The Common Challenges Faced by Female Entrepreneurs

By Samatha Frontera

When we talk about women in the workplace, there are certain topics that we tend to focus on. This includes the gender pay gap, the glass ceiling, or sexual misconduct in the office. These are all obviously very prominent issues when it comes to working women, but they are all centered around men being in charge. What about when you’re a female entrepreneur? After years of hard work, I had the opportunity to start my own business. As the CEO of my own public relations firm, I worked hard to defy the industry standards, but it didn’t come easy. Starting a business is hard enough for anyone, but when you’re a woman, there are even more challenges you will face. Female entrepreneurs have to work so much harder to achieve their goals, but in order to challenge the gender power distance and inequalities in the workplace, it’s something that we must do.

Respect

The first obstacle, that I think every woman out there not just entrepreneurs, can relate to is not being taken seriously. This happens to us all the time, but is especially difficult when you are a business owner. How can you be a boss if no one respects you like one? Women are used to being talked over, having our opinions and thoughts minimized, or not getting the credit we deserve. It’s demeaning and even worse when you are supposed to be the one in a position of power. You could be a complete expert in your field and will still fall victim to “mansplaining” — when a man talks down to you like you’re not smart enough to understand what he’s saying. As much as we’d all love to go off on a huge rant every once in a while, we have a reputation to uphold and must always remain professional. Know that, even if other people don’t always treat you that way, you are in the position you’re in because you are capable. You’ve made it too far to let people discourage you now.

Leadership Style
So you start your own business and hire some employees, now you have to figure out your style of leadership. This too, is much harder for women than it is for men. There is a fine line that we as women walk when trying to balance being authoritative but still approachable. Male entrepreneurs can be as demanding or dictating as they like and people will look up to him as a strong leader, but what if a woman takes the same approach? She’s bossy, unlikable, and needs to relax. 

To avoid this type of scrutinization, many female entrepreneurs tend to lean the other way and are accommodating and warm to all of their clients and employees. There’s nothing wrong with being nice, but for women, kindness can often be mistaken for weakness. If you’re too welcoming, people will take advantage of that or won’t respect you as a leader like you deserve. So what type of girl-boss do you want to be: approachable but not taken seriously, or authoritative but bossy? Even though it’s hard, try to strive for a happy medium. Have a positive relationship with your employees and clients, but know when to put your foot down and step up as a boss.

Funding
Starting your own business is obviously an expensive venture, and many small businesses require investors or financial support of some sorts. When applying for a small business loan, women business owners are less likely to get approved than men, and women face higher interest rates on average. So unless you are fully funding your business on your own, it’s more likely than not that you will face a harder time acquiring a loan than your make counterparts would. There’s nothing that we can really do about that, and while it might be extremely discouraging, things will only start to change if we power through and prove ourselves to be successful business owners. Take this as motivation to prove them wrong!

Work-life Balance
Many women start businesses around the age that they are also starting a family. It’s no surprise that women are traditionally expected to run the family and play a larger part in maintaining the household, while men are expected to be the breadwinners. While times are changing and it’s becoming less taboo to challenge these ideas, there is still a stigma around mothers who are the breadwinners of the household. Many female entrepreneurs have a hard time trying to balance being the mom that society expects them to be and also successfully run their own business. 

While there are obstacles that make starting your own business much harder as a woman, it’s something that we must do in order to create change. Now more than ever, we have amazing female leaders to look up to as inspiration to follow our passions. Women-owned businesses are gaining momentum and we are paving the way for an easier future for all female entrepreneurs to come.

Samantha Frontera is a media expert with several years of experience in broadcast journalism and public relations, allowing her to become an excellent communicator and storyteller. Her PR experience has given her B2B and B2C verticals, both on a local and national level. Samantha opened her own agency two years ago and is the CEO and founder of Exclusive PR, a boutique public relations agency in Chicago. For more information on Exclusive PR you can go to: www.exclusive-pr.com

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