Confidence and Connection: Survey of 1000 Entrepreneurs Reveals Challenges Women Face
By: Felena Hanson
In the first part of this piece sharing insights gleaned from a survey of nearly 1000 women, I discussed how some of the challenges women face are the result of working outside of a traditional office environment. While being your own boss gives women the freedom to think outside of the box, entrepreneurs are often unable to access the emotional and mental benefits that come from working as part of a team.
There are immeasurable advantages that come from brainstorming with your co-workers or sitting down for regular meetings with your superiors. But many female entrepreneurs often don’t have people to bounce ideas off of.
In response to the Meetup Group intake questionnaire, several respondents cited a lack of connection and confidence as challenges they face as female entrepreneurs.
“My mindset and self-imposed limitations are my biggest obstacles to achieving my goals,” wrote one respondent. “I know I have the ability to achieve my goals, it’s just staying in a supportive environment that reinforces that positive and capable mindset that I need.”
“Success doesn’t happen in a vacuum, so I need other like-minded women for support and ideas,” wrote another. “I need to be inspired by other leaders in business, who are passionate, creative, and willing to do the hard work it takes to be successful in business. I need experts!!”
Several survey respondents to the San Diego survey identified marketing and networking, with the goal of getting the word out about their product/service, as a priority. Others said the fear of failure keeps them from thriving.
Said one woman, “I am great at what I do but I am not good at marketing myself and speaking to others unless they are in front of me in my comfort zone which is as a client or member.”
Working in a traditional office setting presents ample opportunity for feedback. Several women who responded to our survey reported feeling a lack of confidence. Working alone provides little room for positive feedback from others. Those who have grown accustomed to regular performance reviews might feel like they’re unable to gauge their own abilities and success.
Some respondents cited a lack of business experience as a reason for their low confidence levels. There is a wealth of information and business acumen that women working in their own silos don’t have access to. Meeting and talking with other business owners is one of the few ways entrepreneurs have for knowing what they are doing right and how to improve.
“I need to surround myself with other powerful and successful women who have clarity and excitement about their purpose on this planet and who are driven to manifest it,” one respondent said. “I need to know what systems, etc. I need to have in place to reach the level I want to attain. I don’t know what I don’t know!“
Overall, respondents said they crave input from other entrepreneurs and outside stimulation. They value mentors, a positive support system, and to be connected to and inspired by like-minded women.
“In order to truly be successful, I believe that meeting and surrounding oneself with new people who are supportive of business owners in reaching their desired success levels is imperative. [I want to be] surrounded by business owners who understand how strains of the day to day can get in the way of growing the business and work through overcoming them.”
[Related: How Women Can Create Networks for Success]
It’s probably unsurprising that as part of an intake questionnaire for an entrepreneur group, several respondents expressed an interest in building relationships with other female entrepreneurs, but there’s ample research that suggests these kinds of relationships help people succeed.
According to researchers, loneliness is one of the leading causes of burnout for entrepreneurs. In March 2016, the journal of Burnout Research published a report looking at how loneliness impacts success and the ways entrepreneurs can address this issue.
The report indicates that the kind of loneliness experienced by entrepreneurs stems not from a lack of contact with others — entrepreneurs usually have ample contact with clients and vendors — but from a lack connection. According to the report, contentedness is an essential ingredient for psychological health.
In order to address this, the report recommends entrepreneurs attempt to strengthen their interpersonal resources by establishing social contentedness with their peers. Additionally, since the report indicates younger people are more at risk for burnout, entrepreneurs should seek out business networking, coaching, and mentoring to address feelings of loneliness.
Previously published on www.ellevatenetwork.com.