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December 31, 2020

Entrepreneur is a word that gets thrown about a lot in this generation. The word has become so adulterated, that a lot of people have begun to see the word ‘entrepreneur’ as a synonym for joblessness. An entrepreneur as described by the Institute of Entrepreneurial Development (IED) is “a person with great, innovating ideas that identifies the need for the creation of a business to fill a void.”

Therefore entrepreneurs not only need to be observant and innovative to notice and proffer solutions to problems in society, but also need to be competent enough to bring that solution into reality. The business and entrepreneurship landscape have historically been male-dominated, but with more focus on female empowerment in the last decade, the number of female-run business have increased by 45 percent. We see women making great strides in industries such as finance, tech and entertainment.

With all these advancements, there’s still a lot of resistance for many female entrepreneurs due to social expectations, stereotypes and outdated mindsets. As a result, a lot of women entrepreneurs and business people feel the need to adopt male attitudes, coming off as aggressive, competitive and micromanagerial. In a 2013 Gallup poll, and corroborated by a more recent Fairygodboss survey, women themselves prefer having a male boss to having a female boss. The survey also shows that while men and women leaders may criticize equally, with women leaders it is assumed  to have a more negative impact on the employees career in that workplace.

Men and women have always been different; physically and mentally. None better than the other, but different. As a result, each gender has peculiar strengths and contributions to make to the business workplace. Women in business still face an upward battle to the journey of entrepreneurship and business, however faster change can be brought on by them employing their unique abilities to change the narrative.

These are some of the ways female entrepreneurs can bring changes to the workplace

Accepting Yourself

Our default notion of a leader is someone who is stoic, logical, dependable and cool under pressure. As a result, most entrepreneurs try to fit themselves into this mold in order to garner loyalty from their employees. This may be even more true for female entrepreneurs. Since most industries are still male-dominated, a female executive may find herself “alone” in the midst of other male executives and may want to adapt their mannerisms in order to survive. However, leadership is an extension of the person; the leader, therefore each strategy must be put into context of the person employing it. Everyone has the ability to change for the better, but that doesn’t need to mean totally overhauling yourself and your beliefs to fit a mold.

Women are scientifically proven to have sharper memories and better intuition. More than your advantages as a woman, you also have advantages as a person. Embracing that person and employing those unique abilities in your day-to-day activities will bring about more accomplishments and a sense of fulfillment

 

Everyone makes mistakes

As a woman in an executive position, it may seem the entire development of women in business rests on your every action. As a result, a lot of women are more risk averse, scared to make mistakes in business. This can hinder their ability to pioneer in new fields and be at the forefront of new innovations.

The backbone of every successful business is ability to make mistakes and learn from them quickly. While women are more likely to be criticized for mistakes than their male counterparts, if they can make the necessary change in time, their results will speak louder than any voice of contention.

Female founders should not feel they have failed the female gender because of mistakes. They should learn from it, make changes and move on. Letting it weigh on their mind continually, will no doubt adversely affect other aspects of the business and in turn their lives as a whole

 

You cannot do it alone

No woman is an island. While you may be one of the few women executives or founders in your industry, it is necessary to understand that you need input from trusted sources. In a survey by The Guardian, 88% of young female creative say they lack female role models. It is necessary actively grow a close-knit association of friends, family and business associates to support and encourage you.

As the statistics showed earlier, a lot of female founders feel alienated and may see asking for help as a sign of weakness. However, inability to ask for help from trusted sources may eventually stalemate their chances to grow in that industry. Recent research from Harvard Business Review shows that women benefitted in terms of post-MBA job placement from being central in their network and more importantly having a circle of close female contacts despite having similar education and work experience to men. Female entrepreneurs must be brave enough to ask for help when they need it.

 

Being a woman has always come with its unique challenges, more so, being a woman in business. However as we continue to see more gender equality in business and entrepreneurship, women founders can continue to make changes to stereotypical mindsets and the business landscape by infusing business with empathy, intuition brought on by expertise and a hunger to succeed.