The number of women business owners has more than doubled in the last 2 decades; there are now 12m+ female-owned ventures in the US. This group is also becoming increasingly diverse — 64% of new businesses started by women in 2020 were founded by women of color, making entrepreneurship a great engine for economic mobility.
Yet the barriers between women and entrepreneurial success continue to limit progress.The Hustle surveyed 80+ female entrepreneurs on their experiences, and our readers revealed a range of issues facing female business owners. The most common challenges these founders cited include:
Establishing their business’s reputation and finding clients
Getting capital or finding investors
Maintaining a work-life balance
Graphics credit: Singdhi Sokpo
Despite making up 40% of all business owners, women receive just 7% of VC funding — and only a quarter of female business owners pursue business financing. Around the world, women bear the bulk of the burden of unpaid work — such as taking care of children or seniors — making balancing the demands of a new venture even more onerous.
When we asked our readers to rate on a scale of 1 to 5 how much being a woman affected their experience as an entrepreneur (1 being not affected at all and 5 being very affected), around 60% gave a 4 or 5, demonstrating discriminations that enterprising women still face in the startup world.
Graphics credit: Singdhi Sokpo
However, the tides are changing, and female trailblazers have created women-focused VC funds, networks, and other resources.
Lots of women are willing to share how they make life as a business owner work. Here, female founders surveyed by The Hustle give their best advice for women looking to take the plunge into entrepreneurship.
Trust your 1st voice and your vision. Be focused, determined and do not allow anyone to keep you from your dreams. Listen, learn, surround yourself with knowledgeable and supportive people from whom you can learn and grow. Maintain your cool and a positive attitude, stand your ground, be honest, maintain your integrity, foster relationships, and remain unbought, unbossed and unapologetically you. — Lila Polite, serial entrepreneur
Progress over perfection — so many women that I know get stuck overthinking, redoing, and wanting everything to be perfect, but if you just get started, you will learn what works and when you need to change directions by the feedback you receive! — Katie Minister, Chlorine Deckwear
Pick a niche and own it hard. We are very specific on who we sell to and it serves us. We are getting a reputation as being the go-to in our niche. — Rebecca Gonzale, Orange Marketing
Find a network of other entrepreneurs as soon as you can! I was going in circles for 10 years before I finally found out how to get outside advice. — Kathy Barbro, Art Projects for Kids
Really focus on the person you serve and go deep. Go way beyond demographics and look at the before/after transformation your brand helps your customers to experience. — Susan Anderson, Idyllwild Woods Entrepreneur Retreat Center
You will always be let down by marketing experts if you don’t know the basics to branding and marketing your business. You don’t need an expert to tell you HOW to do your own marketing. Learn the basics, determine your strategy and then and only then outsource intentionally on your own terms. — Mari Milenkovic, Her Brand & Co.
Don’t quibble on rates — you wouldn’t ask a plumber or electrician to negotiate their rate, so don’t let others negotiate yours. Stick to what you know you’re worth, and the right clients will come! — Paula Beaton, Word Nerd Copy
If you don’t ask, you don’t get. Time, money, discounts, alternatives. It’s all on you. — Mary Cassidy, Pourtions
Build your credit! If all else fails you can self fund through credit and pay yourself back. – Sola Ajao, Destiny African Market
Know you can run a company the way you want to. Meaning you can lead with feminine energy and have a feminine tone to your business and be successful. If you feel you are trying to lead like every CEO book you have read and it doesn’t feel right, then change and do what feels good to you. — Adrien Paczosa, Nourish