Corporate Cougars: More Women Over 40 are Becoming Entrepreneurs


Various respected news sources including The Scotsman and BBC news have reported an increase in female entrepreneurs in the last few years, and this figure is expected to rise as the economy grows and opportunities to start new businesses become more realistic. According to Forbes, business start-ups initiated by women in America amount to just 35%. There are many theories why only a small number of women take the risk of founding their own business. From funding issues to socialisation, people were led to believe that women would never truly rival men in business, but now all that is changing, and surprisingly for older generations of women in particular.

Women No Longer Scared to be Innovative

A large factor in the lack of female entrepreneurs is that venture capital funding prioritises science and technology related proposals, which are sectors that women aren’t as attracted to. This could be due to socialisation or possible cognitive strengths in male and female brains. A study realised in 2012 by Global Entrepreneurship Monitor revealed that an estimated 187 million women started businesses in 59 countries, which sounds a lot, but was only a fifth of the number of men. But now there is a reported rise in women starting businesses and inventing new technologies, thanks to various encouragement and help schemes.

The Converge Challenge was established in Scotland in 2010 to encourage people to create innovative products or services. This university-based entrepreneurial business competition funds entrepreneurs, and showcases their ideas in an attempt to win funding so the business plans can become a reality. Last year, of the six finalists, half were women who presented ideas for new technologies; particularly in the healthcare sector as there is a lot of demand in this area. In Scotland, and across the whole of Europe, Universities are investing money in entrepreneurship development programmes and start-up support initiatives.

Older Women Want a Fulfilling Career Finale

Not only has there been a reported increase in the number of women in the UK starting businesses, but those who do tend to be older, rather than young women  at the beginning of the career ladder. Women aged 50 years plus are turning to business start-ups because they want a more fulfilling finale step in their career and, after decades in business, they have the experience to do so.

A study by the Kaufmann Foundation, an American start-up organisation, found that the number of female entrepreneurs in America is increasing. Similar research by the Babson College in Boston discovered that, of all business start ups in the US in 2010, 10% were women aged between 55 and 64. Liz DiMarco Weinmann left her job at the age of 55 and started up a consultancy to help other women over 40 start new careers. In an interview with the BBC, Dimarco Weinmann said that “no job is for life” and that you should start preparing for a plan B career when you hit middle age.

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Lifestyle Benefits Beat Being an Employer

Apart from the financial drawbacks of starting a new business, it does make sense for women to become entrepreneurs later in life; they have more earning potential then staying in regular employment, and working hours are more flexible, meaning life is a little more relaxed. Eformations, a leading UK business launchpad, offers their theories of why more women are turning to entrepreneurship and starting their own businesses: “women tend to turn to their own businesses in later life because they feel it will be their last chance to do something they really want to do. They also have the experience and confidence in the late stages of their career” said Eformations director Balivinder Chowdhary.

According to the 2013 Global Entrepreneurship Monitor survey, which was reported this month, women who own their own businesses have very high life satisfaction levels. The report published this month asked male and female business owners across 70 countries, and found that a large amount of women scored their life as “ideal”. All in all, it’s no surprise that the number of female entrepreneurs is rising, particularly with older generations, and as the economy recovers we could see this number increase further.