The number of female entrepreneurs has increased drastically over the recent years, however, women-owned companies are still in the minority.
The hurdles faced by women who have embraced entrepreneurship are vast and often very different than those experienced by their male counterparts.
1. Cultural Expectations
In most cultures, women adopt a “nurturing” role which is recognized as the “weaker” role in societies
Culture fails to consider the dynamics of human nature, where a woman can be both nurturing and business minded.
“Toughness“ is a quality that is usually associated with men and scoffed upon when observed in women.“Toughness is a good thing, yet it is considered good only in men. When a woman is tough, men can’t stand it. I like being tough; tough and smart.” – Lilian VernonClick To Tweet
The way to combat cultural norms is to be bold.
2. Not Fitting The Status Quo
Women may feel the need to adopt a stereotypically “male” attitude toward business being competitive, aggressive and sometimes overly harsh.
But successful female CEO’s believe that remaining true to yourself and finding your own voice are the keys to rising above preconceived expectations.'Be yourself, and have confidence in who you are. You made it to where you are through hard work and perseverance, but most importantly, you're there. Don't conform yourself to a man's idea of what a leader should look like.' - Hillary GengaClick To Tweet
Not conforming to the status quo may place a woman at a huge disadvantage in the working world or it may be her greatest advantage.
There really is no handbook for what will definitely make your brand successful, however, it is crucial, whether you are male or female to take the “risk” to represent your brand authentically.
A man doesn’t have to change himself to be successful, so why should you?
3. Limited Access To Funding
Another serious challenge faced by female entrepreneurs is soliciting funding.
Raising capital is more difficult for women-owned firms than male-owned firms.
In 2014, Babson College found that less than 3% of venture-capital-funded companies had female ceos.
So how do you overcome this problem?
Solicit female support.
Start making more connections with other female entrepreneurs and join support groups.
Having female investors supporting each other will ensure looking to not only inspire and encourage female investors but to grow and support other female entrepreneurs through both funding and strategic educational workshops.
4. Struggle For Respect
Women in leadership have all experienced, at one point or another, discrimination in the workplace simply based on their gender with no regards to their leadership abilities or experience.
To overcome this, it’s first crucial to learn how to build your confidence and overcome your own negative self-talk. You must be your own best cheerleader if you want anyone to cheer alongside you.
While people can, and will, say anything they want, it’s crucial that you don’t stop yourself from reaching your full potential because of your own thoughts.Confidence is a muscle that can be strengthened with training. - Elaine RauClick To Tweet
The only opinion of yourself THAT MATTERS is your own opinion about yourself.
Additionally, join a variety of women entrepreneur support groups.
These groups will provide you with mentors and peers to inspire you, keep you accountable, hit you with reality checks and help you grow as a leader by learning outside perspectives and experiences in a safe space.
5. Balancing Business And Family Life
Work-life balance is a goal of many entrepreneurs regardless of their gender, but mothers who start businesses have to simultaneously run their families and their companies. And in this area, traditional gender expectations often still prevail.
'Being a mother while running a business is very challenging. There are ways to balance your time, but the perception is that you could be more effective in running your business if you didn't have to deal with kids.' - Hillary GengaClick To Tweet
Learn to not take shortcomings on either front too seriously, and to not beat yourself up over the little things, such as missing a class trip with your children.
Mompreneurs have dual responsibilities to their businesses and to their families, and finding ways to devote time to both is key to truly achieving that elusive work-life balance.
6. Lack Of Support
People generally function more effectively when they have a solid support system.
As mentioned previously, women already lack monetary support, but more importantly, if they also lack encouragement from family members, it can be extremely difficult.
Women are usually encouraged to join business corporations where their skills are needed but rarely pushed to use their skills to start a business.
Get the support you need.
Actively seek it out because it won’t magically find you.
7. Self Doubt
The fear of failure is among one of the top concerns of women who launch start-ups.
Failure is a very real possibility in any business venture, but Delia Passi, CEO of WomenCertified and founder of the Women’s Choice Award, said it shouldn’t be viewed as a negative.
'You need to have massive failure to have massive success. You may need 100 'noes' to get one 'yes,' but that one 'yes' will make you more successful tomorrow than you were today.' - Delia PassiClick To Tweet
8. Lack Of Role Models
In a male-dominated business environment, there is a distinct lack of coverage of successful female entrepreneurs.
With fewer female role models visible in the business world compared to men, it can be difficult for women-led businesses to adopt the strategies employed by successful female CEO’s.
This is the reason Elaine Rau, founder of LadyBossBlogger, to highlight and showcase successful female entrepreneurs on her blog in order to change how women perceive themselves and their abilities.