The 3 Things Women Entrepreneurs Need Today
Moving from policy to practical solutions for women entrepreneurs
According to a recent study conducted by the Kaufman Foundation, women are half as likely as men to start a business.
This is true despite that fact that women make great entrepreneurs. If you're part of the Rich Woman community, you already knew this, but as confirmed by Kaufman:
- Women entrepreneurs have a more nuanced view of risk, identifying more strongly than men as financial risk takers, while remaining concerned about "fool hardy risks."
- Women display greater ambition to become serial entrepreneurs than their male counterparts.
- More broadly, an increase in the number of women in business leadership positions is correlated with increased business returns and payout ratios.
Among the barriers Kaufman suggests keep women from entrepreneurship are:
- Lack of mentors
- The perception of starting a business as masculine, not feminine
- Work-life balance issues, i.e., being a working mother
Unfortunately, the Kaufman report falls short in its recommendations to help more women become entrepreneurs. For the most part, they are investments in programs-such as "develop and report metrics for entrepreneurship programs and initiatives" or "increase the number of women represented in entrepreneurship programs"-not in women themselves.
Those suggestions that aren't programmatic are soft, like "celebrate successful women entrepreneurs" and a call to "decrease the risk of entrepreneurship" through government policy.
I'm sorry, but women don't need more programs and we definitely don't need the government to make it easier for us.
What we need is financial education, a can-do mindset, and access to capital.
Women and financial education
As I wrote a couple weeks ago, "The Sad Financial State of Millennial Women…and What You Can Do About It!", we have a lot of work to do when it comes to making sure women, especially young women, understand money and how it can work for them.
From that blog post: "As Fortune again reports, 'a recent FINRA study found that only 18% of Millennial females demonstrated high financial literacy, compared to 29% of males.' This occurs despite the fact that more women have higher degrees than ever."
Want to help fix the gender gap in entrepreneurship? Start with fixing the gender gap in financial literacy.
A can-do mindset
Earlier this month, I also wrote a post called, "Are Your Beliefs Holding You Back?"
In that post I shared how my mistaken beliefs about how eating three meals a day lead to weight gain were holding me back from getting the fitness results my trainer was trying to help me achieve.
In that post I wrote:
The point of this story is that I had a set belief that actually hindered me from making progress and achieving my health goals.
Although I have heard since I was a young girl that I should eat three meals a day, I never believed that the benefits were real. I had the information, but it wasn't until I actually applied it-and ate the three meals a day consistently-that I had the experience and the true knowledge of what worked best for me.
Obviously, this simple truth can be applied to any situation in our lives. So, the question for you is, "Which beliefs are holding you back from achieving your goals, and what are you going to do about it?"
Kim Kiyosaki - from Are Your Beliefs Holding You Back?
Which comes first, the chicken or the egg? The reports that say women entrepreneurs are disadvantaged and underrepresented in the market place or women hearing those reports and tapping out before they even begin?
I say believe you can start a business and you will. There will be challenges, for sure. But everyone, regardless of gender, faces challenges. Don't let mindset-yours or someone else's-hold you back.
Access to capital
The Kaufman Foundation report shared a powerful Infographic regarding women entrepreneurs and funding.
It's a fact. Women do have a harder time getting funding than men. Like I said, there are challenges. Thankfully, though, there are also solutions.
First off, use your network. That only 5.4% of women utilize their "close friends and acquaintances in search for funding" is crazy! This is again a mindset issue. Don't be afraid to ask.
One thing I love about technology is that it's a game-changer. Another source of funding for entrepreneurship that women should know about is online crowd funding, which allows smaller investors to pool money together to invest in start-ups. Recent data shows that the disparity between funding men and women entrepreneurs is vastly different between these platforms and traditional venture capital firms. For instance, UK-based SyndicateRoom has more than 50% of it's businesses raising money led by women, compared with just 9.7% of US venture-backed companies.
The money is there, and it's there for the taking.