Gone are the times when women followed the crowd or were scared to go farther than them. Today, women are unstoppable, with having left strong footprints in every industry from culinary arts to theatre and from marketing to science and technology. They have long battled all the problems of women entrepreneurs to be where they are today.
A similar rising trend is also observed in entrepreneurship as women-owned businesses and firms are garnering massive growth and popularity. With names like Sabina Chopra (founder, Yatra.com), Sairee Chahal (founder, Sheroes), Shradha Sharma (Founder and CEO, YourStory) and Kiran Mazumdar Shaw, currently India’s richest self-made woman, a new era has begun for women and how!
However, things are far from hunky-dory when it is about a woman, and the same is the case with a woman in business. Numerous challenges, personal and professional, have held women back and continue to hold them back in business despite them having the necessary aptitude, resilience, dedication, and talent for business.
In this article, we talk about the continual rise of women in entrepreneurship.
The Rise of Women in Entrepreneurship
Where women are concerned, they reportedly constitute nearly 14% of the total entrepreneurship in India. We still have a long way to go, yet the growing statistics favouring women’s strength in business is a very positive sign.
Notably, the banking sector was dominated by women in the last decade, and women are, in general, seen to be ruling all segments spanning across industries. This shows and highly impacts the self-belief, confidence, and aspirations of other women as well.
We have great women leaders like Indra Nooyi and Ziya Modi as well and women have also been donning the hats of angels and investors of lately.
All in all, this creates a very strong network of women who can support each other and play mentors and policymakers to those in need of guidance. A 2015 study by McKinsey showed that with equal participation of women in the economy, India’s GDP can rise by 16-60% by 2025, which translates to an addition of $2.9 trillion to the Indian economy.
As per the Sixth Economic Census by the National Sample Survey Organization (NSSO), out of the 58.5 Mn businesses in India, 8.05 Mn are managed by women entrepreneurs. The projected GDP growth of India for the year 2018-2019 is 7.3%, making India the fastest growing economy in the world.
Problems of Women Entrepreneurs in Business in India
A Forbes report claims a whopping 40% of women want to enter entrepreneurship despite its challenges, as they require flexibility, quick advancement and want to take control of their future and charge what they deserve.
However, myriad shackles of different nature continue to pull them back, some of them are as follows:
Here are some challenges faced by female entrepreneurs in India:
1) Financial problems
Money is to a business what food is to the human body and is vital for any business, big or small. However, women suffer in this aspect as they do not have any access to extra funds, familial property and at times garner zero support, material and financial from their own families.
They even face difficulty in securing funding externally as women are perceived as low risk-takers and hence would not be able to attain the desired success for their venture.
To combat the same, women should take the aid of government schemes provided for females, SMEs and the likes. The Pradhan Mantri MUDRA Yojana (PMMY) is especially in a place to ‘fund the unfunded.’
2) Fierce competition
Women are still struggling to find their footing in a man’s world and entrepreneurship is no different. There is a lot of competition between existing and upcoming businesses anyway, add to that a woman trying to make it big without proper financial aid and organizational machinery to help her with advertising and marketing, promotions and canvassing.
Also, having a standalone product that manages to grab eyeballs of people in the market is hard to manage which ultimately leads to failure or liquidation of women-run businesses.
There is only one way to race ahead your competition as an entrepreneur – stay lean, position strengths to weaknesses, aggressively chasing big clients and knowing your numbers. This approach paired with the right amount of dedication would sure work wonders.
3) Lack of education
This is a major hindrance for women as it can be both a foundation of success or failure in any sphere of life. Nearly 60% of the women are reportedly illiterate in India which has always been one of the greatest socio-economic problems faced by our country till date.
Due to lack of education and even basic awareness, women are far from happenings around the world, especially about technological disruptions, rising and falling markets and business knowledge of any kind.
Therefore, lack of education and adequate exposure is also one huge impediment in the way of women and one of the top problems of women entrepreneurs.
However, access to technology can help accelerate the participation of women in business. Imparting qualitative education in science, technology, engineering and mathematics subjects (STEM), digital literacy and early training programs are vital.
Also, enabling access to broadband and encouraging women to have a sound knowledge of hardware, software, and other digital tools will not only arm with this knowledge for life but will also allow them to scale their businesses.
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4) Striking a balance between family & business
Women especially married women with children shoulder plenty of responsibilities. Naturally, they find it had flitting between home, family, and business and it really can be considered an ‘art’ to be able to achieve a work-life balance with so much on your plate.
Working for yourself does bring about a lot of flexibility, but every business is a roller-coaster ride for the most part, and managing the same can become extremely difficult with childcare, taking care of old parents and of course, one’s spouse. Needless to say, it counts as one of the problems of women entrepreneurs.
But, time management is the key here. Setting time for meeting clients, emails and admin work should be prioritized while keeping in mind familiar duties and the hours to be devoted to family and children.
An effective and right team who can manage the work delegated to them, stay sharp and stick to commitments can make women’s everyday life a lot easier.
5) Male-dominated Industry
Yes, women entrepreneurs are making waves in the market with their dedication and vigour, women continue to be seen as inferior to men despite having the right attitude and aptitude for the job.
Male chauvinism is still prevalent in India, and not restricted to simply rural areas but urban setups as well.
The societal and cultural expectations of women have always been different than that of a man. Though women are now performing both domestic and professional duties with aplomb, they are perceived as taking on the role of a husband and outrunning him, thanks to our patriarchal culture.
Even in the industry, there are nearly 47% of women in the workforce yet it is biased towards a ‘male way of doing things.’
To combat this situation, women can equip themselves with such armour which can help them not just in a professional space, but lifelong. Cultivating confidence and being assertive so a man, or people, in general, can hear you.
Staying positive will attract more good people and being an aggressive lifelong learner will help you stay on top of your game.
Also, conflict and crisis handling, being more proactive, taking on leadership roles and supporting your peers is one way to be respected and revered. This is one of the burning societal and top problems of women entrepreneurs.
6) Limited mobility
A female friend once told me, ‘It is highly beneficial to have male friends because they manage to reach places where you cannot.’ This comment of hers stayed with me and I began thinking as to why women were held back compared to women.
This is primarily so because the safety of women is a huge global issue. A single woman cannot travel anytime and anywhere to procure raw material, be part of crucial meetings or take a flight to another country or city without seeking approval from parents or spouse.
Mobility is now identified as a new count to enable gender parity. Mobility and workforce participation are directly proportional to each other.
Therefore, reducing fares of buses and metros and making transport smoother and safer, especially during peak hours, is one sure shot way to enhance accessibility and affordability.
Also, by ensuring complete safety for women, the permission culture which is subverted deeply into patriarchy can be tackled effectively.
7) Low-risk bearing ability
This ranks high among problems of women entrepreneurs. Women tend to be low-risk takers, and rightly so since they have to look and care for so many factors surrounding them and the impact of their actions. Many a woman lead sheltered lives and are not financially independent as well.
Due to this, they always have a fear of failure and judgment lurking in their minds and consequently, they cannot go berserk, take all sorts of risks and make all sorts of moves in their entrepreneurial journey.
But this is gradually changing as women, with adequate support, are managing to take risks as and when required.
So, the solution for this tendency is to simply realize that risk-bearing is just a fundamental requisite of being an entrepreneur, man or woman. Once women master this ability, they will be beating men at their game in no time.
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8) Lack of a support network
A robust network and an efficient team are indispensable for entrepreneurial success. Nearly 48% of female founders have reported not having mentors to guide them through their journey.
Networking has become the new go-to for every sphere, personal and professional. Be it seeking jobs or starting up, it is less about what you know and rather who you know. Women must-attend networking and entrepreneurial events catering to them and their industries.
Once you find your network and people who you would like to add to your network, don’t hesitate in asking them what you need.
9) Feeling the need to conform
Despite their achievements, women do feel the need to conform and like to stick to a certain idea of how a leader should look like. It is completely fine to want to have a role model but replicating someone’s personality and the idea of success is quite unnecessary because one should learn how to be comfortable in their skin, realize their uniqueness and let go of how they are being perceived.
Realizing they are enough and can shatter the glass ceiling by just being who they are is the ideal solution to combat this need to conform.
10) Fear of failure
Failure is real, hard and can manage to break you. And it is highly possible in a business venture. Naturally, failure is a huge threat to anyone with dreams, man or woman, due to its implications.
This insecurity and self-doubt would make women refrain from dreaming big and sticking to their lane when they should be out making things happen.
Failure cannot relinquish your goals and dreams and should be just viewed as a teaching moment in relationships, business, and life in general. And failure does not deserve to be one of the problems of women entrepreneurs, ever!
There would always be something holding you back in life, and the same is the case while starting a business. They say the beginning is always the hardest and rightly so, and just because a hurdle seems insurmountable doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try. So, break free from all perceptions and problems and think of what can go right!
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