In the recent past, women-owned businesses have enjoyed a success rate well above the national average. The percentage of women-owned businesses has risen significantly.
However, women entrepreneurs have specific challenges, and it is important for any woman to be aware of them before her start-up.
Challenge 1: Getting comfortable with risk
For a woman, starting a business may be a challenging first step. She must totally bank on herself for the first time. So, her approach may be one of two. First, she may want to step onto this new field slowly and tentatively, testing as she goes. On the other hand, she may want to jump the fence and charge into the new space.
For the first instance, the new woman entrepreneur must go slowly and understand the obstacles and her fears, whether they be about money or the approval of others. She might want to keep a journal to express her fear and ideas so that she can reflect on solutions—finding her own answers.
In the second instance, jumping in and announcing the beginning may bring emotional and financial support. Connecting with other experienced women may bring good advice and reassurance for the ‘go-ahead’. By receiving counselling from them, she may be able to avoid pitfalls, increase her confidence and use the experience of others.
Challenge 2: Setting the bar too low
Women may be of a tentative mindset and plan below potential not realising how strong their possibilities are. It is OK to have a grand vision.
A good method is to plan interim and long-term goals and then ‘build backwards’ as a concrete process as how to get there. Surrounding oneself with successful women builds a strong support system of others who wish to see you successful.
Challenge 3: Find the Right People
There is a difference between a mentor and a sponsor. A mentor supports you person-to-person, listening and giving advice. A sponsor advocates for you full time, with you and in absentia. Sponsors help you arrive at the next stage in your development. Women tend to use mentors while men go after sponsors. Try to encourage your mentors to become sponsors, for they already support you and can advocate for you when you are not there, supporting your goals with important people such as investors.
Develop a community of like-minded people. This may mean that you sign up with groups and conferences where connections are made and similar purposes coincide. Always associate with people you admire.
Challenge 4: Where’s the Money?
Accentuate your potential. Your past performance may be assessed, but your potential is the promise of the future, particularly with investors who will want to know some basic things.
Clarify your vision:
What will your company look like in five years?
How will your business affect the overall industry?
How financially successful does it have the potential to become?
You must sell the image with confidence and self-assuredness. Affirmation is the key, believing in long-term results.
Know your numbers:
Concepts must be supported with data. Be aware that you will be asked for an accountant’s view. Prepare.
Know the amounts:
How much do you need? Make sure that you are not being too shy. Focus less on what you need than what you can get. Don’t get caught underfunded; give yourself the base you need.