Top Challenges Faced by Women in Business

How to Overcome Them and Succeed

Woman standing against wall with sketches and business terms.

Business is booming for female entrepreneurs and women leaders across the United States. Once a tightly guarded boys’ club, entrepreneurship is now nudging toward equality. Women own nearly 40 percent of the country’s businesses and generate a massive $1.8 trillion annually. There are 114 percent more female entrepreneurs than there were 20 years ago.

Despite the promising statistics, women still encounter many of the barriers to entry or industry obstacles that kept them out of entrepreneurship for decades. The best way for women in business to succeed is to be aware of the specific challenges they may face and learn about the female entrepreneurial resources available that will push them forward.

Overcoming Obstacles

If you're a businesswoman facing specific challenges, you are not alone. We've addressed major challenges faced by women entrepreneurs and provided the resources that will help you conquer each one.

Continue scrolling or use our jump-ahead links to discover how we can help you during your unique business journey.

How to Overcome the Challenges Faced by Women in Business

1. Funding

A lack of funding is one of the most blatant challenges for women in business. As of 2019, MarketWatch reported just 2.2 percent of all venture capital goes to businesses founded solely by women.

Furthermore, all-male founded companies receive funding after their first-round close to 35 percent of the time; for women, the number is less than 2 percent. Without financial support, female entrepreneurs struggle to scale their companies. As a result, only 2 [percent] of women-owned businesses break $1 million in revenue, which is 3.5 less than men.

How We Can Help

Though we can’t help with increasing the number of female venture capitalists — which some source as the root of the funding problem — we can teach female entrepreneurs the fine art of communicating with Venture Capitalists (VCs). Knowing how to pitch and speak the language of funders can drastically increase your chances of securing funding.

However, the venture capital route isn’t the only option for funding. We have information on alternative paths like small business loans for women and women-owned business certification, as well as general information on what to expect in terms of startup costs and financial challenges when starting a business.

2. Support

As an entrepreneur, it’s hard to get by without a little help from your friends. Unfortunately, with a lack of women in prime business positions, it can be extremely difficult for female entrepreneurs to access support platforms or secure mentorship in the way men can.

Women entrepreneurs often lose out on building professional communities, which holds them back from finding mentors, sponsors, and general supporters who could help facilitate success.

How We Can Help

Building a community of like-minded female entrepreneurs is much easier if you know where to look. There are countless events held each year across the country where women can network, connect, and hear from industry experts or trailblazing leaders.

We’ve consolidated lists of the best general conferences women in business can attend, as well as more tailored options for creative, social, and digital entrepreneurs.

Outside of in-person events, there are many other resources women can use for entrepreneurial support, such as services offered by organizations like the Small Business Administration, newsletters, free webinars and instructional YouTube videos, podcasts, and books.

One of the best places to turn is to other female entrepreneurs, who can guide you based on their own experiences.

3. Stereotypes

Despite the fact that women leaders rake in trillions of dollars every year and run some of the country’s leading companies, there are still pervasive gender stereotypes that undermine the capabilities of female entrepreneurs.

Traits associated with building a business, such as self esteem, risk-taking, decision making, and confidence, are often considered “male only,” even though female entrepreneurs strongly identify with these attributes.

The result is that the archetype of an entrepreneur is a man, leading women to discount entrepreneurship or leadership as an option from a very young age.

How We Can Help

Gender stereotyping is not an easy issue to overcome, particularly in industries like tech and engineering where the exclusion of women is deeply ingrained.

We have resources dedicated to the women most impacted by harmful stereotypes, explaining the history of the problem, and how other women have navigated similar challenges.

In addition to anecdotes from women about their own experiences, we have suggestions for tangible resources women can use to help close the gender gap in their own lives. For example, a number of nonprofits have programs aimed at fixing the pipeline problem for women in STEM.

4. Work-Life Balance

Finding a good work-life balance is a prominent struggle for many female entrepreneurs. While the household dynamic is changing so that more men stay home to care for the children, the share of stay at home dads is still only 7 percent. Expected societal roles, particularly motherhood, have very much determined the place of women in business.

Though laws have been formed to prevent companies from discriminating against women because of current or future child-rearing, many companies lack flexible policies for women — and some veer away from hiring women to avoid dealing with maternity leaves and shifting schedules.

How We Can Help

For women in business trying to juggle a dozen different responsibilities, we have tips for time management and productivity — everything from the tea you should drink to boost your focus to co-working spaces that foster success. There are only so many hours in the day, but if you use them efficiently, it can be easier to hit the sweet spot between work and play.

However, time management isn’t the only way to improve productivity. Another important factor is personal health which can be achieved through self-care. Read about how to fit “me-time” into your packed schedule and the ways you can make yourself a happier, more successful female entrepreneur.

5. Confidence

The lack of female representation at the top in business causes a damaging phenomenon known as “The Confidence Gap.” If women in business don’t see other women in positions of power, they’ll find it harder to envision themselves there. That’s why in a 2016 survey of 8,400 adults, 75 percent of the men said they entered the workforce with confidence that they could rise to senior management; while only 63 percent of women saw that as a viable path from the start.

Female entrepreneurs do not advocate for themselves as male entrepreneurs do, and as a result, miss out on much of the success that confidence facilitates.

How We Can Help

Confidence for women in business doesn’t happen overnight, but it can be cultivated with time. We can help by breaking down the psychology of “The Confidence Gap,” showing that it has been artificially created and can, therefore, be broken down.

Additionally, we have resources exposing how a lack of confidence manifests in everyday life — being aware of how certain body language and dialogue is perceived is crucial to exuding confidence in the workplace. Confidence is truly a mindset, which our resources can push you toward.

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