According to data from the US Census, in 2011 women received 52% of all bachelor’s degrees awarded, and 55% of all master’s degrees. That’s impressive. But, according to this infographic, only 10% of venture-funded start-ups are women-owned–and that number dips below 5% for tech start-ups.
What’s going on? Sure, there are still barriers (you may have heard about the recent article about working women and their families in The Atlantic), but the very fact that these issues are being brought to the surface is proof that the tide is finally turning. So why aren’t more women turning towards entrepreneurship?
One possible answer to that tough question is that women still remain less likely to get venture capital funding than men, who receive 95% of all VC funding. Although women may be excluded from these primary investment sources, there are ways to make that work as an advantage. How? Here are three ways:
1. Bootstrapping. Bootstrapping your startup, or funding your business without any external investment, can give you more freedom to improvise and innovate, without any of the strings attached to investment. Lean, hungry companies can muscle their way to the top, unencumbered by the administrative infrastructure that sinks so many new ventures. If you can’t get funding for your business, make it work for you: by bootstrapping, you have the benefit of staying mobile, lean, and hungry for out-of-the-box solutions.
2. Crowdsourcing. One way to fund those crazy ideas is by crowdsourcing, a new and somewhat nontraditional production model. Posing a difficult question or problem to a, well, crowd of people can provide fresh insight and solutions that you never would’ve come up with on your own. While entrepreneurs with more capital might hunt down angel investors, women entrepreneurs (or anyone without funding) can, and should look to the crowdsourcing community. New models and practices will continue to emerge as those turned away by traditional funders find new and surprising ways to realize their visions.
3. Sharing economy. While generating revenue, and ultimately, a profit, is still the goal for most businesses, the emergence of the peer-to-peer marketplace and the rise of local sharing, trading, and bartering certainly diminishes some of the dependence on traditional capital funding.
So despite, or perhaps because of, the current climate for women, which is always–hopefully–evolving, the current movement toward mobile, social, and local can be a female entrepreneur’s best secret weapon.
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