Association of Scottish Business Women – Young Business of the Year Award

Kids Bee Happy has been selected as a finalist for the Association of Scottish Business Women’s Young Business of the Year award.

“I have been involved with the Ayrshire branch of the ASB for several years now and it’s a fantastic organisation, and I am hugely proud to be selected as a finalist” said Sandra Patterson, director of Kids Bee Happy Ltd.  “In May I spoke at their World Women’s Day session to a large group of students and school leavers who were looking forward to careers in business and starting their own companies, and it was a thoroughly inspiring experience.  When I started work in the city at 22 years old, the “old-boys” network was still strong, and there was still a debate going on about whether or not women should be wearing trousers in the office.  Where now, less than two decades on, women now make up one of the fastest growing groups of entrepreneurs”

Kids Bee Happy is a business particularly well placed to talk about the move of women towards self employment.  It’s a company that provides magic sand painting entertainment and products to children, a fabulous concept that can be briefly described as colouring in with brightly coloured sand.    But not only is Kids Bee Happy a family friendly product it’s also a franchise and the majority of the franchises are female owned or run as a family enterprise.

The success of the Kids Bee Happy franchise shows that women really do make great business people.  But do labels such as “lipstick entrepreneur” or “mumpreneur” commonly applied to women starting their own businesses devalue the credibility that such business women have?  Sandra believes strongly no.

“There will always be challenges that are more specific to women than men who are starting a business, particularly if those women have families” says Sandra.  “However, for me it’s not about sticking a label on it, and claiming extra help, but instead about finding ways to work around and through those challenges to enable those businesses to succeed.  Many of our franchisees are mums with young children, so instead of ignoring that and pretending that it doesn’t impact the way that our franchisees are able to approach their business, we incorporate it into the ethos of everything that we do, so for example, if we’re arranging a conference call we’ll arrange it for a weekday evening, we have logo’d shirts in children’s sizes so that they can all get involved, and when we do festivals such as Cornbury then we take as many franchisees along as possible and organise family tickets so that everyone can enjoy it.”

“This is one of the advantages of being self employed.  As business owners we can flex the traditional approach to business to make it more family friendly, and if it helps the media to hang a label on it such as “mumpreneur” or even now “dadpreneur” then that’s fine by me.

Final judging for the ASB 2012 awards will take place at the end of July, and winners will be announced at the awards dinner at Dynamic Earth, Edinburgh, on 14th September.  More information about the awards can be seen here.