How a fear of getting out of their comfort zone is the biggest hurdle for female entrepreneurs

A new survey from 99designs reveals some of the challenges facing female entrepreneurs

How a fear of getting out of their comfort zone is the biggest hurdle for female entrepreneurs

While the startup community is certainly no stranger to thinking outside the box, achieving more gender equality is still an ongoing issue. Even though an increasing number of women are running their own companies, fewer female founders are launching their own business than men. Now, a new report has revealed some of the hurdles women are forced to overcome on the road to startup success.

Having surveyed more than 1,700 entrepreneurs from the US, the UK, Europe and Australia, 99designs, the online graphic design marketplace, has highlighted how many women are struggling to get access to funding. The data highlighted how male entrepreneurs are, on average, twice as likely as women to raise $100,000, with 12% of men having secured that amount compared to 6% of women. Encouragingly, it seems as if the UK is bucking the trend, with 11% of British female founders having been able to raise $100,000 compared to 6% of their male counterparts.

It also seems that, across the globe, male business leaders usually begin their startup career earlier than women. According to the survey, 18% of men embarked on their entrepreneurial journey between the ages of 18 and 25 while only 12% of women said the same. Of the people polled, 43% of women began their startup career after the age of 35 compared to 33% of men.

Additionally, many women are assigning more time to their families than men are and fewer women are willing to put in ultra-long days in the office – even after they’ve launched their business. The survey highlighted this by showing how 19% of female entrepreneurs spend over five hours a day with their family. For men, that number was 13%. In comparison, 7% of female founders work over 12 hours per day while 13% of male said the same.

But when asked, 20% of female founders listed getting out of their comfort zone as the biggest hurdle they face while launching their startup. As for men, 14% listed this as their main challenge. Commenting on the results, Pam Webber, chief marketing officer at 99designs, said: “All entrepreneurs are stepping into the unknown to a degree but the findings show that this is even more of a challenge for women. Opening yourself up to rejection or failure is hard for anyone but female entrepreneurs find taking these risks harder.”

Webber also noted that despite these difficulties, the number of women owning their own business had risen by 30% in the US and that the proportion of UK SMEs run mainly by women has increased from 14% in 2008 to 20% today. “The challenge from here is to identify and understand the gender biases that might affect females starting businesses and use this to support them and their male counterparts equally,” said Weber.

And there are certainly plenty of reasons why supporting women is a wise move, with YouGov and Facebook estimating that doing so could result in a £10.1bn boost to the British economy. In other words, everybody wins when women win.

Eric Johansson
Eric Johansson

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