Entrepreneurship isn’t a walk in the park for anyone and it can be even more challenging if you are of the “female persuasion”. Even with all of the advancements that women have made in the business world, there is still a long way to go before the success rate is level between male and female entrepreneurs.
While I don’t normally write about such gender-specific topics, I felt that this issue was important for everyone, men included, to understand. I encourage all of you to truly support your female colleagues, family members and friends, so that these challenges can become a thing of the past.
Below are some of the top challenges that female entrepreneurs need to overcome in general in order for woman-owned businesses to be more successful as a whole.
*These are generalizations and obviously do not reflect all women.
(1) Not Being Taken Seriously
Within the business world, women’s opinions and advice are not always viewed as “expert” compared to a man’s opinion. And when a female starts a business, sometimes family, friends, and others in the business community can view it as a hobby or a side project to family duties, rather than a bona fide business. Seeking out extra support can help to help overcome this bias, but women need to realize that this is a true gender bias obstacle.
(2) Letting Fear Stand in the Way
In general, women can be less prone to taking risks and can let their own fears (such as the fear of failure, fear of success, fear of being on their own etc.) stand in the way of “going for it” and pursuing the path of entrepreneurship. Confidence is a great way to combat these fears and the best way to feel confident in what you are doing is to make sure that you are as prepared as possible before you start your business endeavor. Also, believe in what you bring to the table and value your time, efforts and capabilities.
(3) Wanting to Please Everyone
Females are often taught to “be nice” and “people pleasers”, which can lead to seeking the approval of others. Subsequently, women can have a harder time saying “No”, which can lead to under-charging for their products/services or being too giving of their time and help in general. This typically comes at the expense of their own needs, business or otherwise.
(4) Wearing Too Many Hats
In their personal lives, women have a tendency to try to be everything to everyone and wear so many different hats that juggling everything becomes very difficult. So, when women add “entrepreneur” and “business owner” into the mix, this tendency is further magnified. Women can feel like they have to “do it for themselves” or are the best person for every job and have a tougher time delegating responsibilities to others. This causes more time to be spent working in their business, rather than on their business. This is a major hurdle to overcome in order to have a successful business.
(5) Not Being Able to “Toot Your Own Horn”
Being able to speak about your accomplishments honestly and with pride is a necessity for a successful business owner or entrepreneur. Sometimes, women feel uncomfortable talking about their achievements and may feel like they are bragging or being too boastful. But your achievements and accomplishments are some of the biggest selling points your business has, so don’t be afraid to put them out there!
Overcoming these 5 challenges will help put you on a path toward a more successful business.
What other challenges do you think face women in particular?
Thanks to Crystal Coleman of Northern Edge Business Solutions, Bernice Dickey of My #1 Is Still My #1!, Carol Margolis of Smart Women Travelers, Inc, and Vicki Donlan of VickiDonlan for the inspiration behind some of these ideas.