Female Entrepreneurship’s Threats and Opportunities
From Rihanna and Fenty Beauty, Kerr’s Kora Organics, Ariana Huffington’s amazing platform, to such fashion forces as Stella McCartney, Tory Burch, DVF and numerous emerging designers who are crushing it in the fashion industry, we ladies are showing the world we are a force to be reckoned with. Maria Grazia Chiuri said it best with her T-shirts – ‘the future is female’ and we couldn’t agree more. Sure, there are still some obstacles and misogynous prejudices and stereotypes we have to overcome, but if we ladies stick together, we can rule the world and achieve complete and total equality. Yet, despite the force being strong with us, when it comes to the Fortune 500, there are only 24 female CEOs, which means the battle is just beginning. It’s not about throwing men of the throne, it’s about sharing it, as equals as we are, and today is all about that. We will dive into the world of challenges, threats and obstacles that are hindering the success of existing and potential female entrepreneurs of the now, as well as tolls and opportunities that can help foster our success. We will learn how to take advantage of the latter and diminish the former, so let’s do this.
Aside from a couple dozen companies that are run by females as well as those in which the majority of the workforce is comprised by women, and which provide great work conditions, women are still outnumbered, especially in the leading positions. One of the major disadvantages is walking into a seminar or a boardroom that contains countless men and just a handful of women. When put in such a situation, we feel unnerved, and almost compelled to adopt an aggressive macho masculine demeanor. To be harsh, and what they most like to call us: ‘bossy’. It’s a catch 22 really – if you aren’t assertive, then your voice isn’t heard, and if you are, you are called ‘bossy’. So how does one break away from this vicious cycle? Just be who you are. Develop your own management style, stay true to who you are, and if assertiveness is in your nature, be assertive and unapologetic about it.
According to Babson’s study, ‘since 1999, women entrepreneurs have made considerable progress in obtaining venture capital, however, a wide gender gap persists’. Despite enormous strides, ‘85 percent of all venture capital–funded businesses have no women on the executive team’. Ironically, those companies that are led by women perform equally as well as those run by men, so there isn’t a clear explanation as to why women still have limited access to funding when wanting to dive into entrepreneurial waters. If you read all the data, you will find the numbers quite disheartening. So, how do we deal with this challenge? We need to showcase our success, make ourselves visible and turn to organizations which are committed to supporting female entrepreneurs, especially those organizations led by women, which are all listed in the conclusion of the study. Females helping females – that’s how we make it happen.
The typical challenge
Yes, despite our degrees, our knowledge, skill, business-savvy, and the fact that it’s 2018, we still have to fight to be taken seriously, especially when we find ourselves daring to enter a male-dominated industry. Not to sound bitter, but dear men, we don’t want to steal your sandbox, we just want an equal spot in the playing field. We have to work twice as hard to prove ourselves worthy and professional, and the worst part, we have to believe in ourselves when no one else does. This seems to be the hardest part. The negative things are always easier to believe, so maintaining confidence in your wit and your abilities in a world full of doubters and nay-sayers can be quite taxing. We have to develop thicker skin and let the criticism and doubt just roll off our shoulders.
The perks of the Digital Age
Luckily, the digital world is genderless, and we can always count on it. In order to develop and enhance our businesses, we can use all the perks that digital platforms and business software have to offer. There is Instagram, Pinterest and Facebook, which are here to help us promote our business, amazing female web designers who can follow our vision, create a logo, a brand story and just ‘click’ with us and make our vision come true. Of course, there are also such tools as the incredible apparel ERP software that can help us with everything from inventory management to enterprise resource planning.
The perks of being female
With the increasing number of female owned companies listed above, we now have many opportunities to rely on our ladybosses for guidance, networking and perhaps even the kind of support that goes beyond the ‘moral’ kind. Ladies lifting each other up and creating a strong female entrepreneurship network is the best chance we have of succeeding. However, in order for this to work, there has to exist a healthy dose of competitiveness, but not the ugly sabotaging kind. This is why it’s crucial for the females to stick together and not tear each other down. Male entrepreneurs are welcome to lend a helping hand, we are not trying to be exclusive, but for now, in female power we trust.
Yes, we seem to be facing more challenges than opportunities at this moment. However, as there are constructive solutions to hurdling these obstacles, as well as an amazing set of opportunities, we firmly believe we can turn this around, and make the Fortune 500 list loaded with successful women’s names by the year 2020.