Women In Business

4 Things to never say to a female entrepreneur

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Women comprise of half the workforce in the US and Australia, and an even greater proportion in the UK, yet out of the Fortune 500 companies today, only 24 CEOs are female.

Meanwhile in start-up land, businesses founded by women have been proven to deliver higher revenue—more than twice as much per dollar invested than those founded by men, making women-owned companies potentially better cash generators and investment opportunities.

Despite these stats, recent research indicates companies founded or co-founded by women rustled up, on average, $935,000 in VC investments, less than half the average $2.1m invested in companies founded by their male counterparts.

So how can we encourage the next generation of women entrepreneurs to accelerate leadership and drive change? First off, let’s just stop saying these four things:

  1. Well done, you one-woman show

When a woman starts a new business, there’s a misconception that they don’t have the necessary networks or support structures in place to lead the way – especially if they’re leaving full-time employment to start a company for the first time.

Sure, it can sometimes be very isolating, especially when starting up in traditionally male-dominated fields like technology or B2B transformation. But we need to stop pigeon-holing women executives, or stereotype every woman’s approach to entrepreneurship as a starry-eyed solo act.

  1. But you’re so young

Mark Zukerberg was 19 when he first described ‘The Facebook.’ Steve Jobs was only 21 when he started Apple. So why should a woman over 35 constantly be questioned for starting a business because she ‘looks so young’? Or have her skills, talent or wisdom questioned because of the way she looks?

In the age of millennial startups, we need to take age out of the equation and look at real business acumen. Let’s talk about entrepreneurial vision, competitive advantage, and skills and talent necessary to drive real, tangible business results.

  1. How do you do it all?

Ah, the dreaded ‘work/life balance’ question. From the outset, women begin their executive role knowing that at some point in their career, they will be asked how they balance work and family. Unfortunately, often the underlying reason for that question is a risk assessment of a woman’s ability to lead.

Is she going to be able to make the right investment decision if she has to do daycare duty that day? Will she be able to put together out next business strategy deck, while breastfeeding?

The short answer is, yes.

The long answer is, she’ll be able to do it, and because there’s the over-arching sense of guilt she feels that she might not deliver due to family commitments, she’ll actually end up over-delivering and over-achieving.

  1. You’re making too many changes

When men drive entrepreneurial change, it’s heralded as a heroic force of business ‘disruption’. However when women want to do things differently, suddenly there’s the fear every pinnacle of business will start shape-shifting and spiral into the unknown.

In order to drive business growth, it’s time to put our fears and biases aside, and embrace women entrepreneurs for who they really are: forward-thinking, innovative game-changers who are passionate about transforming business and making a real difference now – and for the future.

About Azadeh Williams

Azadeh Williams is a former lawyer, global business journalist and lecturer, who founded B2B content marketing and communications firm, AZK Media. Leading technology, SaaS, martech and adtech companies choose AZK Media for the company’s intelligent capability to define, refine and amplify business messaging through an integrated approach to content and media. Find out more at www.azkmedia.com

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