Women-owned businesses are more commonplace than ever. Between 2007 and 2016, the number of businesses owned by women increased 45%. Today, over 11.3 billion firms are led by female executives with a total economic impact of $2.6 trillion. Even though there is an ever growing presence of women in leadership positions, women experiences challenges in the workplace specific to their gender.
When funds are short, women have a harder time finding capital than men. Investors have a tendency to back those that they see as “their own.” Since most venture capitalists are men, they find other men whose businesses in which they invest. The numbers back this claim– women-owned businesses received only 11% of Small Business Administration 7(a) loans in 2015.
However, things are looking up for those seeking investment opportunities. Women have a tendency to find creative solutions to their problems. The growing popularity of options such as microloans, peer-to-peer lending, and crowdfunding is owed to women.
Additionally, government grants especially for women help provide small businesses with start up costs. If you are going a more traditional route to secure funding, customize your business plan to specifically appeal to the investors and be confident in your vision.
Making Professional Connections through Networking
If you’re a woman in business, you need to take any advantage you can get. Often the “who you know” aspect of business can make or break you. However, as a woman it can be difficult to break into business circles and establish relationships.
To overcome this obstacle, you simple have to work that much harder to get there. That hard work will be worth it once you have the edge that professional relationships give you. Of course, women always find a creative solution. Bumble CEO Whitney Wolfe wants women to take control of digital networking the way they took control of online dating with BumbleBizz, a new “swiping app” that focuses on establishing professional connections.
Maintaining the Expectations of Society
Despite a growing presence of women in the workplace, the “women belong at home” mentality is still pretty ingrained in society’s collective consciousness. Females experience microaggressions in the workplace because of that sentiment constantly. A woman can’t be soft spoken or too loud; she can’t be bossy but she also can’t be a pushover. Basically, the conflicting attitudes of what a woman should and should not be make it feel impossible to move ahead.
This is another one of those things where a woman simply has to work harder to reach her goals. The best advice is to be authentic, honest, and confident while working. It takes twice as much work to earn the same amount of respect as a man. Instead of worrying about what others think of you, focus on what you have to do to prove your value as a business.
Striking a Work/Life Balance
It can be significantly harder for a female entrepreneur to balance her career with her personal life. Since it takes more work to get ahead in their careers, women are more likely to neglect their personal lives and well-being. Women with children have an even harder time striking a balance. Mothers face more pressure when it comes to other people’s expectations. As the kids grow and their lives become more complex, it can be difficult to decide what takes priority.
There is no one-size-fits-all solution for finding a balance. The best thing for one woman may not work for another. Discovering a solution is based on the resources available to you and your own creative problem solving.
Women have a powerful impact in the workplace and female-owned businesses are growing faster than every. However, women still face many obstacles when it comes to their careers. Whether it’s securing funding or finding balance between work and home, women must work harder than men and find creative solutions if they want to succeed as entrepreneurs.