Fortune favours the big sister as entrepreneur

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The Independent Online
Women entrepreneurs stand a better chance of success if they are only or eldest daughters, according to research by a noted female entrepreneur who is an only daughter.

But while this position in the family hierarchy may give them the same sort of energy and determination to get on that drives successful males, they see themselves as significantly different. Eighty per cent of the more than 150 female entrepreneurs from Britain and the United States who responded to the survey felt that their 'caring, approachable and open management style' contrasted sharply with the business norm.

Such findings confirmed the 'experience and intuition' of Pauline Hyde, the head of the European subsidiary of the international career management consultants Lee Hecht Harrison, who devised the survey when she could not find enough information about female entrepreneurs for a lecture she was giving.

Ms Hyde, who built the recruitment consultancy Pauline Hyde Associates before taking on her present role after its absorption into Scottish Television, said the report, Female Entrepreneurs, was further evidence of women's growing impact on the economy.

It is estimated that in the US about 6.5 million enterprises with fewer than 500 employees are owned or controlled by women, while in Britain the number of women running their own businesses has trebled in the past decade, with females now starting three out of 10 new firms.

However, for all the purported differences, there are a few similarities between the women surveyed and their male counterparts. Not only are they working in a range of industries - from engineering to catering - but they also claim the same sort of motivations as men in their position, namely the desire to manage their own lives and to be financially secure.

And despite the inroads they have made in business, women would appear to have some way to go in academe. For intellectual endorsement, Ms Hyde has gone to the ubiquitous - and male - commentator Cary Cooper, professor of organisational psychology at the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology.

His view that women succeed as entrepreneurs because they are 'much better people managers than men' might not win approval from all those women whom Ms Hyde has found displaying 'tenacity, guts and survival instincts'.