates the achievements of the country’s leading women business owners. Having PR’d the awards since 2006, I’ve had valuable insight into the impact on the winners’ businesses and the characteristics of what it takes to succeed in business as a woman.

Perhaps the most rewarding aspect of these awards is to learn what they have meant to those who have won them. Every year we meet extraordinary women and we secure them media opportunities that in most cases they would not achieve for themselves. Sometimes it’s not until some months, even years later that we learn the outcome.

A few years ago a previous winner greeted me warming at the awards’ drinks reception. It transpired that in the months after her win, the resulting publicity got her on – in her words – “a list”, from which an invitation to Downing Street followed and the opportunity to sit on a committee advising Government on measures to engage more women in enterprise. Too often it is hard to measure the real impact of PR, something by which the industry is constantly challenged. In that one minute, I understood clearly why these awards are so important to the women who are nominated and why they are a platform from which they will go on to succeed further.

This year’s finalists are no less inspiring than those who have preceded them. Amongst them is a visionary technology entrepreneur whose business has the potential to revolutionise how we deal with waste, turning it into clean energy. A bereaved sister whose first aid course for parents has meant that babies lives have been saved. An accountant who turned the small family business into a £21 million rural enterprise that provides valuable employment and community support. These are just three of the 21 extraordinary stories that will be shared at the ceremony later today.

What is it that these women have in common? That they can take an idea, mould it into a business, often overcome adversity and scale it into a sizeable organisation that is a vital contributor to UK plc.

They recognise their skills set and they don’t try to do everything, but they know that there is nobody who can sell their business or product better than they can. Passion is infectious and it sells. They don’t look back and think “If only…“. They look forward and think “What if…?” and they create networks of people that can help them achieve their ambitions. They look after themselves. Recently I read about a nurse who asked her dying patients what they regret. What struck her were the ones that wish they’d spent more time with family and worked less. That might sound morbid, but it’s a stark reminder of what matters most in life. And finally, the one thing that every woman said to me was – get a damned good accountant!

#ewawards #enterprise #women #natwest #anniversary


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