SCORE, a nonprofit supporting small businesses through mentoring and education, recently released a study they’d completed of over 20,000 business owners, and the results were — well, not surprising, but certainly enlightening. The study specifically compared how men vs. women fared in running their own businesses, and as approximately zero percent of our readers will be surprised to hear, it turns out women-owned businesses do just as well as those owned by men! Whether you’re measuring success by revenue, longevity, or hiring trends, there’s not a lot of difference between the two. When it comes to financing, on the other hand?
Now, on the one hand, we all kind of get this. We see it happen. Women are less likely to negotiate raises, too; we have a history of not asking for what we need in business, mostly because we’re often shot down or judged as ‘demanding’ or ‘abrasive’ when we do. Case in point, this study also found that, of the people who do seek financing, men are more likely to actually get it — 38% of men receive financing, versus only 31% of women. Women have more barriers to finding funding, it’s true — but if this study is to be believed, the biggest barrier is, in fact, ourselves.
You can’t receive what you never ask for.
If we’re going to start breaking though those other barriers, we have to start putting ourselves out there. If you’re a HER reader, there’s a good chance you’ve at least thought about starting a business, if you aren’t running one already. Have you ever sought out funding? Have you ever met with an investor? Do you have a pitch ready for when you do?
Or have you decided that you’re just going to figure it out for yourself, and never take the risk of asking?
The problem is, so many of us don’t just not ask, we consider asking to be paramount to leaping off a cliff and expecting to fly. It sounds outlandish, foreign, ridiculous, impossible — and so we never even consider it. We never even start a casual research process to figure out what ‘finding an investor’ might entail. We simply drain our savings and scrape by in the hopes that it will be enough. And sometimes, sure, that works. But sometimes, oftentimes, it doesn’t — because businesses take money to run. So the business either fails, or succeeds at such a great personal cost, it may as well have been a failure.
You don’t have to run your business that way. If you’ve got an idea for a great business, it’s absolutely possible to find funding for it. But you’ll never find it if you don’t try — you’ve got to put yourself out there. Find an investor. Find a mentor. Find support. Find funding.
Let’s move that needle for the next study, shall we? You can’t receive what you never ask for.
So start asking.