Inspiring the next generation of women entrepreneurs: Lloyds Bank explains why innovation is key

Catherine Rutter, Lloyds Banking Group’s Ambassador for Yorkshire and the Humber, wants more collaboration and support to help women-owned businesses across the region.

Creating the right environment for women entrepreneurs

Being a women in business herself, Catherine wants to shine a light on the challenges experienced by women-owned businesses and encourages collaborative thinking to help build on the incredible innovation already taking place.

It’s simple; more needs to be done to help women-owned start-ups be where they need to be. As a region, we need to increase collaboration and encourage women business leaders to share their experiences in order to unlock and maximize the growth potential of what’s essentially half of the population.

“By engaging women at a younger age, we give ourselves the chance to change the pathways for the next generation.”

And a key driver for this growth is going to be innovation. Whether that’s new products and services, or simply using technology to boost productivity, we need to work together to ensure equal opportunities for all.

Innovation and productivity come hand in hand. For both to grow, we need to help women-led businesses of all shapes and sizes, across all sectors, access the tools and support needed to take an idea and turn it into success.

But the idea of ​​innovation can sometimes sound overwhelming, especially for those who may be changing career or who have an idea but not necessarily the experience in how to make that a reality. But I believe more can be done to educate women about the different forms that innovation can take and building confidence from a young age is an important part of this.

By engaging women at a younger age, we give ourselves the chance to change the pathways for the next generation. We need to show younger people that they really can achieve anything they put their mind to – and begin a narrative that entrepreneurship is an option for a career.

But to do this successfully, we need people in place to nurture these ambitions and encourage creative and critical thinking from the earliest opportunity. If we can get role models supporting women from a younger age, or even engaging with school-led careers discussions, we can start to build a culture that will support women in achieving their career ambitions in the world of business long-term.

It’s invaluable for women to have access to the relevant programs and training to help them reach their business goals. Whether it’s role models, mentors, or peer-to-peer networks, supporting each other by creating a sense of community is crucial. Providing real-life examples of innovation can also allow entrepreneurs to see first-hand how they can take their idea and turn it into reality.

Encouragingly, we have a host of support in the region. For example, the funded ESF #WECAN project led by Leeds Beckett University helps businesses identify their needs and map out a plan to reach their ambitions.

There is also the West Yorkshire Business Accelerator Fund worth £22m, that provides women entrepreneurs with a place to get advice, guidance, and mentoring, and also connect with other likeminded businesses.

We know from speaking to women across Yorkshire and the Humber that 38% are looking for help with leadership skills, 36% with digital skills and 31% in finding talented employees. Through our Lloyds Bank Academy, we deliver free online digital packages designed to give people and businesses the confidence to boost their skills. This includes training on designing a sustainable and customer focused strategy, how to be a more effective leader, and how to work and collaborate productively.

The digital world is ever evolving, and we know that a fifth (23%) have digitized their business since day one. To help stay on top of the changing digital landscape and offer the most updated support, Lloyds Bank also partners with Google and Microsoft to get small businesses off the ground and onto the path to success.

Creating the right environment

It would however be handed over to me to say that creating a supportive network like this is a walk in the park as it can be overwhelming to know where to turn for support when you are your own boss. But our research shows that 42% of women-led businesses in Yorkshire want access to case studies about people like themselves that have experienced the same journey they are on, so it’s clearly an important issue to keep progressing.

Sharing personal experiences can give someone the confidence they need to pursue their ambitions and unlock the support we have across the region. And this won’t only help in the short-term. By cultivating innovation, companies tend to survive longer, overcome economic shocks more easily, and bring new ideas that attract new investment.

But time is not always a luxury so looking for the right information, and having the head space to absorb this, can be a challenge.

As part of our mission to help women-owned businesses, all of the advice we share is grounded in an understanding of that particular organization, and bespoke to its leader. We’re also committed to the diversity of our own team, so we can match women-owned businesses with our colleagues who are able to understand the particular barriers and struggles they are facing.

While innovation is a key driver for growth, it will be the coming together of knowledge and expertise among peers that will really help to champion our region’s women entrepreneurs.

Yorkshire and the Humber is a great place to live and work and we’ll continue to be at the side of businesses and support women and their ideas of innovation to help the region thrive for generations to come.

Read the full Women Entrepreneurs: the Northern Perspective report here.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.