Why Women Entrepreneurs Don’t Get the Financing They Need

By Nina Kaufman, Esq.

Often because, in short, they don’t ask for it.

I was chatting with Bunmi Zalob, publisher of WomenEntrepreneur.com’s Secret to Serenity blog, about “??playing small.” And why women seem to do it. The sad truth is that studies show that women do it to themselves over and over.

A recent study showed that female entrepreneurs are far less likely than their male counterparts to seek angel financing…and that one of the reasons they are not getting angel financing is that they aren’t asking for it. As my mother taught me, “If you don’t ask, you don’t get.” (She had a corollary, too “You still may not get even if you do ask, but you definitely won’t if you don’t”, which she usually tossed out when I asked to borrow the car, or to stay out late). Over four years ago, I wrote an article on women and negotiation, based on a study reported in the Harvard Business Review. The study showed that men were more likely than women to negotiate for what they want in employment situations, whether that be higher salaries, choice assignments, or time off. Why do women do this? The study found that:

  • Women are often are socialized from an early age not to promote their own interests and to focus instead on the needs of others.
  • In many situations, women are “penalized” when they do ask (for example, being labeled as pitchy or pushy), which further discouraged them from doing so.
  • Having become disenchanted with the situation, women tended to quit their employment situations, rather than use a better employment offer as a negotiating tool.

Extrapolated to the entrepreneurial world, this hurts us in a number of ways:

  • Not asking for referrals from satisfied clients
  • Not raising our rates, even though our costs of doing business have increased
  • Not asking for business from networking clients
  • Giving up, rather than developing a team of mentors or peers to help us find creative solutions.

Julie Lenzer Kirk, who came across the angel financing report, thought that the top reasons women didn’t ask for this kind of help were:

  • Women don’t like to ask for help (sign of weakness) or don’t know where to go for it.
  • Women start businesses for flexibility and control and resist outside assistance that might disrupt that.
  • They don’t think BIG enough.

What do you think? What has helped YOU to think big?

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