Women have been breaking barriers and making significant strides in the business world for a long, LONG time – probably longer than you’d guess! However, despite our tremendous advances, women-led/owned businesses still face unique challenges that can hinder our success and growth.
The list of obstacles we see as a whole and personally is longer than these fingers are equipped to type up in a single sitting. Nonetheless, I wanted to detail some of the specific struggles we all contend with and maybe some practical solutions on how to overcome them!
first off, the obvious one: gender bias and stereotyping 🙄
One of the greatest challenges women-led businesses have ALWAYS faced is gender bias. Society often holds preconceived notions about women’s capabilities, leading to skepticism and doubt. As expected, women entrepreneurs may find it challenging to gain the same level of trust and respect as their male counterparts, making it harder to secure funding, attract investors, or establish credibility with clients and stakeholders.
While we’ve certainly seen some progress has been made in breaking down gender barriers, unconscious bias still influences decision-making processes to this day. Investors and financiers are more likely to assign a higher risk profile to women-led ventures, resulting in reduced access to capital.
This gender bias also extends to perceptions of leadership styles, with more assertive or visionary styles being celebrated over collaborative or empathetic ones, which are often associated with women. Which is the lesser of two evils – being the “boss bitch” or being the one who doesn’t have a thick enough skin? Choices, choices…
To overcome gender bias, women entrepreneurs need to challenge societal norms by consistently demonstrating their expertise, achievements, and capabilities. By sharing success stories and celebrating female-led ventures, we can slowly but surely shift societal perceptions over time. It is essential to highlight the value and impact of women in leadership roles and encourage diverse perspectives within the business community.
Is it fair? Of course not. But we operate in an unfair world, and if us ladies want to continue leading businesses well into the future? We have to figure out a solution ourselves.
limited access to funding
I touched on it a bit in the first section, but access to capital is crucial for business growth in most any field. Women-led/owned businesses unfortunately face more difficulties in obtaining this kind of funding. In addition to the biases listed before, having predominantly male investor networks and a lack of women in decision-making positions in the finance industry contribute to this disparity.
Women more often than not will have to explore alternative funding options to bridge the funding gap. Crowdfunding platforms, loans, grants, and women-led investment networks have emerged as viable alternatives that provide access to capital while supporting women-owned ventures.
For example, Goldman Sachs has a Women-Led Investment Network created to build a strong network of trusted connections for women-owned businesses. Alternatively, Golden Seeds is an angel investment network founded with the goal of directing more funding to high-potential women-led companies.
Bit by bit, we are seeing more organizations and initiatives now specifically focus on providing funding and support to us lady entrepreneurs, recognizing our immense potential and contribution to the business landscape. Hooray for that one at least!
This is the part where we talk about gender roles and how a lot of us still unfortunately lean on them. Women entrepreneurs, particularly those in leadership positions, often find it (understandably) challenging to balance our professional and personal lives. This is a problem for workaholics of ANY gender, mind you, but the difficulty intensifies when women feel responsible to juggle every responsibility expected of them as a “woman” and as the business leader they want to be.
Being a housewife is by no means dishonorable or deserving of discrimination even in this day and age. That being said, being expected to follow the duties of one even when running a business can create an overwhelming and mentally draining lifestyle for women-led business owners.
Attempting to manage childcare and daily household duties on top of business operations all at once is one thing. Trying to excel on all fronts like the overachievers we are? Yeah, good luck. More often than not, you’ll be looking at that lovely feeling called burnout. That’s a whole different blog topic altogether.
To maintain a healthy work-life balance, we have to start prioritizing self-care and delegate tasks whenever possible. Building a reliable support network, both personally and professionally, can help alleviate some of the stress and allow for better work-life integration. This may involve investing in trustworthy childcare, seeking support from family and friends, or outsourcing tasks that can be handled by others.
In short – start making your spouse do the dishes and laundry! It’s 2024! It’s okay!
pay gaps and the pricing challenges
Charging fair prices for products or services is critical for business sustainability. Pretty obvious, right? However, women-led/owned businesses typically face challenges in pricing offerings due to the existing… everyone sigh together now… gender pay gap. Lower wages and undervaluation of women’s work can inadvertently influence pricing decisions, limiting profitability and hindering business growth.
*Insert The Price Is Right losing sound bit here*
This one isn’t so easy to fix, because if it was, we would not be experiencing gender pay gaps that are still wide and far apart to this very day. That being said, making pricing decisions is something a female business leader is equipped to do on their own without having to advocate the creation of a legislature that demands equality.
We all want that, obviously, but while we wait for that to become a reality… performing market research, understanding your competition’s pricing both locally and nationally, and confidently pricing accordingly can help overcome the barriers imposed by our unfortunate pay gap. So long as your products and your services are better than the rest? Your customers shouldn’t care about any gender biases. They’ll want what you got regardless.
It probably doesn’t need to be said, but I’ll say it anyway: I can go on about the struggles of the average women-owned business for ages. Anyone want another five blog posts on this? No? Just me? Okay. 😂
Gender inequality exists. It exists as an employee, as a mid-tier manager and even as the owner of your own business. I have the fortune of operating in a field where many other women also lead their own businesses, but not everyone has the same “luck” as me. I wanted to lay out some of the most obvious issues we face on a day-to-day basis; if not to help identify solutions for my fellow women, but to illustrate what we have to overcome to generate our own success.
Are you looking to work with a woman-owned business? Guess what. That’s me! Contact us today to discuss your needs. We’d love to work with you!