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Leading from the front

Publication:
Posted on: India Today Group News / 17 June 2016

Ameera Shah
MD and CEO, Metropolis Healthcare, Mumbai

Women are not traditionally looked upon as decision makers or as people in power in our country. Though times have changed, even today, when women take up the role of an entrepreneur, they face a lot of societal pressure. They are often posed with questions, raising doubts on their ability to lead and run a full-fledged venture on their own.

They face a lot of problems right from an enterprise’s conceptualisation, till the point the enterprise starts functioning and sometimes even after that. A woman entrepreneur risks everything to pursue her vision-money, mind, time and most importantly, her heart and soul. Though this is true for both, a businessman as well as a businesswoman, sadly, in our country, if a man who works hard for a living while neglecting his family is considered to be a hero, but a woman who works day and night is loaded with comments like “Why do you want to work?”, “Babies and business don’t mix”, “Are you sure?”, “Do you think you are capable?”, or “Can you really do this?”.

With such enquiries, women start to question themselves at every step they take and every decision they make; this in turn reduces their selfconfidence. It is therefore crucial for women to make their own decisions by taking certain risks and decisions and not letting others judge them.

A major challenge that women face is the communication barrier with customers and vendors. Unlike men, women are restricted to go out for a drink or hang out. This eventually limits their opportunities and shrinks their market. A few more challenges that they sometimes face during their entrepreneurial journey are:

Unequal remuneration

At present, the remuneration structure in SMEs (small medium enterprises) and MNCs are unequal for both the genders.

Battling home and work

The traditional role of a woman is to manage the household. It doesn’t matter how successful she is in her business, she still has to cook a meal for the ‘man of the house’ when he returns at the end of the day.

Male to female ratio in the corporate world

Although there are several companies and enterprises started by women, which are running successfully, the statement “women are incapable of running their own businesses” remains true for some because of the conservative mindset.

Drawing on cultural stereotypes

The patriarchal stereotype thrives on the concept of women being inferior or just homemakers and yet hundreds have successfully taken over the reins in maledominated corporates.

Troubled with shame

A man who works overtime is considered in high esteem. But a woman working even slightly over the required work hours is regarded as irresponsible for neglecting her family. The question that plagues most women is how to overcome these challenges. Here are a few tips:

  • An effective solution to overcome the social prejudice and stigma is to embrace her right to confidence.
  • One needs to come out of the comfort zone to make decisions and face challenges that crop up during the course of building a business.
  • A woman should try out new experiences even at the risk of failure and should keep trying and trying till she overcomes them.
  • Am I a good enough mother? Am I a good enough leader? Am I fulfilling my role as a woman of the house? With such questions asked by peers and contemporaries, a woman should definitely not lose her identity.
  • In the patriarchal nature of global society, boosting self-confidence is the only way to overcome the challenges faced.
  • Every woman should face her fears and insecurities head-on and deal with them instead of giving up due to peer pressure.
  • One should go out there, win something, achieve small successes and have people backing them.
  • Once a woman decides to start a business all by herself, she should not be afraid to work in the shadow of bigger names and potential competitors. If her foundation is strong, she is bound to achieve her entrepreneurial goals.
  • A woman may work 15 hours per day and expect the same from her colleagues, but the fact of the matter remains that there are only a few productive and useful hours in a day. This eventually affects the work environment. As an entrepreneur, time management is the most imperative virtue.
  • Take initiatives in all possible challenges, identify the obstacles, whether they are monetary or operational, then attack the situation from all possible perspectives.
  • Due to failures, there is a fear in one’s mind. The idea is to power through by setting a deadline and follow through on deals no matter how complicated they are. In terms of business, the only concrete answer to fear is good planning.
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