Fresh Start? Make Sure It Adds Up; FRUITFUL: Susie Keenan Got the Sums Right for Her New Farm Shop

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Byline: KATIE TAYLOR

WOMEN who plan to set up businesses in 2008 need to set their sightshigher when seeking funding. And if they are underfunded, they may only havethemselves to blame.

Regardless of whether they have male or female bosses, businesses given thesame start-up resources perform equally well, according to Prowess, a femalebusiness support organisation. But a gender gap exists at the financing stage.

Prowess's director of policy, Jackie Brierton, said: 'The banks are starting torecognise the women's start-up market.

'But women themselves create barriers through a lack of confidence.' Women alsooften lack the necessary business finance vocabulary.

Susie Keenan admitted she knew nothing about business finance when she came upwith the idea for her business, The Shepherd's Farm Shop in Newent,Gloucestershire, which sells food and drink sourced wherever possible fromlocal producers.

Susie, 28, estimated she would need [pounds sterling]60,000 to launch the business but was notconfident about her calculations.

She said: 'I had no actual figures to base my projections on. I thought ofasking friends and family for funding but didn't want to give up equity.' Herbank, NatWest, liked her idea and approved the business plan, but it would notadvance the full amount because she had no assets to offer as security. …