Your life is full of challenges.
As quoted by Hilary Clinton- “Women are the largest untapped reservoir of talent in the world”. As if this realization suddenly dawned on them, women have made a foray into the world of business at an astonishing speed in the recent times. What was once man’s domain, has become woman’s too due to a remarkable shift of tide for the better. In the Asian countries, women dominate the entrepreneurial fields in the small and medium businesses. We have seen and heard inspiring stories of some talented women entrepreneurs with spine of steel, who made it to the pinnacle from literally nothing. Words are insufficient to appreciate their efforts to reach this enviable position, when you think of the umpteen obstacles they would have to have surmounted.
As any entrepreneur does, women too have to face many challenges in their business, during different stages. But there are some hurdles that are peculiar to women entrepreneurs. We may find this hard to swallow in this age and day, yet this is the bitter truth. Even now, women are forced to face several oppositions in business solely because of their gender. A woman who aspires to become an entrepreneur, be it home based business, small or medium enterprises or big corporate, should be aware of these so that she is equipped to face them. This knowledge when acquired beforehand will not only make her alert and boost her confidence but also increase her chance to succeed.
Let’s find out what these hurdles are.
# Culture and tradition is the first and foremost hurdle faced women entrepreneurs all over the world, but overwhelmingly so for those in Asia and Africa. While the male descendants are groomed to take up the reins in family owned businesses, daughters of the family are pushed aside without a second glance or thought even now.
# Discrimination by the society sadly still exists simply because of the preconceived notion of the majority of the public that certain businesses are carried out better by men. This prejudice that women are incompetent in the business world make them hesitant to have any transactions with women entrepreneurs. This view remains hidden in many so called modern societies but becomes exposed when there is woman entrepreneur and a male counterpart doing the same business. You would be surprised to find out that the male entrepreneur will get the edge just because of the gender.
# In view of safety concerns, women cannot move about as freely as men particularly in countries like India. The society in turn views a single woman travelling for business purposes with suspicion. This limited mobility can be really bothersome posing hindrances.
# Lack of formal education of women, especially in developing countries of Asia, limits their knowledge about business and finance, which in turn worsens their lack of confidence.
# Society and family still expect women to take full responsibility of tending to children and other family members irrespective of whether they are working or not. When the set expectations are not met fully, the poor woman is looked down upon and criticised.
# Getting access to sufficient funding seems to be difficult for women entrepreneurs, be it for start-up or expansion. Women entrepreneurs often find themselves in a predicament where the investors find them unconvincing. The gender-related prejudice plays a vital role here too, making the investors less willing to acknowledge and accept women entrepreneurs and therefore denying them the capital they deserve.
Women themselves are responsible for some of the hurdles albeit unknowingly.
# Women underrate themselves and tend to downplay their achievements. In this cut-throat corporate corridors, having confidence is essential and projecting it to the outside world is extremely vital for success.
# Many women entrepreneurs do not have proper guidance in the form of advisors or mentors, limiting their growth. Without the necessary network to facilitate introductions, it is impossible to make connections on your own into the elite business world. Women seem to have difficulty in seeking out the right kind of support.
# Women often struggle through moments of self-doubt. Coping with this innate fear of failure is a major concern for women entrepreneurs particularly during the launching period.
# Women have a habit of taking everything to a personal level, be it with customers or employees and this is the recipe to disappointment. This could be a preconditioned trait inculcated by the society, creating a need in women to be liked by everyone.
# Women tend to “do it all at once by themselves”. While women are used to multi-tasking, in the business world this will only bring on failure.
# Women crave to achieve a perfect balance between work and family lives. They blame themselves if they feel they have failed short of set standards in either. This is further reinforced by the traditional gender expectations ingrained into their minds by the society.
Now that we have an idea about the hurdles, it is feasible to prepare ourselves to surmount them. So here are the solutions!
1. Women need to cease to view themselves as the weak gender. Accept your femininity as a strength and move on prove your competence with confidence.
2. Promoting education for women is a step the governments of developing nations should consider seriously.
3. Develop a spine of stainless steel, braving to break through the impeding traditions.
4. Be resilient to criticism
5. Be persistent with your wants without getting demotivated by rejections.
6. Learn to delegate and manage your time wisely. This will help the business and also to achieve the elusive work-life balance.
7. Women investors should support one another.
8. Women entrepreneurs should be involved in women-focused networking events.
9. Women entrepreneurs need to understand that failure is part and parcel of any business venture. It should be never viewed as negative but as stepping stone to success.
On a concluding note, there is no point in worrying about your gender and the way you are perceived in the business world because of it. Only then, you will stop comparing yourself with a man as an entrepreneur. After all, when you achieve success nothing matters, least of all whether you are a man or woman..
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