Now is the time for women everywhere to take the plunge to become their own boss. Females are strong, bold, and powerful, but to succeed as entrepreneurs there are obstacles they must overcome. Here are the top 6 barricades women must breakthrough to live the life of freedom they always dreamed of.
Fear of Failure
The fear of failure is a main concern among women who launch startups. Entrepreneurs fear someone else might beat them to the punch. They wonder if they will be able to secure funds. They wonder if their family will be alright. They fear their ideas are not good enough. They wonder if they will make mistakes. They worry that people will not like or accept them, their ideas, or their leadership style.
Entrepreneurship comes with big risks but taking them should not be viewed as negative. If you feel uncomfortable, chances are you are headed in the right direction. Nothing amazing typically happens when taking the safe route highly traveled by everyone else. When you try something new or different, there is a good chance you will succeed in creating something wonderful. If you do not try, you certainly will never succeed. Failure is necessary along the road to success. Remember, you will likely hear many "No" answers before that monumental "Yes" comes along, but that one "Yes" will undoubtedly make the wait worthwhile. Furthermore, your ability to exude courage, steadfast persistence, decision-making and leadership skills will help you to earn respect from your peers and to develop a stellar reputation in the startup community. Focus on thinking positive and remaining confident along the journey, even when everything is not going as wished or planned. The ability to move forward courageously in spite of fear and doubt is a key element for every successful entrepreneur.
Due to historic, traditional work and family structures, today's female entrepreneurs face certain startup challenges that their male colleagues are privileged to avoid. Throughout history, men learned to bond for the purpose of helping each other succeed at work. Meanwhile, females were also taught to support men. This resulted in unfortunate scenarios where women became isolated, with no support systems of their own. In order for female entrepreneurs to experience success in their startup endeavors, it is of utmost importance to develop a network of "women helping women," nurture it, and make it a top priority.
Women understand the personal experiences of "life as a woman" in ways that could never be fully appreciated or understood by men. For example, when a male investor listens to a female entrepreneur's pitch about a new smart purse, shopping app, or tampon design, it may be difficult for that person to understand the legitimacy, weight, or value of the presentation. A groundbreaking, worthwhile invention may be tossed aside as a mere "cute idea." When a female entrepreneur has her own strong support network of female colleagues, however, then she will no longer need validation from any source where support is not readily available.
Raising societal awareness of longstanding gender stereotypes such as the "ideal male worker" and the "ideal male leader" may help to eliminate deep seeded implicit biases toward female entrepreneurs, women in business, and female leaders. However, finding female support groups, professional organizations, networking events for women, workshops, conferences, and female mentors will ensure the entrepreneur is empowered in her own time, without waiting for history to catch up to the new reality of women led startups breaking through. Plus, these women can lift each other up, promote professional growth, foster practical experience, and make valuable professional connections and introductions.
Some local women's groups that promote camaraderie and strength in numbers are Women's Startup Lab, The CLUB Silicon Valley, Women's Networking Alliance, Business Women's Community, and Network of Women in Business.
Some national organizations include Women in Tech, National Association of Women Business Owners, The American Association of University Women, Asian Women in Business, The Center for Women's Business Research, Financial Women's Association, General Federation of Women's Clubs, National Association for Female Executives, National Council of Jewish Women, National Council of Negro Women, National Hispanic Business Women Association, National Organization for Women, Women Impacting Public Policy, Women in Technology International, Women's Sports Foundation, YWCA USA, and Zonta International. Taking initiative to go outside of her comfort zone and get connected is a valuable and necessary component to the long-term success of every female entrepreneur.
Historically, society generally praised girls for non-offensive, non-threatening, cooperative behaviors. This "feminine conditioning" results in grown women who downplay their self worth and accomplishments in order to gain validation and social acceptance. As a result, it becomes very difficult for women to convey their value as successful, capable, competent leaders. Still today, men are praised for aggressive and decisive behaviors, while women who act the same are viewed as misplaced and overbearing. Plus, a double bind occurs for women where society often judges them negatively for caring too much about career and not enough about family, while on the other hand judging them for caring too much about family and not being dedicated to a career outside the home.
In order for progress to occur for female entrepreneurs and women everywhere, authenticity is necessary. Women must own their values, embrace their accomplishments, and exude confidence when sharing information. Females must begin to recognize the value of their contributions and creative ideas, and stop giving away too much for free. They must firmly and bravely ask for what they deserve. Critical eyes may watch, judge, and comment, but a female entrepreneur must face the stigma and carry on.
Delivering the entire fabulous package without fear of harsh judgment is a critical skill in leading a company to breakthrough. The world needs the fresh ideas and energy female entrepreneurs have to offer. So, take heart and show the world what you are made of.
Refusing to Break the Roles
From the time they are small children, women are taught to be "good girls." Unfortunately, this often means conforming to limiting stereotypes that hold them back from becoming the amazing leaders they are meant to be. Female entrepreneurs must embrace their inner power to succeed. They must overcome the voices telling them they are not strong enough, smart enough, or decisive enough to lead. Women are brave, intelligent, powerful, and a force to be reckoned with.
Many women look around them at a business meeting to notice they are the only one wearing lipgloss and a bra. Being one of the only women present in the board room is still a reality in modern times. Female entrepreneurs must enter the room exuding a bold, persistent, confident presence and will to succeed. In order for the family and society to accept your title as startup founder or business extraordinaire, it is necessary to first believe in yourself. Learn who you are, where you stand, and embrace authenticity. Don't act like a man for the sake of fitting in... DO YOU. Women who act like women change the world; women who act like men uphold the status quo. Equality is only reached when women sit at the table and make moves, all the while fighting like a girl. Be firm, decisive, and fair. People who you are meant to know will pick up on the authentic charisma you exude, and doors will begin to open that you never even knew were closed.
Work and Family Imbalance
How many times have you seen the businessman with three kids, enjoying a successful career and a well cared for family because his amazing wife is supporting him behind the scenes (and too often with little to no credit for her part in upholding the social structure)?
Nowadays, many women work outside of the home. Therefore, the allocation of work both outside and inside of the home (yes housework and childcare are work) must find its proper balance. If both spouses work outside the home, the housework and childcare must be shared equally. If only one partner works outside the home, then it may be appropriate for the other spouse to handle the majority of the load of work inside the home.
Modern women with careers often give up a beautiful and rewarding aspect of their lives - the opportunity to have children - because they lack a mutually respectful and cooperative relationship with their significant other. Female entrepreneurs and women in business must create the life they desire and deserve by asking for what they want and need. It is not inevitable or necessary for women to be held back by family obligations.
Communicate well, with a tone of respect and kindness, to establish boundaries and support for the goals and aspirations of each family member. Allow partners and children to reasonably take care of responsibilities independently when possible. Get household assistance and support if needed, and don't try to do it all. Adjust expectations to let go of perfectionistic standards. Remember, female entrepreneurs do not have to be super-human. Leave the universe a bit of room to act in your favor. You will likely be surprised that the world keeps turning, even while you are busy running the company.
Failing to Connect with Women Investors
Every business needs cash to thrive. Many vibrant female entrepreneurs set up an A+ team, develop a business plan to die for, and put in the blood, sweat, and tears necessary so that their work will attract good, solid investors ready and willing to invest in their company. The problem occurs the moment a woman begins pitching her amazing idea for pantyhose that will never run, and a male venture capitalist looks at her as if she is from Venus.
Female entrepreneurs face a variety of difficulties, but a main obstacle in securing funding, according to Julie Wainwright, Founder and CEO of San Francisco-based luxury consignment empire The RealReal, is getting past screening associates at VC firms who are often white, male, and under 35. VC's tend to make deals with people they connect with, and these men often do not relate to someone who could be their mom. "If they don't relate to you, they're not going to relate to your product," Wainwright says.
If most VCs are white and male, and they tend to invest in startups run by people like them, then it makes sense that only a small percentage of Venture-capital funded companies have female CEOs. This is another reason why establishing a network of "women helping women" is crucial. VC firms with female partners will be more likely to invest in women-run startups.
Still, another problem arises. Only a small percentage of VC firms have women partners. This can make it very challenging for female entrepreneurs to raise capital. However, it is not impossible, especially for forward thinking women with a strong support network. For example, Hera Fund is a female angel investor group that supports female entrepreneurs through funding and strategic educational workshops that help women. Pipeline Angels is a network of new and seasoned women investors creating capital for women. Astia is a community of experts committed to leveling the playing field for women entrepreneurs by providing access to capital and networks for the companies they lead. VC Taskforce puts on a Women Investor Summit and other events useful to help female entrepreneurs and women-led startups. In order for female entrepreneurs to achieve funding success, forging those connections with women investors can be a groundbreaking move in the right direction.
In conclusion, there are at least 6 barricades every female entrepreneur must breakthrough to succeed. However, the outlook remains good. According to the National Association of Women Business Owners, more than 9.4 million firms are owned by women, employing nearly 7.9 million people and generating $1.5 trillion in sales as of 2015. Women-owned firms (51% or more) account for 31% of all privately held firms and contribute 14% of employment and 12% of revenues. 2.9 million firms are majority-owned by women of color. These firms employ 1.4 million people and generate $226 billion in annual revenues. A woman owns one in five firms with revenue of $1 million or more. So keep your head up, exude confidence, be brave, and keep moving forward. Up the road, around the bend, and just beyond the horizon, a breakthrough awaits.
Are you a female entrepreneur in need of legal solutions to launch or grow a successful business enterprise? Parazim can help! Our mission is to elevate and champion the most effective, extraordinary, and powerful women in the world. Our breakthrough habitude of "women helping women" leads to invaluable resource sharing and building strong allies so every female is 100% empowered to reach her highest potential. Get connected today - email email@example.com or visit www.parazim.com for more information.
Harmony Oswald, Esq. is licensed to practice law in the state of California. She is the Founder and Managing Attorney at Parazim. To learn more about Harmony Oswald, Esq. and her 2017 leadership book for women click HERE. The above article does not create an attorney client relationship. It provides information only and should not be construed as legal advice. For more information, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.