More women are starting businesses, but they still face challenges operating their businesses. The number of women entrepreneurs is on the rise. Regardless of the positive outcomes, women are struggling to survive in the business environment given the challenges they face.
8 Major Challenges that Women Face in Business
1. Limited Funding
Not all business people are fortunate enough to have an investor or financier for their business. Some have to bootstrap their entrepreneurial ventures, rely on credit cards or raise capital on their own. Women’s businesses are among the leading ventures that lack financial support. It is also common for women to be denied loans because of gender and cultural biases—many institutions tend to fund male-owned businesses.
2. Balancing Responsibilities
A large number of women are not just entrepreneurs or career people—they have families, spouses, and other responsibilities. Demands from personal and professional commitments can pressure a woman to abandon either her business or family. The family expects her to be a mother and wife, while the business requires her to be the leader and show commitment. It becomes more difficult for those who lack social support because they have to carry the entire burden by themselves. Some women can balance these two spheres of their lives, while others are overwhelmed.
3. Fear of Failure
Entrepreneurship or running a business is risky and entails unforeseen circumstances. Never fear failure; you will never try if you fear failure. No one goes into business with a guarantee of success. Fear of the known and the unknown is a major issue for women. They dread failing, especially if the people surrounding them were skeptical of their capability in business. This fear is toxic and perilous, because women may end up operating from a place of fear instead of confidence. As a result, they will fail in business even when they were meant to succeed.
4. Inadequate Support System
What would women achieve if they had a perfect support system? Struggling or failing in business could be the result of a lack of an adequate support system. In business, no man’s an island. Women tend to face the greatest challenges in getting support, from lacking the relevant connections to needing financial access or emotional support. They also need mentors and sponsors to guide them in this new path. The support system is often expensive, forcing women to delay starting their businesses.
5. Gender Inequality
What do you need to know about gender inequality? Laws, cultures, religion, and politics are built upon a patriarchal foundation. Women must work their way up in the masculine world while facing stigma and discrimination. Although laws and policies have attempted to create a favorable business environment for everyone, the actual changes have not yet been implemented. Gender lens investing, which refers to strategies that address gender disparity issues and/or analyze gender issues to illuminate investment decisions, is gaining traction.
6. Limited Knowledge
Empowering a woman with knowledge is just the beginning of a long journey to business success. Life is a daily learning process where each day comes with new information. Unfortunately, women’s access to this information and emerging knowledge is limited. Although it could be a result of the competitive environment, women take the extra step and seek relevant and practical information.
7. Unfavorable Business Environment
Among the challenges that women experience are less-established business networks, and social and traditional constraints that restrict women’s participation in business. Religion hinders women from owning businesses. In some countries, women may be required to have a male partner will do deals, negotiate, and be the face of the business. Regardless of these challenges, the business world is gradually accepting women’s abilities and contributions.
Women who strive and succeed are often shy about touting their accomplishments. They are afraid of being labeled as proud or boastful people. Humility is not shyness or timidity. Women need to stand by their success and let people around them recognize it.
“Believe in yourself and own your own success.” — Sheryl Sandberg
Owning your success as a woman motivates you to work harder and achieve more in your business. It inspires the people around you. Sheryl Sandberg has inspired women to come out and take a place in corporate boardrooms. Oprah Winfrey and Michelle Obama are among those who have motivated other women to work toward their entrepreneurial dream. Confidence is an essential part of prosperity and growth. When a woman leads, others follow.