Nearly all modern businesses are confronted with daily challenges that can impact their ability to operate efficiently. This just doesn’t extend to dealing with customer-facing issues or differentiating themselves from competitors.

Many organizations, especially those working to establish a “women-first” business environment, are regularly faced with internal challenges associated with the acceptance of diverse leadership perspectives and available opportunities.

However, there are some effective strategies that every women-first business can apply to help them thrive in today’s business environment.

Common Challenges When Running a Women-First Business

Even though women-first businesses are often great examples of how businesses can embrace a positive vision and important core values, they still operate in a world dominated by outdated corporate traditions. Below are some of the common challenges these businesses face:

Confronting Stereotypical Expectations of Society

Even with the amount of progress we’ve made as a society, there are still many preconceived notions that exist regarding how a woman should prioritize both her personal and career ambitions.

The assumption that a woman should be focusing more on her family or even that the qualities she should manifest need to be “soft” or “nurturing” often leads to biases in how women are treated in professional settings.

Dealing with Business Funding Issues

Several studies have focused on evaluating the balance between men’s and women’s owned and operated businesses when it comes to receiving necessary funding. Unfortunately, there is still a considerable gap, with men receiving 63% more value and twice as much funding for their businesses.

Women entrepreneurs are often put in the position-whether consciously or unconsciously-of having to work harder for their business ventures and under heavier scrutiny just to receive fewer funding opportunities than men.

Working Around Certain Cultural Values and Traditions

Different cultures have varying opinions when it comes to women taking on certain roles in business. For women who represent certain demographics, it can be hard to allow themselves to experience the same opportunities as males without impacting how they’re viewed in light of cultural expectations.

This can make it difficult for women in certain areas around the world to get the same fair treatment as others in business settings.

Being Underrepresented in Leadership Roles

Unfortunately, there is a self-reinforcing cycle that can take place when fewer women are positioned in leadership roles. As younger women start entering the workforce, it can be hard to find role models to look up to, which often leads to less support when facing certain stereotypes within professional settings.

This lack of support can often lead many new aspiring female professionals to abandon their career goals, leading to even fewer role models for future generations.

Effective Strategies for Creating a Thriving Women-First Business Environment

Although running or working in a women-first organization has its fair share of challenges, there are some effective strategies you can apply to help you thrive.

Establishing a More Resilient Mindset

As difficult as many of the challenges mentioned might be on their own, one of the toughest challenges women will often face in their careers is their own self-doubt. Not believing in yourself, or worse, accepting the narrow-minded viewpoint of others, can be debilitating.

One way that you can help to avoid this is by establishing a resilient mindset when it comes tohow you face certain obstacles. The importance of resiliency is often showcased in trauma therapy sessions, where therapists will help their clients accept and respect the difficult moments in their lives but never run from them.

Resiliency teaches individuals to look deeper at the positive qualities and capabilities they have, giving them more strength to tackle certain challenges in life. When you’re able to successfully build more resiliency in life, the “bigger” setbacks in your career or personal life start to look little smaller every day, and you’re able to approach every new challenge as an opportunity to learn and grow.

Developing Important Leadership Qualities

Being a great leader takes time to develop and can require a wide range of both technical and interpersonal skills. Unfortunately, however, women are often scrutinized more than their male counterparts when it comes to how they showcase and prove their ability to take on larger roles in an organization.

But rather than letting this stereotypical mindset dissuade you from taking on leadership positions, use it to make yourself even better at driving and motivating your teams. Developing strong communication and conflict-resolution skills is a great way to showcase your ability to inspire others.

However, this doesn’t mean that women need to abandon their empathy just to prove a point. Showing that you truly care about those around you is a significant strength and something that should be encouraged in everyone.

Learning How to Effectively Negotiate

An important part of growing a business effectively is knowing how to negotiate. This caninvolve a fair amount of research when it comes to industry standards of pay or even comparative costing when it comes to engaging with vendors. But for women in negotiation scenarios, it’s often important to overcome any internal discomfort they may be feeling when it comes to their own self-advocacy.
Women are many times associated with being more agreeable in negotiation situations or more prone to want to avoid conflict. However, much like in anxiety therapy, where individuals are taught to establish more confidence in their surroundings, it’s important to be your own advocate and not be afraid to be assertive in your communication.
You should be able to enter a negotiation with a clear understanding of the objectives you want to achieve and develop an effective strategy to see them through.

Finding Helpful Tools and Resources

It can be tempting for many women in business environments to feel like they can only depend on their own abilities or experiences to move their careers forward. However, this is far from the truth, and there are a number of industry-specific networks and organizations designed specifically to help women succeed in their professional goals.
A common setback for some women when wanting to explore new career ambitions is balancing this need with their personal commitments in their relationship. In many situations, there may be conflict in a relationship when it comes to who should be the “breadwinner” and who should focus on other priorities.
In these situations, couples therapy can be a great way to make sure everyone’s wants and needs are heard and addressed. Simply abandoning your own career goals in an effort to keep the peace isn’t a sustainable way to keep a relationship strong. Many times, working with a professional who can facilitate honest and productive conversation about this topic can help both parties feel like their feelings are acknowledged while working together to find the right solution.

Position Yourself and Your Business for Success

Women face unique challenges when navigating business environments. However, by applying some of these strategies discussed, you can make sure you’re not just accepting what the world is willing to give to you. Instead, you’re creating a new standard of how a women-first can allow you to thrive.
Author Bio: Visionary and healthcare entrepreneur by passion, Licensed Psychologist by training, Dr. Hannah Yang loves creating new possibilities in the world of mental health and wellness. Dr. Yang established Balanced Awakening in 2015 as a niche psychotherapy practice for women. As Balanced Awakening flourishes in Chicago, and soon Miami, she also loves to tap into her passion for design and Feng Shui to create fabulous environments for herself, her team, and clients.