Now, at the outset of this article, know this.
According to statistics, there are now more than 11.6 million firms owned by women in the US alone. While these numbers indicate there is nothing to worry about for potential female entrepreneurs, there are a couple of things worth noting.
- Businesses owned by women are still in the minority, with statistics also suggesting only four out of every ten businesses are woman-owned. As this report suggests, many of these are micro-businesses, being far smaller than those that are male-driven. Still, the gap is closing, but it is obvious there is still a way to go.
- Women face challenges in business that are less common for their male counterparts. So, while success is possible, the path to finding it isn’t always straight-forward, as we will discuss below.
Challenges faced by female entrepreneurs
Being in the minority. Not only is the business world dominated by men, but in many industries, so is the workforce. Walking into a network conference where the number of women can be counted on one hand, or leading a team that is male-dominated, can be unnerving for many women in business. Still, as we discussed in one of our previous articles, women can be good leaders of male-dominated teams, and women can prove themselves to be worthy at networking events, but they often have to take on aggressive traits to be noticed, which may go against their natural instincts.
Being seen as ‘daddy’s girl.’ Accusations of nepotism and contempt often arise when women try to make a name for themselves, with the presumption that they are living off their father’s reputation. One famous example is Belinda Stronach who had to defy critics who accused her of living out her ‘father’s political fantasies’ when she made inroads into carving out a political career for herself. She has long since surpassed those accusations by having a successful career in politics and in business that has nothing to do with her father. Still, for those women who do have influential parental figureheads, it is difficult to escape the cynics.
Facing the struggle to acquire funding. Many women are forced to bootstrap their way into business, because as the article at Fundera suggests, women struggle to gain access to the same financial opportunities men are afforded, such as those attributed to business loans. Not only are more women than men being rejected after applying for a loan, but even if they are successful, they are often given smaller amounts than their male counterparts. Still, as the article also suggests, there are solutions to this, such as using crowdfunding as a way to gain business capital, but more still needs to be done for women to be taken seriously by banks and investors.
Balancing family and work life. Stereotypically, men are still seen as the breadwinner. Women, if they do take on a career or business, are often responsible for juggling what they do around the needs of their families. Finding the balance can be difficult, although as these CEO entrepreneurs describe, it is possible, despite the complications involved.
Should these challenges put you off if you are looking to start a business of your own? We think not, because as can be seen within our article, women can succeed, despite the obstacles facing them. Still, until the tide of inequality turns for the better, you will need to work hard to make your place in business and look for ways to overcome any hurdles that are unfortunately put in your way.
Let us know your thoughts, especially if you are a female business owner who has managed to succeed in the face of these and other challenges.
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