Whether you’re a female business owner or someone who serves that group of entrepreneurs, you’re part of an extraordinary ecosystem with a unique set of challenges and opportunities. In this article, SCORE RI Co-Chair Rochelle Blease shares her perspective on women in business—where they bring unique strengths, and what they need help with the most.
Necessity is a Mother
As much as I’m not someone who really likes overgeneralizations, I would say that on balance, women are better collaborators and more imaginative.
Think about the adage “Necessity is the mother of invention.” It’s not “Necessity is the father of invention.” The fact that “mother” and “invention” are together in that old adage is something that I’ve experienced both in my career and in working with clients and mentors.
An Innovative Toolbox
Women’s natural inclination is to be creative and collaborative and to problem-solve in a much more expansive way. Let’s take it into a construction analogy: I have a construction problem, so I’m going to look in my toolbox to figure out whether I have the tools to fix it. Many women will say, “Hm, I have these tools, but my neighbor has this, and my babysitter’s brother has this…,” and so on. I think women come at a problem differently, and they’re more open to innovative and collaborative solutions.
The Confidence Hurdle
The biggest challenge women business owners face is one of those soft issues: it’s confidence. Yes, there are some off-setting things that female entrepreneurs bring to that equation. But many lack confidence in saying, “I know where to start, I know how to do this, I know how I can tap into resources.” There’s also a different fear of failure that I see between the genders, where women are maybe a little more averse to risk.
…and the Capital Crunch
One last challenge, which isn’t as unique to women, is finding the financial resources to break out of the gates. I think the third parties who want to make capital available do a decent job, but each of them does their own job. In other words, if I’m a traditional lender, I’m going to be advocating for all of my more traditional products. If I’m a nontraditional lender, I’m going to be talking about those kinds of things. I don’t think there are many good sources that bring it all together.
That’s one of things I try to do as a SCORE mentor, to help entrepreneurs understand that there’s a whole spectrum available. That’s not something that’s easy to get a good feel for, yet it’s crucial in the initial stages of creating ideas and high-level plans to start or grow a business. That’s when you’re thinking, “How am I going to get the funds to be able to do this?” We’re working towards making more information available, but I do think there’s a gap.
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