Businesses owned by female entrepreneurs represent 42% of all-American businesses, employing roughly 9.4 million workers, and generating annual revenues of over $1.9 trillion dollars. Despite their rising financial and economic agency, women still face enormous challenges in the world of business. From not being taken seriously by their peers to lacking access to capital, Carol Ann Korpi understands that we still have a long way to go before women are treated equally in the workplace. As the CEO of CA Consults, Carol Ann Korpi has extensive experience working with start-ups and founders to help them build their businesses from the ground up. Carol Ann Korpi is here to identify some of the major challenges that women still face in the workplace, and what they can do to overcome them.
Lack of Respect from Peers
The first hurdle that many women face is being taken seriously by their peers. Despite major progress towards gender equality and equal pay, it can still be challenging for women to earn the respect of their colleagues and employees. Outdated beliefs surrounding gender limitations still inform workplace politics, something many women have either encountered or continue to encounter to this day. Carol Ann Korpi explains that women tend to internalize the narrative of ‘not being enough’ or lacking authority or respect from their peers. One way that women can combat imposter syndrome is to surround themselves with other female entrepreneurs who can help them overcome this self-imposed narrative. This brings us to the next point: support networks.
A strong network is required for anyone to build a successful company. Having resources that you can count will play a key role in the growth of any start-up, whether it is drafting a business strategy or making sense of legal paperwork. Carol Ann Korpi explains that for women, it is important to have a professional network of female entrepreneurs that can not only cheer you on but provide you with critical feedback and resources when necessary. Women entrepreneurs face many of the same challenges and having a support network can help you overcome them.
Downplaying Valuable Contributions
Women entrepreneurs have a tendency to downplay their value and worth, minimizing their accomplishments to make other people feel comfortable. Carol Ann Korpi explains that this experience is all too common among her female clients, and she suggests owning your accomplishments. Confidence in women is often misinterpreted as arrogance, narcissism, or vanity — which is why women tend to play down their successes. Anytime you outperform, win an award, or beat a sales target, take a moment to celebrate your success. If you do not feel comfortable doing this with your team, Carol Ann Korpi suggests sharing these successes with your network of female entrepreneurs, encouraging them to do the same.
Difficulty Raising Capital
Lastly, raising capital for a start-up is a difficult process for any entrepreneur, but it may be even more difficult for women-owned businesses. A 2014 Bank of America and Babson College report found that less than 3% of companies with venture capital funding had female CEOs. One of the ways to overcome this is to look for other female investors, or granting programs oriented towards helping women get their businesses off the ground. Carol Ann Korpi explains that finding investors is a lengthy process, and being able to answer any question, present your business concisely, and having a great team, can enhance your chances of success.