Today, there are more female entrepreneurs than ever! An estimated 252 million worldwide, with increasing figures daily. We’ve entered into an era of women’s leadership. The National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO) reports that there are currently more than 11.6 million U.S. firms owned by women, which employ nearly 9 million people and generate $1.7 trillion in sales.
Women leadership in business has garnered significant momentum in the past decade, with more women being major board members and brains behind the biggest start-ups. Let’s look at a few stats:
Women-owned businesses increased by 58% between 2007–2018, 5x higher than all businesses.
Currently, women of color, especially black women, are starting companies at the highest rate.
The overall trend in female business ownership presents good news, compared to where women-owned businesses were 30 years ago (especially considering that it was only 30 years ago that women could not apply for a business loan without a male co-signer). Women are making incredible strides in the field of entrepreneurship, however, female entrepreneurs still face a handful of challenges. The most daunting challenge is acquiring venture capital. Studies have shown that investors tend to support businesses with male CEOs and executives. This gender-bias leaves female entrepreneurs with limited or no source of funding. HSBC reports that over a third of female entrepreneurs face gender bias when raising capital. Special subsidies and/or loans could provide much needed support to women entrepreneurs in the establishment of their businesses and would tilt the scales for women to compete favorably with their male-counterparts.
To meet this challenge would be the creation of support groups for female entrepreneurs; successful women in start-ups who are deemed as female role models.This “sisterhood” would be involved in mentoring women and girls in molding entrepreneurial skills. Also more awareness must be brought to VC’s and investors to encourage them to see the values in providing the same funding opportunities to female entrepreneurs as they would to male entrepreneurs—these are all critical components of enhancing women’s success as thriving and competitive entrepreneurs in the marketplace.
Another limitation most female entrepreneurs have is the “lone ranger” mindset, the syndrome that owning an idea translates into you actualizing the idea ALONE. Most businesses need people (a team) to grow, it takes a strong network to build a successful company. It’s important for female entrepreneurs to build a professional network that consists of other female entrepreneurs.
Finally an important ingredient of success in business time management. When going into business, budgeting one’s time is as crucial as budgeting finances. Most distractions, when pursuing a professional career and/or entrepreneurial venture, occur due to social and emotional commitments and failure to effectively balance one’s time. This leads to a detrimental impact on the business and adds to increased stress levels.
Women entrepreneurs can stand out by being their authentic selves and capitalize on a trait not shared with most men; sharing their knowledge with other female entrepreneurs in a nurturing and productive way. Better time management and balancing personal and familial commitments will greatly improve day to day progress. And, leveraging the power of networking and collaboration, especially when going after the support of venture capitalists, will help move the needle of female entrepreneurship forward to provide greater equity and success for all of us.
Author: Sarah Mitchell Ekwueme