Western Mail, 29th June 2012

Women who lack the confidence to set up their own businesses should be bold and “take the plunge”, one of Wales’ leading businesswomen has said.

Melanie Hamer, director of Cardiff Business Club and co-founder of South Wales Ladies Business Club, said women had the skills to run their own businesses but often lacked the confidence to do so.

The partner at Wendy Hopkins Family Law Practice was speaking during a Business Women’s Seminar held at Media Wales yesterday.

The event, presented by Western Mail columnist Carolyn Hitt, was set up to help women in Wales maximise their careers and business potential, with speakers including WalesOnline Editor Ceri Gould and Jemma Terry, managing partner of executive search firm Odgers Berndtson.

Ms Hamer, who organised the event with Media Wales and Odgers Berndtson, said: “I think it is really important to have events like this as it would be really good to have more business owners in Wales. There are far more male business owners than women.

“When I started my own business I wish there had been an event like this. I was perhaps a bit naive when I started and I think it’s good for people in Wales to give back what they have learnt in business and give others the confidence to do the same thing.

“There’s lots of very able businesswomen in Wales who could start their own business. I think women are equal to men but I think often women can be their own worst enemy and they do not realise that they can do it.

“They don’t have the confidence and a lot of women think they won’t be able to cope with family commitments while running their own business, but actually you are more flexible and things are on your own terms.”

Ms Hamer also outlined the main points to keep in mind for anyone who was considering setting up their own business.

She said: “ I think they need to know what they are going to do and have the determination to do it. They need to have done their research and know there is a gap in the market.

“They also need to think about what the worst thing that could happen will be. If it’s that it doesn’t work and they have to go out and look for another job, that’s not so bad. They need to have the ‘can-do’ approach – if you want to do it, you can. Just go for it and take the plunge.”

Ms Terry gave delegates a valuable insight into developing and managing their career.

She said: “There has never been a better time for all of us to get where we want to be in our careers. We will have more millionaires in the female population than there will be male by 2020.

“We need to look at getting women into senior roles. There are lots of things that can be done better and mentoring in particular can be useful. We all have concerns about maternity leave and if it will affect our careers, but women must stop apologising for having a real life. To some extent we are our worst enemy and the one thing we are not very good at is stepping back and asking how we can develop ourselves rather than how we can develop our teams.

“We have to work with what we have got, it’s not going to change tomorrow. It’s important to think about where we want to be and how we are going to get there. Women are not very good at selling ourselves and have to struggle with that stereotype.”

WalesOnline editor Ceri Gould spoke about the importance of news in today’s society.

“News is about all of us. It’s what we do, it’s what we see, it’s where we go,” she said.

“The news is what you and I are interested in, it’s about us and what we do and reflects our views. As a journalist we are given an amazing passport into someone’s life. It always makes us value the published word and get things right as much as possible and pay attention to detail.”