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There is a new trend in business these days. "More than 20 years ago, female business owners were few and far between, especially in male-dominated industries, such as automotive and wood working. Now it is not uncommon to find female entrepreneurs owning businesses ranging from auto body shops to nail salons." ("Start up advice," 2007) Now more and more women are becoming entrepreneurs and opening up their own business. This is especially true in family-owned businesses. "WEConnect International defines a certified women's business enterprise (WBE) as a company that is at least 51% owned, managed and controlled by one or more women" ("Women Business Owners," 2010). Many years ago most businesses were controlled mostly by men and women were thought to be incapable of effectively owning and controlling a business. According to the Center for Women's Business Research, "10.2 million firms are owned by women (75% or more), employing more than 13 million people...generating $1.9 trillion in sales as of 2008 [and] three quarters of these businesses are majority owned by women (51% or more). As of 2008, "one in five firms with revenue of $1 million or more is women-owned" ("Key Facts About," 2008). This fact disproves the stereotype of women's inability to effectively own a business. Despite these numbers women entrepreneurs still face stereotypes and have to overcome many hurdles to be successful.

Women business owners typically get hit with problems from every angle. They have to deal with financial, social, and emotional hardships. Not only do women usually finding a lack of support for their start-up venture from others, especially the opposite sex, they find it hard to get the financial backing for their new venture. Banks usually view women business owners as a financial risk and are unwilling to loan large sums of money to them. This brings back the stereotype of people not believing that women can successfully run a business. Luckily there are many resources arising just to help women find the financial backing they need. One of the main social hardships women face is overcoming how people expect them to act. Many cultures bring up women to come second to men. Men make the decisions and women sit back and support them. "There is also a strong stereotype that dictates being bold and speaking out is not feminine" (Lafair, 2009). Women who spoke and were aggressive in business are usually looked upon in a negative light. It was not until recently that women decision makers became more acceptable. According to Dr. Patricia David, CEO of CorpHealth, "a thorough knowledge of the business helps women to be more assertive without being aggressive".

On the other end of the spectrum are women who face the stereotype of being too soft and emotional. These women are looked upon as being incapable of successfully running a business because they are unable to make decisions, enforce them, and get the respect of their employees. Dr. David, believes that overall women are more emotional than men, but what they have to do as businesswomen is "draw on that internal emotion for passion, but never let that passion lead to an emotional outburst [because] yelling or crying will destroy the respect of colleagues". The best lesson women need to learn in the workplace it "how to be empathetic rather than enabling" (Lafair, 2009). Women have a mothering and nurturing side to them that they need to balance and try to keep out of the workplace if they want to overcome the emotional stereotype. Nevertheless these qualities are not completely a bad thing. In many cases women are viewed as better business owners because they like to focus more on relationships than men. According to Shaler, a former psychotherapist and current female business owner, women are more so collaborators, whereas men a more competitive. "Women are more global thinkers [who] look at the whole picture rather than how can I best balance my profit and losses in the shortest amount of time" (Kovach, 2004).

To overcome these hurdles women have to understand is that stereotypes are still out there and will probably always be out there and many cases, so what they have to do is "be twice as good [and] twice as competitive" (Kovach, 2004). Women tend to be more detail oriented than men. This they can use to their advantage. Dr. David states, "Being a family member, you have to work as hard or harder than the other employees. Some people will think that the owner's daughter would have free ride. You have to show you've earned the position." Her advice is to "Lead by having other people want to follow you. Know what you do, have passion, know the business, and have a strategy" (Rawdon, 2006).

Key Facts about Women-Owned Businesses. (2008). Center for women's business research. Retrieved (2010, February 18) from http://www.womensbusinessresearchcenter.org/research/keyfacts/

Kovach, L. (2004). Report: women owning more s.d. firms than ever. San Diego Business Journal, Retrieved from http://www.allbusiness.com/company-activities-management/company-structures-ownership/10632985-1.html

Lafair, S. (2009, October 19). Bursting stereotypes. Women on Business, Retrieved from http://www.womenonbusiness.com/busting-stereotypes/

Rawdon, S. (2006, March 17). Women business owners encounter uphill challenges. Business First, Retrieved from http://columbus.bizjournals.com/columbus/stories/2006/03/20/focus2.html

Start-up advice for women business owners. (2007, December 05). Rio Rancho Observer, Retrieved from http://www.observer-online.com/articles/2007/12/06/news/local_business/biz1.txt
Women Business Owners. (2010). Weconnect international. Retrieved (2010, February 20) from http://weconnectinternational.org/Women-Business-Owners.aspx

DeLisa Davis