The number of women entrepreneurs is on the rise. It seems the increased publicity and efforts against inequalities women face have had a huge positive impact. Much so that the economy is now reaping the benefits of women-owned businesses. According to statistics, women-owned businesses generate $1.9 trillion in revenue. They have increased up to 114% over the past two decades. Unfortunately, these numbers only tell a part of the story. Many women still face many challenges that curtail their growth in business. In this article, we discuss some of the hurdles that women in business strive to overcome each day and ways to circumvent them.
Unfavorable business environment
Gender norms greatly affect the ecosystem of entrepreneurship. Many social and traditional constraints restrict women's participation in business. For instance, in many countries, women are still supposed to stay at home! Most will focus more on the family while the men work. It is not all gloom. Women continue to challenge these norms by stemming out and starting their businesses. Frankly, it is not always a walk in the park.
In most cases, the business environment often demands that they have a male partner as the face of the business. They constantly have to do more, be more, grow faster, show more, and prove points to get a seat on the table. Ironically, some of the greatest innovations come from women-led organizations. As a female entrepreneur, you should remain adamant and stay focused on the goal.
We live in a patriarchal society. Most laws, religion, and cultures are built upon a patriarchal foundation. No wonder, statistics show that women are less likely to be hired into entry-level positions or given business opportunities than men. This means that women have to deal with discrimination and unequal opportunities in the business environment. They have to work just as twice as men to be taken seriously or considered for anything. Sadly, despite increased debates and discussions surrounding the inequalities women face in the workplace, there remains a tremendous amount of work to be done to close the gaps
Fear of failure
Entrepreneurship is beautiful but is not always a smooth curve. There are rainy and sunny days thanks to the ever-changing business environment.
Sadly, most people, especially women, quit on rainy days. They dread failing and are always skeptical of their capabilities in business. If you find yourself struggling and unsure what to do, you can find an expert/coach in your field to help you get unstuck and succeed in your business. Luckily, you can find an online business coach to help you navigate the storm. Letting your insecurities take over can discourage you from dreaming big and achieving your dreams. As a female entrepreneur, you must stay the course. Filter out the naysayers' noise. Learn from your mistakes, and don’t lose sight of your final destination.
Tips on dealing with the fear of failure:
- Figure out where the fear comes from
- Reframe beliefs about your goals
- Think positively
- Have a backup plan
- Learn from your mistakes.
Access to funding
Women, especially those of color, not only earn less than men but are also less likely to get access to capital for their businesses. The meager share of 2.2% of the $130million given out in venture capital is evidence of this. Many women business owners still face difficulties in obtaining capital. While many factors cause the discrepancy in funding, it is very unfortunate that most investors, including banks, do not consider most women as credit-worthy. Some investors even consider women-led businesses as mere projects not worth a shot.
They block themselves from seeing the big vision in the way they would a male-led startup. Despite the financial challenges, women continue to look for funding, and some end up with good funding. It is also worth noting that women entrepreneurs should learn to support each other and raise the necessary capital for their businesses.
Lack of support network
Another great challenge faced by women in business is the inadequate support systems, including mentors and advisors. Most women face the greatest challenges in getting support; they struggle for emotional, financial, and relevant connections to succeed in their startups. Sadly, juggling everything can be daunting as it requires so much effort and money. As an entrepreneur, you should get support when necessary. You should also find mentors and sponsors to guide you in your path. Again, speak to a reputable business coach to help grow your venture.
It is said that the way an entrepreneur gathers, shares, and exploits knowledge is central to the development and success of his/her business. In essence, empowering yourself with knowledge is just the beginning of a long journey to business success. Sadly information, including networking ventures that aid business growth, might are not always availed for women. Many at times, they need to look for them. In other cases, they are forced to pay to access them. Luckily technology is making things easier. These days, you can find good resources to help guide you in setting up shop and growing.
As an entrepreneur, you should keep in mind that learning never stops and that knowledge is power. Make good use of the Internet to learn!
Balancing business and family life
This is one of the biggest when it comes to hurdles facing women entrepreneurs. In our society, women are expected to take care of their homes and manage a successful business. Keep in mind that these are two responsibilities that demand a lot of time and effort. Sadly, for most women, the demands from personal commitments will often override the business goals. That is why many find themselves quitting for family reasons.
Being a mother, wife, and leader of your business requires untenable commitment. The beauty is that many have done it! Well, social support is also key in helping women balance the different spheres of their lives.
From our discussion, it is quite evident that women still face a lot of hurdles running their businesses. The good news is that despite these challenges’ women are changing the world! As a female entrepreneur, it is the best time to join the growing number of women entrepreneurs. You don’t have to do it all alone. Seek help and partner where you can. Challenges will keep coming. It is common in any business, anyway. Just be prepared to jump over the hurdles and grow!