THE internet has opened up a world of opportunity for women starting up their own businesses. There are so many resources online to help specifically women with support, education and resources to start up a business and get it going. But what about helping young men with their aspiring business dreams?*
Several financial institutions — including major banks — have specialised websites focusing on women in business. For instance, Westpac claims to be "the only Australian bank with a unit exclusively dedicated to supporting women" dubbed the Women's Markets Team, while the Commonwealth Bank and ANZ offer similar resources for women on financial products such as business loans and business credit cards.
And the list is endless when you do a search on Bing on "women business" with blog sites and online communities spruiking everything from recommended books to read to clever marketing tips. But when the search is on the other side with "men business", the first page lists websites about men's business attire with shopping sites for suits and "how to dress business casual".
There's no denying that there is still an inequality in business with statistics showing that men earn more than women, but both genders struggle through the first few years — and sometimes longer — of starting up a small business and both women and men could find shared supportive financial resources equally appealing.
There are no statistics in Australia that collect data on the number of small- to medium-sized businesses that fail and identify the gender of the owner, and it would be interesting to see if there was a great disparity between men and women.
It's wonderful that there is so much help out there for women who want to start or grow their own business but it does seem that women are getting more attention for business help than men by organisations and financial institutions.
If there are more men in Australia who are successful with business than women, wouldn't it make sense for women to have greater access to the businessmen of Australia and learn from their achievements?
Woolworths chairman James Strong was quoted in the Sydney Morning Herald in April pleading for business leaders to mentor women towards senior roles, due to the unacceptably low proportion of women on company boards. Following criticism of Strong's remarks, there is logic behind this idea if the majority of businesses in Australia are led by men.
While we sit and wait for the glass ceiling to smash once and for all, both men and women can embrace the internet and educate themselves on clever business strategies. Whether you are a woman or a man, you are a few clicks away from finding hints and tips on business planning, to comparing financial products online to save your business money and get the right start it needs.
Michelle Hutchison is Consumer Advocate at RateCity.
The above information is general only and does not take into account your objectives, financial situation or needs.