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IWD 2020 – The most common questions we get asked as female founders

International Women’s Day has us thinking about our experience as women in business. Aside from CakeDrop being female-founded, we are also lucky enough to work with so many other amazing female-led businesses on a day-to-day basis. Our bakery partners are predominantly owned and run by women so we see first-hand the potential of women to achieve success in entrepreneurship. You can find out more about them here.

To summarise our own experience, we’ve answered the most common questions we get asked as female founders. Here they are…

How has being female impacted your business journey?

A: It’s a difficult question to answer, mainly because gender is not something I feel conscious of in my day-to-day working life (and I appreciate that is a privilege!). It’s really hard to say whether being female has contributed to any successes or failures more than any other factor.  It’s only when I hear statistics around the disproportionate underfunding of female-led start-ups that I wonder whether our experience so far might have been different if we were men. Nevertheless, it feels pointless to muse. We feel positive about our experience regardless of our gender so just have to keep pushing on and flying the flag for women in business.

N: I agree with Anna. However on the flip side, we’re lucky that there is a lot of support and community out there aimed at female founders due to a recognition of the gender gap in entrepreneurship. On a personal level, being female ties in to being a mother which has undoubtedly impacted on my business journey.

What’s it like having a baby and a start-up business at the same time?

N: It’s a challenge and I am sure motherhood plays a part in the entrepreneurship gender gap to some degree. Launching a business involves risk and yet stability is a natural priority when you have a family. There have been some positives of having a baby and launching a business at the same time – like being able to use maternity leave to get the business off the ground with the security of maternity pay and a job to fall back on. Having said that, it took me longer to become financially secure enough to leave my job completely and work on CakeDrop full-time due to the cost of childcare. It’s always going to be tough juggling work and family but all parents go through it. It shouldn’t be something that holds women back more than men, and I’d like to be testament to that. 

What’s it like working with your sister?

A: Working with Nicola has always felt natural, but I do have to remind myself how lucky I am to share the journey with someone I fully trust and want to spend so much time with. Nicola picks me up when I’m feeling low or overwhelmed, which I suppose is both a sister thing and a cofounder thing! The determination to succeed is so much stronger knowing that CakeDrop can impact both of our lives, and I work for both of us not just me.

N: I often wonder how people can co-found businesses with anyone but a sibling. I know Anna intimately understands my personality, and vice versa. So we can be really direct with each other without worrying about whether we might be coming across in the wrong way. We don’t argue, if we disagree on something we move on without grudges. We don’t waste any time trying to manage our relationship – it’s just really straightforward.

How do you separate business from personal as sisters?

A: Being business partners and sisters, we tend to be in constant contact about one thing or another. We do have a specific Whatsapp group for CakeDrop chat and another one for personal life stuff. We often have simultaneous conversations going and are pretty good at ensuring there isn’t a crossover between the chat groups. We also naturally don’t seem to discuss CakeDrop business when we are around friends or family or in a social environment. 

N: We’ve also learnt not to approach each other about business stuff at particular times of the day. For example, Anna likes to start working early in the morning and then completely switch off by the evening. Whereas my day is broken up by school runs so I tend to have a second wind in the evening once my daughter has gone to bed. I know that I have to respect Anna’s down time and not bombard her with stuff in the evening, just like she knows I’m not going to be available at other times in the day.

What would your advice be to women looking to start a business?

A: Trust your gut. Even when someone older, more experienced or wearing a suit tells you otherwise. Also don’t try to do everything alone, ask for help, there is no extra points for doing everything yourself. 

N: To build on Anna’s point about trusting your gut – starting a business does involve risk and uncertainty which may trigger feelings of anxiety (which is unfortunately more common in women than men). I would urge women to try to understand the difference between their anxiety and their gut instinct. Gut instinct is about intuition and is useful as a guide. Anxiety on the other hand can be really unhelpful and obstructive. Don’t let feelings of anxiety hold you back from doing what your gut tells you is right.