An open letter to aspiring female entrepreneurs

By: Julia Klein

Have you ever identified a problem and thought to yourself, “Someone should invent something that solves this?” Have you ever thought to yourself, “I have a better way of doing this?”

If you answered yes, you may not have realized it at the time, but you were thinking like an entrepreneur. Maybe you seized the moment and brought your idea to life but, more likely, you made an excuse for why being an entrepreneur wasn’t right for you. I know this because, before taking the leap and starting my business, I navigated through miles of these same excuses.

Let’s take a look at some of the most common objections raised by potential female founders:

  1. I won’t make billions of dollars like Facebook, Uber, or Airbnb.

No, you probably won’t. If you are only interested in becoming an entrepreneur to make billions, you should stop reading this blog now. That doesn’t mean, however, that you can’t be financially successful as an entrepreneur.

But even if you are only moderately successful, even if you fail, the experience of starting your own company has tremendous value. You will learn things that you can’t learn working a desk job at a Fortune 500 corporation: how to adapt to crazy circumstances, how to make decisions with your company on the line, how to get creative on a shoestring budget. In addition, starting your own business is the fastest way to grow your business acumen. While marketing, finance, supply chain, and product design divisions may never interact in a corporation, in a startup, they are often one and the same.

  1. I don’t have enough experience to start a company.

This is a common objection that women voice more frequently than their male counterparts. In fact, in a study done by Forbes, women with the same qualifications as men had a 5% greater fear of failure and a 15% lower confidence in their capabilities. This disparity in self-confidence is called the Confidence Gap.

So, what does this mean?

This means that you are likely better-equipped than you think to be a successful founder! To combat any self-doubts you may have, sit down and objectively evaluate your strengths and weaknesses. Then, focus on finding cofounders and team members with complementary strengths to increase your chances of success and bolster your confidence.

  1. Entrepreneurship is dominated by men. I won’t be able to break into this world as a female.

It is an undeniable fact: the startup industry is dominated by men. However, female founders are on the rise and making their mark in industries as diverse as news, fashion, and biotechnology. Kick-ass female founders like Carly Zakin and Danielle Weisberg of The Skimm, Jennifer Fleiss and Jennifer Hyman of Rent the Runway, and Elizabeth Holmes of Theranos prove that entrepreneurship isn’t just a boys club. These women saw opportunities in their respective markets and seized them to create million and billion dollar businesses.

You may feel uncomfortable or out of place at times. You will, at some point, likely be the only female founder in the room. For those moments, here is a fun fact to keep you going – startups with at least one female founder perform 63% better than those with all male teams.

  1. It is too hard for women to get funding.

The bad news: It is extremely difficult for anyone to get startup funding. Don’t believe what you see on television. 99% of the time, raising capital is not as simple as it seems in The Social Network or on Silicon Valley (a great HBO show – if you haven’t seen it, check it out!). Investors don’t fall over themselves to throw money at you. You have to prove to them that you have a winner.

The good news: There is no significant difference in availability of capital for female vs. male founders. In addition, there are many groups that focus on helping you climb the fundraising mountain. These organizations, accelerators, and investment groups, such as The Vinetta Project, Project Entrepreneur, and 500 Women are working diligently to promote the success of female founders. As a woman, you will undoubtedly be in the minority as a founder; however, you will also have access to an amazing support network that can propel your business forward.

The bottom line….starting your own company is incredibly stressful but also incredibly rewarding. Entrepreneurship is a rollercoaster. It may leave you scared out of your mind at times, but you rarely regret the ride. The entrepreneurship world needs more female founders with innovative ideas, so if you have one, don’t be afraid to jump on board!



Julia
Julia works on Venture Programs for students and regional startups in her role as Operations & Business Coordinator at the Dingman Center. The Dingman Center Angels and the Pitch Dingman Competition are her main focus. She is also a former consultant turned co-founder of the education technology start-up, CareerPeer, a “Match.com” for students and employers. In her free time she can be found cheering for the Steelers or for her alma mater UMD Terps. Follow Julia @JulsKlein12.

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One thought on “An open letter to aspiring female entrepreneurs

  1. Anonymous says:

    Way to go Julia!

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