Being a woman is difficult enough, pressure coming from internal and external sources. Being a woman in business brings about a completely diverse set of struggles to tackle head on.
While it is my aim to support all individuals in their journey to success, I want to ensure that I do provide additional access to information to women as I believe there to be a great need and interest in tools and tips for success.
As I spend time on social media gathering insights on the pain points being faced by women in business, I see many common issues arise that present barriers to entry and success. To summarize the 4 I felt are prevalent but also that you must be aware of, they would be these:
Show Me The Money
You can have the greatest idea, product or service but what happens when you max out on your business and/or personal capital and ability to maintain or grow your business? You have to seek external capital. This may seem simple enough, but if your business is under 2 years old it will difficult to obtain lending from your typical financial insitutions. This causes many entrepreneurs to seek partnerships with Venture Capital firms, those who are essentially investors in your company. This is a great form of access to capital for many organizations.
So why does this present an issue for Women?
Venture Capital Funds are predominately held by men and statistically investments are made to men versus women, making this financing option difficult to obtain. Why is this the case?
- The tendency for women is often pitching realistic numbers. Men so often overstate and exaggerate that investors often discount the numbers off the bat. Investors, who are often men, will assume that the women entrepreneurs are operating just like the men and inflating their numbers. Therefore, they will provide funding at lower levels than requested. Women need to understand this dynamic and approach their pitches accordingly.
If obtaining approval through a male dominated venture capital partnership is difficult, what do we do next?
- Look to Women peer to peer network for venture capital funding. For example: Bumble Fund, Female Founder Fund & Government Grants!
Once your business valuation increases, you should then revisit additional sources of venture capital & banks for further lending. It is a matter of taking the right financial steps needed until you reach a sustainable and consistent growth rate to present.
As a female entrepreneur in a male-dominated industry, earning respect has been a struggle in general. We think that to build our brand and recognition we must get out to every possible relevant networking event within our niche or industry and this will yield great success. Sometimes it does but often in times it doesn’t.
Most female business owners who have attended networking events can relate to this scenario: You walk into a crowded seminar and can count the number of women there on one hand. When women entrepreneurs talk business with primarily male executives, it can be unnerving.
In this sort of situation, women may feel as though they need to adopt a stereotypically “male” attitude toward business: competitive, aggressive and sometimes overly harsh.
But there are a great many successful female CEOs believe that remaining true to yourself and finding your own voice are the keys to rising above preconceived expectations.
To move through this networking hurdle and connect with the RIGHT people, I suggest:
- Being yourself, and have confidence in who you are. This is who these potential partners and connections are going to be working with, not an altered version they meet at an event.
- No one can take your experience away from you, others may not understand it but it exists and it’s a matter of putting yourself in front of the right people who will see it. Many rejections before success are a natural part of the journey.
If this means to start building your network through women’s events and building that way and meeting other successful entrepreneurs who can bridge connections, go for it.
This might also mean starting with specific events that are your area of expertise where you know you can lead in speaking and presenting yourself versus putting yourself in intimidating situations.
Scaling up is a key part of success instead of trying to go straight for the top immediately. At the end of the day we want longevity and to build relationships that will stand the test of time not just in the short run.
Who Should You Lean On?
I cannot stress the importance of support in business and life. In order to feel supported and ensure that it is right for us we have to be honest and make the right choice in terms of who we are seeking support from.
Community is a great place to obtain resources, confidence, ideas and advice. Seeking this within male dominated communities will have an adverse effect and make you feel like a small fish in a big ocean. Look for the many great organizations created specifically to support Women Entrepreneurs and your mindset of “I can’t do this” will change to look at how many of us are doing this. Being conscious of the environments you place yourself in is essential to your success mind set.
Be conscious of whom you select to place your support needs on and if they have the ability and capacity to provide. If the answer is no you will be left disappointed and at a loss when you need support the most. Be aware and do not feel bad to choose more viable alternatives over close friends or family members.
The Balancing Act
Being an entrepreneur and parent are two vital roles in our lives and difficult to balance and feel successful in both at the same time. Your attitude towards what success realistically is will make all the difference in terms of how you feel on a daily basis. Reminding yourself that you are working hard to build a great future for yourself, your family, and your children is part of this process. Your efforts are not a means of avoiding your familial duties, it is about enhancing your life and finding your happiness through success.
Create reasonable family schedules where you are not forced to make daily trade offs between your work and your family, this will alleviate feelings of guilt or inadequacy.
Determine priorities in advance, give yourself realistic goals that you can achieve and watch your feeling of inadequacy disappear.
Focus on you and your family. Never mind the insta-lives that other people share and what “seems” to be balance. Live your life your way and such to support what you desire and your family. Seek to live your best life and not to replicate a version of anyone else’s. Be diligent in this awareness.
Struggles will always be a part of our journey through life. Learn to embrace them. Do your research. Make conscious choices to place yourself in the right place with the right people that can support your success. Be diligent in your planning and reality. Then watch as success finds you.
Good luck to all the incredible entrepreneurs out there!