On paper, things have never looked better for female entrepreneurs. More than 11 million U.S. businesses are owned by women, employing nearly 9 million people and generating $1.7 trillion in sales, according to the National Association of Women Business Owners. But these numbers only tell part of the story. Women-owned businesses are still in the minority, and the hurdles faced by women who have embraced entrepreneurship are vast and often very different from those experienced by their male counterparts. Below are key obstacles female CEOs, including KC Restoration’s LeAnn Luemmen, have often encountered and how to overcome them:
Defying Social Expectations
Most female business owners who have attended networking events can relate to this scenario: You walk into a crowded seminar and can count the number of women there on one hand. When female entrepreneurs talk business with primarily male executives, it can be unnerving. Successful female CEOs believe that remaining true to yourself and finding your own voice are the keys to rising above preconceived expectations.
LeAnn has learned that knowledge is the key to earning respect in business. She has a passion for helping out other women owned small businesses and enjoys sharing her education by providing resources and information that have helped her throughout the years. Giving back is just one of our company values.
Access to Funding
Not all startup founders look for investors to help get their businesses off the ground, but those who do know how difficult the pitching process can be. Raising capital is even more difficult for women-owned businesses. Venture capitalists tend to invest in startups run by people of their own “tribe”. This means that VC firms with female partners are more likely to invest in women-run startups. Female entrepreneurs can also raise the necessary capital for their business by learning to ask for exactly what they need, even if that means requesting more than what they want. Male investors tend to assume that the women entrepreneurs are operating just like the men and inflating their numbers. Therefore, they will provide funding at lower levels than requested. Women need to understand this dynamic and approach their pitches accordingly.
Over the years KC Restoration has built a team of financial advisors in both the banking industry and the financial planning industry. Building a strong team of advisors has been a key factor in allowing us to purchase our own building and expand the company. We want to thank Douglas L. Freeman CPA, LLC, Fortiviti, Academy Bank and Enterprise Bank for their commitment to helping us succeed.
Building a Support Network
A robust support network is essential for entrepreneurial success, so it’s no surprise that 48% of female founders report that a lack of available advisors and mentors limits their professional growth. Finding the right support network isn’t always easy. Some good places to start are women-focused networking events, online forums and groups created specifically for women in business. Once you find your network of supporters, don’t be afraid to ask for what you really need from them.
The KCR team has been fortunate to find business advisors at SCORE Kansas City Chamber and the Kansas SBDC to help provide guidance and education as needed.
Coping with Fear of Failure
Failure is a very real possibility in any business venture, but it is advised for women not to let their insecurities keep them from dreaming big. Failure should not be viewed as a negative or an excuse for relinquishing your goal. We view mistakes as growth opportunities. Having a positive growth mindset has allowed us the ability to adapt to a changing environment.
The road to success is paved with losses, mishaps and mistakes, but it can still take you where you want to go as long as you don’t lose sight of your ultimate destination.