Challenges Faced by Women Entrepreneurs and Some of the Most Successful Women to Follow
For female business owners, the situation seems to be better than ever. According to the National Association of Women Business Owners, more than 11 million U.S. firms with almost 9 million employees and $1.7 trillion in annual sales were held by women as of 2017.
But these figures only provide a partial picture. Women-owned firms are still in the minority, and the obstacles they encounter as entrepreneurs are many and sometimes quite different from those that males confront. Business News Daily questioned female CEOs about the main obstacles that women entrepreneurs encounter and how to overcome them in order to shine light on some of these gaps.
7 challenges women entrepreneurs face and how to overcome them
1. Defying social expectations
You can count the number of women in a packed conference on one hand when you enter, which is a situation that most female company owners who have participated in networking events can identify with. It might be uncomfortable for female company owners to discuss business with predominantly male executives.
Women could feel pressured to behave in a stereotypically “masculine” manner toward business in this kind of circumstance: competitive, aggressive, and sometimes rude. However, according to successful female CEOs, the secret to overcoming expectations is to stay loyal to who you are and create your own voice.
Hilary Genga, the creator and CEO of Trunkettes, advised being authentic and secure in one’s identity. “You worked hard and persisted to get where you are, but most importantly, you’re there. Don’t conform to a man’s perception of what a leader ought to look like.
2. Accessing funding
Although not all startup entrepreneurs seek out investors to help them launch their companies, those who do are aware of how challenging the pitching process can be. Capital raising is particularly challenging for companies run by women. Less than 3% of businesses receiving venture capital investment, according to a Babson College survey from 2014, have female CEOs.
Venture capitalists often invest in firms founded by members of their own “tribe,” according to Bonnie Crater, president and chief executive officer of Full Circle Insights. A Stanford graduate, for instance, will want to support a Stanford alum’s firm. In light of this, VC companies with female partners are more inclined to fund businesses founded by women. However, the Babson analysis states that just 6% of American businesses fall into that category. Crater advises women seeking business investors to increase their confidence by assembling an excellent team and company proposal.
According to Crater, investors often aim for companies that can increase their worth to more than $1 billion. “Consider how to go about that. Investors will have faith in your founding team if it includes specialists who can successfully run the company’s [operations]. Additionally, you need a solid product-market fit.
Felena Hanson, the creator of the coworking space for female entrepreneurs called Hera Hub, said that another approach to solve this problem is to encourage more female investors to help one another. The goal of organizations like hers, according to Hanson, is “to develop and assist other female entrepreneurs via both financing and strategic training programmes, as well as to inspire and encourage female investors.”
Female company owners who learn to ask for precisely what they need, even if it means asking for more than they desire, will be able to raise the funding they need for their venture.
Gloria Kolb, CEO and co-founder of Elidah and a mentor in the University of Connecticut’s Technology Incubation Program, said that women are “more cautious and don’t inflate forecasts.” “We often use actual statistics when we pitch investors. However, since males like to exaggerate and overstate things, investors often do so right away.
Kolb said that investors, who are mostly males, have a propensity to believe that female business owners are manipulating their figures and doing business in the same ways as men. As a result, they’ll give you less money than you asked for. Women should be aware of this dynamic and tailor their pitches to it.
3. Struggling to be taken seriously
Most female CEOs encounter a male-dominated field or workplace at some point in their careers that refuses to recognise their leadership position. This was an early professional experience for Jelmar’s CEO and president, Alison Gutterman.
It has been difficult for her to get respect as a female business owner in a field that is mostly male, she said. She had to deal with assumptions that she was living off the reputations of her father and grandparents since Jelmar is her family’s company.
Gutterman stated, “I was more than eager to put in the effort to establish my own name as a diligent, respectable businessperson in my own right.”To get over this, I had to learn to boost my confidence and stop talking down to myself.”
According to Gutterman, the unfavourable thoughts that have grown inside of you are keeping you from realizing your full potential. She has joined a number of organizations for female entrepreneurs to fight them.
As she put it, “These organizations have given me mentors and peers to encourage me, hit me with reality checks on my talents and triumphs, and help me develop and learn from their outside viewpoints and experiences.”
4. Owning your accomplishments
Young girls are often pushed to develop a sense of community and agreement, which might lead to women mistakenly underestimating their personal value. The Mobile Locker Co. founder and CEO Molly MacDonald said that she has always struggled to articulate her own worth as a leader. The company offers personal storage for events.
“When I discuss the firm… I often use “we” instead of “I,” MacDonald said. I feel like I’m boasting when I use the first person to talk about my accomplishments, and I can’t get rid of the notion that if others find out that I’m the only one in charge, the value of what we do would be diminished. As the company expands, I’m trying to take ownership of my accomplishments.
Similar to this, Shilonda Downing, the creator of Virtual Work Team, counsels women to respect their original ideas.
When I realized I was giving out too much without receiving payment from a prospective customer, Downing remarked, “I’ve had to check myself on occasion.” I advise other ladies to respect their education just as much.
Even when you’re competing in a boardroom full of males, confidence is the key to success, according to Sharon Rowlands, CEO of Web.com Group and ReachLocal.
Rowlands said, “I had faith in my ability to handle the firm. “I just made sure that any proposal I tried to advance was supported by a strong business case. I never faced a question unprepared because I knew it was coming.
5. Building a support network
Since having a strong support system is crucial for entrepreneurship, it is not surprising that, according to Inc., 48% of female founders feel that their ability to advance professionally is constrained by a lack of mentors and advisers.
It may be challenging to forge your own route and make introductions and connections into some of the most exclusive corporate networks, according to Hanson, since the bulk of the high-level business sector is still controlled by males. As the adage “it’s not what you know; it’s who you know” holds true for the majority of company today, this may play a significant role in your success.
Finding the ideal support system is not always simple. The WIN Conference, eWomenNetwork, and Bizwomen events, as well as online discussion forums and organizations established especially for women in business, including Ellevate Network, are some fantastic places to start.
Don’t be hesitant to ask your network of supporters for what you actually need after you’ve found them.
“Ask often and… be explicit about what you need,” said Addie Swartz, CEO of reacHIRE, which links businesses with women seeking new positions and development or returning to the workforce after a sabbatical. “You never know who could be able to assist. If you are clear about what you need people to do, they are more likely to step up. You won’t receive if you don’t ask.
6. Balancing business and family life
According to Genga, parent entrepreneurs must manage their obligations to their families and their enterprises in order to achieve the illusive work-life balance.
Finding this balance required Michelle Garrett of Garrett Public Relations to quit her corporate career and launch her own consulting firm prior to the birth of her first child.
“I was aware that if I had continued to work in business,… A lot of decisions I didn’t want to make would have had to be made, said Garrett. “I do believe that the workplace atmosphere is changing for the better, giving women greater freedom. However, having greater flexibility when working for oneself than while working for someone else is definitely a given.
7. Coping with fear of failure
Any business effort has a very real risk of failure, but Kristi Piehl, the creator and CEO of Media Minefield, encourages women to dream big and push beyond their anxieties. She advises female entrepreneurs to push through their self-doubt and not wait for perfection before establishing their company or accepting a significant promotion.
According to Swartz, failure shouldn’t be seen as a drawback or a reason to give up on your aspirations.
“See it as a teaching moment,” she said, “when you hear ‘no’ repeatedly, when your plans don’t work out, or if you make an expensive mistake.”
Losses, accidents, and missteps are common obstacles on the road to success, but you may still travel it if you keep your eye on the prize.
Swartz commanded, “Stay the course.” “Take in all the criticism; block out the noise and the doubters; learn from your errors, and strive to avoid repeating them. But keep trying no matter what.
5 of the most successful women entrepreneurs
The following women made our list of some of the most successful women entrepreneurs to date based on their achievements and net worth. Whether you like them or not, they undoubtedly established themselves in successful professions.
The “first lady of talk shows,” Oprah, doesn’t need a last name. She was born on a remote farm in Mississippi, as stated in her web biography, where she amused herself by playing silly in front of farm animals. She was born into a low-income household and began experiencing sexual assault when she was only 9 years old, but she claims that the turning point occurred when she was a teenager and her father saved her life.
In her first year of college, Oprah Winfrey earned the titles of Miss Black Nashville and Miss Tennessee, beginning her first successful run. After receiving her degree, she entered the television profession and quickly outperformed Phil Donahue, the creator of the daytime talk show genre. Today, Oprah is most recognized for her work as host of The Oprah Winfrey Show, as a multibillionaire philanthropist, and as the owner of a magazine and TV network.
2. Gisele Bundchen
Gisele Bundchen discussed her childhood growing up in Brazil with her sisters and how she was tormented for being tall and slender in her immediate New York Times bestseller Lessons. With the assistance of such physical characteristics, she began modelling, and since 2001, she has been among the highest-paid models in the world.
Bundchen is the creator of Sejaa Pure Skincare in addition to her well-known profession in the modelling world. A face cream, night cream, and mud mask are all part of the collection. According to StyleCaster, she uses an entrepreneurial attitude to play up her own brand and makes money from the sales of lingerie she designs and jelly sandals she invented.
3. Sheryl Sandberg
Although this American technology leader was born in Washington, D.C., her family quickly relocated to North Miami Beach, Florida. She joined the National Honor Society when she was young, and she completed high school in the ninth spot in her senior class with a 4.6 GPA. Her high school achievements were taken into consideration when she got accepted to Harvard University.
Lean In, Sandberg’s #1 New York Times bestseller, and her work with Google and Facebook are what make her most well-known. Prior to being chosen as Facebook’s first COO, Sandberg had a number of esteemed roles with other organizations before serving as Google’s vice president of worldwide online sales and operations.
4. Lady Gaga
Lady Gaga, real name Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta, initially became famous in 2008 when she released the pop single “Just Dance.” But before to becoming Lady Gaga, she was a Catholic schoolgirl who loved music and composed her first piano song when she was only 13 years old.
2008 saw the release of Gaga’s first album, The Fame, and the beginning of her career. Lady Gaga has never been your typical pop artist; she always goes all out, from her daring wardrobe choices to her entertaining dance routines and astounding theatrical performances.
For Gaga, music was only the beginning. Her current list of accomplishments also includes a cosmetics brand called Haus Labs that has the internet literally going “Gaga” over it, a Golden Globe for acting in American Horror Story, an Oscar victory for Best Original Song, and a nomination for Best Actress in A Star Is Born.
5. J.K. Rowling
J.K. Rowling is a must-watch on our list of the greatest women entrepreneurs, having gone from struggling parent to one of the biggest names in the world. She was born, reared, and now resides in Portugal where she is a teacher. She began writing the first Harry Potter novel while on assistance and battling to raise her kid following a divorce.
Her first book, which cost a staggering $4,000 and debuted in 1997, marked the beginning of a sensation. With her imaginative and perceptive writing, Rowling attracted readers from all over the world. The millionaire earned $54 million from sales of Harry Potter in a single year alone.