If we look at the statistics, it looks like things are going great for women entrepreneurs in North America. In Canada, 33% of entrepreneurs are women. In the U.S., more than 11 million firms are owned by women and generating $1.7 trillion in sales according to the 2017 results of the National Association of Women Business Owners. So yes, on paper things look like they’re going great for women entrepreneurs. However, this is only what we see on the surface. There’s much more to the story then what the statistics reveal. What a lot of people don’t see is how they got there. They don’t see the daily struggles that women have to go through constantly to run their business successfully.
Although each woman and each type of business has their own challenges, there are a lot of common struggles that women entrepreneurs face just because of their gender. So here are the top five daily struggles of women entrepreneurs.
Limited access to funding
It seems surprising but yes this is still an issue. Investors are less likely to invest in women-run enterprises because they tend to want to invest in their own “tribe” or entrepreneurs who in their opinion are more likely to succeed. Financial institutions will also provide loans or funds to men rather than women. A man and a woman could be applying for the same loan and for the same organization. However, as the man’s loan will be processed right away, the woman’s application will often require more assurance.
forced to act like a man
At one point or another, all women entrepreneurs have been in a situation where they walk into a meeting or conference and the number of men is overpowering. You can almost count the number of female bosses on one hand. So of course as a minority, we often try to fit in by being one of the “boys”. Meaning, we’ll take on man attitudes when it comes to running our business. For example, we’ll be more aggressive, competitive and maybe even a little harsh. This can be harming because we then create a stereotype. Women entrepreneurs get a reputation that is not the most flattering: being mean bosses.
struggling to find the middle ground
This goes with the previous point of how women act in business. As mentioned earlier, there come certain situations where women will be forced to act like men so they can fit in better and prove that they belong. However, by doing so, they create themselves a reputation as being aggressive. So this is where we try to find a middle ground. We try to be true to ourselves and bring out our more feminine side. But by doing so, we’re once again being categorized as a stereotypical gentle sweet feminine boss who can’t handle hard topics or be aggressive when it comes to business. It’s like there’s no winning no matter how hard we try to find the middle ground. We get judged and stereotyped either way so it’s an ongoing struggle.
being taken seriously
Yes, there are still those who judge women entrepreneurs and have a hard time being taken seriously. We often have to state facts like “Yes I went to school and graduated” or “Yes I know exactly what you’re talking about” and our personal favorite “Yes I’m married and have 2 kids at home and I still manage to run my own business successfully.”. It’s sad that in the 21st century, there are still those who believe that women can’t do it all.
the fear of failure
This is something that all women fear in general. But as women entrepreneurs, there’s often more at risk. All the hard effort that we put to create our business, going against every stereotype, working twice as hard than men and feeling guilty about spending less time with our family. Of course, we don’t want it to be all for anything. So, there is always that constant fear that what if we fail? What if the company doesn’t succeed? What if we lose everything and have to start from scratch? It’s a constant fear that eats us up and that’s why we often work hard hours and are constantly coming up with better ways to ensure the success of our company. Out of fear.