Breaking the Glass Ceiling: Tips for Helping Women Become Business Owners

Women have made significant progress in the workplace in recent years. Meg Whitman served as CEO of Hewlett-Packard and eBay, and ran for governor of California in 2010. Marissa Mayer became CEO of Yahoo after a successful career at Google, and Rosalind Brewer was named CEO of Sam’s Club after a successful stint at Kimberly-Clark. Women have historically had to break through the proverbial corporate “glass ceiling” to gain the recognition they deserve and move into higher level positions. Many female CEOs stress the importance of never underestimating one’s potential. Yet today women business owners still face many of the traditional challenges that have always made it difficult for women to succeed professionally.

A lack of regard
One of the most imposing impediments women face is a general lack of regard. Put simply, there are still many in business today who don’t take women seriously. Yet the facts indicate that women are more deserving of respect than ever: today, more than 9 million businesses are owned by women, who employ approximately 8 million people. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, women make up close to 60 percent of the workforce. These are important facts to bear in mind when confronted by someone who projects their own conceits and biases onto you. Recognize this for what it is: an outmoded way of thinking. Instead focus on your support system, those people who know and truly understand you.

Don’t sell yourself short
It’s certainly understandable that many women suffer from a lack of confidence in business, even those who have a well-documented history of success. Women are sometimes less likely than men to promote their achievements, an important part of achieving success in business and absolutely essential if you’re a woman looking to start a business. It’s all about confidence; having confidence and being willing to promote yourself as an independently successful business person. Don’t ascribe your accomplishments to the work of a group or to someone else when you’ve achieved something notable. It’s natural tendency among many women, but it’s unlikely to win you the confidence of potential clients or gain you the funding you need to develop a successful business.

This might be the largest challenge that women business owners face. There are many ways of acquiring funding, but winning over an investor is traditionally the hardest for women. A 2014 report indicated that women are CEOs of less than 3 percent of all companies funded by venture capital. Seeking the help of experts with a history of success in business, and incorporating them on your team can help build the confidence of potential investors. Many female business owners are able to acquire funding by seeking the help of female investors, many of whom have an interest in helping female business owners succeed and grow. There are also many types of small business loans designed specifically for women. For more information, be sure to read this business loans resource from Fundera, which will guide you through debt financing options, top grants, and resources geared specifically towards female business owners.

Finding balance
Business owners, regardless of their gender, frequently struggle to achieve a balance between running a business and maintaining a healthy family life. For female business owners, the demands of motherhood can make this an extremely difficult situation. The key is not to be too hard on yourself if the demands of running a business require that you miss a soccer game now and then or skip the class talent show. Try to bear in mind that all the hard work you put into your work is for your family, not your own personal glory.

It seems hard to believe that women entrepreneurs still face biases that are clearly unfounded. Women business owners face challenges that are unknown to men. Confidence and a strong support network can help you overcome many of these obstacles.

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