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Female Entrepreneurs: The Challenges Women Meet Pursuing Their Passion

15 min read

Female entrepreneurs have been pushing their businesses further for several decades. Many of the historic obstacles which have stood in the way of female entrepreneurs still remain today. At the same time, today’s female entrepreneurs have access to resources and opportunities that did not exist two decades ago.

So while aspiring female entrepreneurs may still face many challenges, they also have plenty of role models and resources to help them stay on track. If you’re a female entrepreneur looking to pursue your passion, you may be wondering where to begin. Everything from funding to branding to navigating the day-to-day struggles of entrepreneurship can seem daunting at first.

Here is a look at some of the unique challenges faced by female entrepreneurs, as well as resources to help overcome them.

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Common Struggles of Female Entrepreneurs

Overcoming unfair social expectations

While many strides have been made to reduce unfair social expectations, gendered biases still persist in many places. Many professional events and industries can still feel unfriendly toward women, even if efforts are being made to correct that. For instance, many people in business might have a bias, either conscious or unconscious, against women as entrepreneurs.

Entrepreneurship may be seen as a traditionally male pursuit. This can cause women to feel isolated or alone at professional events or when trying to establish connections. Female entrepreneurs might also feel they need to work harder to be taken seriously as a result of gender bias.

Many men might simply not be used to women occupying high-ranking positions in business. Even unintentional slights can be demoralizing or make it more difficult for female entrepreneurs to get ahead.

Regardless of what form it takes, gender bias and social expectations can often create an unfavorable environment for female entrepreneurs. Young female entrepreneurs, in particular, might struggle with this, as their perceived lack of experience can also present unfair obstacles.

Accessing funding

Funding can be critical at any stage in developing a business. Launching a startup often requires a big injection of funds from investors. Expanding a business after achieving initial success can also require investor-backed funding. Every business is different in how it attains and spends its funding. But numbers and history suggest that women-owned businesses tend to struggle more when it comes to receiving outside funding.

In 2022, just 1.9% of all venture capital funding went to startups with all-female founders. This figure is actually a decline from 2021 and is also smaller than the figure for female-owned companies with at least one male founder. Some of these small figures can be explained by the fact that it’s simply less common to have an all-female team. However, even when accounting for this fact, it’s still clear that female-owned companies receive less access to funding on average than male-owned companies.

Fortunately, there are many groups and institutions which are seeking to address this issue head-on. Over the last few years, many groups have launched initiatives aimed at creating more funding for female entrepreneurs through grants and venture capital investments. However, these funds and resources are still limited, meaning not all female entrepreneurs can access the funding they need.

The fear of failure

Fear of failure can be a natural roadblock to anybody in any endeavor. But for female entrepreneurs, this fear can be especially common. Given all of the other challenges faced by female entrepreneurs, setbacks should be expected. Being too afraid of those setbacks and minor failures can prevent entrepreneurs from reaching their ultimate goals.

But failure should not be a thing to fear for female entrepreneurs. Everybody will make mistakes or encounter challenging situations when launching a business. In order to achieve success, it’s essential to learn from those difficulties. Instead of fearing failure, it should be embraced as a learning opportunity in pursuit of your goals.

Work-life balance

Finding the perfect balance between work and your personal time is a challenge for everyone. For female entrepreneurs, especially those who are mothers, this is a major challenge. Being an entrepreneur often requires a substantial time commitment, much greater than a typical job. Running your own business requires constant care and attention. On the one hand, finding the time for those things seems easier to do when you are passionate about your business. But this can become a problem if you start sacrificing your other personal or family responsibilities for your business.

One of the most frequently shared pieces of advice for young female entrepreneurs is to set firm boundaries. These boundaries should clearly define how much time (and energy) you will allow yourself to put into your business. Doing so helps to ensure that you save plenty of time for yourself, as well as your family responsibilities.

Ultimately, being a happier and healthier person can help you run your business more successfully anyway. The stress of an imbalanced life can compromise your attention span or decision-making. Striking the proper balance between your many roles and responsibilities is the simplest way to avoid this problem.

Lack of a support system

As we have already covered, social pressures can make female entrepreneurs in some business settings. Closely related to this is the problem that there tend to be fewer women than men in many professional settings. This can make it more difficult for female entrepreneurs to establish strong support systems.

Having a good support system is often vital to an entrepreneur. When confronted with new challenges, it often pays to have somebody you can turn to for sound advice. Other times, it’s simply nice to have an emotional support system or somebody to share in your success. Entrepreneurship can sometimes feel lonely for women, making it difficult to build those healthy professional relationships.

Thankfully, there are a growing number of organizations that provide support and networking opportunities for female entrepreneurs. Attending conferences and events targeted at women in business can be a great opportunity for female entrepreneurs to build their own support system. Not to mention, these events can also be tremendous learning opportunities for any ambitious entrepreneur.

Burnout

Burnout is a reality that many entrepreneurs underestimate when launching a business. No matter how passionate you are about what you do, you will experience burnout eventually if you work too hard. Female entrepreneurs may be especially susceptible to burnout due to the added pressures they face as women in business. The combination of hard work, unfavorable social biases, lack of support, and personal pressures can quickly add up.

Having a healthy work-life balance is one essential component of preventing burnout. But other healthy habits can also play a vital role. Breaking up your days to avoid too much stress at any one time can drastically reduce both short-term and long-term stress. It can also be beneficial to find healthy and relaxing activities, like yoga or exercise, to help reduce stress.

Life as a female entrepreneur has many potential stressors. Finding success often requires finding the most effective strategies for navigating all that stress.

Resources for Female Entrepreneurs

Today, women in business have access to more resources specifically designed to accommodate their unique struggles. There are several prominent groups that offer support, resources, and grants for female entrepreneurs.

Here is a brief look at just some of the many resources available for female entrepreneurs.

Grants for female entrepreneurs

  • Amber Grant — Awards $10,000 grants each month to selected female entrepreneurs. At the end of each year, the Amber Grant also awards a $25,000 grant to one of that year’s monthly grant recipients.
  • America’s Top Small Business Awards — Formerly the “Dream Big Awards”, ATSB Awards are hosted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. These awards do not uniquely target women-owned businesses. However, female entrepreneurs can enter for a chance to win the grand prize of a $25,000 grant.
  • SoGal Black Founder Startup Grant — Awards grants of $5000 and $10,000 to black female entrepreneurs and business owners. Grant recipients also receive training and guidance for fundraising, management, and other relevant topics.

Other resources for female entrepreneurs

Support for women-owned businesses is not limited to just funding for female entrepreneurs. Many groups and successful entrepreneurs have created resources to help new and young female entrepreneurs navigate the many challenges they face. These range from networking events to training or informational materials to podcasts and books. There are too many resources for female entrepreneurs to list here. But here are a few of the groups and resources out there that can help female entrepreneurs succeed.

  • IFundWomen — As the name suggests, IFundWomen is a group that provides funding for female entrepreneurs in a number of ways. The group’s universal grant program gives members access to a wide range of grant opportunities. But IFundWomen does more than that, also providing coaching and networking opportunities for its members.
  • National Association of Women Business Owners — NAWBO is a female entrepreneur association that advocates and provides resources for female entrepreneurs nationwide. The organization’s wide-ranging mission covers everything from seminars and webinars to social and political advocacy.
  • The Office of Women’s Business Ownership — Part of the U.S. Small Business Administration, the OWBO’s mission is to “enable and empower women entrepreneurs through advocacy, outreach, education, and support.” Female entrepreneurs seeking any type of guidance can turn to the OWBO for support.

Additionally, there may be many regional or community-based groups for women business owners. Be sure to check with your local chambers of commerce or search your area for more resources.

Other resources that female entrepreneurs may find useful include books and podcasts by other female entrepreneurs. Some notable female entrepreneur podcasts include:

Moreover, some of the best books for female entrepreneurs include:

  • Everything is Figureoutable by Marie Forleo
  • Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead by Sheryl Sandberg
  • Out of the Closet: A Business Book for Women by Marnie LeFevre
  • Talking from 9 to 5: Women and Men at Work by Deborah Tannen

Famous Female Entrepreneurs

Having role models to aspire to can help anyone stay on track when pursuing their goals. Thankfully, the modern world is full of many great examples of successful and famous female entrepreneurs. Here are some examples of successful women in business and female entrepreneurs’ quotes about their struggles and successes.

Oprah Winfrey

Oprah is one of the most successful entrepreneurs in the entertainment and media world. And as a black female entrepreneur, her success is an inspiration to many. Today she is a household name, having spent over three decades as a broadcasting icon. Oprah has gone on to create her own media empire and now has a net worth of over $2 billion.

The big secret in life is that there is no big secret. Whatever your goal, you can get there if you’re willing to work.Oprah Winfrey

Arianna Huffington

Arianna Huffington founded The Huffington Post in 2005 before selling it to AOL in 2011 for $315 million. In the years since, Huffington has authored many books and launched Thrive Global, a science-based health and well-being company. She has been widely recognized by many publications, including Time magazine and Forbes, as one of the most influential women and entrepreneurs in the world.

Fearlessness is not the absence of fear. It’s the mastery of fear. It’s about getting up one more time than we fall down.Arianna Huffington

Sheryl Sandberg

Sheryl Sandberg is the COO of Meta Platforms, Inc. (Facebook). She also authored the book Lean In and founded LeanIn.org, a nonprofit dedicated to supporting female entrepreneurs around the world. In addition to being an executive at one of the world’s largest companies, Sandberg is an advocate for female empowerment and women in business.

The more women help one another, the more we help ourselves. Acting like a coalition truly does produce results.Sheryl Sandberg

Need Help Launching Your Business?

Becoming a successful female entrepreneur begins with launching your first business initiative. If you are looking to start an online business, Ecwid can help.

Ecwid is the best Free ecommerce platform for aspiring entrepreneurs and business owners. Ecwid has already helped many women-owned businesses find success with their online stores.

To learn more or get started, sign up for Ecwid today to start building your custom, professional online store.

 

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About the author

Max has been working in the ecommerce industry for the last six years helping brands to establish and level-up content marketing and SEO. Despite that, he has experience with entrepreneurship. He is a fiction writer in his free time.

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