Small is going to be huge - the rise of micro-businesses created by women.
We're proud to be part of a growing trend.
We have been busy reflecting on what it's like to be a woman in business this week...
International Women's Day is getting bigger and bigger each year - and finally getting the exposure and the coverage that such a positive campaign deserves. One of the themes being explored in 2020 is the rise of micro-businesses (those employing nine people or less) - of which Boxcitement is a proud example. So I thought I would investigate what being the owner of a micro-business actually looks like, and why they are inspiring more and more women every year to give up the day job and strike out on their own.
According to the International Labour Organisation, in Europe, 58% of total employment is provided by small business - of which over 50% are classified as micro businesses. Without the huge overheads associated with traditional companies, it's no surprise that these micro businesses are thriving and that the trend towards smaller, more flexible workplaces is growing fast.
Of course, women have long been striving for a balance between a challenging and satisfying career and the fact that the majority of household and child rearing responsibilities still fall on them - and traditionally many have accepted lower paid part time jobs as the only option open to them. But the rise of micro businesses may at last be changing the way a woman can work - long overdue, but very, very welcome.
With the importance of protecting mental health becoming more and more recognised, the stresses of daily commuting, working long hours dictated by someone else and dealing with sometimes toxic environments are being seen as being counter-productive. Micro companies can more easily allow employees to be flexible, and they often report that allowing employees to dictate their own working conditions actually improves productivity.
It has been proven that woman are more likely to make a success of starting a small business than men, given the opportunity. Perhaps this is due to the fact that women are naturally adept at juggling many different challenges at once, making them the perfect entrepreneurs. What it does mean is that more women are becoming micro bosses, and that they are in a fantastic position to be able to change the way the corporate world manages women in the workplace. Micro businesses ran by women and employing women are the fastest growing sector of industry in the developing world - and we are now in a better position than ever to change old fashioned attitudes to working for good.
Another bonus of the rise of micro-businesses is their ability to adapt to change. Restrictions of corporate middle management are lifted - if you want to try a 'big' idea, or change the direction of a company, or launch a brand new product you can do it immediately, without having to wade through layers of bureaucracy. Perhaps this is why creative companies such as Boxcitement are thriving - it's a lot easier to be innovative, to respond to trends and to adapt to changing conditions if you have a small group of staff who are used to thinking on their feet.
Boxcitement is a company which started with two partners coming up with a creative idea in a pub in 2015. As it grew and we started to need a larger workforce, we made the decision very early to be as flexible with our staff as possible. We don't have set working hours, which helps everybody to be adaptable. Tasks are set and deadlines agreed - and then it is up to every individual to work out how and when to complete their part of it. Some people like to work in the evenings when their children are in bed, others prefer to work in the middle of the day when childcare is available - and I like to work at weekends and then take time during the week to attend exhibitions or exercise classes when everything is quiet.
No-one has to work in the office if they don't want to, but there is always a seat at the table and the promise of pizza for anyone who fancies it. And time off is always made available for concerts, long weekends, birthday celebrations and lie-ins, because we know that our staff value the flexibility we provide and will always make up the time. And not having to heat large offices, or expect people to get into their cars every day, or sit in an office even if they are sick and contagious, surely makes for a better world for everyone to live in?
There is still lots of work to be done of course to allow women to fulfill their potential as much as men have been able to over the past generations. But I really do think that micro businesses like Boxcitement can be part of the solution, aiding women to follow their desires and build something that belongs to them. I would love to hear from you if you are a micro business owner - let's hear it for the girls!