As a female founder (you can read how I launched The Healthy Mummy here) I strongly believe we need to encourage more women into entrepreneurship and I believe that a big part of this is starting at school.

It’s no secret that there’s a significant gender gap in entrepreneurship. Women own only one in three businesses in Australia which is worrying since women make up 72% of the workforce in the entire country.

Now, there are many reasons why this gender gap exists. One of the biggest barriers for women starting their own businesses is confidence. Many women simply don’t feel confident enough to take the leap and create their own business, and this is where schools can play a vital role.

Teachers and schools can create an environment that is conducive to female entrepreneurship. They can help girls develop the necessary skills and confidence to become successful entrepreneurs. 

Here are 6 ways we can help build a new environment for future female leaders.

1. Promote entrepreneurial role models.

One of the best ways to encourage girls to start their own businesses is to outright show them that it’s possible. There are many successful female entrepreneurs out there that can be the students’ role models. 

Simply showing young girls that they can follow in the footsteps of others and achieve success as an entrepreneur is key to planting the idea in their minds early on.

These are lots of successful female entrepreneurs in Australia that can influence and inspire young girls to become business leaders themselves—regardless of gender.

2. Teach essential business skills.

Now, they may be inspired, but do they have the skills to implement their plans?

Teachers and schools are at the forefront of teaching them essential business skills vital to building companies. Unfortunately, many women don’t feel confident enough to start their own business because they lack the necessary skills. So, we must provide them with the tools and knowledge. 

These are essential business skills you can seek to nurture:

  • Financial Literacy: Grasp the concepts of bookkeeping, profit and loss, and cash flow.
  • Marketing: Learn how to promote their business and reach their target market.
  • Sales: Master the art of selling products and services effectively.
  • Product Development: Understand how to develop and bring new products to market.

These are just some essential business skills that girls need to develop to start their own business goals. No matter how you put it, schools play a significant role in teaching these skills and helping girls become more confident entrepreneurs. Wouldn’t it be amazing if these skills made it onto the curriculum!!

3. Connect them to support and resources.

Aside from getting them to dream big, another way is to provide young female students with the necessary support and resources to turn things into a reality. You can start by helping them get access to funding, mentorship, and business advice from accomplished business people in their chosen industries.

Many organisations and programs provide support for female entrepreneurs, which can help young girls visualise their path toward success. Some of these include:

  • Women in Business Network: Provides professional networking opportunities, business advice, and mentorship for women in business.
  • Women’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry: Offers a range of services and resources to support women trying to make an impact in Australia’s business landscape.
  • Resource Directory for Women Entrepreneurs: Where you can find information and tools that help advance women entrepreneurs in the country.
  • Women Founders Network: Connects female entrepreneurs with mentors, investors, and other resources they need to develop their ideas and grow their businesses.
  • The Boosting Female Founders Initiative: Provides female founders and business owner with grant funding to improve and scale their businesses.

It’s a simple step, but more of us need to connect potential female entrepreneurs to the necessary support and resources. Then, we will all be one step closer to empowering future female business leaders and bridging the gender gap in Australia.

4. Encourage girls to think outside the traditional job market.

45%, of the female business starters in Australia were motivated by a passion or hobby, wanting to monetise their interests. That means that many of them were thinking outside of the traditional job market and carving their own path. Now, we can encourage young girls to do the same. 

Show them that starting a business can come in multiple shapes and sizes, and they don’t have to conform to traditional 9-5 jobs that older generations used to expect from women. For example, many online resources and platforms allow people to freelance and work from home. 

Some popular freelancing platforms include:

  • Fiverr: Great for beginners looking for non-traditional jobs.
  • Freelancer: Perfect for those who are unsure of what kind of job they want to have.
  • Upwork: Ideal for finding specialised projects and finding long term clients.

In other words, show girls that many different options are available to them. By doing this, not only will you expand the non-traditional workforce in Australia, but you’ll also be empowering young students to use their skills and abilities to pursue their dreams.

5. Stimulate creativity and innovation.

Another key trait that successful entrepreneurs have is creativity and innovation. Girls need to be encouraged to think outside the box and come up with new ideas, where schools can really make a difference. 

Here are 5 creative ideas to strengthen the left side of their brains:

  • Art classes: Help them develop their creative side by exploring different forms of art.
  • Design and technology classes: Teach them how to design and create new products.
  • Entrepreneurship clubs: Gather like-minded students to come up with new ideas.
  • Problem-solving classes: Open doors for them to develop their critical thinking skills.
  • Makerspaces: Create spaces for students to collaborate and build new things.

All of these activities will encourage girls to be more creative and innovative. The more inspired and driven they are—the more they’re likely to pursue their business dreams.

6. Help girls develop a positive mindset.

Now, the sad truth is that imposter syndrome prevents many women from pursuing their dreams. Whether it’s from their upbringing or society’s biases that subconsciously affect them, young girls often doubt their abilities to start a business themselves.

Given that teachers and schools are playing a key role in the early stage developments of these young girls, they have the ability to encourage determination and persistence before they enter the demanding and competitive landscape in Australia. Teach them how to stand up when they fall down, and have a positive mindset to combat any doubts that’ll surface in their minds.

So, how can schools help girls develop a positive mindset?

Here are some ideas:

  • Encourage them to take calculated risks: Girls need to be encouraged to take wise and calculated risks, as it’s the only way they can achieve their goals. As the famous quote goes, “You only fail when you stop trying.”
  • Teaching them that failure is not the end: Failure is a part of any entrepreneur’s journey, but girls need to understand that it’s not the end of the world if they fail. They should view it as a learning opportunity and use it to become even better.
  • Help them stay focused on their goals: It’s easy to get sidetracked when you’re running your own business. But if they stay focused on their goals, they’ll be more likely to achieve them. One way is to have them write down their vision and repeat it to them whenever they feel defeated.

By teaching girls these things, schools can help them develop a positive mindset that will be essential for their success as entrepreneurs. Even Sara Blakely of SPANX was rejected by over 30 manufacturers before finding one that’ll take her product—all it took was persistence and determination.

Educating Young Female Entrepreneurs

Encouraging young female students to start their own business is vital for the future of entrepreneurship in Australia. Girls need to see that it’s possible for them to be successful entrepreneurs, regardless of their gender. But it’s up to all of us to create an environment that’s conducive to female entrepreneurship.

Together, we can empower and build the next generation of female entrepreneurs today.

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