The presence of women in the workplace ranges from China and Sweden where nearly 65% of all women participate in the labor force, all the way down to Italy’s mere 38% and India’s regrettable 29%. The truly striking statistic is to be found in the persistence of the glass ceiling in US business. Only 16% of corporate board seats are occupied by women, 14% of executive offices and a lamentable 3% of CEO positions. The wage gap between the genders continues to be a serious handicap to women with equal work being rewarded with 20% higher pay for men in the US and nearly 30% more in Japan. With this rueful lack of integration of female talents and skills in virtually every aspect of corporate life, a growing number of women are establishing their own online businesses.
Women Face Greater Entrepreneurial Challenges
Some of the most successful and wealthy online entrepreneurs are women. Arianna Huffington who founded and then sold her eponymous Post to AOL; Caterina Fake who co-founded Flicker; Elaine Wherry who co-founded Meebo; and one of the most accomplished female online entrepreneurs anywhere: Tina Brown, the best-selling author and former editor of Vanity Fair, The New Yorker, Tatler and Talk magazines who founded The Daily Beast. However, for every Tina Brown there are a million female online entrepreneurs who struggle to even barely cover the bills. The current worldwide economy is making entrepreneurial success more difficult by the day, and women can face even greater challenges than men.
Women-Owned Business Are Smaller
In a perfect world there would be no difference between a business startup helmed by a woman vs. a man, but that is not the case in our current reality. Women generally find seeking sufficient financial support an even greater challenge than men, thus are more often undercapitalized. Female owned businesses also tend to be smaller and hire fewer employees than their male owned counterparts. Thus, the advice of how women can best succeed in online entrepreneurship often becomes equated with the advice conventionally given to the underfunded startups.
Secure Capital from Friends & Family
Venture capital and bank financing dried up faster than a puddle in Death Valley when the 2008 recession started and there are no signs that credit will be loosening up anytime soon. Women entrepreneurs need to tap whatever resources they can to ensure that their startups are sufficiently funded and in most cases it comes down to friends and family. Individuals you already know can be a reasonable source of venture capital, but it is imperative that they be treated like formal investors, rather than a family member or friend spotting you $100 ‘til payday. They should be presented with a full and accurate business plan that outlines exactly what you’re going to do with their money, when they can expect to get paid back and what additional profit or dividend they can look forward to.
Display Your Emotional Involvement
Women have a tendency to become more emotionally involved in their business and that can make for a more successful funding pitch, whether it is in front of a group of Silicon Valley venture capitalists, or Aunt Gladys and Uncle Milton. A prospective investor wants to see that you display passion in your pursuit of your business’ goals and aren’t going to just fold up the tent and walk away at the first sign of trouble. They are counting on you to safeguard their investment and if a presentation is performed in the soulless, facts and figures manner adopted by a considerable number of male pitchers, the investors may debate your level of commitment. Balance is important in any funding approach as you don’t want to come off as overly emotional, insistent or shrill.
Startup success can be a hard slog, regardless of gender, but many women have to fight even harder than men. Firmly committing to your project and believing wholeheartedly in your success is the best advice for any female entrepreneur in the currently difficult startup environment.