Women Entrepreneurs Face Unique Challenges. Here’s How to Thrive in the Face of Adversity.
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It is no secret that women face many more obstacles than their male counterparts regarding entrepreneurship. Some obvious issues include gender biases and discrimination. The less evident barriers include a lack of governmental support and a limited amount of funding and advisors. According to a report from Crunchbase, only about 20% of funded companies have female founders.
Still, with the number of women-owned companies having grown to nearly 13 million in 2019, women are finally seeing some well-deserved credit in the entrepreneurial world. In fact, according to a report from American Express, “the number of women-owned businesses increased 21%, while all businesses increased only 9%. Total employment by women-owned businesses rose 8%, while for all businesses, the increase was 1.8%.”
The highest levels of Corporate America have also experienced positive change: A new record of female CEOs at Fortune 500 companies was reported in 2022 (74 to be exact, up from 41 in June 2021). This number is still far from where it should be, but it is progress nonetheless.
While many of the previously shared statistics are encouraging and show that change is trending in the right direction, there is still quite a bit to do to offer true equality to female entrepreneurs. Additionally, these numbers I’ve shared drop drastically if you are a minority; these imbalances lie in societal issues that are far from being resolved.
As a minority female, I have been in plenty of meetings or events where I felt others (predominantly men) would not listen whenever I spoke. As I began SnapNurse, the largest tech-forward healthcare staffing platform in the U.S., I heard the word “no” constantly. People (again, mostly men) were unwilling to invest in the business I knew would succeed. While this isn’t always the case, I believe much of their hesitancy was due to the fact that I was a minority woman creating a technology platform (a notoriously male-dominated industry) to help the field of nursing and healthcare (an industry made up of about 80% women, with fewer than 20% holding key leadership positions).
Despite the challenges, I have now achieved success as a minority female entrepreneur and have learned so much while creating my business. So, here are some tips that I hope will help you become a successful female entrepreneur, too.
1. Set yourself up for success
In my opinion, the best thing you can do is to surround yourself with a solid team of experts — especially in the areas where you might be lacking (for example, technology development, human resources, accounting or others that are essential to a successful company). Know what your strengths and weaknesses are. Build a solid support system of people with different skill sets.
I also suggest hiring strong middle managers to free up your time and calendar from “death by meetings” and enable you to focus on growing your business. When something comes up that needs your attention, you will be alerted and can get involved when necessary.
2. Work hard
You most likely have the necessary ambition and dedication required to succeed if you want to open your own business. But I would advise you to prepare yourself for the amount of work and hours it will take to see your vision come to life. Be ready to work long hours, and know ahead of time that you will have to make sacrifices. However, I think it is worth it in the long run to see the idea you have come to fruition.
On the flip side of that, you also need to be able to take time away from work — and not feel any guilt. You have to be able to find a balance between work, family, friends, hobbies, interests and more; otherwise, burnout is inevitable. Though finding balance can be challenging at the beginning, the more you grow, the more you will enjoy taking well-deserved time away from your work.
3. Make yourself heard
As I’ve mentioned, women and minorities in business are often overlooked and passed over. We must ensure that our voices are heard and confidently present ourselves, our expertise and our companies. Follow your gut, share your thoughts and opinions, and offer a solution to every problem.
4. Continue learning and growing
There is always something to learn when running a business. There are countless resources on any topic you could possibly imagine, often for free. When you don’t know something or could use more training, take the time to learn it. Nowadays, you should always be able to find the answer to almost any question. Set aside time to learn about different aspects of your business daily — you’ll become a more decisive and effective business leader as a result.