Women and Entrepreneurship: A Look at the Challenges and Advantages

Women account for nearly half of the U.S. market of small- to medium-size business owners, according to a report by Visa. Globally, female entrepreneurship has been increasing at a faster rate than that of men. All business owners face obstacles. But female entrepreneurs feel that particular challenges affect them more than they affect men.

Despite the obstacles, there are many reasons women start their own businesses. Respondents to the Visa survey reported that their top three motivations are to pursue a passion, achieve financial independence, and have flexibility. Other motivators are to make more money, attain a better work/family balance, and create their own environment.

Owners of small and medium-size businesses often share similar concerns. The top three concerns among survey respondents were assembling a good team (aka hiring the right people), finding the right tools to grow and manage their business, and dealing with competitors.

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Female entrepreneurs are also concerned about growing their business, raising funding, and building an online presence. If they had more money, 45 percent of respondents said they would put it toward advertising and marketing. Thirty-two percent would invest in newer technology, and 31 percent would put it toward their safety net.

When it comes to building a business, female entrepreneurs feel that challenges are equally difficult for men and women. But they believe that certain tasks are easier for men. Thirty-five percent of respondents said it was easier for men to negotiate contracts with employees, suppliers, and others.

Many also said that men have an advantage when it comes to raising funding. Respondents also said that it was simpler for men to make tech decisions, manage employees, and achieve long-term success.

However, female business owners feel like they have a strong advantage over their male counterparts when it comes to asking for advice. According to the report, 43 percent of respondents say women have an easier time asking for advice. That’s compared to 11 percent of men. Sixty-five percent of female small business owners say they knew another small business owner before starting their own.

Ninety-one percent of them solicited advice from other female business owners. They asked about challenges and lessons learned. Here are some pieces of advice that female business owners shared:

  • “Be ready to work harder than most men and be alert.”
  • “Finance yourself and keep as much equity as possible.”
  • “Have a well-thought-out business plan and budget and stick to it during the first year.”

And finally, one woman shared this bit of encouragement for her fellow entrepreneurs: “Stay patient and optimistic. It is easy to get discouraged as a female small business owner.”