Although more than 11 million businesses are owned by women (according to the National Association of Woman Business Owners), female entrepreneurs remain in the minority in the United States. Women face many challenges when it comes to starting a business, including a more complicated work-life balance, difficulty securing funding, and strict cultural expectations.
Women are faced with the challenge of balancing a lot more things. Many businesswomen are not just entrepreneurs—they are also wives and/or mothers with spouses and families who rely on them. Personal demands can make it difficult to juggle both home and professional responsibilities. According to Lendio, this dilemma of balancing roles and duties can even lead to some women believing they must pick one or the other—their family or their business. For some women, commitment to both can become overwhelming. Setting boundaries, asking others for help, and defining what they want in a work-life balance is crucial for helping female entrepreneurs succeed.
Women face added challenges in securing funding for their businesses. In 2014, it was discovered that less than 3 percent of venture-capital-funded companies had CEOs who were female. In 2018, only 2.2 percent of venture capital was given to female-founded startup companies.
It is common for women to be denied loans due to gender biases. Loan approval rates for women are 15 to 20 percent lower than for men. According to Franchise Gator, a traditional loan will require you to put down 20 percent of your own money. For women with student loans and low credit scores, getting approved for a traditional loan can be difficult.
For female entrepreneurs, their field is male-dominated, and they face rigid societal expectations. Many women find a room full of men uncomfortable, intimidating, and unnerving. Some feel they need to adopt a more traditionally masculine attitude towards business— aggressive and competitive. It can be hard for women to feel confident in the realm of business.
Cultural beliefs about gender roles also play a part in discouraging women from starting businesses. Some women may have internalized beliefs about the correct occupations for men and women. According to Startup Savant, female entrepreneurs often struggle to be taken seriously and earn respect and experience both imposter syndrome and a fear of failure.
Despite these obstacles, many women succeed in starting their own businesses. Still, it is difficult, and many more men occupy the business world than do women. Because of family responsibilities, gender bias in funding, and societal expectations, women face many obstacles to becoming entrepreneurs.
Want to read some inspiring stories from fellow female entrepreneurs? Check out our interview with one of these amazing female entrepreneurs, Pamela Laird!