10 of the challenges faced by female entrepreneurs
These days, when the discussion of female equality along with the gender wage gap is in the news, many people overlook the kind of challenges that female entrepreneurs face that are solely ours. The thought is that if you own your own business, that you make your own rules. Sure, we don’t have to worry about wage gaps necessarily but in entrepreneurship, we face many different challenges when it comes to starting our own business. Whether it’s finding funding, marketing & branding yourself, or even concepts like juggling work-life balance or believing in yourself. Many female entrepreneurs feel the same way! It’s easy to think that you’re alone but remember you aren’t the only one with these challenges. It’s important to know that these challenges can be overcome!
99Designs did a study of 3,000 entrepreneurs of both sexes. On average, women are less likely than their male counterparts to raise $100,000 in funding for their businesses. Of the 3,000 entrepreneurs surveyed, only 15% of women could reach their goal of $100,000 in funding, compared to 28% of men. This lack of funding made it more difficult to hire employees, rent office spaces or a storefront, and also made it more difficult to work reasonable hours.
The Work-Life Juggling Act
As mentioned in our previous blog, Juggling Motherhood & Business, finding time to have a family is something all business owners deal with. Unlike our male counterparts, the perception is, that there has to be a choice made when you are a woman in the world of entrepreneurship. The lack of work-life balance can cause excess stress and sometimes even guilt about having to miss a bedtime story or soccer game. The juggling act can be one of the largest challenges when you own your own business.
Biases in Male-Dominated Fields
Many women who enter the world of entrepreneurship face biases but none more than when you enter a male-dominated field. For example, many fields in the world of technology, math, engineering, and science. Sometimes these biases can be in the form of listening to a male opinion or idea more than a female or it could even be a woman being passed over for an opportunity for her male counterpart. Our own, Nicole Martinez, has faced many biases as a web developer and graphic designer. That is why she has dedicated herself to assisting female entrepreneurs to further their brand & businesses.
Lack Of Support from Other Entrepreneurs
Many female entrepreneurs find that creating a support system is something difficult. Many entrepreneurs could see others as competition or just wanting to stay in their own lane. The rise of social media along with groups specifically made for female entrepreneurs have made it a lot easier finding that support you need when you have a bad day or just need some advice from other women who have been there before.
Women, in general, have a difficult time being taken seriously when it comes to their careers, this is something that is even harder when you are an entrepreneur. Women have the reputation of holding it back and even when they are talked down to, had their input minimized, “Mansplained” to- having a man talk down to you as if you aren’t smart enough to understand what they are saying, or even just getting the credit we deserve. The best way to think about this is to treat everyone with kindness, even if they are disrespecting you. Know that you are in this position and your business is where it is because you are capable.
Breaking Social Expectations
When you are at a conference or meeting with other entrepreneurs, sometimes you can find yourself changing yourself to fit in with the group. If it’s male entrepreneurs, you could find yourself being more competitive or even more aggressive when it comes to business. This could be because you are wanting acceptance from the group or you want to be “one of them” especially around men in high-power positions. The best thing you can be is yourself. You have made it this far and accomplished so much to change what got you here.
Not Taking Chances
Fear of failure is something that everyone can identify with but as a female entrepreneur, sometimes you can play it safe. There will be chances that come up or ideas you may have that you decide would be too risky. Now sometimes they can be risky but sometimes you fear that you will fail or be seen as a failure to the world around you. Starting a business on its own is a huge risk but that shouldn’t be your only risk. Try new things, take chances, and put yourself out there. Some of the greatest business decisions require calculated risk. It’s okay to take chances and it’s okay to fail sometimes.
Selling Yourself Short
As I said above, sometimes you do not get the credit you deserve but it’s a challenge women in business have is not owning the things you have accomplished. You can downplay your accomplishments by saying “We reached this goal” when it is a personal goal of your own. Many women believe that they are being boastful or narcissistic when talking about what yourself but there is a way to own what you’ve accomplished without boasting about it. Don’t sell yourself short if you are putting in the hard work, you deserve to be celebrated.
This is something that you do not think about until you hire your first employees. Women have the balancing act trying to still have authority over their employees and trying to still stay approachable. Male entrepreneurs have been able to have authority over their employees and be seen as a strong leader but when a woman does it, it can be construed as bossy or demanding. Many female entrepreneurs must learn the balance and know that being firm yet nice is attainable.
Marketing & Branding
This seems like something so simple but a challenge many female entrepreneurs face is how to market or brand themselves. When you go into business, you think of your product/service, funding, and the essentials but when it comes to branding yourself & your business, many do not know how to do that. It comes down to knowing yourself, your product, and who your audience is. Using these principles plus some knowledge of social media can take your business a long way.