When it comes to catching up with their male counterparts, women have made great strides in the business world over the years. But there's no doubt about it: Today's female entrepreneurs are still up against a few major obstacles. Seven women shared the biggest challenges they and their fellow female business owners have to face in the modern world, and give advice on how to best overcome them.
"One of the biggest challenges for a female entrepreneur is not understanding how important it is to have networks and trusted advisors. In almost any type of entrepreneurial endeavor, a key contributor to success is obtaining introductions and connections to people who can help you to get through the door. If you get through the door of a decision maker as the result of a friend's recommendation, you will inevitably walk away having learned valuable information from the meeting. Men have always understood and developed very strong relationships and networks, which women have long known as the 'boys club.' We are late to the game, and we have to support each other by developing strong 'girls clubs.'" – Carolyn Leonard, CEO of DyMynd
"A prerequisite to being an entrepreneur is to finely tune your decision-making abilities. In my time as CEO, I have learned to be comfortable making decisions with less than perfect information, while being mindful of the various viewpoints. Avoiding 'paralysis by analysis' is a major obstacle, but it is also not an excuse to overlook contrasting viewpoints." – Amy Kothari, president and CEO of Alarm Capital Alliance
Access to funding
"Women face greater obstacles than men when starting and growing businesses, especially when it comes to receiving angel and venture capital. Though it might be unintentional, men fund people who look and sound just like them, and the consequences are just as harmful as if there was malicious aforethought. Don't do it alone! [Seek] advice from a variety of sources, including co-founders, professional advisers such as accountants and lawyers, peer advisory groups, CEO mastermind groups, boards of advisers, and family members." – Geri Stengel, author of "Forget the Glass Ceiling: Build Your Business Without One" (Dell, 2014)
Lack of role models
"There are successful female entrepreneurs throughout the world, but male entrepreneurs get better media coverage and visibility. What's easier to name, three successful female entrepreneurs or three successful male entrepreneurs? Women tend to start businesses in the sectors where they have work experience, skills and networks. The low percentages of female startups in the tech sector reflect the low numbers of women working in this sector in general. Increasing the number of women employed in technical positions, as well as in other male-dominated sectors such as construction, transportation [and] mining, will increase the number of female startups in these industries." – Ruta Aidis, vice president of research and gender, and GEDI project director at the Global Entrepreneurship and Development Institute
The expectation to succeed at everything
"Working women face the expectation to do well in all areas of their multi-faceted lives. In general, men are judged by how well they do in their careers, while women are judged by how well they excel with family, friends, 'looking their best' and, if they work, their career. It's a struggle to find enough time in the day to focus on them all! My advice is to really understand what is important to you, set goals and put a plan in place to reach them. At the same time, keep in mind that during any part of your life, you can't do it all. Thus, it's important to focus on the positive and what you have at the time." – Christine Wheeler, founder of Drazil Kids Tea
"It can be overwhelming to manage your time, communicate effectively and stay organized while developing your business skills. No one hands you a resource book — you have to be self-disciplined. As an entrepreneur, you love what you do, so taking a break is challenging. But you need to work on your business, not in it. Delegate relentlessly, and inspire people to want to do a job for you." – Michelle Touchstone, founder of Pixie Dust Naturals
Fear of success
"One of my biggest challenges as a business owner has been letting the fear of success keep me from taking the next step. As my experience and business grow, I have come to learn that there are new devils that come with every level of success. Instead of waiting to get over my fears, I have figured out how to recognize them, manage them and grow from those experiences.Treat yourself as a business owner so others treat you the same way. Stop waiting for permission or recognition from others in order to feel entitled to your success. Only you can award yourself the right to earn success for your career or business." – Jennifer Kent, founder of The Guava Project
Originally published on Business News Daily
Correction: An earlier version of this article quoted Michelle Turnstone. It has been corrected to reflect that her last name is Touchstone.