There are times when easy things seem hard and hard things seem easy. An example of something easy is that I was led to believe that connecting devices to televisions was complicated. The first time I had to actually pull out the TV and connect a device, I was expecting drama and I was shocked to discover that it is literally a case of plugging the wire into the ONLY socket of the same size and shape. I now have absolutely no idea why the men in my life were behind the TV for so long every time we bought a new video, DVD player or games console.
An example of something that seems (and technically is) easy is incorporating a business. This weekend I was exhibiting at a business event and was approached by a guy, who said that he worked in tech. During our conversation I mentioned that I was going to incorporate my business later this year and he pretty much laughed in my face and said that it takes ten minutes and only costs £25.00.
Today, whilst reflecting on the day and catching up on some much needed tidying, I started to ponder why is it that some men openly underestimate women? Why did this young man feel entitled to openly imply that I wasn’t savvy enough to have Googled that for myself? Why did he assume that I was some muppet who thought that incorporation was a really complicated process that would take months to do?
The process of incorporating a business is cheap and relatively easy, but as a social enterprise, making the decision of which legal structure to incorporate as, is a lot more involved.
As a social enterprise I want to be sure that my future business structure, allows me to grow my business in the way that I choose and importantly doesn’t restrict funding options to support the work I do in my community.
The fact that pretty much anybody can set themselves up as a Limited Company for a small amount of money in a matter of minutes is probably why there are so many abandoned ones out there, along with lots that are costing small business owners unnecessary time and money when they could have easily set themselves up as sole traders. Social enterprises untangling themselves from the wrong business structure, is time consuming and potentially expensive.
Can I go Ltd in ten minutes? Yes of course I can, but if choosing to become Ltd meant that I was ensuring that my business would never be able to secure funding for the programmes I hope to run over the next five years, then that seems like a stupid way to spend ten minutes.
I’m not a new business. I’ve been running since 2014. I’m not someone who is new to the game, but over the last couple of years I’ve been consciously choosing the future I want for my business. I’ve been a sole trader since 2007 and as I’ve always been the only person in my business, that has always been the best option for me and made perfect sense, but now I’ve scaled to the point where I need to incorporate. My current structure is limiting my options. The vision I have for my business needs more hands on deck. My desire to help others start their careers in tech and my commitment to fighting digital exclusion by providing free to attend digital skills training sessions, can’t be achieved by one woman alone in her spare bedroom.
Choosing the right business structure is an important decision and it has taken time for me to crystallise my vision, research the options and confirm that when I click the button to incorporate that I won’t be closing the door to potential funding streams, restricting my income or requiring unnecessary people to make decisions on the organisation that I’ve built from scratch.
The scoff from the little tech bro is annoying, but I’m just going to assume that he knows nothing about the process of setting up a CIC and isn’t familiar with asset locks, measuring impact and funding bid criteria. I however do, and I learned all that whilst running a successful. business, so his opinion doesn’t really matter does it?
Never underestimate middle aged women – we’re smarter than you think.