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6 challenges women face in business

Article written by Andre van Rooyen (ActionCOACH Business Coach – Randburg)

The number of women entrepreneurs is on the rise. Many of these women are struggling to survive in the business environment given the unique challenges they face.

In my experience as a business coach, many women-owned businesses are not given the respect they deserve. These businesses are often started to supplement the family income and the profits are used to pay for household expenses, holidays, luxuries, clothing, gifts, etc. Whilst this forms an important part of any household budget, it is often the spouse’s income that is used for purchases such as investments, house payments, etc. These payments usually result in measurable wealth creation whereas the money spent by the woman can be easily forgotten and she often feels she has nothing to show for her efforts.

In addition, their businesses are rarely built into legacy assets and are simply treated as cash cows.

There are generic challenges that face all business owners, but seem to conspire against women in general:

Limited funding

Not all business owners are fortunate enough to have an investor or financier for their businesses. Some must bootstrap their entrepreneurial ventures, rely on credit cards, or raise capital on their own. Women’s businesses are among the leading ventures that lack financial support. It is also common for women to be denied loans because of gender and cultural biases.

Balancing responsibilities

Many women are not just entrepreneurs or career people—they have families, spouses, and other responsibilities. Demands from personal and professional commitments can pressure a woman to abandon her business. The family expects her to be a mother and wife, while the business requires her to be the leader and show commitment.

Fear of failure

Running a business is risky and entails unforeseen circumstances. No one goes into business with a guarantee of success. Fear of the unknown is a major issue for some women. They dread failing, especially if the people surrounding them are skeptical of their ability. This fear is toxic and perilous, because women may end up operating from a place of fear instead of confidence. As a result, they will fail in business even when they were meant to succeed.

Inadequate support system

Struggling or failing in business could be the result of a lack of an adequate support system. Women tend to face the greatest challenges in getting support, from lacking the relevant connections to needing financial access or emotional support. They also need mentors and sponsors to guide them on their new path. The support system is often expensive, forcing women to delay starting their businesses.

Gender inequality

Laws, cultures, religion, and politics are built upon a patriarchal foundation. Women often struggle to work their way up in the masculine world while facing stigma and discrimination. Although laws and policies have attempted to create a favourable business environment for everyone, this is all too often ignored in the real world.

Unfavourable business environment

Among the challenges that women experience are social and traditional constraints that can restrict women’s participation in business. Even religion can hinder women from owning businesses. In some countries, women may be required to have a male partner to do deals, negotiate, and be the face of the business.

At ActionCOACH we believe that your business shouldn’t just be surviving, but thriving. Since 2020, we have brought you our jam-packed summit every Woman’s Month – because we believe that our beautiful country needs more successful female entrepreneurs. This year will be bigger and better than before – with a new panel of seven empowering female entrepreneurs who are ready to inspire you to run thriving businesses. Register for our empowering women’s summit here.

ActionCOACH is a proud Partner of the NSBC