I recently came across a Forbes article that pointed out the sizable increase in businesses owned by women over the past several years—by over 30% from 2007 to 2012*--and that trend seems to be continuing into 2016. At this time in our country’s history, women who are starting businesses are finding themselves in a highly favorable position, and successful entrepreneurship has become a realistic goal for many women.
Today’s working women have a plethora of options and opportunities to take control of their careers and start businesses if they choose. Technology is a large part of that; there are apps and payment systems to fit every need and scenario.
Social changes have also contributed to the spike in female entrepreneurship. Nowadays, there is more awareness of, and willingness to work on, the difficulties and gender disparities women face, such as less access to capital than their male counterparts. (Companies with all-male teams were found to be more than four times as likely as those with even one woman in the group to receive funding from venture capitalists.** The media jumped on this statistic and ran with it, allowing more people to become informed of the disparity and begin working for change within the venture capitalist industry.) We also tend to have a much higher level of support from our male partners than women could expect just a generation ago. The way my husband and I have structured our lives is a great example of that; he cares for our 13-month-old and consults while I work outside the home.
In many ways, women are uniquely qualified to run businesses. I believe we tend to be more empathetic, excelling at taking the human element into account. If you need to get something done, have a busy woman tackle the task; women are generally great at juggling and prioritizing. The tendency for women to generally be more risk-adverse can also be an asset when first getting a business off the ground.
As far as the business world has come, there is still progress to be made. Many industries continue to be male dominated, making it a challenge to break through the boys’ club mentality. It’s worth taking on the challenge when it comes to finding a female mentor. I have a mentor whom I speak with on a regular basis, and I can’t stress enough how helpful our interactions have been. A female mentor can be instrumental in helping you evolve as a leader and learn how to connect with different personalities in an effective way. I also look to my mentor as an example of how to successfully balance work with raising children.
Another key area where mentors can be of assistance is in developing confidence. As women, we sometimes doubt and second-guess ourselves when taking on a new venture, even when we’re well-prepared. I find the relationship I have with my mentor particularly helpful when I doubt myself and need to be reminded of how capable I am.
My hope is that even more women will take advantage of growing opportunities and put their skills and knowledge to use as entrepreneurs. Good luck, ladies!
*”Why The Force Will Be With Women Entrepreneurs In 2016” Forbes, January 6, 2016
** “Women Entrepreneurs 2014: Bridging the Gender Gap in Venture Capital,” Dr. Candida Brush, Lead Author, Arthur M. Blank Center for Entrepreneurship, Babson College, September 2014