Over the years the number of women taking on entrepreneurial responsibilities has picked up indicating a healthy trend. However despite the numbers slowly going up, there is a long way to go before many more Indian women can be convinced about the potential that can be exploited in them having their own enterprises. Many women nip their interests in the bud or give up midway not because it is hard to become an Entrepreneur but because they find their journey too uphill to remain one. Here are a few challenges that women face as they embark on their entrepreneurial journey.
Need for Capital: Finance is the ‘life-line’ for any business. Getting funds from external sources is a big challenge since most women don’t have properties in their names which can be pledged as collateral to obtain funds from external sources. Banks also tend to discourage women entrepreneurs since they consider them to be less credit worthy and fear that they would close down their businesses at any time.
Family Commitments: Especially in India, looking after children and other members of the family is considered to be the sole responsibility of a married woman and she is forced to strike a delicate balance between her personal and professional responsibilities. The family expects her to be a mother and wife, while the business requires her to be the leader and show commitment. There are women who balance these two spheres of their lives very well, while there are others who are overwhelmed and give up.
Lack of Education: Many women suffer due to a lack of quality education leading to inadequate awareness of the right business principles, current market knowledge and the appropriate use of technology. This causes low achievement motivation which inhibits them from succeeding in business. There are others who have doubts about their own role and abilities. Although the constitution speaks of equality between sexes they are considered weak in some respects.
Safety and security: In today’s times, safety is a big hurdle for women in India. Due to the rise of social crime, women hesitate to take on roles that demand long and late hours and interactions with a world of strangers. They find it difficult to travel extensively for exploiting business opportunities. The lack of emotional support and the non-availability of appropriate mentoring options add to the struggles they face.
Issue of Networking: With a large part of the high-level business world still being dominated by men, women find it challenging to blaze their own path and facilitate the introductions and connections into some of the more elite business networks. It is often not what you know but who you know that is important for your ultimate success. Women need to step out of their comfort zones and socialize not only to get the job done but to also nurture their relational capital. If you want to build a large and successful business, you cannot do it alone. The amount of collaboration and bonding that can be gained by a large but close network is invaluable.
Fear of Failure: Entrepreneurship is risky and there is no guarantee of success. Women dread failing, especially if the people around them were skeptical of their capabilities of starting and running a business in the first place. A friend once announced that she would like to quit her job and set up her own art and design business. Instead of receiving a pat on her back or a word of appreciation, she got a raised brow and a question that broke her confidence “You are a girl, will you be able to do that?”
Despite these bottlenecks that most women face in India, there are many who have risen above them and built successful businesses. Communicating with the family and thinking the business idea out with a long term sustainable plan can act as a key to success. Most important of all, developing an attitude to persevere despite all odds goes a long way in being successful.
They are many women around us with incredible ideas that could change the way we live. If we can equip them with the right tools and knowledge, and give them the encouragement and support they need, we will see an innovative business landscape that will surely make the world a better place to live in.
Silva Management Services