Last month, Senator Jeanne Shaheen, a ranking member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business & Entrepreneurship, released a report titled, "Tackling the Gender Gap: What Women Entrepreneurs Need to Thrive." In the report, female business leaders shared their incredible stories but also highlighted the challenges they face in business, in balancing family and work life, and in raising capital for their companies. A common theme dominated the struggles of women entrepreneurs - the failure to ask for what they are worth.
Women entrepreneurs, you are changing the face of business and it's time to get paid what you're worth.
Why Are Women Afraid to Ask for More?
The Senate Committee report noticed three challenges facing modern women business owners:
- A lack of role models and mentors
- The gender wage gap
- Unequal access to venture capital
Because of a stronger media focus on successful male entrepreneurs, female business leaders seemed to lack confidence when asking for money. If and when they did, they didn't ask for large amounts, choosing instead to fund their businesses with personal sources of income like credit cards and savings accounts. Why does this happen? Let's look at some examples.
Just this week, The Hollywood Reporter released an interview with Ellen Pompeo of ABC's Grey's Anatomy of what went on behind the scenes of her new $20 million dollar contract. Pompeo has been the face (and name) of this highly successful show for over 14 years and she was still nervous when approaching negotiations. She had asked for more money than her male co-star at one point and was turned down. At the time of her new contract negotiations late last year, she thankfully had a mentor, her boss and creator of the show, Shonda Rhimes, who encouraged her to go get what she was worth.
Bloomberg reporter, Emily Chang, recently released a tell-all book about the challenges facing Silicon-valley female entrepreneurs. In a Vanity Fair excerpt from the book, she writes of the "bro culture" of sex and drug-fueled parties attended by women business owners hoping to find potential investors of the male tech leaders that attend. Although the women would lose the respect of those they hoped to impress, they were shut out if they didn't participate.
How Women Ask for More
As women, we tend to over explain our reasons for asking for things. Asking for help, we apologize. Asking for money, we feel as we need to persuade with justification. If we speak assertively, our "perceived competency drops by 35 percent and perceived deserved compensation by $15,088", according to a 2015 study. How, then, do we dare ask for more money?
The aforementioned study suggests that women speak up anyway. When we're assertive, however, we should be aware of how we frame our statements. A demanding statement could be perceived as coming from a feeling of low self-worth and insecurity. A statement that is calm and controlled creates a perception of worth, integrity, and distinction.
Get Paid What You're Worth
Take a moment to consider where you're unsure about your worth. Is it your salary? Is it the rates you're charging for your products or services? Are there clients who aren't paying your invoices on time or at all? Here are some tips to build confidence and get paid what you're worth:
- Find a mentor, join a women's entrepreneurial or small business network group and learn about successful women leaders.
- Be aware of any assumptions about yourself and your value.
- Set firm boundaries with those who may be taking advantage of you.
- Focus on affirmations about money. Author Napoleon Hill has many inspirational quotes about success and wealth.
- Research your industry, compare rates and what other entrepreneurs are doing.
- Tap into the practical reasons you're asking for money:
- your bills need to be paid.
- your family depends on you.
- your products or services are worth it.
- you've worked hard to fulfill your part of a contract and now it's time for your client to pay up!
You could begin with simply reading the Senate article and success stories of other entrepreneurial women. They discovered creative fundraising ideas and gloriously overcame obstacles... simply because they had no choice. Change your self-narrative. Empower yourself, recognize your value, and go get paid.
Enterprise Recovery and BYL Companies are proud supporters of the entrepreneurial spirit and women in leadership roles. Click to learn more about our team. Many thanks to the writer of this post, Tonya Cauduro, a woman entrepreneur who assists with the Enterprise Recovery blog and marketing efforts.