For the past few decades, there has been a huge gender disparity between the number of startups, particularly in the tech industry. In addition, we can all easily list names like Zuckerberg, Bezos, Gates, Jobs, Branson, Dell, and Gates but how about powerful female entrepreneurs? It is clearly time for female entrepreneurship to move forward.
In this blog, I do not want to show how bad the situation is. There are plenty of articles about that with plenty of statistics. In this blog, I want to show how female entrepreneurship can move forward. First, three key reasons are given why there have been so few female entrepreneurs over the years. Then, I show what women can do to overcome the barriers and become a successful entrepreneur. Finally, I list six business books that might inspire you if you are thinking about becoming an entrepreneur as a woman.
Three reasons why there has been so little female entrepreneurship
Steve Blakeman is sure things are developing, albeit slowly. He dives into the question of why have there been so few female entrepreneurs over the years and finds three key reasons:
- Jobs for the boys
The uncomfortable truth is that entrepreneurship has always been male-dominated. 94 percent of the decision makers at venture capital firms are men. This male dominance has a strong effect on the next two points.
- Support seeking
According to Lisa Calhoun, 48 percent of female founders reported a lack of suitable mentors and advisors for their business because they cannot find male mentorship that can provide the right kind of counsel for them or their business venture.
- Business-family balance
Generally, entrepreneurs do not start their ventures until they reach their thirties. This moment often coincides with starting a family or having young children. The notion of the mompreneur is well-established now but it brings its own distinct and difficult challenges.
Overcome the barriers to female entrepreneurship
What can women do to overcome the barriers and become a successful entrepreneur? Carla Harris, the chair of the National Women’s Business Council, offers this advice:
“Women entrepreneurs should leverage the resources already in place, as there are a plethora of supports […] specific to women business owners. In a thriving ecosystem, there are in-person and virtual incubators and accelerators, SBA resource partners such as SCORE, Women Business Centers, and Small Business Development Centers, as well as online educational resources that provide powerful knowledge throughout the business lifecycle.”
Harris also advocates leveraging your personal network to find suitable mentorship and considering alternative strategies for raising capital. Options include crowdfunding, micro-loans or angel investors who specifically focus on female entrepreneurs.
Charge what you are worth
Now it is time for some practical tips. Kim Kohatsu urges you to charge what you are worth. Salaried women earn less on average than men but a female business owner, especially one who provides professional services, is in the unique position to set her own rates.
Ask for what you are worth and do not apologize when you are not the best bargain around. Tell your clients something in the line of: “If price is your most important consideration, and you find someone else who will work cheaper, go for it, but remember that you get what you pay for.”
You want your clients to think that your rate is fair and worth every penny. Standing firm about your rates sets a tone in the business relationship: you take your time seriously and know how that time should be valued. If a potential customer does not agree, your precious time is better served elsewhere.
Kohatsu does not wish to imply that clients are trying to take advantage of you or that they might try to negotiate your rates simply because you are a woman. But because you are a woman, you have been socialized to concede to them in the interest of avoiding conflict. When a potential client disputes your rates, do not shrink from the question. Rather, use it as an opportunity to explain how you arrived at your pricing, delineate what sets your business apart, and offer to connect them with references who are satisfied with your work.
Collect what you are worth
Kohatsu also urges you to collect what you are worth. Once you have an agreement in place, approach payment collection as firmly as you did at the outset of your business relationship.
If you have set the right expectations, this will not come across negatively to clients who are late on payments. In fact, most clients will quickly address any issues and appreciate your bringing them to their attention.
Yes, there will come a time when a client refuses to pay. Do not be a pushover. When you have an agreement, intend to enforce it.
Books that focus on female entrepreneurship
The traditional business book does not focus on the unique world experienced by women in business (bias, discrimination, lack of funding, and balancing home and professional life). Charles Franklin has compiled a list of six books that focus on female entrepreneurship though:
Dr. Patti Fletcher shares stories of women who shifted careers to follow their entrepreneurial passion. They created their own network of supporters and funders to grow their business. As a result, they developed million-dollar businesses without sacrificing their family and business goals.
The key message Dr. Fletcher wants to give to aspiring businesswomen is that you can succeed on your own terms. You do not need to run a business “like a man” in order to be a success. You can and should be yourself.
Girl Code is a book that challenges the stereotypes of women succeeding in business. Cara Alwill Leyba shares a new “code” for women doing business that builds confidence and connection. She confronts the belief that women have to succeed alone and act a certain way to be a success. She also reminds aspiring female entrepreneurs that they do not need to fit a certain mold to succeed in business. Businesses women do not need to hold up a facade of perfection in order to succeed. Being OK with yourself is the “code.”
#GirlBoss is the story about a woman should not be where she is. Author Sophie Amoruso went from a dropout to the founder of a fashion empire. The book focuses on the lessons that Amoruso learned while building her empire. She shares her failures and her lessons learned. Her point is that no matter where you come from, there is always a place for you at the table of success. You simply have to make the choice and put in the work.
4. My (Underground) American Dream: My True Story as an Undocumented Immigrant Who Became a Wall Street Executive
An illegal immigrant from Mexico, Julissa Arce was an intelligent student. Still, she always had one eye over her shoulder for deportation officials. Luckily, when she prepared for college, legislation passed that allowed her to attend college. With that opportunity, Arce found her calling in Wall Street and excelled.
My Underground American Dream is a behind-the-scenes look at how Julissa Arce managed to accomplish everything she did. It is a tale about finding dreams and turning into opportunities for yourself and the world around you.
5. How Exceptional Black Women Lead: Unlocking the Secrets to Creating Phenomenal Success in Career and in Life
This book is written for women of color who need guidance and inspiration for life as a business leader. Avis Jones-DeWeever shares insights and advice from seventy black businesswomen in various fields. She provides a look at the current situation of black women in the world of business. Additionally, she offers guidance on how readers can navigate obstacles, create their own path, and build their own support networks.
Shark Tales chronicles the unusual business journey of Barbara Corcoran. She is now a million-dollar real estate mogul and business investor/entrepreneurial mentor on Shark Tank.
Barbara Corcoran’s unconventional background and history helped her achieve better than anyone could have expected. She did not need to follow the path of every other business person to achieve what she wanted. Everything she needed was already there.
Resources for the female entrepreneur
If you want to read more about female entrepreneurship, I have some resources for you. Last year, I wrote a blog post called Female Entrepreneur, how to be the Best Version of Yourself, which lists actions you can take to break the glass ceiling as well as fifteen female entrepreneurs for whom we should watch out as they are at the top of their field.
In addition, in 15 Fascinating Resources for the Female Entrepreneur, I have gathered a list of resources by asking my Twitter followers for suggestions as well as searching for suggestions online. As a result, I am able to provide you with four websites, seven single blog posts, and four blogs. I wish you much inspiration and success!