The Indian economy has grown steadily over the last decade, and there has been a parallel surge in the number of startups and new businesses in the country. A majority of these have been founded by men. However, in this golden age of globalization, digitalization and start-up booms, India is pursuing a revolution vis-à-vis women entrepreneurs. The sixth economic census released by Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation (MoSPI) highlights that women constitute around 14% of the total entrepreneurship in India. Today’s women entrepreneurs do not come only from the established business families or from the higher-income sections of the population, they come from all walks of life and from all parts of the country. From running sports media firms to construction companies and security and detective agencies – women are dabbling into fields that have traditionally been bastions of male domination.
But there is also other side of the story. While many women have ambitions towards entrepreneurship, it is often more difficult for them to succeed. In fact, India has been found to be in a group of countries where women business owners (as well as women leaders and professionals) struggle with less favourable conditions, pronounced cultural biases, and a lack of business resources such as finances, capital, training, and development.
The government’s ambitious Startup India, Stand-up India initiative has failed to attract women entrepreneurs. Only 43% of the 27,084 recognised startups in India had a woman director as of 8 January, according to the Economic Survey 2019-20.
Women’s representation remained low even in the states that, according to the survey, were top performers in terms of state-wise distribution of recognized startups—Delhi, Maharashtra and Karnataka.
Also, in the Index of Women Entrepreneurs 2019, India ranked 52 out of the 57 surveyed countries.
What’s worse, according to the reports, the number of funded startups with at least one female co-founder declined from 17% in 2018 to 12% in 2019. Women are missing in the Startup India initiative because many women, who start their initiatives, are not in the limelight or mentored professionally. Additionally, when it comes to funding, women are not only scrutinized about how they’d manage their businesses, but also their families in parallel, which isn’t a filter men are put through.
We at Greater Kashmir believe that women are a potential gold mine when it comes to entrepreneurship and must be encouraged through professional guidance, skilling and handholding. A society in which women cannot realise their full potential loses out on the significant potential for innovation, economic growth, and job creation.
Let’s roll out some essential steps for women who want to become entrepreneurs. Women start their businesses for a variety of reasons. Millennial women are often driven by market opportunity while baby boomers are driven by necessity.
But regardless of the age group or primary driver, there are some universal considerations that apply to all potential woman entrepreneurs as they prepare to start a business.
Have an honest assessment of yourself
Entrepreneurship isn’t right for everyone, so it’s important to determine if it might be a good fit—and before spending significant amounts of time, money, sweat, and tears launching a business.
Business owners need to be self-starters who don’t wait for others to call all the shots. Are you self-motivated? Are you decisive? They also have to be comfortable with assuming some degree of risk. Success in business is never a 100% sure thing. Can you deal with risk and uncertainty? Can you handle setbacks and rejection without falling into deep despair?
Entrepreneurs must also have a knack for managing time and setting priorities effectively. Are you organized and able to recognize tasks that require urgent attention versus those that can wait?
Anticipate impact of entrepreneurship on your interpersonal relationships
Starting a business requires time and focus—often large quantities of both. Realize that this will have an impact to some degree on your relationships with your partner, kids, other relatives, and friends. Some people might feel offended by the time and attention you’re devoting to your startup and won’t always understand why you can’t carve out an hour to meet them for lunch or happy hour. Your partner and children may feel resentment at needing to do more around the house than they did before.
It’s critical to communicate and set expectations from the beginning so that you can help prevent hard feelings and maintain healthy relationships.
Don’t forget to analyse its impact on your livelihood in the beginning
Starting a business often comes with cutting back on some of life’s luxuries. And by luxuries, I don’t necessarily mean caviar, exotic trips, and designer handbags—you may need to temporarily forgo some of the modest perks you regularly enjoy. Whether it’s daily stops for a grande mocha latte at the Starbucks downtown, subscriptions to premium cable television channels, dinner at the local steakhouse every Saturday night, or some other indulgence, you might need to put them on hold as you wait for your business to ramp up. Can you accept that? Can your family accept that?
Learn what you need to learn
Entrepreneurship is a journey and an educational experience. As you traverse the process of starting and running a business, you will discover deficits in your knowledge and capabilities that you weren’t aware of before. Be self-aware and accept that you’re imperfect and will make mistakes. What matters is how you react to and overcome those challenges. Put your ego aside and be willing to learn and improve.
Believe in yourself and your abilities.
Celebrate and capitalize on your personal strengths. Moreover, learn to differentiate between constructive criticism and mean-spirited input when you receive feedback from others. The first will help you become a stronger, more effective entrepreneur, and the latter will deflate your motivation and self-confidence if you take it to heart.
To conclude, starting a business will not be easy, but if you do your due diligence, channel your strengths, prepare for challenges, and leverage resources wisely, you can and will succeed.
Choose the right business
If you have a burning desire to become a female entrepreneur, then you’ll need to lay the crucial foundations; decide what the business will be in the first place. It’s a basic requirement but it certainly is no easy feat! There are more business ideas for women out there than the stars in the Milky Way, so you’ll need to consider a number of questions before choosing your star – the industry and business to work in.
Ask yourself when choosing a business:
1.What are your skills?
2.How will you turn your skills into a business model?
3.Is there a viable niche in the market?
4.Can you afford to start a business?
Meanwhile, there are some common challenges such as overcoming social stigmas, conquering the fear of failure, balancing work & family and acquiring funding which a woman entrepreneur can face.
Societal norms have taught us to expect certain behavioral patterns from men, and different behaviors from women. But, in order to survive in the world of business, women entrepreneurs know that it’s often necessary to beat men at their own game. That is to say, women entrepreneurship requires a high level of competitiveness and sometimes even a fair bit of aggression. Needless to say, those traits are the opposite of what old-school norms have ascribed to women: to be quiet, gentle, and complacent.
How to avoid this challenge: Be confident and assert yourself! Don’t allow other people’s expectations to weigh you down and keep you from achieving your full potential. Success in business takes grit regardless of gender, so don’t be ashamed to stand tall – particularly in the face of criticism!
In the context of conquering the fear of failure, the problems of women entrepreneurs can come from within as easily as they can come from an external source. In other words, it’s not enough to ignore the haters (and there are plenty of them!) or even to use their critiques as fuel. To become a female entrepreneur of the highest caliber, you’ll need to conquer the fear of failure, which ultimately comes from self-doubt.
It’s completely normal for business owners to experience anxiety and fear in the face of potential failure, but what’s important is not allow that fear to cripple your ability to succeed.
To avoid this challenge, the woman entrepreneur has to learn lessons from small business failure statistics; study up on what the common causes of failure are, and the best strategies to predict and avoid them. As the great Franklin Roosevelt once said, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself!” The solution is not to ignore fear, but rather, to recognize when there are justified reasons for fear and take the necessary steps to clear those hurdles.
How to maintain the role of a parent while simultaneously operating a business – it’s one of the most common challenges faced by female entrepreneurs. Mompreneurs have it harder than others involved in women entrepreneurship, and certainly have a much more difficult time than male counterparts.
Though the odds are far from equal, that by no means makes business success an unreachable goal for mothers. Don’t believe us? Before you make up your mind, have a look at how one amazing woman was able to establish her business even when the cards were stacked against her.