When Susan reaches out to me for the first time and requests a consultation, I’m ecstatic to work with a female entrepreneur whom I can help break out onto the business scene.
But when I talk to her, instead of finding her full of confidence, I find she’s hesitant and full of doubt. None of these negative feelings are about me; that’s why she’s here. She believes I can help her business thrive. But she’s also hoping, perhaps, that I can help her. That I can validate her dreams, clear away the doubts she has about herself, and encourage her to push on toward the success that she’s denied herself so far.
This is the path of a female entrepreneur in 2022. Everyone faces hardships and struggles, but women have always had to struggle harder. Not just to succeed, but for the right to succeed.
If you’re a woman starting your own business, or you know one who is, you may see yourself in these 5 unique challenges female entrepreneurs face.
1. We Defy Societal Expectations
It never ceases to astound me that there exists a stereotype that women are supposed to take a backseat to men in the business world prevails. Even if no one expects us to stay home and keep house all day long anymore, they still don’t expect us to start businesses, lead a team of employees, and build our own wealth. These are the provinces of men. By becoming entrepreneurs, we are defying societal expectations.
2. No One Takes Us Seriously
When a man oversees a business, everyone accords him the respect that is due to someone in his lofty position. But put a woman in the exact same position, and no one wants to take her seriously. Even hugely successful women running enormous, million-dollar companies feel overlooked and undervalued, according to a recent study.
Regardless of how wealthy women are or which part of the professional hierarchy we occupy, we still have to fight for our voices to be heard and respected.
3. We Feel Guilty Owning Our Accomplishments
For women, guilt has no bounds. We even feel guilty for owning our own accomplishments, the things we’ve worked hard to make successful.
Why is that?
Part of it may be pressure from those societal stereotypes we talked about earlier in this article. Part of it may also be that women are typically taught not to be loud and proud of ourselves, to not brag or boast about the awesome things we’ve done.
Finally, we may be holding ourselves back for fear of making someone else close to us, such as a father or husband, feel less needed or less adequate if we are more successful in business than they are.
Guilt is a difficult hurdle to jump, but if we don’t jump, we’ll never reach our full potential.
4. We Have To Juggle Family And Work Life
Despite working as much as men, women are still expected to balance work life with family life and domestic chores.
A report from by Oxfam and the Institute for Women’s Policy Research from 2019 showed that women in the U.S. perform 2 more hours of housework than men every day. Even in 2022, we’re still expected to take the brunt of the burden of managing a household. This makes it even harder for us to pursue our professional dreams.
5. We Have To Cope With The Constant Fear Of Failure
With the odds seemingly stacked against us, women must cope with the constant fear of failure. If I fail, how many people will say to me, “I told you so”? Will my husband tell me that I should have stuck to being a housewife? Will my male peers laugh at me with derision behind my back?
It’s not easy to block out the doubts and negative voices in your head. Having gone through it myself – and still going through it today – I know how these challenges shatter your confidence and upset your dreams.
That’s why I started my coaching business. Because the only way to keep the negative voices and lift all female entrepreneurs up is to help women succeed where no one else will.