UK in recession, but some people are weathering the economic storm

Confidence among female business owners is still high and most expect growth, says study

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The Independent Online

While GDP data yesterday suggested the UK is back in recession, a new study bucked the gloomy trend and revealed that female entrepreneurs are weathering the economic storm. Women's business start-ups have proved resilient in hard times.

An Ipsos Mori survey of 1,000 self-employed women and those who owned businesses found that confidence is still high with 84 per cent expecting growth or stability for the next three years.

Nearly half of the women surveyed were the chief income-earners in their household and nearly two-thirds were so-called "kitchen table" entrepreneurs who run a successful business from home.

Melissa Morgan, who runs a successful baking business in south London that employs eight people said: "Women are stubborn. When a woman sets her mind to something I think it takes a lot to sway her."

Case studies: How we're beating the recession

Margaret Punchard, 57, Plymouth

Owner of True Design Cards & Crafts, in Ivybridge, Plymouth. She opened her shop at the start of the economic slowdown, but through a focus on her local market, has defied the downward trend: "I started the business about three-and-a-half years ago, with nothing and built it up slowly. You add on where you can. It was said I started at a bad time, and I have felt the recession. In the first few days I hadn't a penny in the till and thought, "What have I done?" But the business has gone from strength to strength. People realise it is good to support local businesses and when you factor in the cost of petrol and parking to travel to Plymouth, I'm just as cheap as High Street brands. I love doing the work I do."

Melissa Morgan, 36, south London

Ms Morgan was a dance and drama teacher in primary schools when she decided to start her own business selling vegan cupcakes from a market stall in Greenwich in 2010.

The business was such an instant success that in April last year she opened her first shop in Brixton – London's first vegan bakery – and now employs eight people.

Ms Morgan, who has dubbed herself Ms Cupcake, also the name of her shop, had no start-up grant, no bank loans and no experience of the catering industry. "Women are just as capable as men at running businesses, if not more so," she said. "Women are stubborn. When a woman sets her mind to something I think it takes a lot to sway her away from it. We are intuitive, we listen to what the customer wants."

Davinia Livock, 26, Bristol

Davinia used to work in marketing but quit her job last year to set up her own business selling luxury handbags.

"It might seem a strange decision to start a business in a recession but I have not run a business in any other environment so I have nothing to compare it to. I always had an ambition to start my own business, I'm getting married shortly and I wanted to do it before having children. I started my business because I am not into labels but I do like quality things. So I found suppliers, got brochures printed and haven't looked back. I really enjoy the flexibility of the hours and working for myself. I like that I have to make all the decisions."

The  'Everyday Entrepreneur Report' was commissioned by Avon and analysed by Professor Julie Logan of Cass Business School