By: Mamudu Hamzat Gideon
The entrepreneurship space is increasingly gaining popularity as a major channel through which many women give expression to their dreams and in recent times, there has been a significant increase in the involvement of women in entrepreneurship as a result of increased technological advancement among other factors.
However, research by Dr John Watson, an associate professor in the Department of Accounting and Finance at the University of Western Australia, reveals that there is a significant difference between the performance of businesses owned and run by women and those owned by their male counterparts. Findings reveal that female-owned businesses show a higher failure rate.
In a quest to salvage the situation, I’ve identified seven challenges female businesses face and how you can overcome them.
- Seeking too much advice from too many different sources
A major result of self-doubt which is an expression of a lack of confidence in oneself and one’s own abilities includes seeking for answers from every possible source as you tend to think that other people’s opinion is better than yours – regardless of how brilliant yours may be. Sheryl Sandberg, top Facebook executive, in her book Lean In, shares some insights about the limiting effect self-doubt can have in preventing women from reaching their full potential. In the author’s words, “About three-quarters of both male and female entrepreneurs start businesses to pursue an opportunity (rather than out of necessity), but men show more positive perceptions about opportunities and their own capabilities, as well as lower fear of failure.” One of the downsides of seeking too much advice from different sources is that you’re likely going to be confused and not take any action in the end.
What you should do instead is to find a reliable mentor or guide in the different areas and channel your questions in the respective areas to them.
- Attempting to Do It AllOne of the challenges young businesses have to overcome is attempting to do everything yourself. Sometimes, even when they have an employee, it is not uncommon to find new entrepreneurs attempting to do everything themselves because they subconsciously feel like no one else can do it better.
While it might seem like a normal thing at the onset, you’ll eventually begin to wear out, always juggling between tasks and never finding enough time to take care of the essentials.
Make deliberate efforts to learn how to delegate tasks to other people. Outsource the tasks that are not within the area of your expertise to free up space for other tasks. If you’re going to ever grow to a significant level in your business, learning to delegate and outsource effectively is a non-negotiable skill you must master.
- Falling Victim to the “Shiny Object Syndrome”One of the things that come with being an entrepreneur is that you’ll often get a flood of ideas streaming towards you. Don’t fall prey to the trap of attempting to chase every idea that comes to mind. Not all good ideas are relevant to your business.
Filter every idea that comes to you through one lens – it’s the degree of relevance to your business.
This does not mean that you should discard the other ideas that come to you but rather than discarding them, you should journal the ideas that come to you and review them periodically as some of them could turn out to be useful at a future date.
- Taking Customer Feedback PersonallyMany new entrepreneurs struggle and go through a lot of untold pain when they begin to get negative feedback. Several people have even quit the business because of negative feedback. Too bad.
If you’re going to build a sustainable business – one that will satisfy the need of its customers for a long time, one of the things you have to do is to get comfortable with feedback. You might even have to ask for it periodically.
Stop seeing negative feedback as a dent on your image but rather embrace it for what it is – a pointer to things to improve on – and use it as a tool to build a business your customers will love.
- Making Elephant Promises
One of the struggles new female entrepreneurs have to deal with is the desire to please everyone and as a result, it is not uncommon to find new entrepreneurs who have are soon overwhelmed as a result of the truckload of assignments they have to attend to.While it is true that you need to satisfy your customers, it’s important that you realize the negative impact it can begin to have on your business and eventually profits when you consistently make promises you can’t fulfil.
So what do you do? State objectively what your customers should expect from you and over-deliver. Deliver faster than you promised and do more than you’ve paid for.
- Spending Too Little On Things That Matter
More often than not, money is a major concern for entrepreneurs who are just starting out and as a result, they tend to always be on the lookout for cheaper options to whatever it is they need to get.While this might seem like a smart thing to do, it could end up costing you much more in the long run. Imagine having an amateur builder lay the foundation of the house you plan to live in with your family. The results could be disastrous.
It is exactly the same as your business. Experts are paid more for a reason, don’t be too economical that you fail to hire the best people when it matters most or settle for sub-standard tools.
- Failing to Go All the Way
This is one of the biggest reasons why so many female entrepreneurs – and males too – never get to see their business blossom. It’s important that after a failure or a major setback, you pick yourself up and get back in the game.I know you’ve probably heard this a thousand times but it’s worth repeating; “winners never quit and quitters never win”. The entrepreneurial journey is full of challenges to overcome. You must be determined to go all the way until you see the results that you seek if you want to thrive.