Why Women Entrepreneurs Need To Stop Getting In Their Own Way

Posted on / by Natalie Sisson / in Entrepreneurs / 42 comments
Women Entrepreneurs

If you’ve never met me in real life, you may not know that I am passionate about achieving greater equality for women and men.

Today’s blog post is a departure from my usual ridiculously positive outlook on life and business, and my practical tips and strategies for making everything better.

Instead I’d like to focus on a topic I’m way more passionate about than even I sometimes realize.

It usually becomes blatantly obvious to me in conversations with others, and when I hear myself speaking, how much I fight for the right to be respected, heard, appreciated and valued as a woman. This is especially true in this male-dominated, ‘location-independent entrepreneur’ and ‘digital nomad’ space where the ‘boys club’ heavily exists.

I feel a strong urge to rebel against this norm and to continue to push harder, be better, and show them women rock.

What I want to know is; why do we feel like we have to prove ourselves? The wonderful men of this world already know that women are truly amazing beings.

They’re all too happy to:

  • support us and our work no matter what
  • embrace our many desires
  • encourage us to be multifaceted and complex
  • allow us to continually nurture, connect and communicate.

So I question why it is that I still feel the inherent need to prove we’re worth it, when women are a huge force in the small business world and beyond.

Fact: Women Entrepreneurs Rock

According to an article by HBR on The Global Rise of Women Entrepreneurs, women represent a growth market more than twice as big as China and India combined.

We control $20 trillion in global consumer spending, own or operate between 25-33% of all private businesses and earn an estimated $13 trillion.

According to a recent Forbes Tips for Women’s Business Growth in 2014 post, up from last year, 92% of female entrepreneurs agree the state is set this year for even more women to launch their own businesses.

VisaWe are one of the fastest growing entrepreneurial groups around. In the US, women in business account for 50% or more of privately held companies.

Women are truly making a real impact in the world and starting businesses at half the rate of men, with more opportunities, it seems, than ever before….

Except we’re not maximizing these opportunities.

I realized the reason why I still feel this need to fight for our rights is this:

A large majority of women I speak with daily and have worked with over the years blame themselves for their shortcomings.

Women are the ones to undermine their own abilities, skills and talents.

“The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any.” – Alice Walker

Blame is a strong word, and I don’t write it lightly. Then again, I don’t write about this topic lightly.

Women are still not truly making the most of their inner brilliance. I see this each and every single day, and I want it to stop.

I’m not trying to be a party pooper here, but it’s reality. And I want to tell you a story that highlighted this to me more than ever.

The Cold Hard Truth of Women Not Owning It

It was a pretty amazing day in November 2013. I was in Toronto, on stage in front of 1,000 young entrepreneurs.

Social LightThis was one of my dream moments, to speak in front of such an audience about choosing freedom – and get paid for it.

What’s more, I was told I was the person most people wanted to see and hear; they’d actually voted for me.

So I stepped up in my big heels and I delivered. I absolutely was in the zone and I crushed it. The speech went beyond amazing. The audience reaction was incredible.

Straight after I walked off stage, I was rushed up several flights to my book signing. Despite still being on a high, I was quite stunned to a see a line of people waiting for me to sign their book, snaking it’s way behind the table I sat at.

One by one, each person stepped up to meet me, bought their copy and had me sign a personal message.

Here’s what I noticed that day:

EVERY single woman who approached me started by telling me something lovely about myself, or my speech, or my work.

It was flattering, an honor, and humbling.

What happened next, though, was a conversation where I had to really draw out of them what they did, what their business or idea was and what I should know about them, in order to write something meaningful.

The direct opposite happened with every guy who approached.

They started the same way, by telling me how I rocked it on stage, or that my talk was inspiring and their favorite. Before I could say a word, they pitched me on who they were, what they did and what they wanted to accomplish.

And kudos to them.

In less than a minute I learned all I needed to know about them to form a picture of what I could reply with, how I could help, where I could point them, what advice I could give if they wanted it and what message I could write.

Facing the Real Facts

The above story highlights to me why women need to get out of their own way, and instead own their own way.

The rosy facts painted at the beginning of this post don’t explain that only 4.2% of the 50% of businesses in question generate more than $1 million in revenue.

In fact, despite owning nearly 30% of U.S. businesses, women attract only 5% of the equity capital (US statistic).

When it comes to first-year funding, women receive 80% less capital than men, and only 4% of women are getting venture capital funding.

I believe facts are meant to be disproved and statistics are made so that we can blow them out of the water.

So let’s focus on what we can do more of today to truly capitalize on what I wrote about years back: the Inherent Advantage of Women Entrepreneurs.

Own Your Success by Taking These Four Actions

1. Become Financially Savvy

Let’s be honest here. As women, one thing we tend to shy away from most is talking about numbers, charging what we’re worth, and negotiating the big dollars.

Visa 1There’s no reason at all for this, so let’s stop this behavior and own our financial future!

I don’t know about you, but I’m firmly focused on achieving financial freedom these days. I want to know that every single thing I do is setting me up to live an amazing life now, and well into the future.

I don’t need anybody else to ensure I do this but myself. I’m not waiting for Prince Charming as Kate Northrup says women tend to do, in her excellent book Money: A Love Story.

I’m backing myself. I’m more than capable of running a profitable business and earning what I’m worth.

Take Action:

  • Have solid financial goals and know where every dollar is going
  • Use Wave Accounting, a great free tool that gives you a complete picture of your financial dashboard by linking your bank accounts and credit cards.
  • You get a lovely visual chart of how you’re tracking that actually excites you to take more action, especially when you’re turning a profit.

You just need to check in at least once a month and categorize your money – what you’re earning and spending. Make it a                      habit.

2. Crowd-Fund Yourself to Success

You may not know this, but to make up for less venture backing or angel investment, women excel in backing ourselves when we have to.

We are four times more successful at getting funding when using crowd-funding, according to the HBR.

So what better way to take charge and own your success, than kicking ass in crowd funding, and being in control of the project or campaign you need financial support for!

Take Action:

3. Learn how to be a CEO

By this, I mean not doing everything yourself! You need to call yourself a CEO and stop getting stuck in Amateurville.

Visa 3This means you need to hire people, outsource projects, and scale your business.

And guess what, women are natural at building teams – we make really good managers because we subvert our egos and allow others to shine.

So use this to your best ability and build a rocking team that allows you to work in your zone of genius, build your business, be a CEO and create financial freedom and an amazing life.

Take Action:

4. Nurture Your Greatest Asset – You.

Time and time again, I see women putting everybody else, but themselves, first.

You know what happens when you do that? You have nothing left to give to yourself and eventually others.

I actually think that’s a huge reason why so many women end up with a job instead of a business, or a hobby that barely sees them making ends meet.

If you want to be a successful entrepreneur, you need to FOCUS on your business.

You also need to upskill and learn what you need – quit using “I’m not technical” or “that’s too complex” as an excuse for not owning it.

If you’re a complete technophobe, start calling yourself a techno-wannabe and learn one useful skill that could greatly enhance your online experience.

If you think you suck at selling, chances are you never learned the techniques and skills, so treat yourself to a course in selling artfully or read up on it and apply.

Take Action:

  • Use Google Helpouts to connect with people who can give you help over live video, right from your PC or mobile. No excuses.
  • Get free training from Creative Live in areas you want to master.

If you took massive action in just these four areas alone ladies, I can tell you that things will transform before your very eyes.

Success will be had, and you will feel like a million dollars.

It’s time to stop reading this and put these action steps into motion.

Step up. OWN it!

I am blogging on behalf of Visa Business and received compensation for my time from Visa for sharing my views in this post, but the views expressed here are solely mine, not Visa’s. Visit https://facebook.com/visasmallbiz to take a look at the reinvented Facebook Page: Well Sourced by Visa Business. The Page serves as a space where small business owners can access educational resources, read success stories from other business owners, engage with peers, and find tips to help businesses run more efficiently. Every month, the Page will introduce a new theme that will focus on a topic important to a small business owner’s success. For additional tips and advice, and information about Visa’s small business solutions, follow @VisaSmallBiz and visit https://visa.com/business.