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The Top 8 Challenges of Women Entrepreneurs

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The Top 8 Challenges of Women Entrepreneurs

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Setting up a business to seize new opportunities is what entrepreneurship is all about. Industrialization and economic growth can't happen without entrepreneurs, and women have a great deal of untapped potential in this area, as they are still only a minority.

Women-owned businesses have grown 114% over the last 2 decades. While the outlook for women entrepreneurs looks good on paper, there is more to the story than these numbers suggest. 

Discover the challenges women entrepreneurs face even in 2022 in this article.

Want to know more about all things related to studying or being an entrepreneur? Then sign up for our EWOR platform and gain access to over 17 courses and a plethora of resources.

Not Being Taken Seriously

There is no shortage of women facing this problem in the workplace. It’s not uncommon for women CEOs to work in industries or workplaces dominated by men who are unwilling to acknowledge their leadership.

Facing this injustice can be disheartening, for women entrepreneurs, as they are typically expected to work twice as hard as men to be considered half as serious. As a result, the self-confidence of these women also suffers. 

In fact, a study done at Cornell University found that even highly successful women struggle with self-doubt and underestimate their abilities, whereas men are more likely to feel the opposite. 

Females are first confronted with negative remarks from everyone around them, instead of receiving appreciation. It takes them much more effort to convince people that they can accomplish their goals, rather than concentrating on their ideas. 

Due to people's tendency to ignore women's ideas by not taking them seriously, women who own businesses sometimes need male partners for deal-making and negotiation and to act as a business face which is unfortunate.

Funding Opportunities

Investing in a business venture can be a great source of funding, but not every business is lucky enough to have investors. This department presents major challenges to women-owned businesses.

It is well known that entrepreneurship is a risky endeavour, but women are often assumed to be less risk-taking because of their gender.

Small and medium-sized businesses can receive financial assistance from banks and financial institutions. The banks and financial institutions are hesitant to accept women entrepreneurs because they doubt their creditworthiness.

Even though women's loan repayment rates are higher than men's, according to a report published by the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO), financial institutions still doubt their ability to repay loans.

Investors perceive pitches presented by women differently than those presented by men, although their content is similar. Investors seem to prefer those presented by men rather than women.

Setting Up Support System

As most high-level business connections are held by men, women have a hard time breaking into some of the more elite business networks. Consequently, they are deprived of a strong network, which in turn, restricts their professional growth as entrepreneurs.  

According to Inc., 48% of women entrepreneurs report that a lack of advisors and mentors limits their professional growth, which is unsurprising since a strong support network is essential for success. But in many cases, women are on their own without any guidance.

As a result, they miss out on opportunities to grow their businesses, establish collaborations with vendors, and build social capital. Women may find it challenging to find the right business network for their business that can be of great benefit to them.

Maintaining a Work-Life Balance

The key to achieving that elusive work-life balance for parent entrepreneurs is to devote time to both their businesses and their families. Sadly, social norms imply that women should first and foremost take care of their home, and then comes company.

Women often feel guilty about prioritising their business over family commitments as the demands of running a business can often conflict with them. They must run a household and their businesses, while men take care of their businesses. 

The task of being a successful woman entrepreneur often extends beyond running errands, assisting children with their studies, going on date nights, and taking care of household chores.

           "An equal world will be one where women run half our countries and companies and men run half our homes." – Sheryl Sandberg

Dealing with Fear of Failure

Both industry and male competitors pose tough competition for women entrepreneurs. Achieving quality products at a competitive price is not easy for women entrepreneurs amid this cut-throat competition. So the challenge that female entrepreneurs face is that they always have a fear of failure in the back of their minds.

While they may be aware of the failure, they shouldn't let their fear of failure prevent them from trying. There is a reason why women are more prone to this fear - society expects them to fail. 

To break down society's expectations and pave the way for other women, female entrepreneurs strive hard to succeed. They manage to do it without much support. There is a strong drive to persist but women are also overwhelmed by the stress.

Taking Ownership of Your Achievements

As young girls grow up, they are encouraged to work collaboratively and build consensus. It may lead them to unintentionally underestimate their own value.

Often, women entrepreneurs who succeed are shy about sharing their achievements. The fear of appearing boastful or conceited makes them avoid speaking about their accomplishments. It is common for women to believe that they must shrink themselves in order not to seem intimidating.

Being humble does not mean being timid or shy. It is important that women stand up for their success and let others know what they have accomplished. As a woman, you are motivated to work harder and accomplish more in your business when you own your success. 

Disregarding Social Norms

Inequality between men and women: What should you know? There is a patriarchal foundation that underlies all laws, cultures, religions, and politics. Laws and policies have indeed been passed to create a favourable business environment. But the changes themselves have not yet been implemented. Explore more about the impact of gender discrimination on entrepreneurship.

Women entrepreneurs face stigma and discrimination as they try to make their way up in a world dominated by men. You walk into a crowded seminar and can count on one hand how many women there are. It is the most common scenario experienced by women entrepreneurs at networking events.

When faced with this type of situation, women may feel compelled to adopt stereotypically "manly" business methods: aggressive, competitive, and harsh. Every decision she makes is subject to criticism, regardless of whether it's from her team, her partners, investors, customers, or family members.

Nonetheless, women entrepreneurs who are passionate and committed to what they do, do not let themselves become discouraged easily and keep themselves focused on their work. It would be of help to ask follow-up questions to clarify your understanding, if unsure of the validity of the criticism.

Safe Commute

Finally, multiple countries have issues regarding workplace safety as well as commuting between home and the office for women. Women entrepreneurs who need mobility to manage their businesses face serious challenges in a hostile and risky environment. 

It makes it difficult for women to travel to many locations alone and sometimes requires them to be accompanied by a man as a safety precaution. 

Furthermore, the perception of danger limits women's economic participation and freedom, thereby reinforcing social norms. Travel will no longer pose a problem for women if society becomes safe for them.

Final Thoughts

The problems faced by women entrepreneurs go beyond finance, marketing, and health. The challenges listed above are mainly associated with the lack of support from society. Even in today’s modern world, there is still a need to improve support for women in business.

Identifying and addressing unconscious bias in society is crucial to assisting female entrepreneurs. Families and social circles need to provide more support for women entrepreneurs. Care and household duties are not exclusively the responsibility of women.

Leveraging the full potential of women entrepreneurs enhances innovation, economic growth, and job creation. Yet, to accomplish this, we must change how we view women in business and acknowledge their efforts. 

Women entrepreneurs have created many successful business brands around the world in recent years. Yet, their journeys have not been easy. The confidence of a woman is a vital part of prosperity and growth.

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EWOR is a place where the most extraordinary people find the education, network, and capital to solve the world's biggest problems. Our unique combination of an entrepreneurship academy and early-stage VC (up to €150K investment) firm was built for founders by founders, creating an unparalleled community for like-minded entrepreneurs and over a dozen unicorn founders who are building impactful tech companies.

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