Rise of the ‘Returners’

New data released by Startup Direct shows that the number of women over the age of 30 seeking start up finance and mentoring increased by a third in 2014

In 2013 women over the age of 30 made up just 25 per cent of enquiries to the Government start up loan provider, but this grew to 57 per cent in 2014, an increase of one third. This trend is being driven largely by ‘Returners’; women who have taken a break from the workplace to have a family and are motivated to start their own business by the challenges of finding flexible and stable employment which is well paid enough to cover the cost of childcare.

They are starting predominantly internet-based micro businesses, employing fewer than 5 employees, which they can run part-time from their homes and are undeterred by the challenge of juggling home and family commitments with the demands of a new business.

James Pattison, CEO of Startup Direct, said: “A growing number of women are disillusioned by the difficulties of combining family life with a traditional 9 to 5 job, not least the inflexible hours, lack of well paid part time work and the cost of childcare, which continues to spiral. The internet has made it easier than ever to start up a business from home and women are drawn to the prospect of being their own boss, choosing their hours and cutting childcare bills by working flexibly around family life.”

Case study: Naomi West and Baby Sensory

Naomi West, 32, worked in digital marketing for a Financial Services company before her first son, Jacob, now almost 3, was born. She no longer wanted to be on conference calls at 6am with her colleagues in Australia and Skype meetings at 9pm with her American team. She freelanced for a while but still found it difficult to juggle family life with deadlines and client commitments. The peaks and troughs of work made planning childcare difficult and when her second son, Benjamin, was born with a heart defect, Naomi knew she needed to find a new way of working that would enable her to be there for her family.

Having enrolled both her children in Baby Sensory classes, Naomi waited for an epiphany about her future career. It came when her Baby Sensory class leader told her she was recruiting for a new class leader and Naomi got the job, gaining valuable exoerience. When the opportunity to take on her own franchise came up in her area of Bromsgrove, Worcester, she jumped at the chance, borrowing £15,000 in two loans from Startup Direct and launching her first classes in January this year. She now runs 11 classes per week, with up to 20 babies in each class.

“When the opportunity to start my own franchise came up, I felt instantly it was something I could make a success of”, said Naomi. ”I had experience with the business as a client and class leader, and had the skills from my career in digital marketing to set up and market the business in my own area. I now have regular class hours doing something sociable and creative, which fits brilliantly around family life. What’s not to love?”

Startup Direct is encouraging more women to follow their dream of launching their own business by running a series of workshops starting on 19th March aimed specifically at women, offering advice on all aspects of entrepreneurship as well as practical advice on childcare and time management. In particular it is targeting ‘Returners’, those are want to start businesses following a period of maternity leave or a career break after having children.

To apply for a start up loan, visit www.startupdirect.org