6 Challenges Women Entrepreneurs Face (and How to Overcome Them)

Article Summary

Source: 6 Challenges Women Entrepreneurs Face (and How to Overcome Them)
Author: Paula Fernandes

The face of entrepreneurship has transformed over recent decades to include a vast shift to women-owned businesses.  Over 9 million U.S. firms are now currently owned by women. While this may be viewed as a success in which women are closing the gap in a formerly male-dominated arena, there are several obstacles that women entrepreneurs face that are not common among their male counterparts.

According to the article Challenges Women Entrepreneurs Face (and How to Overcome Them), author Paula Fernandes points out that there are several key challenges that female CEO’s still face in a male-dominated world and also offers what can be done to overcome them. Challenges include social expectations, limited funding opportunities, confidence, networking, balancing family

Challenge #1:  Social expectation

Women CEOs may feel pressured to take on attitudes untypical of their natures in order to fit in among a male-dominated world.  However, according to the input of female CEOs, it is important to resist the social expectations to be unduly competitive, aggressive or harsh. The author states that it is important to stay authentic to the values and principles which brought you to that point and find your own voice. Being firm and clearly stating what you believe to be fair is not viewed as overly aggressive, but viewed as ‘staying true to yourself’.

Challenge #2: Limited funding opportunities

Firms owned by women have a more difficult challenge of raising capital than do firms owned by men.  The good news is that according to the author, women-owned corporations are more likely invest in women-owned start-ups. The bad news is that less than 3 percent of venture-capital-funded companies are owned by women who would be likely to invest (2014 Babson College report).

The author suggests that women CEOs looking for capital should first build a strong leadership and networking team with an excellent business plan that would project their valuation to over $1 billion in order to draw strong investors.

Challenge #3: Downplaying accomplishments

Women tend to downplay or completely dismiss their accomplishments, abilities and knowledge. Confidence is key success according to Sharon Rowlands, CEO of a digital marking firm. Women have a keen sense of intuition and the ability to focus on people which makes them very valuable as leaders in business.

Challenge #4: Lack of a support network

Networking is absolutely vital for new companies to succeed. However the lack of mentors, advisors and coaches were reported by female entrepreneurs, making it far more difficult to succeed than for men. The article suggested that female CEOs attend networking events which specifically focuses on women as well as online groups, forums, conferences, symposiums and gatherings created especially for women in business.

Challenge #5: Balancing business and family life

Achieving a balance between running a business and raising a family is very challenging– especially for female entrepreneurs. Why? Traditional expectations are still alive and well today. It places the majority of the burden of raising a family on the mother.  The article stated that the solution is still elusive but the key is to give time to both, while not taking deficiencies in family life or business too personally.

Challenge #6: Fear of Failure

While fear of failure is present in any enterprise, it especially plagues women entrepreneurs who listed it among their top ten concerns.  To overcome it, successful women CEOs suggest pushing through self-doubt and staying positive.

While women entrepreneurs still have several challenges to overcome, progress and awareness is being made to annul these difficulties so that both male and female CEOs can succeed.


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