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2016 is the year of the "Woman Entrepreneur". Why, you ask? The past few years have been building up to it and now it's time. Accelerators, boot camps, leadership training, networking, and mentoring programs are in full swing. They started out looking like a trend, but they aren't going anywhere anytime soon.
Entrepreneurs start and grow businesses based on a need in the community and women are poised and ready to take action. Who do you think has been taking those leadership classes? It has been the women! Their role in the family has shifted slightly, but for the most part they continue to be the primary caretakers of children. Starting up a business is the best way to ensure flexibility in schedule while still holding a challenging and powerful position that makes decent income.
Check out the statistics from Forbes.com: "Women-owned/led firms business now account for 13% of middle-market firms (companies with revenues between $10 million and $1 billion)", an increase of 32% since 2008. These aren't just mom and pop (or just mom) shops, these businesses are huge impact-making companies that drive the economy and build a future for our country. Keep an eye out for more women business owners; the statistics will be going up this year.
Women entrepreneurs are taking a leap of faith and starting businesses all over the country. According to Forbes.com, "the number of women-owned businesses in New York between 2002 and 2012 grew by a colossal 65 percent or 45 new businesses every day." The rest of the country is following suit.
There are some obstacles women commonly face while attempting to jump into the business world. Many of them face gender-related challenges that their counter parts don't have any issues with.
Here are 5 of the biggest challenges that women entrepreneurs face today:
Women have a difficult time raising the necessary start up capital, simply because the majority of venture capital firms are run by men. Women VC's are more likely to invest in women entrepreneurs.
Networking is critical to the success of a start up. Having the right connections can make or break the business. Many women entrepreneurs are finding that some industry networks are closed to newcomers, especially women, therefore cutting women short of the most valuable relationships in the industry.
Lack of Skills
Many women are inexperienced and lack skills in business and finance. Taxes, legal, risk management, and sales are also areas where many women fall short. Jumping into the corporate world can be tough when you have been busy raising children. Luckily, there are many resources available for women to take classes on these and other subjects to get them up to speed.
Lack of Mentors and Role Models
Women often find themselves reinventing the wheel because they do not have an industry mentor or role model. Mentors are invaluable to a start up business because they can help steer entrepreneurs in the right direction and keep them from making common mistakes.
Lack of Confidence
Perhaps the biggest obstacle for women entrepreneurs today is the lack of confidence that they can pull it off. When women are afraid to take risks, they hold themselves back from the greatness that is possible. Women entrepreneurs have the potential to grow the economy and improve our communities. With industry mentors, networking groups, and education, their confidence will build.
There have been many studies and articles written on how to manage the work-life balance, but there seems to be one theme emerging from all of those separate opinions. There is no single solution to balancing your work and your life as an entrepreneur because we all have very different scenarios.
Some of the most successful people in history have their ways of balancing work and life that may also work for you, but that does not mean it will work for everyone.
Richard Branson, of Virgin Group, says that he uses technology to keep him on schedule. He schedules everything from eating healthy meals and speaking to his family, to business meetings and speeches. He also likes to stay flexible and delegate whenever possible.
Millionaire Warren Buffett decided that he would rather work our of his home in Nebraska, rather than living in New Your City where things move faster and are more stressful. This may be possible for a millionaire but maybe not the startup entrepreneur.
Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook says that she doesn't see a work-life balance because there is work and then there is her life. She works 9 -5:30 and then comes home to her family. She works from home after the children are in bed and doesn't mix work life with her family life.
There are many different ways to find balance in your life, so entrepreneurs should not try to conform to someone else's idea of what work-life balance should look like.