Are women more responsible entrepreneurs?

New figures have shown women are 'more responsible' business owners than men. But is that a good thing?

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Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

It seems women aren’t just (statistically) better at driving than men – they may be more responsible business owners, too. According to a new survey, female-owned businesses cost insurers an average of 60% less than male-owned businesses; while almost half of male entrepreneurs admit to risky behaviour, compared to just 29% of women. But while a lower insurance premium might be nice, it's worth remembering that entrepreneurial success rarely comes without a little risk…  
 
According to the research, by SimplyBusiness.co.uk, men are more likely to aim for bigger, less realistic prospects: a third said they’d prefer to be one of 10 companies pitching for a £1m contract, rather than being one of three companies pitching for a £100,000 contract - but only a quarter of women felt the same. (Although we suppose you could position this as women lacking confidence and ambition).
 
The research also suggests that women make better investment bets: fewer than a quarter of the female business owners questioned had run a company which had gone bankrupt, entered administration or ceased trading in the past, compared to more than a third of the men, while women’s average start-up capital came in at £22,062, compared to £27,774 for men. Almost three-fifths of female entrepreneurs believe that keeping a close eye on their accounts is ‘the most important part of their job’, compared to just over two-fifths of men.

Of course, investors would argue that stats like these don't tell you anything terribly useful; that they'd always treat these things on a case-by-case basis anyway - and besides, there may be extraneous factors skewing the results. But even if you accept the survey's basic premise, that women seem a statistically better bet as business owners, we're not convinced this is necessarily a good thing. Being risk-averse might please your insurance company, but the ability to take calculated risks is a rather important characteristic for a successful entrepreneur. A start-up investor will often be looking for the business with the biggest potential upside - and that's unlikely to be the one that plays it safe. So while prudence is an important quality for business owners - male and female - particularly in financial matters, the best entrepreneurs have a knack for knowing when to ignore that nagging voice of caution in their head...

In today's bulletin:
Unite consents to BAA peace talks
Barclays rebels against lending targets
Editor's blog: Two-speed Europe gets into gear
Are women more responsible entrepreneurs?
The Parent Project: Going on maternity leave

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