Self‐employment makes an important contribution to a nation′s economy, women are turning to it in increasing numbers but still face hurdles in their quest for independence, autonomy and job satisfaction. An Australian survey by questionnaire (commissioned in Sydney by the New South Wales Women′s Advisory Council) of 357 self‐employed women revealed that they faced three types of barriers: entry, operational and personal. Entry barriers revolved around confidence to start the business, necessary start‐up finance, and adequate sources of assistance and advice. Operational barriers concerned finance, lack of assistance and advice, lack of skills in marketing and finance, and assistance in developing business. Personal problems were sense of isolation, lack of mentors, tutors or counsellors, need for support of other businesses (especially suppliers) and colleagues, managing a home and a business, self‐management, and child care. Recommendations are made for a phased system of support services related to style, stage and needs of individual small business proprietors.
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