4 Challenges (Still) Faced by Women Entrepreneurs and How to Overcome Them
Women have taken great leaps in the field of entrepreneurship. They have broken stereotypes, glass ceilings, and egos, but continue to face challenges while establishing businesses, which are easier for their male counterparts.
Studies have shown that females have a much more favorable skill-set in comparison to males for sales and leadership, but the suppression and societal norms have chained them into believing that business is not meant for them.
There have been efforts and initiatives by the governments and other organizations, but the sad truth is that these options are either inaccessible to women or they are not aware of it. Let’s look at the challenges women face with establishing their business and how to solve them.
1. Limited Funding & Training
Only one reason. Gender bias. Even though we have very successful women entrepreneurs, sales experts, management heads, and other high positions held and executed by women to the best of their roles, as soon as a woman takes hold of the initial orientation for a new product, investors look for a man as a sign of stability and trust in a business.
This is the reason why women had a meager 2.2% share of the $130 billion given out in venture capital. In an HSBC survey in 2018, 400 female entrepreneurs reported gender bias while raising capital. They said that they are asked more personal than business-related questions centered around their lives.
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What is the Solution?
Sort and filter VCs who are looking for products that will bring them a good ROI. They invest generously in products they think are capable of creating creative disruption and have a management team skilled in handling the growth of the business.
If procuring capital is still far, try to bootstrap yourself. Apply for grants or loans. Pitch your idea to family or friends. Take advantage of women-centric schemes by associations and the government. Try microlending. It is a jump start, and with your determination, you can soon make your business stand on its feet, without needing extensive capital.
2. Fewer chances of procuring government contracts
Even though the influence and determination of female entrepreneurs are ever-growing, there is one area where they are still lagging behind their male counterparts – procuring government contracts. One speculation for this is that women-owned businesses are comparatively new and smaller than the others.
The Small Business Administration (SBA) was established as a department under the US Government over 50 years ago, but it has faced difficulties in reaching the target of a minimum of 5% contracts for women-owned businesses. Under the Biden-Harris administration, many efforts are being made to help women secure more federal contracts, but they have a 21% less chance of winning a federal contract than otherwise similar companies.
What is the Solution?
You can aim at procuring a government contract, which may not be federal, but state and local contracts are more friendly towards small businesses. Join networking groups and circles that provide contracting resources and know-how, to shape your business as a potential business gainer. Get your business certified as woman-owned.
There are various opportunities and contracts that are specially set aside for women-owned businesses and you can bid or compete for them once your company is certified. Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC) and The National Women Business Owners Corporation (NWBOC) are two organizations in the US that can provide a national certification, alongside local and state authorities.
3. The work-life balance is difficult to achieve for women
Work-life balance is difficult to achieve for everyone. But it is especially straining on women as they are trapped within the norms and conventions of society. The automatic assumption that she will be the one cleaning and cooking even after a hectic day in the office makes her hesitant to commit her full potential to her professional life. And in completing her duty at the office, she might miss an important event in her personal life. Moreover, the performance bias ingrained in the mindset of society pushes women to work more than they need to. To prove themselves fit for the position they are working in.
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What is the Solution?
People are now more woke about the concept of a work-life balance and it has been at the forefront during the work-from-home phase for companies and individuals alike. This is because you try to find a perfect equilibrium between both things. What you can try instead is not striving for an idea but choosing your priorities as per their importance. Maybe one week you can work extra and the next week is for family – a stable scale between the two. This will help you be where you need to be at the right time and not miss out on anything. You can be the best employee/boss there is and you can still be the mom of the year!
4. Women face Gender Discrimination everywhere!
42% of women have faced gender discrimination at work. Interrupting in between speeches, not paying attention to ideas, considering you less deserving than your male counterparts. All of this points to subtle gender discrimination in the workplace.
There are anecdotes by women which prove that some investors do not take women-owned enterprises seriously or they can commit their capability to the company. Because, well, they are women. Loans acquired by women are at a low. And the brands run by them are seen inferior as compared to ones run by males.
All of this manifest and latent gender discrimination breaks the morale of women who look to venture out in the business market.
What is the Solution?
There isn’t really a solution to change the mindsets of people who do not recognize men and women at the same level. All you can do is to choose whether or not you want to prove your worth to them. If you do, you need to work harder and earn the respect of such people in more creative ways.
If you don’t want to, it is still okay because you don’t have to prove anything to anyone. You know you are capable and that reflects in the actions you take; sometimes it just takes effort to explain to people why something is important to you.
Keep at it, girls!
The future has better things in store for you…
The future definitely holds a lot of promises for female entrepreneurs. Because even as you read this, there will be some women somewhere taking a step towards becoming successful. And independent in their professional careers.
There are many upcoming female entrepreneurs, who are facing the same challenges and overcoming them like the badasses they are. Female entrepreneurship is becoming a community- a global space where you can share your problems, get support and give support.
There will be challenges, definitely, but you will find someone who will help you along the way – a partner, an investor, a manager, or just a listener.
But remember, you will get where you want to be.