Just like female scientists, athletes, and mechanics face challenges compared to their male counterparts, women entrepreneurs are in the same boat. There are so many female business owners I look up to who have inspired and motivated me throughout the years. Every female entrepreneur, including myself, has faced adversities in the business world.
I believe that not only does the future of business have room for women entrepreneurs, but the present does too. To support and encourage the next generation of female business owners, I want to share the five greatest difficulties I faced as an entrepreneur and how I overcame them. Read on to discover how you, too, can conquer the challenges you face as a female entrepreneur.
1. Being Taken Seriously in a Male-Dominated Field
You know the scenario well: You walk into a networking event or seminar, and almost everyone there is male. Since the business world is a male-dominated industry, I often found that some of my workplaces did not fully acknowledge my leadership position. Sometimes people assumed that I was only successful because a male figure gave me money or opportunities.
Sometimes it felt like I needed to take on a “masculine” approach to entrepreneurship just to fit in. Harsh, aggressive, and competitive attitudes felt like the norm. However, this only caused me issues because I was pretending to be someone I wasn’t.
How I Gained Confidence
Comparison and imposter syndrome were at the core of this adversity. In order to overcome my negative self-talk, I practiced building self-confidence. Our thoughts have power, and the way we speak about ourselves matters.
I found that joining group business coaching sessions inspired me and boosted my confidence. Meeting with other like-minded female business owners was encouraging because they reminded me of my capabilities, goals, and potential. Once I gained confidence in myself, I stopped trying to fit into a male-approved box. Instead, I embraced qualities that make female business owners strong, such as:
2. Creating a Work-Life Balance
For many women, running a home is a full-time job itself. Work-life balance took on a whole new meaning when I became a mother. I struggled to prioritize work and family, and I always felt like I was neglecting one or the other.
There’s no denying that entrepreneurship is time-consuming and requires energy and dedication. However, when I noticed that my children knew their nanny better than me, I knew I had to make adjustments. Just like me, many female entrepreneurs feel like they get pulled in multiple directions at once.
Overcoming a Lack of Balance
When I first set out to find balance in my home and work life, I clarified my priorities. I deciphered that my family was the most essential part of my life, and I wanted to provide for them by being the best business owner I could be.
I practiced balance and didn’t put pressure on myself to find the perfect solution right away. Eventually, I found what works for me:
- Creating a routine
- Asking for help
- Committing to family dinners
- Working when the kids sleep
- Gaining inspiration from family members
3. Defying Social Norms
Living and working in a patriarchal society still affects more practices and opinions than we may think. Especially in the business world, men are seen as the breadwinners and women are expected to take care of the home while their husband is away at work.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with being a stay-at-home parent, and many people find great fulfillment and joy from the role. Even still, the demanding role of a homemaker is not for everyone, and in the 21st century, more and more people are branching out of expected social norms.
Alongside this challenge, I found that people loved giving me unsolicited advice. I would get lectured on running a business, caring for a family, and everything in between.
How I Overcame Societal Expectations
I learned that the best way to tackle societal norms and unsolicited advice is through kindness and grace. It can be tempting to get defensive when someone underestimates you, but defensiveness likely won’t change their opinion.
Each day, I work on improving my mindset to be the best version of myself. Remember, the people meant to be in your life will understand your goals and support you.
4. Building a Reliable Network
Did you know that 48 percent of female business founders attribute a lack of advisors and mentors to a lack of personal growth? I was one of the many women entrepreneurs who struggled to find a robust support network.
I often felt out-of-place in networks that were primarily male or attempting to work with male business coaches who couldn’t relate to the nuances of my experience. When I didn’t have a trustworthy support network, I would often doubt myself and my abilities. I quickly learned that running a business can be incredibly lonely without a solid support system.
How I Found a Supportive Network
Getting a foot in the door of an established business network is challenging for anybody, especially new entrepreneurs. I found that I lacked a community of other women business owners, so I sought out women-focused networking events, online groups for women in business, and experienced female business coaches.
When it came time to attend these events, I took the pressure off myself to make tons of sales pitches and focused instead on making friends. Building a trustworthy support network has been invaluable because supportive colleagues are always willing to lend a helping hand when I need it.
5. Finding Funding
Every entrepreneur knows how intimidating and exhausting the pitching process can be. Securing investors and raising capital is even more challenging for women-owned businesses because of all the comparisons and societal expectations we explored earlier. In fact, studies have shown that when women pitch the same ideas as men, women still secure less funding from venture capitalists.
In my early days of seeking funding, I often undersold my business and capabilities. I was too conservative when asking for funding because I didn’t believe in my worth.
How I Secured Funding For My Business
Securing funding from investors sometimes involves playing the game. Many male entrepreneurs pitch numbers above their worth, so when investors meet them in the middle, they get what they need. However, many female business owners pitch more realistic numbers, which results in less funding when investors make compromises.
I learned that so many investors assumed I was overshooting like my male counterparts, so they would always offer less than what I was asking for. When I discovered this, I approached my future pitches accordingly.
I also took advantage of alternate forms of funding, including:
- Women investors
- Female welfare organizations
You Have the Power to Overcome Challenges
Even though I have faced many challenges in my life as a female business owner, I know I’m not alone. Women entrepreneurs across the country have overcome gender expectations, funding challenges, unbalanced home lives, and a lack of support.
If you’re struggling to overcome challenges in your business life, reach out to the skilled team at Jennifer Dawn Coaching. You can schedule a free 45-minute Discovery Call and start conquering your challenges today!