At the age of 28, Hannah Osman, left her corporate job in IT Sales and decided to take her future in to her own hands by becoming her own boss.
She has now set up the Manchester healthy eating delivery company, NUBA.
Here she tells the #imnotjohn campaign about her business journey.
Going from a “safe” career to being the sole director of a company was a daunting move, but gender never was an issue for me.
If anything, being female and the considerations I had for my future and battles I faced daily encouraged me to take control.
I do want children one day and running a business or being self-employed can allow flexibility that employment can’t always.
I also struggled with the pressure of always wanting to look good, be in shape and in fashion. Diet pills and meal replacement shakes are marketed to women for weight loss, protein supplements and fat burners are marketed to men for muscle building, yet there is a lack of education around our bodies and what nutrition we need.
The less we know, the more we fall for advertising. I wanted to change this and just as women should take control over their careers, their futures and goals, they should also their bodies.
Running a food business as a women may seem clichéd, but you only have to turn on the telly or walk in to one of the many restaurants in Manchester, which have open kitchens, to notice that even the food industry is predominantly male.
There are a lot of successful women too, but they don’t get the airtime that men do.
Having studied economics at university and gone in to IT, I’d spent most of my adult life surrounded by men. It didn’t seem like a risk and I never contemplated for a second that my gender would hold me back or put me at a disadvantage.
In reality, having the best intentions and a great product I’ve found isn’t enough in business. Most successful businesses didn’t get there by helping people, they’re not charities, they got there by being smart and having the ability to sell and negotiate.
They still help people every day and may even become quite charitable, but you have to fight your way in to a market that is filled with big brands and huge marketing budgets.
This has been my biggest challenge as a female leader.
I setup my business to help people and make my decisions based on whether or not it is the best for my customers and this can be seen as a weakness. If decisions are emotionally driven then more often than not, whether in work or outside of work, we will buy whatever the price.
Every cloud has a silver lining. If negotiating and being taken seriously as a business women is a challenge, and this is the result of being female and my supplier’s perception of me, then turn that in to an advantage.
If someone sees you differently from the next person, you’re more likely to be more memorable than the next person. If you’re the only woman in the room, is your great idea likely to be remembered, or the 4 other great ideas from just another guy in a suit?
In a man’s world people remember you, they remember what you wore, they remember how you spoke, and they remember if you shy away from debate but equally if you speak up. What is your disadvantage could be your biggest advantage.
When I realised this, I realised that they equally want your respect as your opinion matters and might even be a louder voice.
If you would like to get involved in the #imnotjohn campaign and attend the launch event in Manchester on November 9, click here.