In a world that often glorifies growth and equates it with success, it’s essential to take a step back and examine whether bigger is always better, especially in the context of business and financial success. I have been thinking about this tension and how it intersects with the perception of women’s relationship with money and the nuances of business growth.

The Paradox of Micro-Businesses

The United Kingdom, like many countries, is home to a significant number of micro-businesses, defined as those with 0-9 employees. These small enterprises account for a staggering 95% of all businesses in the UK. Yet, despite their vast numbers, they contribute only 32% of total employment and 19% of the country’s overall turnover. However, their importance transcends these statistics, as they make up a substantial 20.4% of the UK’s economy, just slightly below the global average of 20.5%.

One remarkable statistic to consider is that one in five micro-businesses in the UK operates on a turnover of less than £50,000. This statistic alone challenges the conventional notion that “bigger is always better” when it comes to earning money. Size, it seems, is relative and should not be the sole measure of success or financial well-being.

The Complex Relationship Between Women and Money

Now, let’s address the complex and often unfair relationship between women and money. A quick online search for “women wanting money” can lead to a plethora of negative stereotypes and labels, with phrases like “gold digger” being thrown around. Society’s message often suggests that women who seek financial stability or success cannot be trusted or are somehow morally questionable.

On the flip side, when a woman prioritizes charitable or wellness aims over financial gain, she may be dismissed as “wooly” or “fluffy” and deemed not fit for business. This stereotype ignores the fact that financial success and a commitment to social or personal well-being are not mutually exclusive. Women, like anyone else, can be astute businesspeople while also holding strong values and principles.

The Disadvantages of Unbridled Growth

It’s crucial to recognise that while growth is a legitimate and often necessary goal for businesses, the relentless pursuit of expansion without considering the potential downsides can be limiting and even detrimental. Some disadvantages of unchecked business growth include:

  1. Shortage of Cash: Rapid growth often necessitates substantial investments, potentially leading to cash flow issues and the need to borrow money.
  2. Compromised Quality: Increased production output may lead to a decline in product or service quality, risking customer satisfaction and loyalty.
  3. Loss of Control: As businesses expand, they may need to delegate management duties or establish new locations, potentially leading to a loss of control over day-to-day operations.
  4. Increased Capital Requirements: A larger business requires more facilities, equipment, and workforce, which can strain financial resources.
  5. Increased Staff Turnover: Overloading staff with extra work in a fast-growing business can lead to reduced morale, productivity, and higher staff turnover.

The Path to Sustainable Growth

In the pursuit of growth, it’s essential to consider the type of growth that aligns with your business’s values and long-term goals. Organic growth, although slower, is often a safer and more sustainable approach. It allows a business to expand by leveraging its existing strengths and capabilities. This can involve selling existing products to new customers, exploring new geographical areas, or utilizing additional distribution channels.

On the other hand, rapid growth can be tempting, especially when unexpected opportunities arise. However, it comes with significant risks, including cash flow challenges and operational inefficiencies. The key is to maintain a strategic perspective and ensure that growth aligns with your business’s capacity and resources.

In conclusion, the pursuit of growth in business and finances is not inherently wrong, but it should be a thoughtful and deliberate process. Size should not be the sole measure of success, and women, like anyone else, can have a multifaceted relationship with money. Success in business is about finding the right balance between growth and sustainability, and it requires a deep understanding of your business’s unique needs and values.

The Power of Values in Decision-Making

Your core values are like a compass that guides you through life’s various challenges and opportunities. They are the principles and motivations that shape your decisions and define what truly matters to you. When you align your actions with your values, you gain clarity, purpose, and a deep sense of satisfaction. Ask yourself, “What are my highest priorities?” There are no right or wrong answers here. Your values could encompass a range of concepts, such as achievement, adventure, balance, connection, family, feminism, growth, integrity, responsibility, or service – whatever ignites your passion.

Values as Your North Star in Financial Decisions

With your values identified, it’s time to align them with your financial goals for the season ahead. This process creates a personalised guide for navigating the complex landscape of choices that come your way. When faced with decisions about how to spend your money and time, refer to your values. What you’ll discover is a powerful framework for making meaningful financial trade-offs.

When you’re clear about your values, your choices become not just about money but about honouring what matters most to you. It’s a perspective shift that transforms decisions from burdensome sacrifices into affirmations of your values and priorities. For more about better business models, check out my blog, From buyouts to burnouts, where does ownership sit with companies and can we scale WHILE making the economy fairer?

Historical gender norms — and myth-busting stereotypes

Stereotypes have an insidious way of permeating our society, causing harm in numerous ways. They fuel discrimination, shape unjust policies, and influence the culture and media we consume. One such stereotype that has persisted for far too long is the belief that men are inherently better at math and financial management than women. This stereotype not only perpetuates discrimination but also has real-world consequences for women’s financial empowerment.

The Self-Fulfilling Prophecy

When young girls are socializsed to believe these stereotypes, it can quickly become a self-fulfilling prophecy. The 2017 study by researchers at Drake University, which observed 179 women, revealed a startling connection between the concepts of femininity and money. Participants who were exposed to these concepts performed more poorly on cognitive tests. This demonstrates the damaging influence of gender-related stereotypes on cognitive abilities.

A 2021 study further emphasised the harm of the stereotype that women are bad with money. It found that this stereotype increases financial anxiety among women, ultimately widening the gender gap in financial literacy. This cycle of self-doubt and anxiety can be incredibly damaging, leading women to feel less financially confident and less likely to seek out financial resources and education.

Internalised Myths and the Domino Effect

The worst part is that many women internalise the myth that they are inherently bad with money. This internalisation further reinforces the stereotype and creates a vicious cycle. Women may shy away from seeking financial resources, avoid developing their financial literacy, and feel increasingly less confident about their financial decisions. This self-perpetuating cycle undermines women’s financial empowerment and overall well-being.

A Broader Perspective on Financial Inequality

The issue of financial empowerment for women goes beyond stereotypes. The gender pay gap is a glaring example of inequality, with European women earning an average of 13% less than men. This gap is even wider for women of colour, highlighting the intersectionality of gender and race in financial inequality.

Embracing Individuality and Purpose

In the face of these challenges, it’s important to remember that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to life, finance and building a business. Whether you choose to go big or stay small, what truly matters is doing it from a place of knowing who you are and how you want to spend your time. Financial decisions should be a reflection of your values, goals, and aspirations, not shaped by harmful stereotypes.

Breaking free from stereotypes and achieving financial empowerment for women requires collective effort. We must challenge and dismantle these stereotypes, advocate for equal pay, and provide women with the tools and knowledge to manage their finances effectively. When we empower women with financial confidence and opportunities, we empower society as a whole. It’s a journey we should all embark on together, celebrating the unique strengths and capabilities of every individual.


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