Starting your own business can be a daunting prospect, but online courses to help entrepreneurs realise their dreams are booming. And many of these virtual schools are being launched by women, catering for a growing number of predominantly female entrepreneurs as the business landscape continues to shift to accommodate a more flexible approach to work.
Online learning is particularly useful for women who can fit courses around the demands of other work, childcare and family commitments. The global pandemic has also intensified the longstanding challenges faced by working women; a study published by the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) found that even in the recent lockdown, when both parents have been furloughed or are working from home, it is still mothers doing the majority of the childcare.
London-based writer and author Annie Ridout has made it her mission to support women – particularly those with children – who want to run their own businesses. Ridout was working as a copywriter for a London-based tech startup when she discovered she was pregnant with her first child. However, her contract didn't entitle her to maternity pay and she was informed that her job might not be kept open for her should she want to return after taking leave.
Following the birth of her daughter, Ridout decided to become a freelance journalist and copywriter to give herself more flexibility. She set up a parenting platform called The Early Hour and later wrote a book called The Freelance Mum, which supports women who want to make the daunting leap from full-time employment to self-employment after having kids.
Ridout established a strong and loyal following on her social media platforms, which enabled her to successfully launch her first online course in 2019 when she was pregnant with her third child.