Running a business is hard, but running one as a woman can be extraordinarily hard. The undeniable effect sexism has on female startup founders can be frustratingly huge. It ranges from casual sexist remarks to horrible sexual assaults. Sexism, in fact, has been blamed for the lack of diversity in the startup space.
It got so bad for Penelope Gazin and Kate Dwyer, two female Los Angeles based founders that they had to create a fictitious male co-founder to serve as a foil against sexism. Their gambit worked as their business was taken more seriously when emails are sent out in the name of the fictitious co-founder.
However, sexism is not the only problem an aspiring female startup founder should prepare herself for. We highlight three more challenges a female startup founder should prepare herself for.
A major challenge many startup founders face is that funding, whether it is at the stage of founding, scaling or pivoting. Money is required to make a success of a business venture. Now, this is not always easy to come. For women, it is exceptionally hard.
Research has shown that less than 9% of funding goes to female-led businesses in the United Kingdom. This is despite the fact that female-led companies are less likely to fold compared to male-led companies.
When you are starting your business, you should go in with the realisation that finding fund might be difficult. Try to bootstrap for as long as you can and plough back your earnings into the business. Let your work speak for you as much as possible. Try to perfect your pitch before you meet your dream funders.
A 2015 report blames bad management and incompetent founders for the high failure rate among UK’ startups. You have excellent financial management skills to make a success out of your startup journey.
Business requires sturdy structure and adequate protection to ensure they don’t prematurely die, and you need to be aware of this and be prepared to protect your business by entrenching corporate governance, accountability, legal compliance including tax compliance and adequate insurance coverage, among, other things that could help you build a successful business.
Maintaining a work-life balance is a struggle for a majority of people. It is especially so for women who are trying to build their own business as a wife or mother. Even with a supportive family, balancing work and life can be difficult as running a business requires attention and time.
Design Sponge founder Grace Bonney once said that successful female entrepreneurs have given up on achieving work-life balance, that instead, they focus should focus on owning their power, their success, and their wealth.
While it is not advisable to totally forgo achieving work-life balance, it is important that an aspiring female entrepreneur is aware of the challenge. Try as much as possible to create a boundary and maintain them. Ensure you build a system and that your system does not require you to be always available.