In the Shattering Stereotypes, Women in Entrepreneurship Report Women explained that they are as growth-oriented as their male counterparts, but wanted to grow their business in a different way.
Over the years, I continuously hear that women lack confidence; face cultural bias and discriminatory practices which is why they do not take risks in business or start or grow businesses at the same rate as men.
However, research shows the trend for female entrepreneurs is to strive for steady, profitable growth. They are not comfortable with fast growth and a quick exit mentality of their male counterparts. They focus on longer term business goals which will also impact on their personal life.
So what should women be focusing on to ensure that they are less pessimistic and modest in their approach to starting, running and growing their business.
1. Raising Funds
Let’s not beat around the bush.
The biggest barrier to women scaling up is a lack of funding opportunities due to the vast majority of investors being men. This is coupled with the fact that studies show traditional lenders are still considered some of the worst offenders when it comes to gender prejudice.
Women do have access to alternative lenders offering business loans, however they charge higher interest rates than a regular bank. So this means a woman-owned business starts off with a heavier debt load.
Crowdfunding initiatives are seen as a gender-neutral venue for raising capital for new businesses. Evidence appears to be working in women’s favour and should be an avenue that needs to be exploited.
Women are finding it harder and harder to raise venture capital funding and this is considered one of the biggest hurdles to them starting and scaling up their businesses.
Numerous financial reports state that female entrepreneurs lament their experience of pitching for funding. Feedback from those who have pitched, claim the vast majority of investors are male and getting them to really understand a female-focused product can be tough.
A recent three-year study revealed 60% or men win start up pitch competitions compared to women.
It showed men were asked questions that were focussed on potential gains while women were asked questions focussed on the prevention of loss. In its conclusion, the study found the findings were more than due diligence but men have a quantifiable advantage over women when pitching their business. This may explain why women feel that there is an ingrained gender bias when pitching for funding.
So, no matter where you are in your business life cycle, you will be pitching all the time. So you have to understand the ‘’game’.
Most FTSE100 companies now boast a gender network for members of staff.
This demonstrates that women have a good track record of building internal women’s networking groups based on issues that directly impact their progression and promotion within their organisation.
But in the business world women need to take these skills and experience of networks to raise awareness, boost confidence and participate in professional development opportunities to help start and grow more businesses.