It is a harsh reality that despite all the progress that we have made female-owned businesses are still a minority, and there is a huge disparity in the way male entrepreneurs and female entrepreneurs are treated. The plight of being a female entrepreneur is that the challenges and struggles that they face are vastly different from what is considered conventional in the industry, and there is little to no help available for them. Here are some of the most common problems of women entrepreneurship:
f you go by what the media has to say and how female entrepreneurship is portrayed in the popular culture, you might think that we are living in the golden age for successful female entrepreneurs. While it may be true that some strides have been made to accommodate female entrepreneurs in the industry, but the job is far from done. The story that you might hear in popular culture could not
Problems of women entrepreneurship still exist, and there is not enough being done to rectify this. It is a shame that strong, independent, and ambitious women are being marginalized on a mass scale due to this false perception that all is well. The worst part is that most female entrepreneurs do not have a support system set up to help them navigate these challenges and overcome the obstacles that they face on a daily basis.
1. Going against social expectations – If you have ever been to a networking event or a seminar, then you might be familiar with what we are talking about here. Unless it is an all-female convention, you can usually count the number of women in attendance on a single hand. Most of the people in attendance are male entrepreneurs. It is normal and expected to feel a little unnerved due to this. It is a common approach in this situation for female entrepreneurs to feel pressured to try and add a typical masculine touch to their approach. This pressure to be more male-like can result in harsh, aggressive, and overly competitive behaviour from women. It takes toll overtime on the mental aspect of how you approach business and how you negotiate for yourself. This is a common trap that many female entrepreneurs fall into and end up losing their originality and edge. Since there is little to no awareness about this factor, most female entrepreneurs do not even realize that they are doing this. Unfortunately, right now, there is a huge gap between the number of female and male entrepreneurs, so it is important to take the advice of successful female entrepreneurs and stay true to yourself in such situations. There is no need to change your approach to a more masculine style. Stay calm in such situations and do what comes naturally to you.
2. Funding – Not every founder of a startup looks for investors to get their business running. Still, if you have ever made a pitch to an investor about your business, then you will be well aware of how difficult and nerve-racking this process can be. Well, it turns out that raising money for a business is even tougher for female entrepreneurs. According to a study conducted by Babson College, less than 4% of businesses that managed to acquire venture capital funding had females in top-level executive positions. This is a harrowing statistic and goes to show that how many women struggle in this regard. The heart of the problem here is that the top venture capitalists are predominantly men, and they tend to go for startups that are of their own "tribe. This does not mean that men will always go for businesses started by men although there is some evidence of that as well but what this means is that an investor will prefer to invest in a business that is started by some who they have some affinity with. The best way to overcome this problem as recommended by famous female entrepreneurs is to have more women investors support businesses that are started by other women. Another thing that needs to be taken into consideration here is that women need to build their confidence up by having a great team and a good plan for their business. When they are confident in their business, they will be able to negotiate better deals and attract more investors to get the funding required for their business.
3. Be Taken Seriously – It is not a question of "if" but "when". Most female entrepreneurs are going to find themselves in a room full of men at some point in their professional lives. This is when the struggle to win the respect of their male counterparts starts. It is an unfortunate reality that men often do not want to acknowledge the leadership skills and role of a woman. It is a very real problem that most female entrepreneurs face, the negative emotions that this struggle can build in your head have a very detrimental effect on how you conduct business. Famous and successful female entrepreneurs suggest that joining a women entrepreneur group is the best way to deal with this problem. Sometimes all you need is the support of your peers. Hearing the experiences of likeminded people can create a support system that can help you overcome this obstacle. You will only be taken seriously when you start to respect your abilities, and instead of demanding to be taken seriously, you start to earn respect through your work. It is not fair by any means that you are just presumed to be less competent, but there is no point in wasting time building negative energy. Join a female entrepreneur group; this will help you understand that you are not alone. You will be able to understand this problem better by hearing outside perspectives. Once you understand what the problem is, you will be better equipped to deal with it and create awareness about it.
4. Own your accomplishments – When it comes to owning your accomplishments, women tend to lack behind in this regard. This is not just a problem that female entrepreneurs face, but this is also a common problem that all working women face. They hold themselves to a higher standard than men. This means that they have less confidence in their achievements and abilities than men. What happens as a result is that they start to blame themselves for anything that goes wrong and always live in fear of being exposed for their perceived lack of competence. This is a phenomenon called the impostor syndrome. As unhealthy and crippling as this might be, it is a very real thing that thousands of women go through every day. This a result of years of grooming and societal expectations from women starting at a young age. The worst part is that female entrepreneur, most of the times, are not even aware that they are downplaying their own worth. This has a major impact on how female entrepreneurs conduct business. They start to consider themselves unqualified for several opportunities that they, in reality, are even in some cases overqualified for. These missed opportunities and lack of confidence in their achievements and abilities becomes a huge barrier towards their path to success. Female entrepreneurs need to assert themselves according to famous female entrepreneurs, as leaders and have the confidence that they are competent in a leadership role. Otherwise, the opportunities that they miss due to this will never let them succeed.
How to overcome all these problems faced by women entrepreneurs?
Now that you understand the major challenges faced by women entrepreneurs let us take a look at some of the practical steps that you should take to overcome these problems.
This is the best way to overcome challenges faced by women entrepreneurs. According to a recent study, when asked the question who is more credible men or women? More than 80% of the people answered that men are more credible. It is a surprising statistic, but it is not completely shocking. As a result of the social conditioning that women go through, they often end up missing opportunities for taking the initiative and getting recognition for their contributions. If women entrepreneurs are to become leaders, they have to build their credibility. This is the first step towards developing leadership skills. If women entrepreneurs are more confident about their abilities and achievements, they will become more prominent in the workplace. Here are some on the ways that you can boost your credibility:
• Seek out mentors – It is important to search for mentors who are friendly to your cause. There are many advantages of having a good mentor. If you have a certain goal in mind find someone who has “been there and done that” it is always nice to have someone who knows all the tips and tricks that will help you progress.
• Don’t be afraid to ask – You are going to need certain resources to do your project to the best of your ability. If you feel like you need something, ask for it, don’t be afraid. Women entrepreneurs often feel uncomfortable and fear being perceived as selfish or aggressive if they demand the things that they need. Women entrepreneurs need to overcome this fear. Men ask for what they want all the time, and more often than not, they get it.
• Don’t be afraid to take risks – Fortune favours the bold. Women entrepreneurs often fear taking risks because of the perceived threat of failure, but if you do not take bold steps, you will not be able to build credibility and get the acknowledgement that you deserve. If you take the most difficult path often enough, you will definitely get noticed.
• Take credit for what you do – Women entrepreneurs are often modest about their accomplishments and try not to draw too much attention towards them. That needs to change in order for women entrepreneurs to become involved with more leadership opportunities.
Arguably the most important skill when it comes to leadership is communication. So, if women entrepreneurs are to excel in leadership roles, they need to understand and learn the language of good leaders. The best to do it is to be authentic. Here are some of the ways that women can use to make their communication skills better.
• The 3 Cs – Confident, Concise, and Clear these are the three Cs that you need to keep in mind when communicating in the workplace. These little details are more important than you might think in your perception as a good leader. In order to get your voice and message heard, you need to communicate straightforwardly and simply.
• Use a credible tone of voice– The best way to communicate with people in the workplace is to use declarative language and avoid ending statements with question marks. If your tone of voice is one that inspires confidence and lets people know that you mean business, then you will surely be perceived as a good leader.
• Relearn how to speak – Put some time and effort into learning the best practices of speaking. Good leaders know what they want to say and what will be the best way to say it.
• Be inquisitive – Women often avoid asking questions. The best way to understand something and gather information about it is to ask questions. So, if you are ever in a position where you are unclear about anything, ask questions. This shows people that you are taking an interest and are serious about the job at hand.
• Know what to say in confrontations – Confrontations are not the most pleasant thing in the world. But knowing how to mediate a confrontation with the right communication is a vital characteristic of a good leader. The key here is to stay calm and deal with the situation in a way that you can exit the situation with grace.
We hope that this article helps you in some way at understanding the problems faced by women entrepreneurs and how you can overcome them. From our team at Rebel Kin, we wish you the best of luck and hope that you become the best female entrepreneur that you can!