Business Advice

How to succeed as a woman entrepreneur (and the barriers along the way)

- September 19, 2023 3 MIN READ


While gender should not define someone’s entrepreneurial journey, it’s essential to acknowledge and address the specific issues women entrepreneurs encounter, writes Amanda Thompson, author of Financially Fit Women.

Entrepreneurship has always been a challenging journey, regardless of gender. The path to achieving financial success in business is often marked by numerous obstacles and opportunities. Women, who have historically been underrepresented in the entrepreneurial landscape, face unique challenges.

Entrepreneurship is a demanding journey that presents a set of challenges common to all business leaders. Financial management stands as a cornerstone of success, with entrepreneurs of all backgrounds needing to secure funding, allocate resources wisely, and make prudent financial decisions to ensure the long-term sustainability of their ventures.

Market competition, another universal challenge, requires constant innovation and adaptation to stay ahead in fiercely competitive industries. Balancing work and personal life emerges as a persistent struggle for entrepreneurs who often find themselves dedicating long hours to keep their businesses afloat. Moreover, the complex task of hiring and firing personnel presents an emotional dilemma, especially for those who deeply care about their team’s well-being. The widely acknowledged adage, “hire slow and fire fast,” underscores the critical need for entrepreneurs to make tough decisions swiftly when necessary.

Women and entrepreneurship

All aspiring business leaders confront a unique blend of trials and triumphs. Yet, it is essential to recognise that women entrepreneurs often encounter a set of distinctive challenges on their journey to success. These challenges reflect the broader societal context and the inherent qualities women bring to the business table. The specific hurdles that women face when pursuing their entrepreneurial ambitions include:

Challenging the heart:

Many women naturally possess empathy, a quality that can sometimes hinder their business decisions. In the business world, it’s essential to strike a balance between empathy and assertiveness. Women must learn to challenge their own hearts, make tough choices, and prioritise their business’s success.

Selfishness vs. selflessness:

Societal expectations often encourage women to be selfless, placing others’ needs ahead of their own. However, entrepreneurship often demands a degree of selfishness—prioritising one’s business, making decisions that benefit the enterprise, and being assertive even when it might appear self-centred.

Parenting challenges:

Balancing entrepreneurship with parenthood adds an extra layer of complexity for many women. Juggling business responsibilities and family life can be challenging. However, women should not be compelled to choose between business and family. Instead, they can seek support, delegate tasks, and build a strong support network to manage both aspects of their lives effectively.

Funding inequality: 

One of the most significant challenges that women-led businesses face is the glaring inequality in funding. Studies consistently reveal that women entrepreneurs receive significantly less funding than their male counterparts. This funding gap not only hinders the growth of women-led businesses by not being able to access the capital to scale but also perpetuates gender disparities in entrepreneurship. Shocking statistics reveal the extent of this problem:

  • A recent Deloitte report found that while 22 per cent of startups were founded by women, just 0.7 per cent of the early-stage funding secured by businesses went to them.
  • Female entrepreneurs of colour face even more significant challenges, with funding disparities more pronounced.
  • Research shows that women-led startups are more likely to secure funding when they have a male co-founder.

Women entrepreneurs face a multitude of challenges while navigating the path to financial success in the business world. While many of these challenges are shared with their male counterparts, there is a distinct need for resilience, adaptability, and a supportive ecosystem to thrive in a traditionally male-dominated domain.

To address these challenges, women must advocate for themselves, seek mentorship and support, and actively work to close the funding gap. By challenging societal norms, embracing their entrepreneurial spirit, and building strong networks, women entrepreneurs can overcome these obstacles and thrive in the world of business, ultimately contributing to greater gender equality in entrepreneurship.

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