In recent years, much of the conversation surrounding women entrepreneurs has focused on the barriers they face.
Now, we know those roadblocks have been very real and unfortunately, many still exist. Women who have overcome those barriers through their intelligence, vision and dedication are to be highly commended. They can also be held up as examples of what it takes to persevere in a business world where inequalities remain.
But in 2016, keeping the focus on the obstacles – and even the overcoming of those obstacles – does a disservice both to those women who have succeeded and those who wish to succeed as entrepreneurs in a highly competitive landscape.
I find myself in agreement with the leaders of Circular Board, a collaborative accelerator for women entrepreneurs, when they proclaim that the time has come to move the conversation over to the unique methods women are using to drive their businesses forward.
As Circular Board CEO Carolyn Rodz said, “We want to shift the global dialogue from barriers faced by women entrepreneurs to how we can create our own rules and paths to success. We are changing this by helping women understand the three pillars of their companies – purpose, profit and people – and the benefits of paying success forward to nascent founders through mentorship and investment.”
This philosophy does not ignore the barriers that women entrepreneurs continue to face. For example, women are creating businesses twice as quickly as men are, yet have disproportionately higher fail rates, and women receive only 7 percent of venture funding in the U.S., according to Elizabeth Gore, Dell entrepreneur in residence.
But instead of attempting to instill a victim mentality into women entrepreneurs, Rodz, Gore and others seek to empower them by emphasizing their unique strengths and showing how those strengths can be used to launch and sustain multimillion-dollar businesses.
Rodz and Gore, both of whom were recently named among Entrepreneur magazine’s “2016 Women to Watch,” remind us that women are gifted collaborators and multi-talented leaders, and that they have a track record of investing a high percentage of their income back into their communities and families.
Circular Board’s annual event, Circular Summit, is a great way for women entrepreneurs to learn how high-profile women business owners have succeeded in leading businesses that support the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. The event also attracts start-up investors, media, enterprise partners and expert mentors.
Overcoming barriers, which every women entrepreneur has had to do in order to succeed, should never be downplayed. But it’s time to shift the conversation to what women are uniquely qualified to bring to the table, as well as how partnering with them makes sense for established business owners and investors.
Allen Baler is a leading entrepreneur and Harvard grad. Allen Baler is a Partner in 4Patriots LLC, based in Nashville.
Disclaimer: This blog post is not a substitute for the sound advice of a business professional with expertise in the subject matter discussed. Please seek appropriate counsel on what strategies make sense for your business.