The National Association of Women Business Owners states that female entrepreneurs owned over 11 million companies in 2017, and that number continues to grow. Unfortunately, in spite of that growth, women business owners still face unique challenges when building their businesses. If you're a new or potential female business owner, here are some areas to watch out for plus a few tips to help you get through tough times.
Women business owners continue to be in the minority, and this alone makes their experience more challenging. Expect to see few other females at networking events. Male entrepreneurs may be less likely to invite you to social events, such as a golf outing or even gatherings at a local bar to enjoy drinks after a presentation, minimizing your opportunities to make connections. This exclusion extends to funding, with venture capitalists favoring the businessmen who are their typical clients. Try overcoming this problem by working extra hard to build a solid business plan, and consider inviting female investors to check out your presentation. When networking, be the one to extend your hand and introduce yourself, and don't be shy about suggesting a second meeting. Look for networks specifically for female entrepreneurs for mutual support and understanding.
Women are more likely than men to speak about their budding businesses and their past experience in a way that emphasizes the involvement of the community and downplays their individual successes. Women business owners also tend to solicit more feedback and data before making important business decisions. Both of these traits sometimes come across as a lack of confidence to both potential investors and customers. Be proud of your past leadership successes, and take credit for your victories. When you need to delay a decision, explain exactly why postponing the decision is necessary, and give a specific time frame in which the final decision will be made to avoid appearing hesitant and indecisive.
Lack of Respect
Watch out for those who don't take you seriously simply because you are woman. Don't let negative comments keep you from seeing your own worth. If you regularly deal with people who belittle you or make generalizations about women, try to minimize contact with them. Seek out female mentors who can help you grow your self-confidence, and look to other women business owners for direct support.
Many women business owners struggle with maintaining a healthy work-life balance as they try to combine building a business with family responsibilities and time for relaxation and fun. This is especially difficult during the start-up period. When it gets hard, remember that owning your own business ultimately offers you more control over your schedule. Some entrepreneurs even find it easier that working in the traditional corporate world.
Starting a business is always challenging, and with the extra difficulties faced by women business owners, it's normal for women entrepreneurs to have moments of self-doubt. Just remember that everyone has these moments. Don't let a few setbacks undermine your determination to succeed.
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