More than ever before there is a new wave sweeping across the globe. Never than envisaged women are rising above and venturing into business. This has not been without the associated challenges that any entrepreneur faces coupled with stereotypes and other social misconceptions towards women in general. Many women have been turned away by venture capitalists or mainstream bankers because of their unconscious stereotypical bias towards them. Haven’t you heard that investors are less likely to finance women because we are less reliable an investment as male counterparts, and therefore not as fund-able?
The day when you set you mind on traversing the entrepreneurial path should coincide with a change in perspectives and readiness for difficulties, challenges and opportunities. In this often meandering and treacherous endeavour, your drive and inner stirring to make this happen is of paramount importance. You cannot carry on this path any element of self-doubt, negativity and fear, facets that can sabotage your business endeavours. Marissa Ann Mayer, CEO of Yahoo puts this more explicitly when she says “If you push through that feeling of being scared, that feeling of taking risk, really amazing things can happen”. At the back of your mind always remember that entrepreneurship is all about the risk taking appetite.
Whilst the intention is not overwhelm you, at-least you can agree that as a woman entrepreneur it is uncommon for women to face unique challenges. However, despite the prevailing challenges, the phobia and stereotype towards women, you need to be aware that not every business plan can secure you capital, in-fact a majority of start-ups never receive any funding from venture capitalist. Do you then fold your hands and let your dream die because you failed to secure funding? Yes, funding can make it easier to getting rolling but there are many ways to work around that. You need to step up and be resourceful enough and grab control of the entrepreneurial process, and get back to building your dreams.
How can one become a successful entrepreneur against such odds?
- Running a business demand operating capital. This is the part which can be daunting for women as generally a few of us receive any form of venture capital. Encouragingly, the current diversification of financing options from crowdsourcing to active investors interested in women business is increasing chances for securing capital. It also helps to find the right network investors and lenders that focus on financing women-run businesses.
- You need to know your product’s worth, the value addition and who your customers are and what informs their purchasing decisions. Understanding your customers helps you to develop attractive product(s) or service(s) packages that meets their needs. Whomever is the customer or wherever they are, you cannot afford to accumulate stockpiles of inventory or let your services accumulate bills without finding ways of making a conversion or sale. You need to develop thick skin, be brave and get out to meet people, find your customers and sell your products or services. As – Kristine Lasam, founder,Pink Entropy says “Don’t be afraid to knock on doors. If someone says, ‘No,’- no means next… Trust your intuition. If you’ve done your homework, trust your intuition. It is when I don’t trust my instincts that I get in trouble.”
- Any of your strategies should be based on a win-win situation and where you can, collaborate and avoid competition
- Even when you are most knowledgeable or most experienced in your area of business, you can never stop learning and observing what is going on outside of your business. Continuous research and awareness of business trends can help trigger creativity and innovation. Even if you are a sole owner, never miss an opportunity to brainstorm over some new ideas.
- You can never do away with mixing with right people, those with skills, talents and ambitions that add more value to your business. Networking with business people and groups in your sector can help to understand how others are positioning their business and at times help you form linkages. Being an entrepreneur is a 24 hour commitment that at times can be inundating on your own. With right connections, you can tap into their input and utilise their support.
- The limitation in business can be cash, and where such flows come in understand the principle that Cashflow is king
- You need to document every record, truncation, business process, human resources demands effective filing system. Never go about your business locking things in your head just because you own the business or filling on pieces of paper that you can never locate. If you are into computers, a proper e-filling system for the way you name your files and folders. Whether it’s by content or date, pick an organizational structure that will make them easy to find later on
- Where you fail along the way, do not despair, celebrate such failures. We all have a room for improvement, so stop beating yourself up over every hiccup. When you finally make it or when your business grows, you will know in hindsight that success indeed comes with failure.
As women they are those who have already taken leaps in business. It is time that women support each other. Those that are in a better business place can help start-ups with capital, knowledge of markets, management as a way of empowering others. It is more than encouraging that there are also female investors who are making a point of funding other women in industries in which women have been historically underrepresented. As women, we should continue breaking into the traditionally male dominated industries and make waves in those business sectors that have had a deeply entrenched male gender stereotype for years.
If you have been holding up waiting for the right moment to start your business because you been put off by the challenges, now is the perfect opportunity for you as a woman entrepreneur. Realise that the ability to take on and handle impediments is second nature to us women, so don’t let any perceived or real challenge deter you. “Entrepreneurship isn’t for the faint of heart.Its for the brave, the patient and the persistent. Its for the overcomer”-Unknown.
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