This article is very close to my heart because it is about something I totally relate to. Being a woman, I have faced a lot of challenges when I decided to do what I wanted to do. I am pretty sure a lot of you out there will be able to relate to this article. For a woman to start a business is not an easy road to take. Not that it is a piece of cake for men, but it surely is a real bear for the women.
Here are a few challenges that I faced-
- Social Acceptance- Yes! The biggest challenge is the society. The society wants change and development. How ironical, that it is the society that is unwelcoming to changes and development. A woman, who desires to get out of that shell of a housewife or an employee, firstly needs to be accepted socially. Because “Women” are not that capable enough to run a business. A survey suggests that women are likely to have been over 35 years of age when they start their business. If we look around, sons of businessmen start handling business when they are as young as 18 years old. We hardly see young girls doing that. True?
- Funding- The second challenge is funding. Investors usually prefer investing in their own tribe. Men prefer to invest in male driven companies/business. A survey suggests that male entrepreneurs are twice as likely to raise $100,000 or more of outside funding for their startups than female entrepreneurs which makes it difficult for women to hire employees, workspace etc. Only 32% women entrepreneurs are half as likely to have 2+ employees. Less than 3 percent of venture-capital-funded companies have female CEOs.
- Family and Work balance- This is a problem faced by married and unmarried women both. We as women think that we are meant to manage work and family perfectly. This is where the problem lies. Household chores, rearing the children are the roles of a woman; this is the idea women have about themselves. Women want to play the role of a “PERFECT” wife, daughter and businesswomen. This is because of the environment they grow up in. They idealize their mothers, teachers and somewhere try to be like them. And while we are running around to be the perfect woman, we are unable to be perfect in anything.
Story Time- Once upon a time there were 2 elephants. One was a baby elephant and was tied to a thick chain. Whenever he tried to move, the chain stopped him. The big elephant was simply tied to a rope. Why do you think this happened? It was because from the very beginning that elephant was tied to a chain. His brain was conditioned by now to the fact that he won’t be able to break the rope/chain and move. This is what happens with the women. We are conditioned this way that we think it is our moral responsibility to do everything and we feel guilty when we are not able to. We have these shackles in our mind. Even when somebody does not expect us to do so, we still believe that it is our duty to play dual roles. This is when the problem arises and we are unable to play even one role perfectly.
- Competition with Male Counterparts- How many industries can you think of that are not male dominated? Just a handful right? Well that is the reality. There are not many fields that are dominated by women (including business). It is a tough task for women to compete with male counterparts and gain respect and a good position. The cut-throat competition available in the market women end up being part of the business firm instead of heading one.
- No room for error- You are a women and NO you cannot commit mistakes when you plan to start a business. You should have a full-fledged plan, with Zero errors and should make profits all the time. If a woman has to setup a business she better do it perfectly. Because if it goes wrong then it hence proves that women are not meant to do it.
I would like to share my personal experience here- When I started off with my startup plan just like any other business plan, mine too faced some downfall. I unfortunately had to sell my Gurgaon property to pay off the debts. I remember sitting on a table with my in laws sitting in front of me and telling me- see we told you business is not in our blood, you should settle for a job. Women make homes, not break/sell them. I started believing in what they were saying. I thought maybe they are right and I better get back to job. I got selected for a job, but while I was driving back I suddenly realized that it is not me. This is not I want to do. That very moment I decided to start again.