For the past few years, I have attended many events focused on entrepreneurship with my goal being how to best help women entrepreneurs flourish. I was inspired when the below hurdles were brought up in 2015 at my Alma Mater’s Booth Women Connect Conference in Chicago. Over the past few years I have interviewed and sat down with hundreds of women running businesses and have gained a great understanding of the landscape which women entrepreneurs face.
Below are the four hurdles female entrepreneurs face:
Promoting Their Brand Online.
Nowadays, everything is online. Entrepreneurs are blogging, making videos of themselves showcasing their expertise and communicating with others on social media to build their businesses. For women who didn’t grow up with much technology, growing their business online as an entrepreneur can be a scary proposition.
Why? The platforms they should post on are overwhelming and constantly changing. The content you recently blogged about could be outdated soon after being posted. As a women entrepreneur you must be comfortable putting your photo or brand out there. One key to success is to remember the 90/10 rule in social media. Your posts should be 90 percent value, photos and tips and the other 10 percent can be promotion.
Not Receiving Support at Home.
Many women entrepreneurs feel they have the “right” to have a business as long as everything is taken care of at home. This feeling of inadequacy is perpetuated when women do not get the support they need at home. They feel guilty because they are not bringing home a steady paycheck and want to keep all balls juggling in the air effortlessly.
When women do not have a supportive spouse and family nearby and do not receive the help needed at home, their chances of successfully growing a business shrink significantly. Finding supportive networks is key and in addition to co-working spaces like MalamaDoe, women can find mentoring and advice from groups like Wisconsin Women’s Business Initiative Corporation as well as national groups like National Association of Women Business Owners.
Not Thinking Big.
Many successful female entrepreneurs reach what I call “focused fulfillment,” meaning they have come to terms with debt they have taken on to build a business and are now comfortable with being a business owner and have overcome their initial doubts. They have grown their customer base to a reasonable amount and feel comfortable picking and choosing who they prefer to work with as they can best showcase their talents there. And then they stop–they stop growing–they stop thinking about taking on more debt, more risks and growing their businesses to heights that were unimaginable to them a few years prior. They feel they have “made it.”
The sad fact is that they are poised to grow their businesses with much higher sales volume. They could truly make an impact in the industry where they have succeeded, yet they choose not to think big or boldly. Don’t be afraid to take risks and seek role models who can encourage you to take the next step.
Limited Resources to Invest. One of the biggest hurdles most entrepreneurs face is limited funds and cash flow. It’s an especially big challenge for females who, according to recent studies, face a huge gender gap in their ability to raise capital and have limited savings. It’s important for women to look for budget efficiency wherever they can. Look for free consulting services and online resources like SCORE as well as being open to bartering services as a sound strategy. Partnering with customers can also be a great strategy offering them deals and discounts for services or products in return for a commitment to use your business and aim to get them to pay early. Also look at using quality but cost-efficient suppliers for everything from software to work stations for your office.
Working in the Service Industry.
Most women work in the service industry. If they run their own business, they only have one or two people working in the company. If they ventured out into a field not common for women, their insights would be welcomed and the likelihood they would be successful is high. Yet, they choose to stay in the service industry because they feel comfortable there.
At MalamaDoe – A Coworking Community for Women, our community was created to help women flourish, build community and help society while empowering one another. It is built on the premise that women need to get past these four hurdles to be able to grow successful businesses in a professional and safe environment that promotes collaboration. Our goal at MalamaDoe is to expand women’s businesses with extraordinary growth.
Sheila Long is the founder of MalamaDoe, a co-working community in Milwaukee which helps women use their talents to be the best they can be. She believes women are empowered by one another and role models build community, help society, and flourish. Sheila has an MBA in Strategy and Finance from the University of Chicago. This post is sponsored by National Business Furniture.