We have entered a new decade and in the past one the world has finally come to an agreement – we now recognize, that women entrepreneurs play a key role in the world economy. There are estimated 582 million entrepreneurs in the world (MARKINBLOG, 2020) of which approximately 252 million are women (GEM Consortium, 2019) and , fun fact, the numbers are rising every day. Female participation in ownership is systematically higher among newly registered firms (World Bank Gender Data Portal), but do the soaring statistics mean the modern business world is welcoming women entrepreneurs with open arms?
The Idea of Women Being in Charge – When Did It All Start?
A person’s belief of being capable of more than society tells them they can do is what drives innovation and change, and women being in charge was an idea that started to actively materialize globally not so long ago.
Of course, crucial to mention, that there are lot of positive changes happening all around the world concerning female empowerment, as well as a mind shift towards equality of rights and opportunities, but according to entrepreneur women themselves, there are still many challenges they face.
The hurdles for each entrepreneur do differ based on their country and its socio-cultural influences, but we can still identify those, which affect most of women entrepreneurs regardless of larger external environment.
The Pressure of Social Expectations
When hearing “Business World” most people immediately think of men in suits. That explains why in order to be taken seriously lot of women feel the pressure to fit in the mold of stereotypical “male” business persona, which is harsh, competitive and aggressive. Women have to work their way up in the male-dominated world and gender inequality is still a big issue, but successful women CEOs who have overcome related challenges believe that owning your ambition and staying true to who you are helps you find your voice, which is vital to rising above predetermined expectations.
The recent years showed that businesses founded by women deliver higher revenue (BCG). During the past decade, the percentage of deals with women on founding teams has nearly doubled, from 7.9% to 15.7%, according to PitchBook (Forbes), but women’s businesses are among the leading ventures that lack financial support.
A 2014 Babson College report found that less than 3% of companies with venture capital funding had female CEOs. Gender and cultural influences also play role in the number of denied loans for women. So what have women entrepreneurs come up with? Building strong networks, which is not an easiest thing to do itself, but in the long run they provide women with more than just financial support.
Lack of Support System
One of the great ways to stay determined and never stop trusting your capabilities is with the moral support of friends and family, but the truth is, in interviews, female CEOs say they don’t expect much support — at home or at work (HBR). This obstacle has inspired women to create special networks such as women entrepreneur groups, where women are united by their ambitions and genuine desire to support others just like them.
“Accepting” your ambitions is one thing, but working towards them with all your heart takes courage and so much determination, that there is a vital need to fully recognize the work-life compromises you’ll have to make on the way – lot of the times that might mean choosing work over attending friend gatherings and vacations, in which cases male counterparts are far less judged.
But as female leaders expect little outside support, it’s about actually working out what you really want to do and be. And if, for example, having children means some time off work, successful women leaders encourage others to not give up, do not walk away, meaning that the focus should always be on the long-term goal, so that you never lose the vision of your true entrepreneurial self.