The project “Women Entrepreneurs – How to reach business growth through business transfers”, coordinated by the Seinäjoki University of Applied Sciences, encourages and supports growth-oriented women entrepreneurs by educating them on change of ownership and business transfers offer an avenue for business development and growth.
SeAMK, a multidisciplinary institution of higher education and an efficient actor in education and research, development and innovation (RDI) in the region of South Ostrobothnia in West Finland, aims to boost the ability of women entrepreneurs to implement external growth strategies. In the field of business transfers, SeAMK gives guidelines for women entrepreneurs to maintain and develop their company’s performance. It helps their preparedness to buy/sell the company, including well-being at work and psychological support for the business transfer and connects ageing women entrepreneurs and successors.
There is evidence that people, in general, are ageing in Europe (In 2019, more than one fifth (20.3 %) of the EU-27 population was aged 65 and over. Source: Eurostat), and that this trend is increasing. because of it, there will be more companies on sale, including women-led companies. The awareness that companies can be sold, e.g. before retirement, and the issues that need to be taken into account in the different phases of the business transfer process (before the transfer, during the transfer and after the transfer) can be shared among women entrepreneurs. This includes psychological perspectives regarding the change in one's life (either becoming an entrepreneur or giving up a business) is a viewpoint worth researching and discussing.
The external growth strategy of businesses includes both acquisitions and selling the business to a third party. In order to keep the business in a good condition until the selling point, internal development actions are needed. Therefore, it is recommendable to offer training and lectures about business strategy, marketing, and finance. Thus, the aim is not only to support and encourage women entrepreneurs to grow their businesses through selling or buying a (part of) business but also to prepare ageing entrepreneurs to sell their companies. It is important to keep the company appealing to the potential buyer when the entrepreneur is approaching retirement age, or entrepreneur otherwise wants to give up the business.
Therefore, women entrepreneurs are offered training and workshops in the following themes:
- Acquiring and selling a business: what are the phases of the business transfer process, where to get outside support for selling/buying a business, how to evaluate the value of the company, where to get finance and what issues are relevant in forming the contract, psychological themes in giving up a business
- Development of business operations: what is a business strategy and how to formulate it; how to create appealing marketing strategy and usage of social media; how to make a budget, follow and report company’s finances and what are the key indicators to follow
- Well-being at work: what is resilience and how to enhance one’s own resilience and self-efficacy, how to get inspired and innovative, how to take care of one’s own well-being
They have developed training materials (available only in Finnish) and a brochure: “ Women Entrepreneurs – Growth through Business Transfers” that is beneficial to women entrepreneurs and is available at https://storage.googleapis.com/seamk-production/2021/03/3428d849-tips-for-implementing-change-of-ownership.pdf and the final electronic guidebook for Business Transfer Awareness Raising can be found here.
The project reached 50 micro and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), 58 female entrepreneurs have participated in the project and its events and created a database of 100 female entrepreneurs.