No matter how many women you may find in today’s boardrooms heading large companies, there can be no denying that they had to work harder than their male peers to get there. A woman business owner faces an array of challenges unique to her gender for a variety of reasons. The key is to recognize those challenges and turn them around to work for you.
Women business owners who are successful have achieved this by carving their own niche in the business world, embracing their unique position in a predominantly male environment, and modifying those inherent traits that could harm their business goals while emphasizing the ones that are beneficial.
Gender Based Personality Traits and How They Shape A Woman Business Owner
In the wake of the woman’s fight for equality we would like to be able to say with confidence that men and women are equal. Of course that is true, yet there are inherent traits in both genders that make men and women think and act differently when faced with the same situations and decisions, especially when it comes to business.
By genetic design, women tend to be more nurturing and empathetic then men are. This is often viewed as a weakness in the business world but that does not have to be case. Not every decision needs to be made in a split second, and not every deal needs to be cut throat. In many cases, it pays to take a moment and weigh decisions carefully before jumping into one but you also need to recognize when being nurturing is not being smart. You should also recognize that with nurturing and empathy comes better insight into a how a product or service will be viewed, giving you a perceptive edge over your male counterparts.
You can also use that nurturing quality to build better relationships. Women have the ability to connect with people on a more personal level which helps in building strong business relationships. They find it easier to relate to people of all types and backgrounds, allowing them to work closely with a strong network of important business contacts.
Should You “Walk Like a Man” in Order to Get Ahead?
A woman’s emotional side can be a hindrance, but only if you don’t recognize that and stop before making emotion based decisions. This is a trait that a successful woman business owner does need to conform. Yet that does not mean you need to adopt the traditional aggressive male approach to business. Instead, be confident in who you are, know what you are capable of, and learn how to curb your emotions when necessary but use them when appropriate.
What Types of Companies are Successfully Run by Women Business Owners?
Women have been slowly yet steadily successfully conquering all types of businesses. Lanza Tech, a manufacturer of low-carbon fuels is headed by Jennifer Holmgren, while Marianne Silver is the co-founder of Coyote Logistics, a major shipping company. What is overwhelmingly obvious though when looking at business ideas conceived of by a woman, success is contingent on the entrepreneur being passionate about their product or service, and understanding the need for it.
Women entrepreneurs seem to have a special knack for this, with dozens of businesses based on parenting needs to prove it. Take Bella Tunno for example. This million dollar grossing a year company was conceived of and created solely by a new mom who began making her own changing pads and birthing cloths to help save money after her baby was born. The continued success of founder Michelle Tunno Buelow is likely attributed to her recognizing her own needs as a parent, and then creating products that meet them.
Another prime example of necessity begetting amazing success for a woman business owner is Spanx, a company started in 2000 by Sara Blakely, who wanted a panty hose that met the needs of her body. 15 years later, Spanx has become an easily recognizable brand, and its founder the world’s youngest self-made female billionaire according to Forbes Magazine. Not only can her success be attributed to filling a need, she possessed the ability to recognize how her inexperience was hindering the company’s growth. She made the intelligent choice of hiring someone with a proven track record of successful marketing to help move her company forward.
It makes sense for any prospective entrepreneur to work towards success with a product or service that they know first-hand that there is a need for. Women in particular, with their multitude of roles in their everyday life, can use their natural empathic instinct to zero in on products and services that are able to fulfill a specific need they have encountered.
How Does a Woman Business Owner Fare Against Men When it Comes To Funding?
Where a woman is most affected by preconceived notions and disparity in the business world is when it comes to funding. For those women who look for investors to help get their ideas off of the ground, the same options exist but with alarmingly different results.
According to a 2014 report by the National Women’s Business Council a male entrepreneur is likely to start their business with twice as much capital as a female will. This is troubling, as a company that does not have sufficient capital will typically see less sales and profits. As you know, it takes money to make money.
When it comes to Angel and Venture capital it is believed that these types of investors have a natural tendency to offer support to people who they can relate to. Therefore, a man is more likely to see the potential in another male and his product before being able to recognize the value of a woman’s entrepreneurial idea.
In order for you to get outside funding you will have to show a viable business plan, market research to support your idea, and a personal passion for your product. Don’t be shy about actively seeking out female investors to promote your product to. Make that theory of investors showing more interest in entrepreneurs that look like them work in your favor. You do also have the option of loans through programs sponsored by the Small Business Administration that are specifically designed to help woman entrepreneurs.
Women business owners with an established company also struggle with getting loans to help with day to day needs and expansion. For them, working capital loans are becoming a much more viable option then attempting to work through banks, as they base approval on the viability of the business, not on who is running it.
The challenge may be greater, but by leveraging your natural ease in building relationships, you can create a network of respected business people that can offer sound advice on the funding opportunities available, alternative lending options, and the best methods for obtaining them.
It is estimated that over a thousand companies a day are being started by a woman and there is no reason why your idea cannot be one of them. Be aware of the obstacles you face by your inherent personality and the disparity created by a business world that has been predominantly male for centuries, and you will have no problem in breaking through them and becoming a success as a woman business owner.