In Belarus, prioritising skill development is crucial to running a successful business 

Women entrepreneurs in Belarus are driven by a multitude of motivations, according to a recent survey and a series of in-depth interviews conducted by Emerging Europe under the She’s Next Empowered by Visa initiative.   

The desire for financial growth and independence, along with the pursuit of lifelong dreams, emerged as prominent factors propelling these entrepreneurial endeavours.  

Passionate about fields such as communication, marketing, and personal satisfaction, these individuals found their interests and aspirations motivating them to venture into entrepreneurship. 

Moreover, the survey findings shed light on the perceived strengths necessary for success. Hard work, self-discipline, motivation, creative thinking, risk-taking, persistence, and the ability to build relationships were among the qualities emphasized. 

In addition, our research underscores the importance of emotional well-being, team management, the restoration of soft skills, and efficient task delegation in effectively running a successful business.  

Creating their own paths to success  

As the survey data shows, the desire to earn more income was the most common reason for Belarusian female entrepreneurs to start a (new) business, with 46.9 per cent of respondents stating it as their primary motivation. 

This aligns with the sentiment expressed by one SME owner who believed that marketing would work out under tough conditions. “This positive attitude helped me push myself to work harder,” she added, indicating that the drive to achieve financial stability and success is a powerful motivator for many entrepreneurs. 

Another motivation that emerged from the survey was the desire for autonomy and freedom in decision-making. Approximately 35 per cent of respondents mentioned the desire to work for themselves instead of working for someone else.   

One business owner shared her experience of working in a similar company but not wanting to be an employee. “I didn’t want to work as an employee, so I started my own project as I saw a growing market opportunity,” she said.  

This sentiment is echoed by another business executive who values freedom and dynamic work activities stating, “I am a free person. I like freedom.” While the same SME owner emphasized: “My base value is freedom. Freedom in decision-making. So, I felt that if I want to reach freedom, I need to set up my own company.” 

For some female entrepreneurs, setting up their own business was driven by fulfilling a lifelong dream. Around 24.4 per cent of respondents cited this as their primary motivation. One business executive shared how she was always “passionate about communication, marketing, and satisfaction”, and how these interests motivated her to pursue entrepreneurship.  

The survey data also revealed that a smaller percentage of respondents (11.9 per cent) mentioned having a great idea or solution that would benefit others as their primary motivation.   

Additionally, approximately 7.5 per cent of respondents expressed a desire to prove themselves and demonstrate their capabilities through entrepreneurship, which suggests a motivation for personal growth and achievement. 

Other reasons mentioned by participants in the survey included being unemployed (5 per cent), building a career (4.4 per cent), helping others (3.8 per cent), and various other motivations (2.5 per cent). A smaller percentage of respondents (1.3 per cent) mentioned wanting to be a leader and inspire others as their main reason for setting up their own business.  

All in all, the survey results demonstrate that women entrepreneurs are driven by a range of motivations, including financial goals, autonomy, personal aspirations, impact-driven ideas, and personal growth.  

The keys to success  

Hard work was the most cited strength important to succeed, with 36.9 per cent of entrepreneurs highlighting it. Self-discipline was the second most cited strength, with 31.9 per cent of them mentioning it.  

Motivation and initiative were highlighted by 26.9 per cent of respondents, reflecting the importance of drive and a proactive approach in entrepreneurship. Creative thinking was also considered a strength, with 26.3 per cent of respondents valuing the ability to generate new and innovative ideas. 

Willingness to take risks, which was mentioned by 25.6 per cent of respondents, is a fundamental aspect of entrepreneurship, as taking calculated risks is often necessary to achieve success. 

Persistence, the desire for training, and the ability to establish ties with others were also seen as strengths by a significant number of entrepreneurs, with 21.9 per cent, 21.3 per cent, and 8.1 per cent respectively highlighting these qualities. 

The personal views shared from various business professionals further reinforce the importance of these strengths. An SME owner mentioned the strength of having a “helicopter view” and “the ability to recognise trends early.” 

One business owner emphasized “team-building skills, the ability to define an appealing mission, and the importance of intuition, creativity, persistence, emotional stability, and a drive for personal development”.  

In addition, one business executive highlighted “networking and being detail-oriented” as personal strengths. Wide-ranging interests were also mentioned by the same executive, highlighting the ability to explore diverse areas of knowledge. 

Another business executive emphasized the strength of “always looking for partnerships and ability to generate win-win situations in her work” – underscoring the significance of collaboration and mutually beneficial relationships in entrepreneurship.  

Managing business better   

The most prominent skill identified is obtaining additional financing, with 39.4 per cent of respondents expressing the need for improved financial management. Another highly valued skill is digital marketing and managing social networks, identified by 26.3 per cent of respondents.  

Entrepreneurs in Belarus also expressed a desire to enhance skills in e-commerce and online operations (25.6 per cent), financial planning and management (24.4 per cent), and development of international business (23.8 per cent).  

Effective communication and strategic thinking are recognised as crucial skills in managing a business, as seen from the mention of communications, connections with media, and PR (16.3 per cent) and strategic management and planning (14.4 per cent).  

Interestingly, 11.3 per cent of respondents stated that they did not require any additional skills, suggesting that they are confident in their current abilities or have already acquired the necessary skills for business management. 

During the interviews, Belarus female entrepreneurs provided further insights into the importance of skill development.   

One SME owner emphasized “the need to develop the financial system, ERP in the enterprise”, recognising its role in navigating financial challenges. Besides that, she said: “I [also] try to work on my emotional state in order to stay calmer, to keep my own mental health and that of employees on a decent level.” 

Another entrepreneur mentioned the desire for “more in-depth knowledge of team management”, emphasizing the importance of effective leadership and personnel management skills. 

One business executive highlighted the need to restore and improve her soft skills. “I feel that my soft skills got hampered by the Covid-19 period, by online work, and restoration of them is needed. […] In the online format all the non-verbal communication is gone,” she stated.  

Improving specific tasks and delegating repetitive work is mentioned by another business executive emphasizing the importance of honing skills to optimise efficiency and focus on core responsibilities. 

“I do not enjoy repetition and some work such as doing analytical reports since I consider them to be repetitive and monotonous. Therefore, I have someone in my team to do that while I only check them at the end,” she said.  

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