On paper, female founders have never had it easier. According to the National Association of Woman Business Owners, women operated over 11 million companies in the United States in 2017, hiring over 9 million workers and earning $1.7 trillion in revenue. But do you want to know the problems faced by women entrepreneurs?
However, these figures just tell a portion of the tale. Women-owned companies are a minority, and the obstacles women founders encounter are numerous and often distinct from those encountered by their male peers.
To shine some light on some of these inequalities, Business News Daily spoke with female CEOs about the major obstacles women entrepreneurs encounter and how they conquer them.
Seven obstacles faced by female entrepreneurs and how to conquer them
1. Confronting societal norms
The majority of female business owners who have experienced networking conventions will react to this scenario: you enter a packed seminar and can count the women present on one side. When female founders meet with mostly male leaders, it may be unsettling.
Women can feel compelled to adopt a stereotypically “man” attitude toward business in this situation: competitive, hostile, and sometimes harsh. However, influential female CEOs agree that being loyal to oneself and developing one’s own identity is critical to exceeding preconceived standards.
“Be yourself and have faith in who you are,” Trunkettes creator and CEO Hilary Genga said. “You’ve arrived at this point by determination and diligent work, but most significantly, you’ve arrived. Avoid conforming to a man’s perception of what a chief might appear like.” [Related article: 5 Feminine Characteristics of Great Leaders]
Although not all company entrepreneurs want investors to support them launch their companies, many understand how challenging the pitching phase can be. Capital raising is also more challenging for women-owned firms. According to a 2014 Babson College survey, fewer than 3% of firms receiving venture capital financing had female CEOs.
Bonnie Crater, CEO of Full Circle Insights, noted that venture capitalists often invest in companies founded by members of their “tribe.” For instance, a Stanford-educated investor would want to invest in a company founded by a Stanford alum. This suggests that venture capital companies led by women are more inclined to participate in female-led startups.
However, according to the Babson survey, this represents just 6% of US companies. Crater advises women seeking business investors to boost their morale with a strong team and business strategy.
Investors usually want companies that have the potential to expand to a value of more than $1 billion, Crater explained. “Consider how to do it. If you have professionals on the founding team capable of successfully executing the company [operations], investors will trust certain individuals. Additionally, you’ll need a strong product-market match.”
Another strategy for resolving this problem is to increase female investor collaboration, according to Felena Hanson, CEO of the Hera Hub co-working space for female self-starters.
According to Hanson, organizations similar to hers are “looking to empower and attract female buyers, as well as to develop and promote other female entrepreneurs by financing and strategic educational workshops.”
Female entrepreneurs will boost the money they need for their businesses by learning to apply for precisely what they need, even though it requires asking more than they want.
“Women are more conservative and do not exaggerate projections,” Gloria Kolb, CEO, and co-founder of Elidah and a mentor at the University of Connecticut’s Technology Incubation Program, said. “When we approach clients, we always provide them with realistic estimates. However, since men often exaggerate and exaggerate, consumers frequently ignore the figures immediately.”
Kolb explained that investors, who are typically males, tend to believe that woman entrepreneurs operate similarly to men and inflate their figures. As a result, they can have support at less than the requested amount. Women must recognize this dynamic and tailor their pitches appropriately.
3. Having difficulty being taken seriously
At any point in their careers, most woman CEOs find themselves in a male-dominated business or workplace that refuses to recognize their leadership position. Alison Gutterman, Jelmar’s CEO and president, had a similar encounter early in her career.
“As a female entrepreneur in a male-dominated business, I’ve struggled to win respect,” she said. Since Jelmar is a family enterprise, she faced accusations that she was operating off the reputations of her father and grandparents.
“I was more than happy to put in the time and effort necessary to establish my own identity as a diligent, honorable businessperson in my own right,” Gutterman said. “To resolve this, I’ve had to develop my faith and overcome negative self-talk.”
The pessimistic comments that have accumulated in your brain are impeding your ability to achieve your maximum potential, according to Gutterman. She also entered several woman entrepreneur organizations to fight them.
“These communities have supported me with advisors and colleagues that empower me, challenge my talents and successes, and encourage me to develop and learn from their unique insights and experiences,” she said.
4. Taking ownership of your success
The communal, consensus-building qualities model for young girls can cause women to subconsciously diminish their own value. Molly MacDonald, founder and CEO of The Mobile Locker Co., a startup that offers personal storage for activities, admitted that she has always struggled to communicate her own leadership importance.
“Whenever I speak about the business… I still use the word ‘we’ rather than ‘I,'” MacDonald said. “Using the first individual to describe successes makes me sound as if I’m boasting, and I can’t shake the notion that once we learn it’s only me in charge, the importance of what we do would diminish. As I expand the company, I’m attempting to take ownership of what I’ve accomplished.”
In a similar vein, Shilonda Downing, creator of Virtual Work Team, encourages women to trust their artistic thoughts.
“I’ve had to catch myself on times as I realized I was giving so much away in the absence of a financial promise from a prospective customer,” Downing said. “I suggest that other women place a premium on their skills as well.”
Sharon Rowlands, CEO of Web.com Group and ReachLocal, concurred that trust is critical to growth, even while facing a boardroom of men.
“I had faith in my ability to manage the firm,” Rowlands said. “I simply ensured that every proposal I attempted to advance was backed up by a compelling business argument. I was never caught off guard by the questions I expected.”
5. Establishing a support system
A strong support network is critical for entrepreneurial progress, which is why, according to Inc., 48% of female entrepreneurs say a shortage of accessible advisors and mentors inhibits their professional development.
“With the bulk of the high-level business community still run by men, it may be difficult to chart your own course and foster introductions and contacts into some of the more prestigious business networks,” Hanson said. “Because the majority of the industry today also adheres to the adage ‘it’s not what you do; it’s how you know,’ this will play a significant role in your ultimate performance.”
Finding the appropriate support network is not always straightforward. Women-focused networking activities – such as WIN Conference, eWomenNetwork, and Bizwomen – as well as online communities and groups dedicated to women in the industry, such as Ellevate Network, are excellent places to start.
If you’ve identified your network of allies, don’t be scared to approach them with what you really require.
“Ask often and… be specific on what you need,” advised Addie Swartz, CEO of reacHIRE, a company that integrates businesses of women returning to work following a break or seeking different positions and development. “You never know who would be able to assist. Individuals are more inclined to join in if they are clear on the task at hand. If you do not inquire, you will not get.”
Check out, 10 Best business to start passive income.
6. Striking a balance between work and family life
Parent entrepreneurs have dual commitments to their companies and families; seeking ways to dedicate time to both is critical for maintaining the elusive work-life balance, Genga explained.
Seeking this equilibrium, for Michelle Garrett of Garrett Public Relations, meant quitting a corporate job and beginning her own consultancy company before the birth of her first child.
“I understood that if I stayed in the business sector… I would have been forced to make a slew of undesirable choices, “Garrett said. “I believe that the job community is moving toward greater flexibility for women, which is a positive thing. However, working for yourself would almost certainly have greater flexibility than working for another individual.”
7. Overcoming self-doubt and fear of disappointment
Though failure is often a possibility in industry, Kristi Piehl, creator, and CEO of Media Minefield, urges women not to allow their insecurities to deter them from thinking high. She inspires women to push beyond the self-doubt that any business owner experiences and not wait for perfection before beginning a business or accepting a significant promotion.
According to Swartz, failure can not be perceived negatively or as a reason to abandon your objectives.
“When you repeatedly hear ‘no,’ when your plans fall apart, or when you make an expensive decision, use it as a teaching opportunity,” she said.
The path to success is littered with setbacks, mishaps, and errors, but it will always lead you where you want to go as long as you have your eye on the prize.
“Continue on your current route,” Swartz advised. “Take in all feedback; block out distractions and naysayers; learn about the experiences and strive to avoid them in the future. However, whatever you do, do not surrender.”
Five of the world’s most influential female entrepreneurs
The following women were selected as some of the most influential women entrepreneurs to date based on their achievements and net worth. If you like or despise them, they certainly established themselves in successful professions.
Oprah, dubbed “the first lady of talk shows,” does not need a surname. She was born on an isolated farm in Mississippi, where she amused herself by acting in front of farm animals, as noted in her online profile. She came from a poor background and was sexually abused as a child, but she claims a turning point occurred during her adolescent years when her father saved her life.
Oprah Winfrey’s first run of popularity began in her freshman year in college, where she captured the titles of Miss Black Nashville and Miss Tennessee. After graduation, she entered the television business and quickly outperformed pioneering daytime talk show host Phil Donahue in terms of ratings.
Oprah is well recognized today as the star of The Oprah Winfrey Show, a billionaire philanthropist, and the owner of her own television network and publication.
Gisele Bundchen discussed her childhood in Brazil with her sisters and how she was mocked for being big and thin in her instant New York Times bestseller Lessons. These characteristics aid in the start of her modeling career, and she has been one of the highest-paid women in the world since 2001.
Apart from her well-known modeling career, Bundchen is the creator of Sejaa Pure Skincare. There are three products in the line: a skin cream, a night cream, and a mud mask. According to StyleCaster, she approaches her personal business entrepreneurially, taking a share in revenue from the jelly sandals she crafted and her own collection of lingerie.
This American technology executive was born in Washington, D.C., but her family quickly relocated to North Miami Beach, Florida. Her achievements began at a young age when she was a member of the National Honor Society and graduated ninth in her senior class with a 4.6-grade point average. Her high school achievements were not overlooked as she was accepted to Harvard University.
Sandberg is well known for her work at Google and Facebook, as well as her New York Times best-selling memoir, Lean In. Sandberg worked as Google’s vice president of global web advertising and operations before being hired to be Facebook’s first chief operating officer.
Lady Gaga, born Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta, first captured the world’s attention in 2008 with her pop smash “Just Dance.” But before she was Lady Gaga, she was a Catholic school student with a passion for music who composed her first piano ballad at the age of 13.
Gaga launched her career in 2008 with the publication of her debut album, The Fame. Lady Gaga has never been a typical run-of-the-mill pop star; she takes risks in everything she does, from her daring costumes to her lively dance routines and jaw-dropping dramatic shows.
Gaga’s career began with music. Today, her credits include a Golden Globe nomination for her performance in American Horror Story, an Oscar nomination for Best Original Song and a Best Actress nomination for A Star Is Born, and a makeup line named Haus Labs that has the internet practically “Gaga” about.
From struggling mother to global celebrity, J.K. Rowling is a must-watch on our chart of top female entrepreneurs. She was born and raised in England but later relocated to Portugal to pursue a teaching career. She began writing the first Harry Potter book while on welfare and raising her daughter after a divorce.
Her first novel, which sold for a staggering $4,000, was published in 1997, sparking the start of what would quickly become a sensation. Rowling’s imaginative and astute storytelling saw audiences all around the world sticking their noses in her novels. The billionaire earned $54 million from Harry Potter purchases worldwide in a single year.
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Bijay is an entrepreneur and start-up founder having more than 14 years of IT industry experience. He is the co-founder of TSInfo Technologies, a SharePoint development company.
A dedicated professional and very passionate about public speaking and also wrote thousands of technical blogs in various technologies. He also wrote a lots of blogs on entrepreneurship, investment, startup, business, manage money tips, etc.