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via The Economic Times : In recent years, there has been a heart-warming paradigm shift of demographics in the Indian corporate landscape. The country has witnessed a titanic surge in the number of women entering the economic wave. With emphatic strides, walking shoulder-to-shoulder with their male counterparts, the sheer confidence exuded by them brings about a fresh wind of change. While it has definitely been a pleasant change, it has not been one without its fair share of struggles and challenges. It is the tenacity and determination with which these women have addressed those challenges that have made them winners in their own right today.

Shaili Chopra WEF India Economic Summit 2010

According to the National Sample Survey Organisation, only 14% of business establishments in India are being run by women entrepreneurs. The data also revealed that most of these women-run companies are small-scale and about 79% of them are self-financed. This indicates that despite the innumerable initiatives taken by women to venture beyond their domestic walls and enter the corporate world, there seem to be several challenges that are not allowing them completely to blossom and break on through to the other side.

Why women entrepreneurship requires a different perspective
Women are sometimes unaware of the potential they harbour within themselves. With the right mentoring and encouragement, they are sure to shine as confident, smart and successful businesswomen, who have the strength and capability of making a mark for themselves in the business world.

The common notion of women being “better off staying indoors” or the taboo of a “working woman” that has been brought down since generations are now increasingly being done away with. People are now cognizant of the fact that, at the end of the day, it is the quality of work that the person has put in, irrespective of their caste, creed or gender. If the deliverables of the entrepreneur are impeccable and meet expectations, it is that factor that is relevant and evaluated upon, not whether it was done by a man or a woman. Allow your work to speak for itself, not your gender.

Essential ingredients for women entrepreneurs to scale successfully Clarity of thought and a firm drive: For every women entrepreneur, it is vital to be a person of mettle as well as metal. Women must be of strong intent and be decisive of the purpose of establishing her business – from the initial objective, to the execution layout, to the end goal. It is important to carve out a definitive roadmap – whether it is a purely passion-driven pet project or with a commercial perspective to it; whether to maintain it as a small-scale boutique business or future plans of growth and expansion. All these factors need to be addressed with crystal clarity, which would then form the foundation for the framework for their business.

Constant investment in learning: Acquiring knowledge is an endless process and it is vital that women are aware of the current trends and surveys to implement newer practices into their business. Ideas and solutions are spurred from attending events, seminars, workshops as awareness is created. Peer-to-peer platforms are created for the benefit of entrepreneurs to come together and share their knowledge, struggles, problems and solutions. A little investment in terms of time and learning can go a long way for your business.

Learn the fine art of knowledge/learning-based networking: Women are natural networkers as they are naturally expressive, great conversationalists and a pleasure to interact with. The definition of professional networking for women should not be restricted to mere “business-oriented” benefits, but also to expand the horizons of personal knowledge and growth. At the end of the day, your company rests on your shoulders and you are the one navigating it. Networking should be with the angle of knowledge and learning factor as well, and a peer-to-peer platform is an ideal setting for such a situation.

The challenges faced by women entrepreneurs

The Survey, as mentioned above, is a statistical reflection of the current situation of women entrepreneurs in India. What also needs to be highlighted are the reasons for these figures and what can be done to address these challenges. A few, in my opinion, would be:

Notion of “Glass Ceiling”: The self-created myth of a “glass ceiling for a woman” must be busted. Women need to reaffirm to themselves that times have changed and that in the present times, women have the same opportunities and can utilise the same facilities to scale-up their businesses.

Time Availability v/s Prioritisation: Women face an acute shortage of time as they often have to rush from work to tend to their domestic responsibilities. While there are several forums that hold weekly meetings to discuss industry-related practices and topics, these too expect a certain amount of time commitment. These are unfortunately given a miss as it is perceived as an “extra responsibility” and there is no more time to provide for it.

Understanding the translation of turning a “passion” into a “profitable business”: Women entrepreneurs often tend to perceive their business as an extension of their hobby/ personal passion, not realising that it also needs to sustain itself and turn into a profitable one as it progresses. There is a certain amount of neglect in making it an actual profitable and scalable business. To address this, women must learn the basic knowledge on how to scale-up their business if they have a desire to drive it to greater heights.

How women entrepreneurs can overcome these challenges

Time Management:Women can start by allotting the right amount of time to all activities of the day, with a dedicated timeline for each. This checklist not only monitors the daily activities in an efficient manner but also serves as a motivating benchmark for accomplishing targets and can greatly impact your mental state of mind.

Prioritising work and home: For women, prioritising is a prime factor. It is important that women assess each activity and rank their activities in terms of priority – at work as well as at home. Ask yourself the question “In the scheme of activities, which task is of utmost importance?” Once you have your activities chalked out, delegation and execution can get much smoother and quicker. In the end, it’s all about aligning your priorities to reach a synergetic level.

Build a support system – at home, work and beyond: One of the most essential arms in the arsenal of a woman entrepreneur is that of a support-system. Without this, it is difficult to get through the rough patches of business. Women need a sounding board and positive energy to keep pushing them forward. Build a great support system at home, work and beyond. Beyond can be achieved by being part of a peer-to-peer learning/experience-sharing platform. This allows you to have an unbiased, non-judgmental, well-wishing group of like-minded entrepreneurs. ASCENT, one such peer-to-peer platform is an entrepreneurial ecosystem that encourages the convergence of entrepreneurial spirit with the backing of support and motivation. They recognize that being an entrepreneur (woman or man) can be a lonely journey and it is essential to lend support through difficult times. Women, especially, recognize this factor and encourage the support and integrity of being there for each other, as they understand better the similar challenges faced. It is a bringing together of positive energies and create an atmosphere of growth and encouragement for all.

Conclusion

Vinita Gupta, CEO of Lupin Ltd., could not be more true when she says, “This is a very positive change for women at a time when they are increasingly making their careers an important part of their life balance.” Women today are creating exceptional and ground-breaking accomplishments in every sphere of life and are optimistic about what the future holds for them. With the increased supportive initiatives by the government, management boards, peer-to-peer platform, , families and support-systems, gender-based roadblocks are now being rapidly eliminated in the entrepreneurial journey of a woman.

 

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