There once was a time when entrepreneurship was considered a platform for men, period. But now the times are changing. More and more women are emerging in the field of business and leading the way as CEO’s of their startup companies.
Working alongside many ambitious businessmen, women of today are becoming successful entrepreneurs by breaking free from their traditional gender-specific roles. Female business owners have created a name for themselves (and made loads of money) in every industry – from fashion to shipping and even technology. Recent studies have also shown that female entrepreneurs are contributing to more employment in their countries and are generating market revenues. The successes of business-savvy women have sparked other women’s interest of starting their own small businesses. But it is not all a bed of roses for women to start a business. There are many obstacles faced by the women because of their gender in male-dominant fields. Here are the top 5 challenges faced by women entrepreneurs of today:
- Lack of support: When a female starts a business, she may not be taken seriously, resulting in her “advice” or “tips” being taken lightly. She may not be viewed as an “expert” when compared to her male counterparts. Even family members and friends may cast doubt and consider the small business idea, dream or actual business, a hobby or something to pass the time with. It is here when women have the opportunity to debunk that myth. Being assertive, confident and believing in your business, starts with you. If you don’t believe, how can anyone else?
- Limited funding: Although many small businesses don’t require investors, most of them do. For those who do, the process can be difficult. Raising capital for a business is a complicated process regardless of gender. However, it still can be problematic, as investors who are behind the curve, may look for male led companies they believe can grow because they have a misconception that women are unable to do so. A way to combat this challenge is by having a solid business plan backed by real financial projections, not fantasies. Have faith and confidence that your business plan will get you the money.
- Emotions: Somewhere along the line of history, or perhaps in the way some of us were raised, our belief is that we are to be nice and please everyone. This is a mistake as it gives the impression that you’re seeking other’s approval. While we shouldn’t shy away from our emotional being, as women in business, we should seek ways to release that emotional attachment to our businesses, which may be holding us back from making tough decisions. We also have a hard time saying “NO” to certain demands and conditions, which can affect the overall success of the business.
- The dreaded three words – work life balance: Most women who aim to start their business are also running their families alongside. “Momtrepreneurs”, are not able to neglect their motherly duties to solely run a business, here in lies the challenge. Missing out on special occasions with their families can be emotionally taxing as guilt starts to rear its ugly head. Balancing the time between the family and the business is the key to achieving success not just in business but also in overall life. Carving out your day down to the second, may help keep things in balance. But remember to be flexible because as in life, businesses are changing constantly.
- Fear of failure: According to several studies, the fear of failing is the top concern for many women aiming to start a business. Experts believe that we need several failures in our lives to achieve that one success. One “YES” after 100 “NOs” will make the entrepreneur more successful than if they never asked at all. Determination and persistence will keep women in the game instead of on the sidelines as cheerleaders.
The future is bright for women. It is estimated that women will flourish and establish more startups in the coming years. Several pieces of research show that female-driven businesses are expected to make up 50% of the business network in the next 10 years.
Women wanting to lead the way as entrepreneurs and who are looking for ways to overcome the above-mentioned hurdles should look for a mentor or coach who has a proven system with rapid results.
Whether male or female, a shot in the dark approach will likely miss its target. As women continue to break barriers, they are positioning themselves to achieve the financial freedom and grow their dream businesses to the height of success.
Billie Bowe is the President and CEO of Benchmark Consulting Services Ltd., a management consulting firm with expertise in human resources management. We believe in a global, strategic approach to management consulting. As our clients’ needs change and evolve, we offer solutions that grow along with them. We work as ‘business partners’ with our clients bringing about innovative solutions that are aligned with their business goals and objectives.
Photo courtesy of Elade Manu [FLICKR]