Starting up and growing your own business can be one of the most interesting, exciting and confidence-boosting work anyone, of any age, can do. But, being realistic, at the same time it can be hugely frustrating, challenging and a wee bit confidence-draining at times!
No-one ever said starting a business would be easy. If it was, everyone would be doing it… they aren’t. But you are, and you are joining the thousands of women who have already stepped forward and are pioneering the road ahead.
Every day, whether you are a man or a woman in business, challenges will be thrown at you – products don’t work, people don’t buy, people don’t pay, staff act up, you run out of money. And whilst we don’t want to sound too ‘Pollyanna’ about this, these challenges really are opportunities to grow and learn and make your business better, if you think about them.
However women in business can often face additional challenges over and above the ones our male colleagues face, such as childcare, adult care, not being listened to, people not seeing the potential for women’s products and so on.
And one of the areas where women business owners face particular additional challenges is in getting the money we need to start and grow our business.
Brace yourself for this.
Research shows that on average:
- Women ask for one third less money than men do i.e. if a man asks for £10,000, a woman will ask for around £7,000
- Women start their businesses with 53% less money than men do i.e. if a man starts a business with £10,000, a woman will start her business with less than £5,000
- And here’s a real shocker…women-led businesses receive only 1p in every pound of Venture Capital investment. In other words, a man receives 99 times more money than a woman does when they want to grow their businesses.
It’s useful for you to know that men and women can be asked different questions when being assessed for funding, whether or not the person asking the questions is a man or a woman. Research from Harvard Business Review (HBR) shows that men are asked about growth opportunities for their business (promotion questions) and women are asked about losses and their competence in business (prevention questions). Yes, we agree, hugely frustrating! But now you know that this happens, you can address it – and the best way to do that is by briefly answering any prevention questions then immediately turning to focus on explaining the growth and opportunities.
All of this could certainly drain your confidence and stifle the growth of your business at the same time! However, once you understand why it ‘might’ be more difficult for you to raise money as a woman in business, you can prepare better for the fundraising process. Fore-warned is fore-armed! Women can have a very different approach to men on risk and taking on business debt, and it’s worth taking time to fully consider your own business risk appetite. Many women have chosen to start up using their own resources or a mix of grant funding.