Recently, being a female entrepreneur myself, I’ve been thinking a lot about what holds us back in the business world. And while there’s not a single truth for all of us, collectively, I believe there are a few mistakes that are common for female entrepreneurs to make when they set out to fulfill their dreams of being a business owner. Here are a few of the gender-specific issues that we must overcome to reach our fullest potential as entrepreneurs.
Research published by the Journal of Entrepreneurship & Organization Management found that the risk-taking scale used by banks and other investors to assess entrepreneur’s tolerance to risk tends to score female entrepreneurs lower than their male counterparts, particularly as it relates to financial risk-taking. While this scale may or may not accurately portray our personal risk tolerance, it does lead investors to shy away from investing.
Use a twofold approach to address this issue. First, you can take calculated risks. Rather than taking chances with abandon, a calculated risk is one where you’ve researched all potential outcomes and made contingency plans to mitigate those risks. Next, incorporate a risk management plan into your business plan. By laying out, evaluating, and prioritizing the risks in your business plan, you demonstrate your understanding of the risks involved and minimize uncertainty. It also indicates that you have a plan and the ability to react quickly if situations arise.
Fear of Being the Only Woman
Women are notoriously underrepresented in many industries. So, you’ll more than likely experience situations where you’re the only female in the room. Whether it’s a networking event, meeting with potential investors, or bank representatives, it can be intimidating to feel like you’re an outlier. If it is a networking event, try pointing out the lack of female attendance to those in charge of the event. You can suggest female related organizations that could be invited next time to help balance the crowd. In this way, you’re doing your part to advocate for female entrepreneurs and change within the industry.
Particularly if your business is targeted to women and those you’re pitching to are all male, it can be challenging to get them to relate. In this situation, it helps to know your audience. Managing partner at Class Bravo Venture, Terri Mead, says, “male investors often struggle with relating to what a lot of female founders are pitching and may not make the effort to really understand the problem and the solution to see the opportunity.” When designing your pitch, create a pitch that caters to multiple audiences. By creating a pitch tailored to multiple audiences, you’ve already taken this possibility into account and prepared yourself appropriately. Don’t let your singularity get to you; remain confident in yourself and your business.
Putting Too Much Stock in Negative Comparisons
You’re bound to hold yourself and your business up to others in comparison at times. It’s part of human nature. The problem comes when we compare ourselves negatively to others, and it begins to affect how we measure our successes and failures. It can cause us to lose faith in ourselves and our efforts. If you find yourself getting caught up in this trap, consider who you’re following on social media and who you’re putting up on that pedestal. If they make you feel bad about yourself, stop following them. There are plenty of others out there who will build you up and help strengthen your confidence. With the right mindset, comparisons can help to motivate and inspire you. Female entrepreneurs need to work to support and empower one another. Find women in business that inspire you rather than those that make you feel less than.
Women can succeed in business. Female entrepreneurs are responsible for all kinds of innovative ideas and changes in their industries. Avoiding the pitfalls of low-risk tolerance, being intimidated by singularity, and unfavorable comparisons can help us to rise to the top.