Women continue to expand their place in the workforce, including roles as entrepreneurs. And though start-ups launched by women account for a significant share of new business ventures, female entrepreneurs are nonetheless underrepresented in most parts of the world. United States, Australia and Sweden lead the way for maintaining the highest shares of women entrepreneurs, with less developed countries like Pakistan and Bangladesh ranking low for women’s start-up opportunities. On the other hand, progressive, emerging markets like those found in Latin America support women in business, accounting for a high percentage of start-ups launched. In this post we will talk about 5 key challenges facing entrepreneurial women.
Despite the inequity they face, double-standards are not the biggest hurdles for women entrepreneurs to overcome. They are tasked with all the same responsibilities and considerations business people take-on, so women have little time to consider their gender. Instead, female entrepreneurs grapple with issues like shifting consumer trends, advancing technology, and other business concerns that have little to do with gender. Until the playing field is equal for all participants though, women will continue to operate at a disadvantage.
1. Start-Up Concerns
For most new businesses, access to capital furnishes an important cornerstone of a start-up venture. While financial health and collateral may be required for all entrepreneurs, women sometimes find it more difficult to secure capital than their male counterparts. As a result, women entrepreneurs benefit from business organization like the Small Business Administration (SBA), which puts-forth initiatives exclusively for the benefit of women organizing start-ups.
2. Covering all the Bases
Entrepreneurs of both genders don’t always anticipate the number of different hats they’ll wear as leaders of start-up organizations. Women are said to be adept at juggling multiple projects simultaneously, without any of them suffering at the hands of the others. Men, on the other hand, are characterized by linear pursuits that allow them to excel when focused on one major issue at a time. In the end, successful entrepreneurs of either sex have the unique ability to account for many diverse interests at once; challenging them to wear many hats and cover all the bases.
3. Patriarchal Business Environments
One of the unique challenges facing women as they launch businesses is the patriarchal nature of business structures. The fabled “good old boy” system is alive and well, offering patronage to well-connected men entering business. Women, on the other hand, are outsiders to this system so carving out their place in male-dominated industries can be challenging at times.
4. Self-Limiting thoughts and Actions
Too often, defined societal roles keep members from rising to their full potential. Having been kept out of business, even oppressed in some locales, women entrepreneurs are challenged to rise above social structures that limit their mobility. Successful entrepreneurs believe in themselves and their ventures, despite long odds against them. For women, success relies on overcoming an additional layer of challenges, which can be self-limiting.
5. Credibility Gap
Despite the fact women have demonstrated themselves to be capable of performing at high levels; they still encounter resistance as entrepreneurs. Many mainstream jobs were once considered non-traditional employment for women, but the workforce has changed to accommodate women in nearly every field. As a result, modern women work in industries that were previously reserved for men. In some cases, credibility lags behind the modern reality of a diverse workforce, forcing women to rise to another entrepreneurial challenge men don’t face.
Entrepreneurs face a variety of challenges unique to start-up ventures. And while it is a challenging environment for both genders, successful women overcome additional obstacles to succeed as entrepreneurs. Male-dominated business structures, for example, sometimes make it harder for women to land capital and other start-up resources. And once established, women fight an uphill battle earning credibility and respect.