The challenges of being a woman entrepreneur in Singapore include struggling with work-life-family balance, personalizing failure and scaling up businesses. What are yours?
At a seminar by Women on the Web Singapore, a Google program for female entrepreneurs to grow and connect, about 50 women entrepreneurs gathered last month to discuss the challenges of being a woman business owner. We broke out into smaller groups – there were six of us in my group, all with our own companies – and these are the conclusions we came to. I wonder how these challenges compare to those faced by women in other countries? Please comment below and share your thoughts about challenges for women.
[pullquote_right]We need to learn to be more assertive in order to reach our goals.[/pullquote_right]
We need to take care of our family besides working as a full time job.
We have to be multi-taskers. We have to wear many hats – have many roles and yet be focused on our work and the challenges in establishing ourselves.
Discipline in time management
Because of multiple roles, commitment of time to various things takes up a lot of our energy. It’s difficult but absolutely critical to manage time for our work.
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We have issues accessing growth opportunities.
We have limited access to collaborative platforms, funding, advice on growth. The entrepreneurial community is not sensitive to women’s specific issues such as multiple roles, responsibility for family, etc. Therefore, women tend to focus on micro-businesses and don’t really focus on large, scaleable opportunities. They tend to make entrepreneurship a vocation to suit their lifestyle. This could be more prevalent in Asia compared to the West, but maybe not?
[pullquote_left]…women tend to focus on micro-businesses and don’t really focus on large, scaleable opportunities.[/pullquote_left]
Our challenges in scaling up
How can a woman entrepreneur market a service that has never existed before, which addresses an unarticulated need, often not even thought of, without significantly increasing business costs through a traditional marketing model, which includes creating and then resolving the need through big budget advertising? This is an issue if, for various reasons, the entrepreneur does not wish to scale up. She has to depend entirely on her own resources.
Women tend to include everyone and are more hesitant to take harsh and firm decisons.
We need to learn to be more assertive in order to reach our goals. Often the educational background of woman and men are the same, but once they enter the business world men overtake women for being better networkers and just pushing forward. Women also need to learn that what made them excel at university (doing well, finishing in time, being liked, etc.) are not moving them forward in business.
Watch: Singaporean Entrepreneur Elim Chew on How She Started Her Business
We tend to be judged on the type of business we work in.
We are sometimes constrained by traditions. Cultural codes of conduct confine and limit us.
We personalize failure.
Women tend to take less risk and often personalize failure.