America has more than 12.3 million businesses owned by women and they employ over nine million people and bring in over 1.8 trillion dollars. There are lots of opportunities out there for women to succeed as entrepreneurs but in our male-dominated society, women also face significant challenges, so it’s important to be aware of the resources available to help you overcome them. Getting the right support and advice could make all the difference to your prospects.
Fitting your business into your life
Running a start-up involves long hours of work and this tends to be more complicated for women than for men. Women still do the bulk of domestic care work, whether parenting or looking after elderly or disabled relatives, and they are still expected to take care of the bulk of household chores. One of the reasons many women give for starting their own business is that they find it impossible to fit traditional employment around all those responsibilities.
Making sure that you can fit your business into your life means you’ll need to work out how many hours you can get to yourself and how much work it is possible to do when you’re splitting your time between tasks, such as working while keeping an eye on your kids. You’ll still need to make sure you get enough sleep to ensure that you’re fully alert when making important decisions, but you’ll probably have to give up most of your leisure activities. One thing you should continue to squeeze in if possible is an activity that keeps you physically fit, as you’ll find it easier to sleep less and stay alert more if you prioritize your health.
Funding for female entrepreneurs
The biggest challenge for most new businesses is finding funding, and this is an area where being a woman actually provides an advantage. As a rule, banks are more willing to lend money to women because statistically women are significantly more reliable than men when it comes to paying the money back. On average, women launch their businesses with smaller amounts of capital overall, and most female-owned businesses operate on a smaller scale, but that doesn’t mean that they fail to achieve their founders’ aims. In recognition of the challenges many women face when starting a business, some lenders offer loans to women at lower rates of interest, and there are also special grants and loans available to female entrepreneurs from other sources.
Support and networking
One of the challenges faced by women in business is that they’re generally excluded from the boys’ club of powerful, established players. This isn’t necessarily deliberate but stems in large part from the simple fact that men mostly socialize with other men, so they tend to think of men first in a business context. There are, however, some influential women out there, and leaders like Lady Barbara Judge have committed themselves to give other women the same kind of helping hand. This includes creating support groups and networking events where female entrepreneurs can meet and work out ways of helping each other. Organizations like this are additionally valuable because their members have shared the experience of many of the same problems and can work together to find ways of overcoming them.
Marketing and social media
In our society, men have traditionally been raised to focus on activity while women have been raised to focus more on communication. That was seen as something that placed women at a disadvantage in business but now the tables have turned. Because they’re significantly more active on social media and have larger friendship networks – even when they’re not trying – women are particularly well-positioned to start promoting what they’re doing in business. The same skills used in developing and maintaining personal connections can be brought to bear with low cost but potentially very effective marketing. The key thing to keep in mind is time management. Building up promotional networks loses its value if you don’t manage to keep up with everything else.
Launching a new business and getting it through those difficult early years is a challenge for anybody. Women face barriers that aren’t such a problem for men, but by playing to your strengths and reaching out to other women when you need help, you can overcome them. Women make up 40% of US business owners and women from poorer backgrounds are increasingly joining their numbers, so nothing needs to stop you from achieving success.
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