It has been suggested that limited access to "old boy" networks and a male-dominated financial industry has posed challenges for women seeking growth capital. Those conditions partially explain why women gain just 6% of the $69 billion of venture capital available in the U.S.,” says Ilse Treurnicht. “Still, women don't make it easy on themselves, either. A passive style, conservative attitude and inability to "talk the language" are just some of the factors holding women back.”
The good news: perceptions are slowly changing and there is money available for solid, high-growth firms that can adequately communicate their promise to investors. If you are female, grow some thick skin and deal with the stereotypes early on in your conversations. Here are a few:
• Woman entrepreneurs do not want to grow their business as quickly as men do.
• Female entrepreneurs just don’t ‘get’ how to source funding.
• Lack of networks is one reason for women’s challenges. When women were asked about their networks, they listed various men’s names. When those men were asked about their networks, they did not mention the women.
Before you write to your local newspaper to complain about the above list, take a breath. Let's go to the facts to verify these issues. What is true are the statistics on male- versus female-run businesses which illustrate that female companies may grow at a slower clip, but they tend to have a higher survival rate.
Understand that, when it comes to accessing private equity, Fund Managers favour the growth versus survival factor. It’s only logical that when you go about raising capital, your pitch must be at growing the business, otherwise leave private equity to the more aggressive CEOs. Keep on doing your slow growth but do not expect private equity investors to invest.
Barbara Orser, professor at Carlton, reiterates that critical point, “Here’s the bottom line for women: only entrepreneurs who start robust, high-potential businesses - and communicate that promise - will get the money they need.” Smart women understand that thinking, and reassure investors by spending more time on illustrating their ambition when reaching out to the VCs.