As of 2003, women entrepreneurs, CEOs and founders were arguably just a few thousands. Fast forward ten years later, that number has risen phenomenally to unarguably several millions. There are more women CEOs and even much more business savvy ladies in the younger generation looking to startup a business- any business- as a CEO. But as much as these females break even into such professional leadership roles, entrepreneurship still remains a male-dominated territory and there are, truthfully, quite a number of obstacles many female CEOs have to break through to be the CEO in stilletoes and rock at it!
Here are 5 Major Concerns and their Resolutions:
Or is it Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man? Either way, to compensate and protect themselves, women often feel as though they need to adopt a stereotypically ‘male’ attitude toward business: competitive, aggressive and sometimes overly harsh. Hilary Genga, founder and CEO of womens swimwear company, Trunkettes, believes this is the wrong approach to take and simply advises- “Be yourself, and have confidence in who you are. Don’t try to be a man. You made it to where you are through hardwork and perseverance, but most importantly, you’re there. Don’t conform yourself to a man’s idea of what a leader should look like”.
Emotions + Nurturing skills minus Business
By nature, women are more emotional and nurturing, which can sometimes be a challenge in running a business. For men, business is mostly about the bottom line, but for women, it’s more than that. According to Delia Passi, CEO WomenCertified, home of the Women’s Choice Award, ‘women get emotionally connected, and that can hold us back from making the tough decisions. Male board members and investors get frustrated when we’re not as quick to fire or make dramatic business changes that could impact employees’ families”. This, however, does not go to say all women CEOs are this way, but essentially, they all need to be reminded to be direct and stay focused on business goals.
The ‘Lack of Support in the sisterhood’ factor
Did you hear the joke that suggested if women ruled the world, there would be no wars, just a bunch of jealous countries not talking to each other? Well, until that is proven, Sarah Bryar, CEO of women eyewear boutique Rivet and Sway says women CEOs feel insecure about being in the minority as women who excelled in math and science, and longed for more camaraderie and support from female peers in their field. Also, despite the quickly growing number of female executives and business owners, finding fellow women entrepreneurs to connect with isn’t always easy. However, opportunities to lead do exist for women.
Balancing Family and Business
It is almost a worldwide phenomenon that mothers who start businesses have to simultaneously run their families and their companies and that on its own is no small feat. Hilary Genga again thinks there are ways to balance your time, but the perception is that you could be more effective running your business if you didn’t have to deal with kids. Even at that, Genga has learned to not take shortcomings on either front too seriously and to not beat herself up over little things, like missing a class trip with her children. ‘Momtrepreneurs’ have dual responsibilities to their business and to their family, and finding ways to devote time to both is key to truly achieving that elusive work-life balance.
The Fear Factor
The fear of failure is the top concern of women who launch startups –(Bobson College 2012 Global Entrepreneur Monitor). Also according to Delia Passi, failure is a very real possibility in any business venture but it shouldn’t be viewed as negative and Sarah Bryar, who confessed to struggling with fearful thoughts also states fundamentally that she wouldn’t be a CEO today if she hadn’t taken chances to assert herself and advises women CEOs to work hard at ignoring that inner voice that may discourage taking action, speaking up or getting outside their comfort zone.