#Shepreneurs: Challenges Women Face While Starting Up

The time has come for shepreneurs to take the onus and kick away the self-inflicted doubt, says Shalini Prakash, the venture partner at 500Startups

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Over the last few decades, we have realized a phenomenal growth in women entrepreneurship. With the right idea, mindset, support and hard work, a lot of women have not only started up but also built super successful start-ups, believes Shalini Prakash, the venture partner at 500Startups. While there has been much dialogue around gender bias, women leaders are paving a path for themselves by fighting multiple challenges.

Some are self-inflicted whereas the others are imposed by society in some way or the other. Be it Biocon Limited chairperson Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw or former Pepsico CEO Indra Nooyi, India has witnessed a number of women breaking the barrier and take a plunge into entrepreneurship without worrying about the what ifs. Nonetheless, the journey isn't a cake walk. Here are 5 challenges women face while starting up:

Limited Funds

Women are nurturers by nature. They are known for pushing the boundaries and helping the organizations reach greater heights but new entities require sufficient funds to run and scale. Even a bootstrapped venture can't survive for long without appropriate investments by external sources. Investors, however, hesitate from showing much trust in women-run organizations.

Shalini Prakash, who herself is an investor, agrees that funding has been an issue for shepreneurs. However, the recent funding drawn by Naiyya Saggi's BabyChakra and successful ventures like Nykaa founded by Falguni Nayar is breaking the myth around the support for women. In fact, many regional venture capital firms like Peepul Capital are rigorously looking to invest in organizations with female founders.

Self-Doubt

"While both men and women have the right motivation to identify a market opportunity and problem solver for it, many women hesitate to take a step forward because of self-doubt. The first step to build a successful entrepreneurial journey for women is to let go of that self-doubt and belief in oneself," Shalini expressed.

Women often miss multiple opportunities due to self-inflicted doubts in their work and expertise. All they need is a little push from their peers and family to excel in their respective field of work. For instance, had Neerja Birla's family not supported her during her journey to follow her heart, she would still have been known as Kumar Mangalam Birla's wife and not the entrepreneur she is today.

Fear of Failure

Not just women but men also feel the anxiety of failure when they are unsure of their idea but sensitivity aspect that is associated with females leave them more vulnerable to not being successful. Is it? In the past, we have been faced with fierce leaders like Rani Lakshmibai and Indira Gandhi who fought till death but didn't give up until the end.

Women today are the replica of true valour and have shown the world their potential. "I truly believe that most women have been successful because they have been stubborn, passionate and real go-getters. So if you are thinking about starting up and becoming an entrepreneur yourself, it is the best time to take a plunge into entrepreneurship," Prakash suggested.

Entrepreneur First

During the entrepreneurial journey, everyone, irrespective of their gender face the dilemma of choosing what's right and what's not. A woman, especially, is hounded by a number of responsibilities. From being a mother, daughter, wife and more, she has to balance everything while moving forward in her career. However, as an entrepreneur, nothing should be able to hold you back.

"Do not think of yourself as a woman first, you are an entrepreneur first. Any perception that tampers with your spirit on how you feel about your career or identity is only going to bring you down. So, it's important to think of yourself as an entrepreneur first because that supersedes any other identities you may have," Prakash concluded.

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