“Challenge? If anything, I see being female as an advantage”

Jennifer Young runs Jennifer Young Limited, a skincare start-up that has found success by developing a range of products, with particular emphasis on skincare for those living with cancer.

The company was founded in 2013, with Jennifer combining her knowledge and scientific background with a passion for natural skincare and wellbeing to create her own product line. The company has gone from strength to strength and has seen one of the company’s brands, Beauty Despite Cancer, become a leading expert in specialist skincare for those living with and beyond cancer.

Jennifer has shared her story as part of a special report to mark International Women’s Day from Harper James, a modern law firm purpose-built to support entrepreneurial businesses from start-up to scale-up and beyond.

Female-led start-ups received just 2.3% of VC funding in 2020, according to reports. How can businesses owned by women achieve a stronger and fairer share in the future?

If I were to take the stats at face value, this question is difficult to answer, particularly as I am one of the 2.3%. I can only suggest that anyone seeking investment takes advice from as many relevant sources as possible. There are hundreds of people who will give advice or charge for advice, fewer are able to provide well-informed advice.

As a female entrepreneur, what do you believe the biggest challenges are that you face on a day-to-day basis?

I suspect they are the same as any other entrepreneur, having a limited number of hours in a day, growing a team which is strong enough to allow one to step away from the day-to-day of the business, which gives you time to concentrate on strategy and growth.

If anything, I see being female as an advantage. If I have faced challenges resulting from being female, I have not noticed them. I have, perhaps, placed them alongside all of the other ‘day-to-day’ challenges and just got on and dealt with them.

Can you share three tips that might help women accelerate their entrepreneurial growth?

Work smart. Be discerning about from whom you take advice. Hire slow and fire fast.

What might the Government do to better support female entrepreneurs?

Anything that the government can do to support women will support female entrepreneurs and professionals. I have been blessed by access to European Funding via local universities, LEPs and Chambers. Our VCs (the fabulous Midven) manage a fund from the British Business Bank. Every little bit of support given to my business helps it to grow in some way. We employ more people, we bring more products to market. Government funding helps businesses, no matter who runs them.

What advice would you give to a young woman planning to set up her own business?

Learn from others, listen a lot, fail more, learn from your mistakes and from those of others. Don’t listen to anyone who suggests that being a woman is a limiting factor in any area of life. You can do anything – and you should.

Read the other stories in this series: