“A woman with a voice is by definition a strong woman
But the search to find that voice can be remarkably difficult.”
- Melinda Gates
Starting a business can be an exciting, yet challenging, journey. People start businesses for different reasons - to solve problems, to challenge themselves, or to build financial freedom. The number of new women-owned businesses is growing twice as fast as their male counterparts. But what challenges do women face when starting a business?
In short: a big part of the challenge women face is THEMSELVES. Studies by the US Small Business Administration show that 21% of women are less optimistic when it comes to sales growth and business performance. Similar studies have found that women in business doubt their decisions more often and are more likely to criticize themselves. Women are also less likely to ask for financing over the lifespan of their business, and when they do ask for business financing, they ask for about $35,000 less than men do. In spite of the demands of starting a business, research shows that women entrepreneurs in the US rank their happiness three times higher than women who are not business owners. So, female entrepreneurs are more likely to doubt their own decisions in business - but the women who do enter business are more likely to be 3 times happier.
Are you thinking about starting a business? Here’s what you need to know. Consider these suggestions when starting a business: Trust your intuition. As we have established, women are more likely to doubt themselves. Learn to move past your self-doubt and trust your intuition.
Accept that self-doubt and self-criticism are natural reactions when starting a business.
Ask why you are doubting yourself. What stories are you telling yourself that lead to these doubts? Are those stories facts or feelings?
Strengthen your money mindset. Women have a harder time asking for money than men. To reach your fullest potential as a female business owner, strengthen your relationship with money.
What stories do you tell yourself about money?
Do you have trouble receiving money, asking for money, or raising your prices? Why?
How do you feel about investing in your business? What feelings do you have about paying yourself from your business regularly?
Find a support network. Just because you are starting a business does not mean that you have to push forward alone. When starting a business, there will be bridges you have to cross and moments you will want to celebrate.
Join or start your own mastermind.
Become an active member of a business community.
Ask a fellow female entrepreneur out for coffee.
Attend business conferences or events.
Be persistent. Unexpected issues and difficulties will be thrown your way as you start a business.
Be ready to show up even through these difficult times. If you find yourself wanting to give up, there is an underlying reason at the root of that. Learn how to show up even when you want to quit.
Challenge yourself not to take “no” for an answer.
Features tell, benefits sell. One of the most important lessons in business is understanding that people buy benefits, not products.
How will your business impact someone else’s life?
What value do others receive as a result of your business?
What transformation will your product or service bring into someone’s life
Starting a business can be a fulfilling process where you challenge your current beliefs and grow. What’s most important is to not let self-doubt or self-criticism get in the way of getting started.
You don’t have to start a million-dollar business overnight, but do start with a commitment to show up each day.