The circumstances for women starting their own brands are getting better and better.
According to the resources provided by the National Association of Women Business Owners, more than 11.6 million firms in the U.S. are owned by women. But when we check the percentages, we realize that women still have a long journey ahead. Only one in five companies with revenue of at least $1 million is owned by women.
That’s the biggest challenge of women entrepreneurs: they basically enter a world dominated by men.
Does that mean they are weaker than men? Absolutely not!
And we have a great example to prove that point. From 2008 to 2011, Iceland faced a disastrous financial crisis. It was caused by (male!) bankers, who made unreasonable investments. Do you know who saved the country? Women. They reinvented the country’s banking system. They based it on feminine values, such as risk awareness, profit with principles, independence, transparency, and emotional due diligence.
And you know what? It works. As long as they overcome the challenges imposed by the male-driven business environment, women can make it work.
But what are those challenges? You need to identify them, so you can focus on overcoming them. We’ll list the 6 top challenges a woman will face in the world of business.
1. The Expectation to Act Like a Man
You’ll face this expectation during meetings, networking events, and in everyday scenarios, really. Your business partners, team members, and business contacts expect you to act like a man. They want you to be aggressive and competitive. They expect you to be harsh.
That’s why we see so many women adopting such an attitude, even though it’s completely unnatural to them.
If you want to grow into a successful business owner, you have to stop acting the way people expect you to act. Every single leader should find their own voice, and they should not identify that voice by gender. “Manly” attitude won’t make you a more successful CEO. But you can get really far by being yourself.
2. Extreme Mobility
An entrepreneur is expected to be on the move. They constantly travel to meet clients or business partners, to attend conferences, or to expand their business.
The talk for a woman’s role in a family almost always comes off as discriminating. But let’s be real: a baby needs a mother more than they need a father. A woman almost always has to take time off work after giving birth, and she continues to have a supportive role in the family. At least that’s the case with most mothers. That’s why they find the need for mobility so challenging.
Now if you don’t plan a family soon or you don’t plan it at all, you can easily get moving. But if you plan a family, you’ll need extremely strong organizational skills to find the balance between your professional and private life.
Fortunately, with apps like Hubilo, this aspect of business becomes easier. You can organize and attend events through an app, so maybe you can skip a trip or two.
3. The Need for Self-Promotion
Let’s talk about another aspect of leadership: self-promotion. All great leaders have done it. Richard Branson, Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg… they have all worked on their personal brands.
As a female entrepreneur, it will be a bit harder for you to be taken seriously, especially if you’re part of an industry dominated by men. In that case, you’ll have to work harder on your self-promotion. You’ll have to give speeches and interviews, show up on TV shows, and write top-notch content for the purpose of personal branding.
Unfortunately, you’ll need to work harder to create a reputation of being a strong businessperson. Maybe you’ll need the support of professional writers to help with speeches, presentations, and blog posts.
4. Less Chances for Funding
This one is harsh but real. According to the results of a survey published by 99designs, women have fewer chances to raise $100K or more in funding, when compared to men. The difference in percentages is striking: 15% of females against 28% of male entrepreneurs stand such a chance.
This issue leads to other problems. Women find it more difficult to hire top talent and rent the best office space.
Funding is crucial for starting a business. The fact that you have to be more persistent than a man to get it is nerve wracking, to say the least.
But the good news is that women are also more passionate than men, so they can certainly find the strength to overcome this challenge.
5. A Judgmental Society
No matter how developed our societies get, some prejudices remain a constant part of it.
A woman entrepreneur is being judged from head to toe. She might dress too nicely and professionally-looking. She’ll pay attention to shoes, nails, hair, makeup… everything. She’ll look like she’s trying too hard. She’ll be perceived as a Barbie who’s trying to do business.
If she takes the other road, she’ll want to be comfortable at work. Mark Zuckerberg is allowed to show up to work in the same comfy wardrobe every day. Such a standard is not acceptable for a woman. People will assume she doesn’t look professional enough.
If she smiles, they will think she’s being seductive. If she is serious, they will say she is stiff.
People will judge you no matter what you do. So just be yourself. At least you don’t have to invest effort in that.
6. Fear of Failure
Failure is always a possibility that both male and female entrepreneurs face.
But when society doesn’t get you seriously and people expect you to fail, this fear takes deep roots.
It’s okay to be insecure. You’re just a human and that’s part of your personality. But don’t let insecurities stop you to dream big. Just keep working on your idea and keep making it better. Keep your passion alive and go ahead.
Failure is a possibility, but you know what? So is success!
The statistics for women in business may be heartbreaking. But we have the power to change things. Let’s stop looking at statistics, shall we? As a woman, you have a responsibility to bring your idea to life, no matter what the percentages say. Go ahead and do it!