It doesn’t take a business genius to realize the simple truth that entrepreneurship is difficult. For all of the good ideas in the world, it’s very easy to fail to secure necessary funding and have a venture collapse. Even some level of success is not necessarily an indicator that a business will last; the need to secure multiple rounds of funding often means that incredible business acumen is necessary to navigate all of the pitfalls.
For women, it becomes even more difficult. Female entrepreneurs are far less likely to secure the necessary funding from investors, starting with an average of less the capital of their male counterparts. This isn’t due to lack of interest on their part; the number of women-owned businesses has only increased in recent years, and at a rate of over a thousand per day.
There’s a lot of appeal behind creating a startup, and for women, it’s even more pronounced. For many, the idea of leaving behind a toxic work environment in which they’re paid less than men is reason enough. For others, it could be about any number of things; securing a financial future, addressing a need in a certain market, or creating the company culture they’ve always wanted to see. Sometimes, it can even be a matter of survival; entrepreneurship to keep an individual financially afloat is seldom talked about, but more common than many would think.
Currently, there are two primary issues facing women entrepreneurs. The American Small Business Administration (SBA) is currently failing to address differences in capital access as well as market inequalities. Every year since 1994, 5% of contracting dollars were set aside for women-owned small businesses. However, it wasn’t until 2015 that this quota was met for the first time. If women entrepreneurs are active in securing funds such as those provided here, then there’s more of a chance of the SBA addressing the current issues.
This is a difficult proposition. Entrepreneurial ventures tend to work best when the people behind them are enthusiastic about what they’re doing, and economic hurdles can prevent women from fully dedicating themselves to a particular project. To offset this, there are resources that these individuals can use to help them make connections or even secure mentorship in the early days of entrepreneurship. Women Business Centers are worth investigating, and some investors cater specifically to projects started by women. Even then, entrepreneurs can hedge their bets by finding alternate methods of securing capital, such as crowdfunding.
It is also worth discussing how many women entrepreneurs choose to start later in life. Often in these cases, they’re better suited for the task, having grown their networks, business savvy, and capital through their previous occupations. Some mentorship programs will pair these veterans with women entrepreneurs starting out, giving some perspective to help grow a successful business. Even beyond initiatives like these, creating a support system of colleagues can help any new entrepreneur adapt to the rigors of starting a business.
While it is difficult for female entrepreneurs to get their ventures off the ground due to barriers facing them, there is some hope in the form of a renewed attention to the impact that these women are making on a variety of industries. Whether just starting or scaling up, it is important for women that have dedicated themselves to entrepreneurship to understand that they still have access to the tools necessary to execute their vision—and change the world while doing so.