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Unique Challenges
Female Entrepreneurs Face

By Linda Gimmeson

During the World Wars, there was a major shift in the work force. With men away overseas fighting in the war, women stepped up and filled the vacancies they left behind. This booming introduction of females into previously male dominated jobs sparked a revolution of the possibilities for women in the workplace.

Fast forward to the present time and we now see women working in all types of jobs. More and more women are choosing to postpone or even bypass the traditional roles their mothers fulfilled to pursue education and careers. Some women balance these traditional roles while still gaining an education online, whether they are working towards an associate’s degree, bachelor’s degree, PALS certification, or other technical certificates.

As women begin to take over the business world, they also experience a lot of push back. Female entrepreneurs are facing several gender-related challenges as they run their businesses. Here are four unique challenges that every female entrepreneur may experience sometime in her career.

Social Expectations and Stereotypes

One of the main obstacles that women entrepreneurs have to overcome is the stereotypes that surround women in the workplace. There are many stereotypes that are well known, but one specific stereotype is manifested in a 2013 study about bosses in the workplace. This recent Gallup poll found that Americans prefer to work under a male boss instead of a female boss. In addition to this preference, women bosses are often held to a double standard: a male boss is assertive while a female boss is bossy. A male boss is detail-oriented while a female boss is picky.

Women can also face challenges when it comes to discussing business matters with their work superiors who are male. This isn’t because women can’t talk business. It is due to the way women are treated. Women are more likely to experience workplace incivility than men. This behavior can range from belittling and demeaning comments to sexual harassment. In response to these behaviors women may be discouraged from continuing to work for their employers or they may adopt a “male” persona in an attempt to prove their competency. However, to combat these stereotypes and expectations, female entrepreneurs need to trust in and use their talents to keep their businesses thriving. Supporting and helping other women around them can help to combat these challenges as well.

Credit Where It Counts

Confidence is what makes a business individual standout. This is especially true for female entrepreneurs. Women tend to devalue their work and accomplishments. However, selling yourself short won’t help you build a successful business, especially not in today's society. Being confident in yourself and leveraging your company’s accomplishments is a great way to build up any business. Confidence is an important skill that every entrepreneur needs to develop. There are a few simple ways to improve your confidence, such fixing your posture, wearing the right clothes, and making eye contact. Confidence is a great way for female entrepreneurs to present to employees and investors that they are competent and capable business individuals.

Limited Access to Funding

As small businesses begin to grow, they often look for investors to invest into their company. The more investors a business has, the more likely that company is to succeed due to increased access to capital and mentors. However, female entrepreneurs often face difficulty receiving funding from investors, particularly male funded firms. While 36% of small businesses are owned by women, women-run businesses only receive about 7% of all venture capital investment money. In addition to building a great team and a successful business plan, women entrepreneurs should network with venture capitalist firms that have female investors and board members or who are currently investing in other female owned businesses.

Fear of Failure

Failure is always an option in any situation. From taking a test to starting a new relationship to building a company, the risk of failing is hard to escape. Female entrepreneurs shouldn’t yield to their fear of failure but instead let it influence their ideas and teach them how to improve. As an entrepreneur begins to learn how to recognize when they feel insecure due to fear, they can acknowledge it and work through it. Fear can tear down or build up a company. It’s up to the female entrepreneur to keep it from getting in the way.

Female entrepreneurs who own their own business face several obstacles on their way to success. These challenges can range from combating stereotypes to not receiving enough funding. However, studies have shown that businesses with more women in higher rolls perform better financially than those with a low percentage of women. If female entrepreneurs can overcome these unique challenges by supporting other women, having confidence, and not letting failure paralyze them, then they will be able to create successful and profitable businesses.

Linda Gimmeson is a Career Coach who is passionate about helping others identify their strengths and pursue their dreams. Follow her @LindaGimmeson on Twitter for more career advice.
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