Challenges Women Entrepreneurs Face (and Overcome)

Yes, the gender gap remains in the usual places for women. They get less pay, need career pauses with time out for children and other dependents yielding lower savings for retirement. Despite facing challenges, women are gaining ground.

High growth entrepreneurship has rebounded from the slump of the great recession but overall growth is still in a decline. Women’s business ownership however, has bucked that trend with significant gains. Women-owned businesses are growing faster in numbers, employment and revenues as compared to total businesses.

With these strides towards success, women entrepreneurs need to overcome these 4 challenges:

1. Securing Capital For Growing Businesses Women entrepreneurs face greater difficulties than men when raising capital to fund their growing concerns. They receive a miniscule fraction from a largely male-dominated investor pool.

Female business owners should seek innovative means of raising capital to fill in the gap left by traditional financing sources.

Female entrepreneurs set lower funding goals at the inception of a campaign. However, they are better at raising funds in excess of their original goals even in male-dominated categories like technology.

Crowdfunding shows potential to increase flows of capital in female-led projects that have been stymied by traditional financing sources. Early signs show that this type of funding levels the playing field for women.

2. Strengthen Negotiation Skills Women tend to be less assertive and more accommodative than men at the bargaining table. A Carnegie Mellon study by Professor Linda Babcock showed that women are penalized by “the social cost of negotiating.”  It has been found that women tend to make better advocates when they represent others rather than themselves.

3. Need A Strong Support System I find that female students, either as a group or one-to-one, tend to approach me for advice and guidance more readily than their male counterparts. They are more willing to explore new avenues and ask the hard questions.

4. Work/Life Balance Working women executives, suffering from work/life balance issues often consider starting up their own businesses as an anecdote. A PayPal study found that 55% of American women started or wanted to start their own business to achieve a better schedule for themselves. Women seek flexibility and are more likely to work out of their homes.

Women entrepreneurs have made significant strides in owning their business and their successes. They have several challenges to overcome before the playing field is fully level. Their progress is need for fund raising, at the bargaining table, having strong support and work/life balance.

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