Skip to main content

How to Overcome the Common Barriers That Women Face in Business

I am a professional teacher, writer, researcher, and learner. I always try to learn because there is no age for learning.


Whether you’re in the early planning stages of starting your own business or have been in business for years, you know that women face special challenges in business. In the past, women have faced problems with access to capital, which has narrowed the field of businesses they can open to those that don’t require a lot of startup funds (such as nail salons and hair salons). Fortunately, legal barriers are disappearing and women are more likely than ever to be able to start their businesses.

Multi-racial Business women

The Fear of Failure

The biggest barrier for most aspiring female entrepreneurs is fear. If I quit my job, will I be able to pay my bills? What if it doesn’t work out? Overcoming these fears can be tough, but you have to take a leap of faith and go for it. The first step is acknowledging them, so you know what you are working with. Once you get past your fear of failure—or paralysis by analysis—your confidence will soar, and you'll discover there are all sorts of resources available to help guide you through your startup journey. Think mentors, informational interviews, and books like Lean Startup Methodology: How to Innovate with Minimum Viable Products and Rapid Customer Feedback. Also, try joining a women's entrepreneurship organization (i.e., Women Presidents' Organization or Women's Business Development Council) that offers mentorship opportunities via workshops, speaker series events, and peer-to-peer meetings.

Financial Stability

Women entrepreneurs often have less money and fewer financial resources than their male counterparts. Women are paid less and are also more likely to be unemployed or work part-time, putting them at a significant disadvantage when it comes to starting their own companies. Even if you have a good salary from your current job, financing can be hard for a woman entrepreneur. Banks tend not to fund female entrepreneurs as much as they fund their male counterparts; studies suggest banks are more willing to lend money for businesses started by men than those started by women. There is growing evidence of an informal 'glass ceiling' preventing women from gaining access to high-value jobs which may affect their ability to gain access to finance.

Successful Multiethnic Business Colleagues

Balancing Family and Career

This can be tough. If you run your own company, chances are it’s your number one priority, so fitting everything else into place can feel impossible at times. But there are plenty of solutions for mothers looking to build a career without neglecting their families: try working from home a few days a week; delegating more and setting clear boundaries, or even striking up an agreement with another mom who needs help. It’s important to recognize that you don’t have to do it all on your own. You just need to carve out time for both family and work-life — a time where they each come first — rather than trying to devote equal amounts of time to each.

Scroll to Continue

They Worry About Being Judged by your Peers

Men and women alike are liable to be worried about how they’re perceived when starting a new venture, but women tend to carry around even more self-doubt than their male counterparts. When things go wrong, they also seem less willing than men to ask for help or share their concerns with friends. Don’t let your anxiety keep you from starting a company; instead of focusing on what others might think, spend some time thinking about how you can solve your problems by turning them into opportunities. The sooner you realize that most people are rooting for you—and have no way of knowing whether your stumbling blocks are related or coincidental—the better equipped you’ll be as an entrepreneur. And don’t forget: It is possible to both learn from failure and enjoy success as a woman in business. It won't always be easy, but it can happen if you try! It takes time to build relationships. This cannot be done overnight.

Woman in Black Blazer

Hiring People Who Don’t Fit With Your Company Culture

Do you know what’s better than hiring top performers? Hiring top performers who also fit with your company culture. This is why it’s so important to be on top of your cultural fit interviews and get candidates working for you as soon as possible. You can use a service like HackerRank to develop tests for your interviews so you can see how a candidate thinks and come up with behavioral questions that assess personality, too. It takes time, but it will help you identify potential red flags early on—and turn away people who just won’t get along with everyone else. And there are always plenty of good candidates out there—you just have to work harder to find them. After all, the cultural fit should never be an excuse to allow employees to mistreat or disrespect others at work. Your company's culture should serve as a framework for teamwork and encouragement, not selfishness or unprofessionalism. If you don't clearly define these values upfront, it's going to set you (and your employees) up for failure later on down the line when more crucial decisions about product roadmap direction need to be made. When core team members lack the key skills necessary for hitting ambitious deadlines then expectations cannot be met consistently.

Having a Mindset of Scarcity Instead of Abundance

One of my biggest takeaways from researching female entrepreneurs was how much their mindset affects their success. Studies show that a scarcity mindset—or having an attitude of lack—is detrimental to performance in all types of domains. For example, students who believe good grades require superhuman effort receive lower grades, but when they believe intelligence is malleable (i.e., it can be developed), they study more effectively and perform better on exams. Similarly, female entrepreneurs who view themselves as limited by gender-based stereotypes are less likely to succeed than those who don’t hold such beliefs.

The Desire to be Liked by Everyone

We're raised with an ingrained sense of guilt, and that shows up every time we try to take control of our own lives. But being liked by everyone is not only impossible, but it’s also foolish. It's a waste of time and energy to care about what others think—instead, focus on your goals and follow through on your commitments. Who knows? If you do a good job at running your own life, those around you might even appreciate it! Most importantly, there’s nothing wrong with wanting other people’s opinions—but there is something wrong with letting their opinions dictate how you live your life. There are always going to be naysayers, but who cares? Your success as an entrepreneur depends on your decision-making skills (and how well you can stay calm under pressure). So why would you allow someone else’s point of view to impact that? Trust yourself and go for it! People will either love or hate your decisions... And guess what: There are plenty more fish in the sea who don't like fish anyway. After much consideration put forth into starting my new pet service, I've decided against it because all my focus right now should be placed into my new health food store which just went active last week.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

© 2022 Ghulam Nabi Memon

Related Articles