Tuesday, December 15, 2020

The Challenges Faced by Female Entrepreneurs

 

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There is a perception these days that the world has changed for the better and that women now have an equal stake in society. This perception is wrong. The pay gap still exists and women face a stack of challenges that men simply don't have to consider. There are the social expectations, funding issues, networking issues, and family issues to overcome. Despite this, more women are stepping into the world of entrepreneurship and successfully growing their businesses. 


Defying Social Expectations

In general female entrepreneurs are fewer in number than their male counterparts, this can lead to stereotyping and social expectations placed on women that can be detrimental to their reputation and to grow their business. Of course, this situation exists in society at large, but in the world of entrepreneurship, where there is a need to carve out a niche, the stakes are higher.


Let's say you walk into a room for a networking event. You look around and the first thing you notice is the lack of female entrepreneurs. There are some, but they are seriously outnumbered. This creates an issue. If you want to network effectively should you adopt a male standpoint and interact with them as they might expect, or do you embrace your own personality and confidence? 


The answer is the latter. While adopting a male attitude to business might help to influence some men in the room, owning your gender and presenting an authentic image is far more powerful and will make more of an impact. In a challenging situation like this, you need to remind yourself that you have come this far on your own and you can go further by being yourself. 


Accessing Funding

It's true that female investors have a harder time accessing funding than their male counterparts. There are some reasons for this. Typically, those with venture capital tend to invest in entrepreneurs who are part of their own tribe. That means a University investor is more likely to fund a startup with links to that university. Since most VC companies are run by men, female partners are less common. 


There are ways around this challenging situation. Female entrepreneurs are not just up against the nepotism of the industry but also the male-dominated world of entrepreneurship. The first step is to build confidence in your team by getting the right people involved and developing an excellent business plan. Investors generally look for businesses that can grow in valuation so consult the experts and ensure you have a good market fit. 


Another way to confront this challenge is to encourage more female investors to support one another and send money to Vietnam. Female VC company owners and managers need to make more effort to inspire and support female-led ventures with funding and educational workshops. 


The Struggle to be Taken Seriously 

Many women entrepreneurs struggle to be taken seriously in the industry, it is partly due to outdated attitudes that suggest they don't have what it takes to be top dog, but the struggle is also an internal one. Many women are affected by wider attitudes about their capabilities that create negative self-talk and make things harder.


The reality is those female entrepreneurs are just as capable and worthy of praise, but they have to fight harder for their place at the top table. In a male-dominated industry where reputation counts for a lot, women have to overcome the psychological barriers to entry and believe in themselves more strongly. 


The good news is that this form of social conditioning can be a powerful motivator and catalyst for success, not that it should be. As more women stand up to these challenges and face them down, the idea of a male-dominated business world will eventually be a thing of the past. What is needed is for more women to break through and lead the way. 


Owning Your Accomplishments 

In the same way, confidence and negative self-talk are major factors in the success of female entrepreneurs, owning our accomplishments is also vitally important. There is a tendency in women to be self-deprecating when it comes to what they've achieved in life and business. It's a not-worthy attitude that feels like modesty but looks like failure. 


The idea of blowing your own trumpet, however, can seem counterintuitive to women who have been raised to embody consensus-building qualities that downplay their own position and self-worth. In the business world, the qualities of individualism are praised and good ideas to build and sustain reputations. 


There are many situations in the business world when you have to blow your trumpet and praise what you do. Situations where you have to stand apart from your team and use the "I" pronoun instead of "we". There are times when you need to stand up and claim the praise for an idea because it was you who was behind it and that matters. 


Building a Support Network 

An excellent social and commercial network is vitally important to the success of women working as entrepreneurs. The distinct lack of these networks, however, is a stark reminder that women have a long way to go to find parity in the business world. The trouble is that most of the influential networks are also male-dominated. 


This goes back to the old adage that it's not what you know but who, and this still rings true in the world of entrepreneurial business. It isn't easy to forge a path for yourself when so many doors seem to be closed to you, simply on the basis of nepotism and in-group mentalities. But like other challenges in entrepreneurial life, this one too can be overcome. 


The way to do it is to get involved in female-focused networks and support groups that are not only lively and informative forums but also hubs where connection can be established. You might also attend women-focused networking events and online forums. These are spaces where you can interact with women on the same journey as you, it's a place to learn, to grow, and to succeed. 


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