A recent study revealed that women entrepreneurs are increasingly able to overcome challenges to business growth by utilizing a creative approach. The study, part of a larger research collaboration between Babson’s Center for Women’s Entrepreneurial Leadership and Bank of America Private Bank, found that women who have built successful companies had to navigate significant gender-based obstacles. One example of this is banks being unwilling to loan them money for their businesses. To overcome this particular example, women entrepreneurs should seek out “capital alternatives,” according to the study.

The study, entitled “Beyond the Bucks: Growth Strategies of Successful Women Entrepreneurs,” summarizes the insights gathered through in-depth, one-on-one interviews with 30 women business owners, all of whom operate companies generating more than $5 million in annual revenues.

Three key themes, regarding the challenges they face, emerged:

  • “Market misperceptions – Women entrepreneurs’ competency and market knowledge is routinely disregarded, including market opportunities they identify.
  • Network exclusion – Women entrepreneurs often experience limited, gender-based, access to established social and business networks, creating less access to knowledgeable mentors and capital expansion.
  • Managing expansion while underfunded – Barriers to start-up and growth capital create new, ongoing challenges, including constraints on funding for recruitment, access to new markets and overall expansion.”

“Through this research, we identified several actionable strategies women entrepreneurs are using to turn the challenges they face into opportunities and grow their businesses,” said Lakshmi Balachandra, Ph.D., assistant professor, entrepreneurship at Babson College and the principal researcher on the project. “These include building on their skills and strengths, and leveraging their personal insights for sustainable growth.”

Much of the focus on women-owned businesses to date has been on the gender gap in venture funding. The study looked at women who have led companies to the growth phase and identified several strategies they deploy today, which might enable other entrepreneurs to accelerate their business growth, including:

  • “Explore various capital alternatives.
  • Build for the long term.
  • Develop a sustainable and talented workforce.
  • Buy from and fund women-owned businesses.
  • Be a mentor, seek a mentor.
  • Join or create new networks.
  • Capitalize on personal insights and experiences.”

The first reference by the authors, “Explore various capital alternatives,” is on target. We at Burns Funding can certainly help with that.

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