Women Challenges in Entrepreneurship: Surviving Those Days

Author: Dr. Cheryl Cottle

In this paper I will like to explore the challenges that women entrepreneurs face, almost on a daily bases, as they struggle to maintain their business at just the level of "start up". I will draw upon three women experiences and perceptions, of what their challenges were. To protect their identity, I gave them each a pseudonym. Jane is a business woman for many years and is an author. She is located in the United States of America. Micha is of Caribbean background located in Canada and has a fashion and jewellery design business and lastly, Dora is a Canadian woman with a spa salon. All of the women had been in business for around the same time.

An examination of the data shows that the challenges that women faced is not necessarily the same for each woman. One woman, whom I will refer to as Jane, pointed out that as a woman-own business owner she was discriminated upon by larger businesses and large organizations  because she was woman-owned business, and because of the size of her business believed that her offering wasn't good enough. Getting clients were one of Jane's challenges. Jane also noted that having to be responsible for performing many roles so that her business is efficient and operational, was another challenge she faced. She also stated that she often had to deal with discrimination from her client base because she was a woman. As a woman she was not perceived as serious about business nor was she perceived by them as knowledgeable.

Another business owner, who I refer to as Micha; a fashion and jewelry designer noted that one of her challenges was getting her products in front of the right clients. "She noted that "I make unique, limited-edition and one-of-a-kind designs, and not everyone wants a unique product." Micha, also added that her biggest challenge was finding her niche market of people who will be interested in hand-crafted designs and who appreciates what goes into its creation. Like Jane, Micha also required finance to facilitate her business. Expanding in the marketplace was just a dream, a vision that she had. She was able to access some small loans from the community-aided agencies, but they were so small that after purchasing a computer or printer the money was absorbed.

Dora is not unlike other women in business, she like so many others face many challenges in growing and sustaining her business. One of her biggest challenge is also finance. She noted that "it is my biggest concern” she says. Moving from working in the corporate world to running her own business was indeed “transformational” for Dora. Like so many women who have made the change, the transitioning into entrepreneurship is met with many challenges. The reliance on a steady pay check is no longer there. Finance does become a concern; how do I meet my personal and business needs are of prime concern for an individual venturing into entrepreneurship. While setting up her business, Dora  has had to work at other jobs to meet her personal needs and to advertise and promote her business. Dora adds that “during this shift I have learned a lot about myself and about business, but it has been a challenge.” Finance still continues to be an ongoing challenge for Dora, but will like in the future to develop a business plan and possible form joint ventures with investors who may be interested in her ideas.

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