By: Cherie Kloss, Founder and CEO, SnapNurse
It is nothing new, but I would be remiss not to mention how many more obstacles women in entrepreneurship face than their male counterparts. Common barriers include gender biases, limited funding, lack of support from the government, advisors and sometimes even loved ones. According to this report, only about 20% of funded companies have women founders.
However, with the rise of female-owned businesses nearing 13 million in 2019, women are finally seeing some well-deserved recognition in the entrepreneurial world. According to a report from American Express, “the number of women-owned businesses increased 21%, while all businesses increased only 9%. Total employment by women-owned businesses rose 8%, while for all businesses, the increase was 1.8%.”
There is more promising news in the highest corporate levels: 2022 has seen a new record of female CEOs at Fortune 500 companies – 74, up from the 41 recorded in June 2021. Of course, this number is still far from where it should be, but it is progress.
Equality in Tech
While these stats are sure indications that things are changing for the better, there is still much to do to reach true equality for women in business. These numbers drop significantly if you are a minority, and these inequalities lie in societal issues that still need to be solved.
As a minority woman, I’ve gone into numerous meetings or events where I felt like the people, predominantly men, in the room did not listen to me and my ideas. As I set out to create and build SnapNurse, the largest tech-forward healthcare staffing platform in the U.S., I continuously heard no from people because they were unwilling to invest in me or my product. While this isn’t true in every case, I believe that I wasn’t supported because I am a minority female creating a platform in the male-dominated technology industry to help the female-dominated field of nursing and healthcare.
Women and minorities have wonderful ideas. Sometimes I think they are afraid to share these ideas for fear of not being listened to or rejected. But anyone who wants to start their own business should take the risk and share their ideas with the world.
Here are a few things I’ve learned through creating my business that might help you in your journey to becoming a successful woman and entrepreneur.
- Set Yourself Up for Success
There are many ways women and minorities can set themselves up for entrepreneurial success. In my opinion, the best thing you can do is surround yourself with a solid team of subject matter experts in the areas where you might be lacking – such as technology development, human resources, accounting or others that are essential to a successful business – that can work with you to help you get your business off the ground. Understand your strengths and weaknesses. Build yourself a solid support system of those with different skill sets to ultimately work together to thrive.
I would also highly recommend hiring strong middle managers. This will free up your time and calendar from suffering from “death by meetings” and enable you to focus on other essential needs to grow your business. When something comes up that needs your attention, you can get involved. But there is no need to have your hands in everything – that’s what your support system is for!
- Be Ready to Work Hard
If you’re planning to open your own business, you probably already have the necessary ambition and drive to succeed. But I would caution you to fully prepare yourself for the amount of work and hours it will take to build your vision from the ground up (especially as a woman and/or minority). Be ready to work long hours and know that sacrifices will, unfortunately, have to be made. But also know that it will be worth it in the long run.
On the flip side, however, you also need to take time away from your business – and not feel guilty about it. You have to find a balance between work, interests, family, hobbies, and more; otherwise, you’ll inevitably suffer from burnout. Even the self-proclaimed workaholics need some time off now and then. Though that balance may be challenging to find as you start your business, the more you grow, the more you will need to allow yourself some time off.
- Make Your Voice Heard
Unfortunately, women and minorities in business are often overlooked. As entrepreneurs, we must make our voices heard loud and clear. We can do this by confidently presenting ourselves, our expertise, and our businesses. Don’t silence yourself, and don’t let others silence you. Follow your gut, share your thoughts and offer a strategic approach or solution to every situation.
- Dive In and Learn More
It’s never too late to learn something new. There are countless resources on any subject you can imagine – often for free. When you don’t know something or could use more training, find a way to learn it. You can always find the answer in this modern age, how-tos and online classes on almost any subject. Set aside some time to learn about different aspects of your business every day. As a result, you’ll become a more decisive business leader.