Entrepreneurship is a lonely journey and you need all the support you can get. Women entrepreneurs also function in the same business ecosystem as their male counterparts and most of the obstacles we as women face are operational and not gender-specific. But there are still very few businesses and start-ups that are founded and run by women in the world. There are very few world famous women entrepreneurs and business women around us.
This fact alone drives us to conclude that there may in effect be more difficulties in the path of a woman entrepreneur than a male entrepreneur.
What could be the unique problems faced by women entrepreneurs? If you are aspiring to be an entrepreneur how can you prepare yourself for the struggle ahead?
An encouraging argument is that though the media glare is often away from them, successful women are making determined strides towards realizing their entrepreneurial dreams. And they leave you inspired to start your business right away.
Here are a few tips for the aspiring lady entrepreneur.
If you think too much and analyze all the possibilities then chances are that you will be put off by the challenges they pose. You will feel overwhelmed by the difficulties strewn in your way and conclude that it is safer to stick with your day job.
Of course the difficulties in the path of an entrepreneur are many, but the rewards are equally fantastic. This is a classic example of rewards being in direct proportion to the risks you are willing to take, so you need to decide to take the plunge sooner rather than later.
Reading up too much on starting a business, the rights and wrongs, whether you are good enough and how you can live without a regular stream of income may make things sound far more difficult than they really are. We all have different journeys so another’s blog will not be similar to your experience.
Go and fight your battle, it’s not as difficult as you think. You will find ways to get over and deal with the difficulties that arise in the business because giving up is not an option.
2) You Need Not Act Like a Man
Many women hesitate to start a business because they know that will be dealing with customers, clients, vendors, investors and administrative officials who are predominantly men. Women feel that they may not get the recognition or respect they deserve and that their opinion may not be valued.
You have to quit this thought process for once and for all.
All people are not the same. With increasing number of women succeeding in workplace and at business, the term ‘woman entrepreneur’ is no more a paradox.
Do not think that you have to be overtly competitive, aggressive or harsh to make it big in business. You need to be confident in who you are and should not try to conform to a man’s’ perspective of a how an entrepreneur should be. If you have a solid business idea or plan, and can back your story with relevant facts, figures and numbers there is no reason why you cannot pitch successfully. You can definitely succeed in a man’s world.
3) Do Not Be Scared of Failure
Failure tops women’s list of start-up fears and is one of the biggest hurdles in the way of a woman realizing her entrepreneurial ambitions. It’s not just professional failure that worries a woman. She worries about how it will affect her family, career and future. Dwelling on negatives, both real as well as imaginary, for long can prevent you from taking the important first step.
Women are also scared of success and hyper growth and doubt their abilities to handle them. There are very few women running mature businesses around the world. This is because as the business grows the risks and rewards also multiply and many women falter at this critical junction.
Donna Kelly, a professor at Babson College who worked on the 2012 Global Entrepreneurship Monitor 2012 women’s report, says that women need to empower themselves to be capable of seizing opportunities, optimizing them and achieving success.
4) Learn to Utilize Connections
Women are great at networking and they do so genuinely, honestly and with the best intentions. They do not have business as the ultimate end of all interactions and form personal bonds with the people they network with. This intrinsic character helps them build connections and maintain them, but they do not leverage the relationships for business gains.
The problem lies with the fact that women do not utilize their connections to get through to someone. You have to build strong professional relationships that will help open doors to new opportunities. It is very difficult to reach senior level business owners, CEOs and top notch investors without having a strong professional network supporting you.
The more we learn to use conferences, meetings and exclusive social gatherings to our advantage the better.
5) Learn to Access Funding
More than 1/3 of all businesses in the world have female owners and about half of new businesses established in the US are run by women. In the Middle East there are women entrepreneurs in all sectors including the male-dominated tech sector, but women-owned businesses have extremely limited access to venture capital and other sources of funding.
There are funds like the Intel Capital Diversity Fund that aim to provide funding to women-owned businesses. You can also approach VCs that have women executives on board or funding firms that have earlier supported women-backed start-ups. Government-supported programs and corporate initiatives are also available that strive to improve funding opportunities for women entrepreneurs.
You can also leverage your savings and monetize your gold and silver holdings to generate cash from gold merchants. And of course the 3 F’s – friends, family and fools are always a start-up founder’s best bets.
Do not feel disheartened if you find the going tough. It will take thousands more like you to smooth out the path for those who come after you. So take the hundred No’s with a pinch of salt because one Yes is all that is necessary to change your world. Huge failures pave the way for huge success, so don’t give up.
Women entrepreneurs face a lot of challenges. But look around and you will find many names that tell inspiring stories, they are the women entrepreneurs who have made it. Chase your dreams with tenacity and one day you will surely taste success.