Breedlove's Briefing: 7 Challenges Women Entrepreneurs Face (and How to Overcome Them)

March 25 - Stephanie Breedlove

Hi! I’m Stephanie Breedlove, Co-Founder of HomePay, Author and Angel Investor.

I absolutely adore taking an idea and giving it life in the form a business, then leading it to its full potential. Nothing is more fun. (Seriously!) I’d love for every woman who wants to start her own business to say the same thing, so here I am, mentoring millennial entrepreneurs. When I’m not working, I like to recharge and head outdoors to hike, bike, or stand up paddle board!

Is that list of business news and trending articles you’ve tagged still unread? I get it. Allow me to help. Take a couple minutes to read my summary of articles serving the most pertinent, actionable business topics. Or, take 10 minutes to read the full article, and put another brick on the foundation of your growing career.

This Week’s Must-Read:

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

Who it’s for:

Every woman entrepreneur, plus all of you thinking about starting a business.

Why it’s important:

On paper, things have never looked better for female entrepreneurs. In fact, more than 11 million U.S. firms are now owned by women, employing nearly 9 million workers and generating $1.7 trillion in sales. But these numbers only tell part of the story. Women-owned firms employ only 6 percent of the workforce and contribute only 4 percent of total U.S. sales, and less than 2 percent of our firms generate more than $1 million in revenue.

The hurdles faced by women who have embraced entrepreneurship are vast and often different than those experienced by their male counterparts. This article is of value because it offers more than a list of barriers; it discusses how to consider tackling them. Here’s some sage advice from female CEOs who have walked the talk.

  1. Defying Social Expectations: You walk into a crowded seminar and can count the number of women there on one hand. In this sort of situation, women may feel as though they need to adopt a stereotypically “male” attitude toward business. But successful female CEOs believe that remaining true to yourself and finding your own voice are the keys to rising above preconceived expectations.
  2. Dealing with Limited Access to Funding: We all know that less than 3 percent of venture capital funding is awarded to female founders. Venture capitalists tend to invest in startups run by their own “tribe.” This means men invest in men, and there are very few female venture capitalists today. (Hoping this is changing).

    So, women looking for investors should build confidence through a great team and a strong business plan. Learn to ask for exactly what you need when you pitch. Also, understand that men have a tendency to overstate capital needed, and it has become the norm for investors to discount the ask. Women have a tendency to pitch a realistic need, and then experience the discount. Understand this dynamic and pitch accordingly.
  3. Struggling to be Taken Seriously: At one time or another, most women CEOs find themselves in a male-dominated environment that does not want to acknowledge their leadership role. Earning respect can be a struggle. The advice: Join a variety of women entrepreneur groups. They will provide the mentors and peers to inspire you and help you grow and learn.
  4. Owning Your Accomplishments: The communal, consensus-building qualities encouraged in young girls can leave women unintentionally downplaying their own worth. Using the first person to discuss success often feels like you're bragging. As you experience accomplishments that are a direct result of your leadership, make an effort to own what you’ve accomplished.
  5. Building a Support Network: Having a robust support network is essential for entrepreneurial success, so it’s no surprise that 48 percent of female founders report that a lack of available mentors limits their professional growth. Knowing where to find the right support network isn’t always easy. Start with women-focused networking events and put in the time to find the right one for you. Once you find your network, don’t be afraid to ask for what you really need from them.
  6. Balancing Business and Family Life: Finding ways to devote the right balance of time to both business and family is key to truly achieving that elusive work-life balance. It’s a never-ending battle, but most entrepreneurs feel that working for yourself will allow more freedom and flexibility than working for someone else.
  7. Coping with Fear of Failure: Failure is a very real possibility in entrepreneurship, but it should not be viewed as a negative or an excuse for relinquishing your goals. The road to success is paved with losses and mistakes, but it can still lead you to where you want to go.

Top Take-Away: Women may have more barriers than men in today’s entrepreneurial landscape, but we have to remember that business is about problem solving and that there is some form of a solution to every barrier. Nothing is insurmountable.

Want more detail on how to tackle your barriers? Dive into these:

Overcoming the 4 Barriers Blocking Women Entrepreneurs (article + webinar)

Overcoming Challenges Facing Women in Business

5 Challenges Faced by Female Entrepreneurs

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