Q. Are women at a disadvantage to men when growing a business and how can they overcome pitfalls?
A. As a woman you are still at more of a disadvantage than a man when it comes to starting a business.
A study has found that a fifth more women than men start a business out of necessity rather than opportunity. One in five women started their business from unemployment versus one in 15 for men.
Women, on average, start their business with about $8,000 (£6,100) versus $31,000 for men. As any new business owner knows, poor cashflow is the number one reason new businesses fail.
The report by the Global Entrepreneurship Monitoring Group, which covers 74 countries and represents around 163m women, found that women do not believe in themselves. Only 35 per cent said they consider that they have the skills to be successful.
Here are some steps I followed to overcome these issues and start my own business.
- Believe in yourself. I know this might seem obvious but it is a pretty difficult thing to do.
I started every morning writing down what I wanted my reality to look like using ‘I Am’ statements, such as “I am happy, healthy and abundant” and “I am a successful millionaire entrepreneur”.
It might feel a little strange at the beginning but do it enough times and you eventually start to believe it and it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.
- Take (calculated) risks. This can be quite difficult when you consider that women are inherently more risk averse than men and have a bigger fear of failure. Although they are 10 per cent more likely to get a business bank loan, fewer women take them up.
For me, taking a business loan provided the extra capital I needed to make my business a success. I also quit my job to pursue my business full time after getting to a place where I had clients and was covering general living expenses.
I am not advocating that you take the exact same risks I did, but look at your business and if there are a couple of actions you could take, even though they scare you, maybe you should take them.
- Define what you mean by success and dream big. If someone asked you now, as an aspiring entrepreneur, ‘Are you successful?’, what would you say?
Often, we are so busy building our business that we have not defined what it means to be successful.
It could be a monetary goal or it could be something completely different.
In the GEM study, women also quoted “family-driven factors” as a major motivation for becoming an entrepreneur. This would encompass things like spending time with family and work-life balance.
- Get a mentor or business coach. Having someone to guide you or even just talk to can be priceless. Find someone who has been through it before and ask for advice.
I had a business coach who was able to steer me in the right direction whenever I started veering off course.
If you are seriously thinking about becoming an entrepreneur, regardless of gender, then believe in yourself and give it everything you have got.
Vanessa Hallick is an international business strategy and mindset coach