Entrepreneurship was once considered a man’s domain, but times are changing. According to 2015 data from the National Association of Women Business Owners, “more than 9 million U.S. firms are now owned by women, employing nearly 8 million people and generating $1.5 trillion in sales.” New York has far more women- owned businesses than other major cities in the United States. The finding of a study done by Capital One’s Future Edge initiative shows that “the number of women-owned businesses in New York between 2002 and 2012 grew by a colossal 65 percent or 45 new businesses every day. This added more than 56,000 jobs and $3 billion in payroll to the city’s economy.”
Although this is encouraging, women still face a set of challenges not typically shared by male entrepreneurs. Here is a list of 5 of those challenges with some tips on how to overcome them.
1. Defying social expectations
Women may feel as though they need to adopt a stereotypically “male” attitude toward business. Traits like being competitive, aggressive and sometimes overly harsh. But successful female CEOs believe that remaining true to yourself and finding your own voice are the keys to rising above preconceived expectations.
It might be difficult to walk into a crowded boardroom meeting and find that you can count the number of women in the room on one hand. It can be unnerving, to say the least.
Hilary Genga, founder, and CEO of Trunkettes says,”Be yourself and have confidence in who you are. You made it to where you are through hard work and perseverance, but most importantly, you’re there. Don’t conform yourself to a man’s idea of what a leader should look like.”
Don’t worry about this idea that you need to be aggressive. Clearly state what you want and need and be firm in your decision making.
“One’s philosophy is not best expressed in words; it is expressed in the choices one makes… and the choices we make are ultimately our responsibility.” – Eleanor Roosevelt
2. Building a support network
Forty-eight percent of female founders report that a lack of available advisors and mentors limit their professional growth, according to Inc.
Knowing where to find the right support network isn’t always easy. Since the majority of the business world is dominated by men, it can be difficult to make the connections in certain business networks. After all, sometimes it’s not what you know; it’s who you know.
Make connections in other female-focused networks. According to businessnewsdaily.com, a few good places to start include women-focused networking events — such as Womancon, Women in Technology Summit and WIN Conferences— as well as online forums and groups created specifically for women in business, such as Ellevate Network.
There are also 100 women business centers located across the U.S. that run programs and training specifically design for women entrepreneurs.
“The way to achieve your own success is to be willing to help somebody else get it first.” -Iyanla Vanzant
3. Balancing business and family life
Work life balance is a popular topic among entrepreneurs and anyone in business, regardless of gender. Mothers who start a business have to simultaneously run their families and their companies, which can be challenging and stressful.
Find your balance. Don’t beat yourself up over shortcomings on either front. Finding ways to devote time to business and family is the key to success. And know that you are a force that can handle anything!
“We need to do a better job of putting ourselves higher on our own ‘to do’ list.”- Michelle Obama
4. Limited access to funding
One contributing factor that explains why women founders attract less funding is the fact that of the top 20 most active venture capital firms in the city, just 11 percent of the investment teams are women. According to womensuccesscoaching.com, “Firms with a woman partner are more than twice as likely to invest in companies with a woman on the team, and more than three times more likely to invest in companies with women CEOs.”
But according to the Babson report, only 6 percent of U.S. firms are women-run startups.
A great way to overcome this issue is by working to get more female investors involved in supporting each other. Sponsoring and aiding in the growth of other female entrepreneurs companies can help build your network and find supportive investors. Women helping women is always a good thing.
“Support women on their way to the top. Trust that they will extend a hand to those who follow.” – Mariela Dabbah
5. Fear of Failure
According to Babson College’s 2012 Global Entrepreneur Monitor, the fear of failure is the top concern of women who launch startups. Failure is a very real possibility in any business venture regardless of gender.
“You need to have massive failure to have massive success. You may need 100 ‘noes’ to get one ‘yes,’ but that one ‘yes’ will make you more successful tomorrow than you were today,” said Delia Passi, CEO of WomenCertified and founder of the Women’s Choice Award.
Work through the self-doubt and STOP comparing yourself to others. Work through this feeling of fear and harness that energy into motivation to work your hardest.
“The phoenix must burn to emerge.” – Janet Fitch