The 7 Barriers to Women in Business
By Denada Bare
My journey into the business world had not been an easy ride – full of beautiful challenges, adventures and lessons that made me grow and shaped me into who I am today. In order to become a truly successful business leader, it is important to keep in mind that achieving success is not going to be a simple path but in the end, it will be worth it, giving you the aureole of a ‘Boss Lady.
Although we as a society have made great strides over the past five or six decades, women in the business world still run into roadblocks that men don’t have to face. Modern women are raised with the concept of “having it all”— family, career, and a flawless appearance to boot—but the reality is that achieving this dream can be a challenging milestone when we are constantly facing gender-specific obstacles.
The bird does not fear the branch breaking beneath her feet for she trusts her wings.
I would like to summarise some of the most typical & top business obstacles that female entrepreneurs face:
Lack of Funding
According to an American report, women’s start-ups get substantially less investor funding. Though things are slowly improving, early-stage investment in businesses that have female executives has increased from 5% to 15% since 1999—businesses with women at the top still struggle to get funding. Even though women-led enterprises bring in approximately 12% more revenue than companies run by male CEOs, less than 3% of venture-backed companies are run by women. To overcome the funding gap, some women, have launched their own VC firms, others have sought out funding opportunities with companies founded by female entrepreneurs, or applied for grants and loans from organizations committed to furthering the advancement of female entrepreneurs and women in business.
Fear of Failure
Entrepreneurship or running a business is risky and entails unforeseen circumstances. Never fear failure; you will never try if you fear failure. No one goes into business with a guarantee of success. Fear of the known and the unknown is a major issue for women. They dread failing, especially if the people surrounding them are sceptical of their capability in business. This fear is toxic and perilous.
Inadequate Support System
Struggling or failing in business could be the result of an inadequate support system. In business, no man’s an island. Women tend to face the greatest challenges in finding support, lacking the relevant connection to get financial access or emotional support. They also require mentors and sponsors to guide them down the business path. The support system is often expensive, forcing women to delay starting their businesses.
Laws, cultures, religion, and politics are built upon a patriarchal foundation. Women must work their way up in the masculine world while facing in some cases stigma and discrimination. Although laws and policies have attempted to create a favourable business environment for everyone, specifically in developing countries, it is much more to be done yet and more changes to be implemented even in developed countries.
Empowering a woman with knowledge is just the beginning of a long journey to business success. Life is a daily learning process where each day comes with new information. Unfortunately, women’s access to this information and emerging knowledge is limited and that could be a result of the competitive environment, but also the lack of support towards women.
Women who strive and succeed are often shy about touting their accomplishments. They are afraid of being labelled as proud or boastful people. Women need to stand by their success and let people around them recognize it.
As Sheryl Sandberg says, “Believe in yourself and own your own success.”
Owning your success as a woman motivates you to work harder and achieve more in your business. It inspires the people around you. Sheryl Sandberg has inspired women to come out and take a place in corporate boardrooms. Oprah Winfrey and Michelle Obama are among those who have motivated other women to work toward their entrepreneurial dream. Confidence is an essential part of prosperity and growth. When a woman leads, others follow.
The Work/Family Struggle
Ironically, despite a lack of prominent female superheroes in movies today, many women are expected to be superwomen as they attempt to balance a high-level career and family. These stereotypical assumptions often mean that women must work longer hours, strive for absolute perfection in the workplace (not to mention in their appearance), and somehow find a way to raise happy, thriving children without any help. To overcome this, Sheryl Sandberg for example, says it’s vital for women to choose the right life partner in order to be successful at home and at work.
No matter who you are, male or female, there will always be obstacles to achieving success. It’s true that women are faced with specific gender-based hurdles, and that can be frustrating enough to want to quit, but none of these barriers is insurmountable. Empowering yourself to succeed doesn’t mean you have to follow the well-travelled path, it just means you have to stay true to yourself and your passion and stand till to the end for it.
Trusting in positive outcomes is a feature that has followed me all my life. The famous phrase “The bird does not fear the branch breaking beneath her feet for she trusts her wings.” inspires me to dare greatly every day. I believe that to leverage adversity into success, while making bold moves, we will have the skills, support and resources to succeed. This isn’t egotistical, but rather a belief in our own abilities, and the abilities of those around us, to push through challenges and achieve the desired outcome.