New research for International Women’s Day shows motivations and challenges for British female entrepreneurs. Women setting up their own businesses in the UK do it for financial independence and to have more control over home and working life.

The survey released today shows the main motivating factors for women to set up in business are to have more financial independence (34% put as their number one motivation) and more control balancing work and home life (31%).

The research also shows that female entrepreneurs still have a tougher time with more home domestic responsibilities than their male counterparts – more than half (58%) of women do 75% or more of the childcare duties at home. This compares to a third of male small business owners admitting to doing less than 25% of the childcare.

When asked what was their biggest challenge in setting up in business, managing the books (35%) and cashflow (32%) were noted as the main challenges by both men and women SME owners. Getting people to take them seriously when setting up their business was the third main challenge (8%) for women.

Despite these challenges, the number of women setting up their own business in the UK is continuing to rise, with a 12% increase in 2011 from the previous year. Nearly a third of business owners in the UK are now women, with female entrepreneurs accounting for around 7% of the UK’s working population (Labour Force Survey).

This research underlines the importance of flexibility to women in the UK. It’s good to see flexible working as a driving force for industry and no longer a barrier to a successful career.

Perhaps surprisingly, other results from the survey show that both women and men have similar attitudes, with around a third of both sexes who like risk and regularly take considered risks in business. Perhaps surprisingly, 35% of both men and women also think positive sexual discrimination at work is a good thing.