Starting your own business enables you to pursue a business idea while enjoying the freedom and flexibility of running your own venture. According to Mai Nguyen, author of "Women Entrepreneurs: Turning Disadvantages to Advantages," the number of female entrepreneurs that run their own businesses has steadily increased during the last decade. Although more women are entering the corporate world as founders of their own ventures, they are subject to several distinct disadvantages as women. One of the most significant concerns for female entrepreneurs is the ability to balance professional and family responsibilities.
One of the most significant barriers to female entrepreneurship is the capital financing barrier. When starting a business, entrepreneurs need to line up capital to get the business "off of the ground." According to Mai Nguyen, female entrepreneurs often get their initial funding from family loans, savings, credit cards and home equity loans. However, women can obtain capital from government startup programs, self-funding and venture capitalists, among other sources. When women have promising business ideas, it is less difficult for them to obtain startup capital. Therefore, having solid business plans with persuasive product or service ideas helps reduce the finance barrier for women.
Lack of Networks
Female entrepreneurs are more likely to encounter difficulty because they are less likely to be associated with networks of people who can help them launch and sustain businesses. "Networks" include people who provide mentorship, referrals, help and valuable information to entrepreneurs. Men tend to dominate the highest levels of corporate leadership. Therefore, there are less women available to provide valuable advice to female entrepreneurs. Women also face "customer/supplier" discrimination, which occurs when customers or suppliers discriminate against women-owned firms. In response, women business leaders can create their own networks to cultivate the success of female entrepreneurs. However, these networks should include men who can also be helpful to fund-raising, business strategy or other critical areas.
In the United States, women are more likely to shoulder a greater share of child-rearing duties. Children may demand their mothers' undivided attention, which can be a challenge for female entrepreneurs to deal with. Building and running a new business requires a great deal of time, which may conflict with one's family obligations. Women in this situation must balance their family life with their duties as entrepreneurs. For example, parents can communicate about the need to devote some time during the day solely on business, while other times can be devoted to family matters.
Although both men and women can face issues of self-doubt, or lack confidence to compete in the business market, men do not suffer from the same degree of "prejudgment" as do women entrepreneurs. For example, male business leaders may not believe that their female counterparts can compete or innovate to the degree that men can. The basis of these views are stereotypes about women. Having female mentors and confidants can help instill self confidence in your abilities as a female entrepreneur.
Nicholas Smith has written political articles for SmithonPolitics.com, "The Daily Californian" and other publications since 2004. He is a former commissioner with the city of Berkeley, Calif. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in political science from the University of California-Berkeley and a Juris Doctor from St. John's University School of Law.