Article written by Antoinette Venter (ActionCOACH Business Coach – Mpumalanga)
It’s no secret that women have had to fight harder than men to become a legitimate presence in virtually every aspect of business. Thankfully, the gender gap is slowly shrinking on the corporate side, with more female executives in the workplace but women entrepreneurs seem to still be very few due to venture capital funding for small women-owned businesses.
It’s difficult to get an exact number for South Africa, but one estimate says that between January 2018 and August 2019, only about 4.5% of venture capital funding went to companies started by women. When it comes to black women, the situation is even worse. Less than 0.2% of all funding for businesses in their early stages goes to black women.
These numbers aren’t likely to have changed much in the last year, either. Research shows that the coronavirus pandemic has made it harder for female-led businesses to get venture capital, yet one area that still needs work is venture funding for women-led businesses. Part of the challenge may be that VC firms are predominantly male, and therefore simply overlook women when hiring or partnering with them. That’s too bad (for everyone) because there are compelling reasons why women entrepreneurs tend to do well in business—and I’m not just talking about gender parity or equal pay issues here (although those are important).
There are also undeniable strengths that make women great candidates for entrepreneurship. Here are five such traits:
1. Women are natural multi-taskers
A lot of women are natural multi-taskers. They can do more than one thing at a time and they do it better than men. The reason for this is that women are better at organizing their thoughts and prioritizing them. Men, on the other hand, tend to focus on one task at a time because they have trouble seeing how different tasks fit together or how they should prioritize the
If you’re wondering what this has to do with entrepreneurship, consider how entrepreneurs manage their businesses: They have to juggle many different responsibilities and make sure all the balls in their business stay up in the air until they’re ready to drop them on an unsuspecting customer’s head (or crush those same customers under an avalanche of expertise). And if you’ve ever worked for an entrepreneur before, then you know how much effort goes into organizing all those tasks so that each one gets done on time while still allowing room for creativity.
2. Women understand other people and human nature
Women are more empathetic, more in touch with their feelings, and more in touch with other people’s feelings.
The ability to understand another person’s emotions, both your own and theirs, is key to success as an entrepreneur. Women tend to be better at this than men. A study from the University of Paderborn found that women have a greater capacity for empathy than men do—a trait that makes them better leaders overall (particularly if those leaders are leaders of teams). If you want your business to succeed, you need employees who can empathize with others on your team and customers who will also find value in what you offer them.
3. Women are organized, good with systems, and have great memories
Women are better at planning and organizing, which is a huge advantage for entrepreneurs. In fact, when it comes to managing their time and meeting deadlines, women are more organised than men. They also have a better memory for details and can multitask better than men, so they’re able to juggle tasks more easily. Women also manage stress and emotions more effectively than men do — an important quality for entrepreneurs because you need to be able to deal with anything that comes your way without losing your cool or getting overwhelmed by anxiety or stress.
4. Women are persuasive and can read people, their reactions and emotions
Women are great at reading people and their reactions to situations. They can read body language, facial expressions, tone of voice, and even the words that come out of someone’s mouth. This skill helps women excel in social situations, whether it be a business meeting or just talking with friends. Women will know when you’re lying to them and they know how to use this information accordingly if need be.
A woman’s ability to read others makes her a better entrepreneur because she knows what she needs from others in order to succeed at her goals or company. She knows exactly who will help her achieve success and who won’t help at all so she doesn’t waste time trying to convince them otherwise (this is especially helpful for startups).
5. Women tend to be good communicators
Talking to the press is part of being an entrepreneur. You need to be able to communicate effectively and confidently, or no one will take you seriously. Women tend to be good communicators because they are more empathetic and better listeners than men. Women are also more adept at reading body language, which helps them connect with people on a deeper level
To be honest, it’s not hard to see why women make such great entrepreneurs. Currently, women make up about 22% of small business owners in South Africa, which is more than previous years, yet we should encourage more women to start their businesses.
We’re well-known for our empathy and ability to connect with other people on an emotional level, which is precisely the skill a leader needs in order to bring out the best in their team and get them working together. Our knack for multi-tasking also makes us well-suited for entrepreneurship—we can keep up with numerous tasks at once without breaking a sweat! It certainly doesn’t hurt that we have good memories too.
So, ladies, if you’re thinking about becoming an entrepreneur, then go for it. We may have had to fight harder than men to get where we are today in business, but it looks like all those years of experience have paid off; after all, who else would you rather have run your company?