Why Women Fear Starting a Business
What’s Stopping You?
We mark National Women’s Enterprise Day in Ireland every year and we celebrate all the wonderfully successful, female-led businesses across the country. From time to time, I work with start-ups and I mentor on programmes geared towards helping individuals to fast track their business ideas and turn them into reality.
I hate to pull the gender card, but I’ve seen a common trait in the females that I have come across who are trying to get their businesses up and running. There is a real fear among them, in comparison to their male counterparts. Females are almost waiting for permission to go into business.
My motto has always been ‘Bite First, Chew Later’. We don’t need all the answers right away. We will learn them as we walk through challenges. Opportunities will come and go. We will never be fully ready. We need to focus on learning to adapt to change and working with what we have.
Many of the fears I’ve come across in others I have actually experienced myself first hand. It was pretty scary (mentally and financially!) leaving full time employment to jump into the unknown. Here are some common fears I experienced;
Females are under intense pressure to be perfect at everything. They seem to feel that they can’t actually start in business until absolutely everything is perfect. In reality, you are never ready. You just have to start somewhere and keep moving forward. We all know that ‘done’ is better than ‘perfect’.
Where To Start
Wondering where to begin is the first hard step. For some women, they’ve been type-cast into certain roles or have settled under the comfy blanket of a ‘safe’ job. Others may have been out of the workforce for a while eg; raising a family or for other personal reasons and and feel unsure of how to get the ball rolling for the next chapter. The reality is that there are several programmes and supports around the country that can help you. You just have to step forward and ask. Women tend to question their business ideas more and this can inhibit taking risks. Getting the right information before you jump can significantly mitigate a lot of worry and risk.
Lack of Confidence
This is definately one of the most common problems. Often, females might have a business idea that is new to the market and they may not be an expert in that area or industry. This can knock confidence and stunt business growth. But the fact of the matter is, confidence is a habit. There is no shame is not knowing all the answers. Often, ‘imposter syndrome’, can be the biggest road block. Being confident in your committment to moving forward, learning and striving for excellence is a good enough move. The expertise will come when you make confident a habit.
Low Self Worth
Low self worth is something I think we have absorbed from society. We’ve come along way, but the gender pay gap, the lack of females at senior level management, to name a few, have left us feeling un-worthy or not good enough. Business can often be male dominated and it can be a struggle at times to be heard and be taken seriously, if you are not as aggressive and competitive as our male counterparts.
Cost of Success
We have been conditioned to feel that if we reach a high level of success, something else will suffer; our families or relationships etc. This is really not something that our male counterparts suffer from. The reality is we must be in charge of our own time and design it in such a way that is smart. It should be up to the entire family to strike the work/life balance. Sometimes other people beyond our own families are put out by our successes and they want to put us ‘back in our box’. But that is their fear, not ours. Don’t let it transfer on to yours.
Fear of Failure
We worry that we will be judged if things don’t work out. I would rather live with the acceptance of failure than the disappointment of not trying. Failure is still a dirty word in Ireland.
We need to re-programme our brains to the idea that we either win or learn.
Worrying about what other will think, is not going to help you reach your full potential. In fact, it will crush your dreams.