While more than half (53%) of female entrepreneurs and business owners surveyed are looking to grow their business over the next three years, three-quarters (78%) said they have never asked for external funding, according to a study from Royal Bank of Scotland.

The YouGov survey, of more than 500 business owners across Scotland, shows that male entrepreneurs are more likely than female entrepreneurs to ask for funding from an external source (25% compared to 21%).

The online survey was commissioned by the Royal Bank of Scotland to understand more about the specific challenges faced by female entrepreneurs in Scotland and how the bank can help. The research further explores the themes raised in the Alison Rose Review of Female Entrepreneurship, which was commissioned by the bank’s new CEO, who took up the role on 1 November. According to the Review on average, women launch their businesses with 53% less capital than men.

The survey reveals that more than half of those women surveyed (52%) have never asked for a pay rise. Four in ten (37%) said they lacked the confidence to ever ask for a pay rise, and more than one-fifth (22%) say they don’t feel comfortable talking about money.

Ask For More campaign

Royal Bank of Scotland is launching its ‘Ask for More’ campaign which aims to level the playing field for women and provide them with the support and tools they need, particularly when it comes to running their own enterprise or taking the first steps to launch their own business.

Although growing their businesses is front of mind for many female entrepreneurs, the findings suggest there is a disconnect when it comes to ambitions of business growth and securing investment. Female-owned businesses in Scotland contribute £8.8billion to the Scottish economy every year and generate over 230,000 jobs across Scotland in the process. However, if the rates of women-led businesses equalled that of men, the contribution to Scotland’s gross value added (GVA) would increase to £13billion. (Claim from the Alison Rose Review of Female Entrepreneurship 2019: ~£250b GVA could be contributed to the UK economy if female entrepreneurs started and scaled businesses at the same rate as UK men, equivalent to ~4 years of natural GVA growth).

The ‘Ask for More’ survey also reveals:

  • Almost half of female entrepreneurs (48%) in Scotland are anxious about the future of their business, and almost two-thirds (57%) admitted they find it hard to switch off from their work.
  • Although men share the same concerns, they don’t suffer to the same extent, with only 38% of male entrepreneurs in Scotland feeling anxious about futureproofing.
  • The uncertainty of Brexit is also a key worry for female entrepreneurs in Scotland, with over a third (34%) citing the consequence of Brexit, excluding the weaker value of the pound, as the biggest negative impact on their industries.
  • The findings suggest that there are still significant barriers and sources of worry facing female entrepreneurs who are struggling to balance home and work commitments.

Royal Bank of Scotland supports women in business through its:

  • Pre-Accelerator programme: Launched in Sept 2018, this e-learning programme offers valuable content and training to help aspiring entrepreneurs evaluate their potential idea, practice their pitch, then move into starting a business.
  • Women in Business programme: Royal Bank launched the initiative in 2003. More than 500 Women in Business Specialists, throughout the UK, offer tangible support to businesses, whether they already run a business or plan to.
  • Back Her Business: Launched in March 2019, Royal Bank has partnered with Crowdfunder to offer to fund female-led start-ups, with the ambition of helping 65,000 more women start a business in the UK by 2025.

Susan Fouquier, Managing Director, Business Banking at Royal Bank of Scotland, said: “Our work through our Entrepreneur Accelerator programme gives us valuable insight into the unique pressures running a start-up creates and the support and aid which can help them thrive. We want anyone, regardless of gender, to feel that they can truly realise their potential – and not be afraid to ask for more support.

“Our research shows that there is an opportunity for Royal Bank to help support female entrepreneurs better, whether that’s through providing training and advice, or funding and networking. Businesswomen across Scotland face similar challenges. By helping to bring together their businesses, we can share experience and give practical help to allow female entrepreneurs achieve their full potential.”


  • This article is for media use only and is not a financial promotion.
  • Back Her Business - UK residents with new UK projects can apply. Eligibility (including type of project) and specific criteria apply. Fees apply.
  • Pre-Accelerator programme: need to apply online
  • Survey - All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 502 entrepreneurs/business owners in Scotland. Fieldwork was undertaken between 15th - 27th October 2019. The survey was carried out online.
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