Successful women entrepreneurs lead their small businesses with energy and focus. However, it's all too easy to get caught up in the daily grind of running a business and forget about some of the things that matter most. By carving out the time to work strategically on their businesses and by leveraging a strong support network, female entrepreneurs will be in a better position to successfully tackle the unique challenges they face.
Access to Capital Is a Big Challenge for Women Entrepreneurs
According to Lisa Champagne-Minyard, the Thrive and Five program manager at Women's Economic Ventures, the primary challenge that female entrepreneurs encounter is a lack of access to capital. Champagne-Minyard believes that women in general are more than likely discouraged from applying for loans because of fear of denial and the belief that they're "not good enough."
"Women entrepreneurs generally raise lower amounts of capital to finance their firms, and they are more reliant on personal rather than external sources," she says. "Men start their businesses with nearly twice as much capital as women. This is because women tend to be very hesitant about the money amount they will ask for and end up short-changing themselves."
Women Entrepreneurs May Be Limiting Their Own Success
According to Champagne-Minyard, women also tend to undervalue themselves, especially if they own service-oriented businesses. She once had a client who was actually losing money by being in business due to the fact that she was charging too little for her services.
"They feel that being profitable is a bad thing," says Champagne-Minyard. As a result, she argues that women need to work through "money conversations" early on. In fact, Thrive and Five offers access to coaches to discuss money-focused scenarios to ensure that women understand and recognize their worth from the beginning.
"And that is not a dollar and cents conversation," she explains. "It's really a conversation about confidence and value."
Champagne-Minyard suggests that women entrepreneurs create a support structure that includes personal support, for instance, from a partner, as well as support from outside resources, such as peer groups, mastermind groups, mentors or other small businesses and strategic partners. This support system can help women through accountability struggles and the ups and downs of "questioning their value."
As Champagne-Minyard explains, women entrepreneurs need to wear many hats, and so they "do not take time to work on their business because they are so focused on working in their business." For instance, Champagne-Minyard once worked with a client who struggled to progress monetarily at various times during her entrepreneurial journey. However, with the proper support, a business plan and by devoting the necessary time to exploring the most fitting ways to improve her business, the client found herself in a better position to confidently share her value proposition, which allowed her to eventually triple her earnings.
When faced with a challenge, female entrepreneurs may find it valuable to take time to reflect on their accomplishments and reconnect with why they started their businesses in the first place. By doing so, they can focus on the goals that matter most and, in turn, find a path to success.
Women's Economic Ventures is one of over 100 Women’s Business Centers (WBC) nationwide. WBCs have more than 25 years of success in providing business training, counseling, mentoring, and access to capital to women entrepreneurs. Find a center near you at www.awbc.org.
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