A dear friend of mine once said, “Life turns you into an expert at things you never chose to become an expert at.” This resonates with me a lot as an entrepreneur and mother of two. It’s one of the worst stereotypes these days to see a businesswoman who is also a mother and ask, “How do you do it?” Do men ever get asked that?
The fact of the matter is, female entrepreneurs have a whole different skill set than their male counterparts, and this is out of necessity. Far be it from me to look at this and think that we’re forced, kicking and screaming, to learn to work harder, smarter, and more efficiently than our male peers. In my experience, it’s best to approach the challenges by thinking, this is a gift.
Let’s explore six things that female entrepreneurs know about business and life that men don’t necessarily not know, but can never understand to the degree that women do.
6 things women in business know
1. Constantly facing challenges makes you better able to overcome them
Entrepreneurs are known as people who, in general, challenge expectations and defy norms. As women entrepreneurs, we’re bucking norms from the start simply by becoming entrepreneurs in the first place. Our businesses are automatically in the minority, because in the business world so are we—there aren’t nearly as many female entrepreneurs as there are male entrepreneurs.
So if you’re launching a business based on an innovative new app, service, or product that is like nothing anyone has seen before, there’s less of a chance that you will be daunted by challenges, because as a woman business owner you’re already breaking new ground merely by coming into the office each morning.
2. You must claim your seat at the table, nobody will give it to you
As a woman, have you ever stepped into a “Boys’ Club”-type environment and wondered, where are all the other women? This is what it can feel like to attend a business networking event, where striking up a conversation that will be taken seriously is an uphill battle. But we female entrepreneurs will not be held back—this barrier to business networking is exactly what makes us good at it. You learn to hold your head up high and speak with authority. You need to be very grounded.
Something that I’m always fascinated by is how women stay strong in situations where they’re so clearly in the minority. To my mind, the strongest, fiercest female entrepreneurs gain their strength from their sense of conviction: conviction in their business and their right to have a seat at the table. This does not come easily, but women learn over time how to stay centered, even when everyone wants to push them over.
3. You must learn to ask for what you want and need
Did you know that raising capital for female-owned businesses is far more difficult than it is for men? Of course you did, because it probably seems obvious. Just as networking is more difficult, so is securing funding, which is key for any new business to get off the ground. Investors tend to invest in those who seem like them in some way, and it’s clear that there are fewer female investors, just as there are fewer female business owners. When an impediment is put in your way, you have to be very clever to get around it.
I always refer to my favorite television show for entrepreneurs, Shark Tank, because we entrepreneurs can learn so much from watching it. One of the key things watching the show can teach you is knowing exactly how much money you need for your business, and then asking for it. As women, we’re often inclined to ask for less than what’s required. Once we have learned that this is a big mistake for anyone who wants to start a business, we’re sure to always speak up with investors to get what we need.
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