Top 4 Overcoming Challenges I Have Faced As a Female Entrepreneur

Posted by Abe on February 26, 2017


Full Stack Engineer

Published on February 26, 2017

As a millennial female entrepreneur, I am acutely aware of the challenges we face in the business world.

As more and more industry leaders such as Google’s Chairman Eric Schmidt are speaking out about the importance of hiring women in tech, progress is being made to give women equal opportunity to be successful in business. However, there are still hurdles we have to overcome.

Here are four challenges I have faced as an entrepreneur in my tech startup journey and how I have overcome them.

1. Fundraising in different time zones

One of my biggest challenges, when I started Mailbird, was finding investors. However, it was not because of my gender.

I think investors are more open to supporting Southeast Asian female entrepreneurs. This was confirmed by Rosaline Chow Koo, founder and CEO of the first private insurance and workplace wellness exchange in Asia, who after pitching her startup idea to American investor was told that his firm typically multiplies the potential revenues for females by ten, and divides by ten for male entrepreneurs.

As an entrepreneur based on a small island in the Indian Ocean, the hardest part of fundraising was doing it remotely and contending with investors different time zones.

While connecting with investors in different countries sometimes means late nights or early mornings, the lack of sleep is worth it. However, I would love to see more female investors in different regions of Southeast Asia so that we can grow and support each other.

2. Not giving myself enough credit

This is a problem I see with myself as well as other female entrepreneurs in Southeast Asia and abroad. During Rosaline’s pitch to her American investor, he advised her to be more aggressive with her financial projections. As a woman with more than 25 years experience in leading corporate turnarounds and startups, you would expect her to be confident in her abilities and the numbers she could produce.

This lack of belief all comes down to how women and men communicate their achievements. Women often shrink themselves and express their accomplishments as a group effort or downplay their role altogether.

Over the last few years, I have seen how using my accomplishments as leverage has helped to grow and build my business. I have become more aware how often I say “we” instead of “I” and as Mailbird has grown I have made more of a conscious effort to own what I’ve accomplished.

3. Having to defend my business decisions

One of the challenges I have faced as a female entrepreneur that I do not hear talked about often is the lack of confidence other people have in my ability to run my business.

When I founded Mailbird, my goal was to build and scale an international company without the limitation of a single physical space. To achieve this, my business module was based on a remote work structure. I believe there are brilliant people all over the world, and I want to work with these great minds in order to achieve the Mailbird vision of success. I don’t need this talent to be crammed in a stuffy, uninspiring, limiting office.

Unfortunately, investors and other members in the business world have tried to change my business operations as they did not agree with this strategy. Even though it is predicted that by 2020 25% of companies will have three-quarters of their workforce working remotely.

It has been tough, but it’s taught me to stand my ground and hold onto how I want to run my business and not give that up to attract financial investment. We want to work with strategic financial partners that believe its international growth, and see the future of work as it permeates through walls of cubicles. We want strategic investors on board who support women-led startups, recognize the importance distributed teams, and recognize the importance of adapting and iterating fast in order to stay competitive and agile in the industry of tech and communication.

Female Entrepreneur
There shouldn’t be a double standard in defending business decisions as a female CEO

4. The fear of failure

According to a report by Babson College, fear of failure is a top concern for women who launch startups. It once again stems from this lack of confidence that has been ingrained into us from a young again.

Michelle Shepard, the founder of the Women in Real Life leadership, summarized this feeling: “As women, we often wait until we are competent before we feel confident, whereas men often feel confident before they’ve achieved full competence.”

While failure is an inevitable journey to success, I was not born with buckets of confidence. When I decided to found a tech company, I had never written a line of code in my entire life. This lack of experience terrified me and made me question my ability to be a success.

It’s been a challenge to learn to be confident and realize that failure is just a learning curve. Even when the sting of rejection was still fresh and the last thing I felt like doing was networking, I still went out and hustled. I’ve gained a sense of wisdom through my failures and in the greater picture, it has all come together to build and grow my business into its current state of success.

Female Entrepreneur
Women find confidence in women

While women face their fair share of startup challenges, there is nothing that we cannot overcome, and the hurdles should not hold us back from achieving our goals. Watch this video by the former criminal defence attorney, Mel Robbins, who teaches us why “Motivation is Garbage”, that we can choose. Life and success are all about the micro-decisions you make.

When I’m feeling overwhelmed, I like to think about all the other women fighting for the same thing and the boundaries we are breaking for the next generation of female entrepreneurs.

So don’t give up on yourself. Don’t wait for permission. Instead, get out there and climb those mountains, it’s a challenge that is worth taking. The challenges of being an entrepreneur provide a wealth of character building and strengthening opportunities. I can say that I am a pretty damn strong woman. I’m a tech CEO. I’m a co-founder. I like to be heard. I demand attention at the table. I am present. I’m willing to go up to the battle. I’m leading a team of brilliant minds around the world. I am equal with my male counterparts, despite many variables that play as an obstacle against me. I got over the fear. I just did it. I failed. I learned. I stayed consistent, persistent and motivated.

This post was originally published on as republished here, with permission of the author Andrea Loubier. 

What challenges did you have to face being a female entrepreneur? Share your story and experiences in the comment section below.

Full Stack Engineer

Published on February 26, 2017