Fostering female entrepreneurship

There is no doubt that women and female entrepreneurship are playing an ever-more important role in business. But there is still a way to go before they achieve full work equality with men. We are a firm believer that diversity is essential to us because we need to reflect the demographics of the people we serve – and this helps us to innovate and grow.

As a company which provides cloud accounting software to small businesses and the self-employed, we are particularly aware that of the 788,000 independent contractors in Australia,* the majority of women who make up this sector left large companies to be their own boss so that they could have a better work life balance.**

Only last week we surveyed 300 self-employed women across Australia, titled What Women Want** and, of concern, we found only one in five female entrepreneurs manage their business finances “very successfully.” Clearly there is room for improvement.

Our aim is to engage, empower, and celebrate women who are setting up and managing their own businesses. But for us to deliver a truly sensational product we need to know our customers, how they work, and their biggest financial challenges. To do so, we spend time observing them as they work to identify issues they haven’t articulated and then rapidly adapt and innovate the way our software and services integrate into their business.

Because customer connection is so important to us we need to ensure our workforce is reflective of the diverse nature of our customers. We call it customer empathy and we live by it.

We are excited about how female entrepreneurship is faring in Australia. Profile of Australian Women in Business, the comprehensive 2015 report by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, paints an encouraging picture, but also indicates that there is a lot more room for progress.

Our research also showed 80 per cent of self-employed women are using a mobile phone to run their businesses compared with 70 per cent using a laptop, but most still desire easier-to-use technology and apps to support their ventures. This includes a helping hand when managing their business finances so they can achieve a better work life balance.

We know that it’s vital for the self-employed to build a strong financial foundation to help set themselves up for long term success. To that end, I am proud of the fact we support thousands of women in their businesses, in Australia and around the world.

But fostering women in business is not just for their benefit, there are also huge benefits for the Australian economy.

As Ernst & Young*** has put it: “Getting more of our best-qualified women into the workforce will not only boost the supply of talent and ensure women are securing their career foothold, it will also improve the return on Australia’s investment in education. Currently, the nation is losing over $8 billion each year for undergraduate and postgraduate women who do not enter the workforce.”

*Australian Bureau of Statistics 2014, Forms of Employment, Australia November 2013, ‘’Table 10: Independent Contractors, number of employees and selected employment characteristics-by sex’, data cue: Excel spreadsheet, cat no 63590DO_201311, viewed 02 March 2017 http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/subscriber.nsf/log?openagent&63590do010_201311.xls&6359.0&Data Cubes&8D00A3B60958B20BCA257CD00028726D&0&November 2013&07.05.2014&Latest

** PureProfile What Women Want survey of 300 self-employed women, commissioned by Intuit Australia, February 2017

*** https://www.wgea.gov.au/sites/default/files/EY-(2013)-Untapped-opportunity-The-role-of-women-in-unlocking-Australias-productivity-potential.pdf

Nicolette Maury, Vice President and Country Manager, Intuit Australia

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