Two months ago, in 9 Tips on How to Make Female Entrepreneurship Move Forward, I stated that it is time for female entrepreneurship to move forward and gave some tips on how to do that. In addition, I listed six books on female entrepreneurship that I will list again at the end of this blog, just because I find it important that women know where to find information.
In this blog post, however, I want to show what it takes for women to acquire money from VC firms, why mentoring is important for female entrepreneurship, and how women can become strong as entrepreneurs. Writing this blog post, I have had help from recent articles by Shellie Karabell, Sophie Jarvis, and Eve Ashworth.
Female entrepreneurs face a big gap
Female entrepreneurs face a big gap: the kind of gap that happens when the venture capital guys (emphasis on “guys”) will not invest in you to start up or scale up your projects. Annet Aris, selected as one of Amsterdam’s Tech 50 women in 2017, feels it is not the number of female entrepreneurs that is the issue. In fact, she feels it is about creating an environment that is supportive for female entrepreneurs: “VC firms seem to find it hard to give money to a woman. VCs are mostly men and women are mostly ignored.”
Companies founded by women raise lower percentages of money
Her feelings are backed by research. A Crunchbase study studied 43,008 global companies that had initial funding between 2009 and 2017. Of these global companies, 6,791 (15.8 %) have at least one female founder. The study considered how women-founded teams fared in fundraising and found that at each progressive funding stage, companies founded by women were raising lower percentages of money overall.
VCs tend to minimize the ambition of women
Tatiana Jama, the winner of several entrepreneurship awards for her groundbreaking image recognition software, claims that the pitch for funding is harder for women than for men as VCs tend to minimize the ambition of women. She said: “I often have to redouble my efforts to prove my ambition, to actually say ‘No, I am not doing this as a hobby or a side-job. I devote 100% of my energy to growing my business’. One time I actually said ‘I want to build an EMPIRE’ just so they would be sure of my motivation.”
Are we still looking at women’s inability to ask for what they want in a manner that can be heard and agreed to by the power-broking, money-dispensing male audience? Stephanie Hospital explains: “Women tend to be too cautious. They are programmed in school to be more prudent and to take fewer risks than men. How many women leave school at age 25 and say ‘I want to be an entrepreneur’?”
How do we overcome these hurdles? Is it necessary to adopt a masculine swagger or will just hanging in there do the trick? Hospital thinks that being an entrepreneur is a state of mind: “You have to try something at all times and pursue the thing you love. You must be daring and take a risk. We must not be aggressive; we must find the right words and examples to make it clear to VCs that their preconceived notions do not make sense.”
Do your research
You should do research before pitching a VC firm. Jama urges you to look at the portfolio of funds. If there are only male co-founders, it may be complicated to pitch. Try to go to funds where there are female partners or funds that have at least 15% of their portfolio run by female co-founders. For instance, in Jama’s experience, family offices are much more inclined to invest in companies launched by women.
Mentoring facilitates the rise of female entrepreneurship
Mentorship is particularly necessary in the realm of entrepreneurship: seasoned entrepreneurs can share their knowledge with budding founders. According to Alison Cork, founder of Make It Your Business, women respond powerfully to other female mentors as they are uniquely positioned to understand the particular practical and emotional challenges that an aspiring entrepreneur faces.
Mentoring has facilitated the rise of female entrepreneurship across the globe: from Greece to Peru, mentorship schemes have emerged. Mentoring styles still have not been perfected though. Modern approaches emphasize that women benefit from a wide array of mentors, not just someone in the same field as the mentee, and other approaches suggest finding a mini-me.
Unfortunately, there seems to be a lack of supply. Female entrepreneurs state that the lack of available mentors is a challenge their business is facing, especially if they have not graduated from a business school or if they have not been accepted into an accelerator program.
5 steps to building strength
Eve Ashworth thinks life is made up of three elements: personal life, work, and home. If one of these elements is out of balance, life can become stressful. If two of these elements are out of balance, it overwhelms your thinking to the degree that it is hard to get anything done. It takes a very strong woman to consistently and personally see to the needs of others, which is what you do as a business owner. So, how do you build strength? She lists the following five steps.
1. Step 1: understand that challenges build character
Sometimes, we do not know our strength of character until it is tested. First of all, we must accept the challenge, whatever it may be. Embrace the problem and start to move forward. Channel the strength of those around you and those who have laid a path before you.
2. Step 2: be real and realistic
It is very stressful to pretend to be something or someone that you are not. Being yourself at all times is a great de-stressor. People respect and can connect with authenticity.
3. Step 3: remember your differences
Female entrepreneurs are a rare breed. We would not work for ourselves if we were the same as everybody else. Carve out what makes you thrive, what makes you different from your competition, and what draws clients, vendors and employees to you. What is it about you that is valuable to others?
4. Step 4: create a safe place to deal with stress
Every entrepreneur needs a safe haven. Ashworth says that by virtue of her commitment to her marriage and family, she has one thing that is always safe. No matter what happens, having her family relationships, she would still feel she has it all. This is an important part of her strategy. It helps her stay in touch with the things that matter most.
5. Step 5: let it go
It is not worth worrying until something bad happens. Do not become stressed about things that are not going to happen. That is not a pleasant state to be in. Too many female entrepreneurs are chronic worriers. This not only affects our business success but it certainly reduces our quality of life. Letting go of stress and refusing to let stress have a hold on you will change your life.
Six 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:
1. Disrupters: Success Strategies from Women Who Break the Mold
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.
2. Girl Code: Unlocking the Secrets to Success, Sanity, and Happiness for the Female Entrepreneur
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.
6. Shark Tales: How I Turned $1,000 into a Billion Dollar Business
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.
More 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. To conclude, I wish you much inspiration and success!