Entrepreneurship is no longer a man's game. More and more women across the world are trading in their traditional roles for a pair of heels and a killer power suit.
There are nearly 6 million formal, female-owned small businesses operating in East Asia and economies like Thailand, Malaysia, and Indonesia are booming with female-owned businesses.
But while these numbers bode well for female empowerment, many women still struggle with living up to their full potential in the business world.
While more women are deciding to open up their own businesses, there are still a unique set of challenges that are holding us back.
Today, I'm going to show you how to turn some of those hurdles into opportunities to empower yourself, grow your business and smash that glass ceiling to oblivion.
1. Defying Social Expectations
I remember walking into tech conferences three years ago and being able to count the number of female attendees on one hand. While the numbers are increasing year on year, it can still be intimidating to talk business in a male-dominated arena.
Sheryl Sandberg is the COO of Facebook and an activist for empowering leadership for women worldwide.
There is social pressure to conform and change ourselves to adopt a male approach to business. But not too much, we don't want to come across as "bossy."
This type of thinking can sometimes lead to us selling ourselves short in the business world. "After making it to the finals of a competitive pitch, I was told by a judge, to be more aggressive with my financial projections," says Rosaline Chow Koo, Founder and CEO of the CXA Group.
Defying social expectations is an important ingredient in cultivating change. Don't let yourself conform to society's idea of what a leader should look like or how you should run your business.
And most importantly, don't worry about that bossy label. Instead, I want you to own it. It shows your tenacity. Your will power. Your passion and grit to fight for your business.
Because at the end of the day, if you don't stand up and fight for it, who will?
2. Owning Your Accomplishments
From a young age, girls are encouraged to revere certain qualities that downplay our worth. This is especially true for Asian women who are told from an early age that modesty is the ultimate value.
"What investors like is the highly disruptive nature of my business as demonstrated by my ability to win Fortune 100 clients away from the global incumbents." Says Rosaline.
As the saying goes, action speaks louder than words. Show them what you are capable of, own your accomplishments and be proud of what makes your business great. Once investors and potential clients see you have something of value to offer, you will get their full attention.
3. You Can Achieve Success With Or Without Kids
Whether you are one of the growing numbers of "Mompreneurs" or a single lady rocking the corporate world, two questions are bound to come up.
When are you going to settle down and pop out some kids?
Don't you think you would be a more effective businesswoman if you didn't have to deal with kids?
While it is certainly challenging juggling your own business and a family - it is not impossible and doesn't make you a lesser a leader.
And if you are choosing the motherhood less path - that doesn't make you less of a woman.
Instead of playing into traditional gender roles, reject them. Don't let it define you as a person or how you view success. Because the interesting hurdles that we have to jump as women are what makes so many female entrepreneurs great CEOs.
4. Coping With The Fear of Failure
In Asian culture, the fear of failure holds women and men back in various elements of their lives. It is so important not to "lose face" and bring shame to the entire family. This mentality can make the risk of starting a business scary as hell.
The gender bias can also be a pain point for many female entrepreneurs. We start to worry that no one will take us seriously or that they are only interested in our ideas because they want to hop on the female empowerment bandwagon.
When I first started Mailbird, I failed. I learned. I got up and tried again. I hustled and hustled to make connections and partnerships with influential people and companies.
You gain a sense of wisdom through the failures, mistakes, and successes you put into building your growing company. It's awesome.
The bottom line is that no one will care if you are a man or a woman if you are successful. So get out there and make your dreams come true. Stop buying into these excuses and turn them into your success story.
This post was originally published on Forbes.com as republished here, with permission of the author Andrea Loubier.
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