Women in Business and Entrepreneurship Series Part 3 of 3: Challenges Facing Career-Oriented Women

In part 2 of the Women in Business and Entrepreneurship Series, I looked at facts and trends on the growing number of women starting businesses. Regardless of whether a woman wants to start a small business or a large company, she is likely to face unique challenges and that’s what I’m exploring in this last part of the series.

Work-Life Balance

Work-life balance continues to be a top challenge faced by working women everywhere. According to a recent Forbes.com article, 85% of women do the household’s grocery shopping, meal preparation, laundry and cleaning.

Being a full time businesswoman and running a household is not an easy feat. “We take care of our kids, do the laundry, clean the house, car pool and have to prove to the world that we can be successful business owners. We have high expectations of ourselves, but we also don’t get much sympathy from the world that we basically have two full time lives,” says Jenny Johnson, CEO of Cheeky & Swank, an apparel line for women and children.

Funding

Funding is also a major challenge facing women entrepreneurs. Most women self-fund their business but women requiring a large amount of initial capital find it difficult to attract venture capital funding. According to a report by the Kauffman Foundation, women only receive between 4 and 9 percent of all available venture capital dollars.

“People are not used to seeing women in these leadership positions and women must often face being the only woman in the room, at the conference, in the venture capital competition” says Sabrina Parsons, CEO of Palo Alto Software, makers of Business Plan Pro. “You don’t often see an albino squirrel so when you do, you are going to look at it more closely, scrutinize it more, and wonder if different is good,” Parsons continues.

Looking to the Future

As we move forward we need to prove that different is, in fact, good. As women entrepreneurs, we bring a different perspective to entrepreneurship and business.

As today’s women entrepreneurs carry the torch that was passed to us by other trailblazing women, we have a responsibility to ensure the next generation of women entrepreneurs have even more opportunities and less challenges than we do.

Going back to the experiences that I discussed in part 1 of the Women in Business and Entrepreneurship Series, I feel we need more balanced speaker panels at business conferences. We need more women business professors at colleges. We need to support each other and collaborate more as women entrepreneurs.

When I was a little girl and my parents told me I could do anything the boys could do, I believed it. And I believe it even more today. Let’s remember how far we’ve come but let’s not forget what we’re still capable of achieving.

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5 thoughts on “Women in Business and Entrepreneurship Series Part 3 of 3: Challenges Facing Career-Oriented Women

  1. Natalie, I heartily agree that working women should support each other, inside and outside the workplace. I myself am not an entrepreneur, but most of the women in my family are, and they’ve taught me that connections with other professional women are the most valuable ones you can have. Especially now that I’m in my 30s, that bit of advice has served me well.

    We’re in this together, and sometimes just one word of encouragement can make a world of difference.

    Love your blog – keep up the good work!

  2. Thanks Amber!

    You hit the nail on the head when you said “one word of encouragement can make a world of difference.” For women, it’s not just about networking to get ahead, it’s about networking to have a support system and a team of cheerleaders as I like to call it. We all need people rooting for us!

  3. You’re right that the sympathy just isn’t there.  I recently was ordering via phone and was helped by a female customer service agent.  She sounded awful, admitting that she was severely ill with complications of pregnancy but that she could not take more time off to go the hospital.  She was waiting until her shift was over at 7pm to see the doctor!

    She is not an entrepreneur, but still very much a testament to the hurdles women face as they try to gain rights in the workplace –  on all levels!
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  4. When I worked as an executive assistant for 2 fortune 500 companies I noticed Women in Managerial positions who had children to raise at the same time were always frazzled to say the least. I remember making a vow to help someday and that day has come. I’m semi-retired now and would love to start an on-line business incorporating my love of cooking and public speaking into a viable business, perhaps showing videos on how to prepare quick, nutritious meals, and give advice on how to beat exhaustion by tips on how to sleep well, etc. What do you ladies think?? Is it interesting enough?

  5. Lydia, that is awful and it happens too much in the workplace. I think in Canada we have better laws in place (compared to the U.S.) to protect the rights of pregnant women and make sure women can take a paid 1 year maternity leave but even our system isn’t perfect. As more women become leaders at top companies, we need to make sure we use that power to make these kinds of changes in the workplace. When I interviewed Sabrina Parson, CEO of Palo Alto Software (you can read the interview here) she was telling me about how she brought her baby into work to be able to breastfeed for the first 6 months and allowed other female employees to do the same. She has helped build a very family-oriented company.

    Carole, I think you definitely combine all your interests into a viable business. Do let me know if there’s anything I can do to help. All the best!

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