Women’s rights and equality have grown by leaps and bounds in the past few decades, and the playing field has never been so even between the sexes. There are, for example, more female entrepreneurs than ever before, and women have made significant strides in the business world. That being said, business is still a largely male dominated world, and women entrepreneurs face significantly more obstacles than their male counterparts. Here are the biggest challenges female entrepreneurs face, and how to overcome them.
In the world of business ownership, women are still the minority. This means that female entrepreneurs will, more likely than not, have to do business with primarily male executives and this can be intimidating. There are times when men will try to offer women a subpar deal or be dishonest with them in a way that they would not attempt with another man. To counter this and guard themselves from such a situation, many women take on a typically masculine business demeanor: harsh, aggressive and competitive. This approach very often backfires, and conforming to a male idea of what a leader should look like can be downright harmful to the push for equality. Be yourself, and do not consider your gender as a weakness but rather as a strength.
A large challenge when starting any kind of business is raising capital, even more so if you are a woman. For various reasons, that are both cultural and irrational, there is a lack of confidence when investing in female owned businesses. Bankers and investors will more gladly risk their venture capital with a businessman than a businesswoman. There is no quick fix for this problem. The only way to overcome the lack of investor confidence is by perseverance and professionalism. Do not be disheartened by rejection and do not stop asking for what you want, regardless of rejection. A great tip for boosting your organizational power and professionalism is to record important meetings so you can have easy access to transcriptions afterwards.
One of the greatest challenges facing women in the business world is how to balance business and family responsibilities. Females are traditionally the backbone of the family, and are expected to provide the foundation for family life and raising children. As a result, women too often opt for either raising a family or growing a business. There is no reason that you cannot do both, with delegation and time management skills. Be sure to set aside some time every week that is family time, no matter what- and make sure all of your family members have it in their calendars. If business does get in the way, do not cancel the family get-together but rather reschedule. As the saying goes, you can always make more money, but not more time. When with your family, avoid business distractions: family time is phone-free time. Leave your work at work.
The lives of professional working women are multifaceted, and they are expected to excel in all aspects. For the most part, men are judged on how well they are doing in their careers, i.e. how much money they make, and little else. Women, however, are judged more scrutinously- on how well they raise a family, on their friends and even on always “looking their best”. A news anchor famously did not change his suit for a year to illustrate this point- not a single person noticed. Were he a woman this would not be the case. To deal with these high expectations, just ignore them and focus on what is important to you. Accentuate the positive and focus on what you have at a given moment and not what is expected of you.
Your ability to overcome these, and many other hurdles, is what will ultimately make you successful in your chosen business. Gender, religion, age or race is in no way criteria for success. Determination, perseverance in the face of failure and planning are far more important than gender.