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How Women Entrepreneurs Can Overcome Their Challenges

Wednesday, April 04, 2018
By Vibha Kagzi

If you are a woman entrepreneur, you may have faced many hiccups while setting up shop. While it is no surprise that women entrepreneurs face specific and difficult challenges unique to their own sex, it does not mean that you have to run away from those challenges. If you want people to take you seriously as a business person, you need to follow the 6 key principles to become a successful woman entrepreneur:

Stay Hungry, Stay Ambitious
The hungriest wolf in the wolf pack becomes the leader. It’s the unwritten law of the jungle. The same works in the corporate jungle. Man or woman, entrepreneurs have to be hungry for success. They have to sniff out opportunities, and run with the ideas when opportunites come knocking. Remember, you are in business not to massage your ego. In fact, you will quite likely face a lot of negativity, cynicism and rebuttal. Take it on the chin. At the same time, don’t let your ambitions get diluted because of your fear of failure.

Convert a ‘No’ to a ‘Yes’
Women are usually good at persuasion. They have the uncanny ability to sense where a negotiation discussion is going. They also have the ability to touch the weak or strong nerve when they want to.

Don’t take ‘no’ for an answer.
No matter how many knock-outs, prepare to fight back. There is always a way around; you just have to find the door. As a woman entrepreneur you may need to judge all aspects that go into a negotiation. But don’t let that cloud your perception.

Go by Your Gut, When Numbers Don’t Add Up
As a woman in business, you can employ that ‘queasy feeling’ to better use. Use your gut to tell you right from wrong.

In the real world of business, you can’t be divorced from the intangible aspects of business! You can allow your heart to best guide you for decision-making. Women have a strong 6th sense, which usually comes with years of conditioning and expertise. Leverage all your senses when making business forecasts.

Establish a Work-Life Balance
Women founders should realize that however difficult to accept, family pressures will present a hurdle in the way of business aspirations. Hence it is important that you establish realistic expectations for yourself. Don’t beat yourself up if you can’t spend 18 hours a day working for your company. Do work that spark creativity, like reading or getting out to exercise. Establish boundaries for your family and work, so that they don’t invade into each other’s space. Be disciplined about family schedules and events, just as you would be for your own business. If you can compartmentalize your day to meet both work and life issues, your business will not suffer.

Go Forward With the Right Mindset
You will set yourself up for failure if you don’t begin with the right mindset. Don’t look at yourself as a weaker sex. You don’t have to be excessively competitive or aggressive, nor do you have to be a pliant, naïve business person. It’s never easy when you are on the battlefield of business.

Trust Your Leadership Instincts
Women entrepreneurs face tremendous difficulties leading their team. Especially in male dominated industries, women face much resistance. Women bosses are judged harshly by male as well as female employees. There is an undercurrent of sexism that exists in every social stratum, that affects how women are viewed as business leaders. A recent survey done by a leading publication revealed that employees rated male CEOs more friendly than women if women did a lot of the talking. The more the women bosses spoke, the less they were liked. This kind of double standards are the norm in most businesses and women have to cope with the unfairness of it all.

To manage a team of men and women in the workplace, women founders need to be aware of the limitations, and carry on their business with confidence. Confidence is key to becoming a successful leader. Let your work speak for you. You have to learn to ignore the backstabbing and name-calling if you want to succeed as a business leader.

Women in startups don’t have it easy. Things are going to be difficult. But if you overcome your personal hurdles, and keep your career objectives clear, you can become a successful woman entrepreneur in any field you choose.

The writer is Founder, Reachivy.com, a study abroad and career advisory. Vibha holds an MBA from Harvard Business School and a Bachelors from Carnegie Mellon University.

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