Women Entrepreneurs 2.0: What You’ll Need to Thrive in a Male-Dominated Startup

Women have definitely come a long way. These days, they are not only limited to the works and responsibilities at home and as a mother; women are finally competing in the fields that used to be exclusively a man’s pursuit in the past. However, it remains to be a fact that the business world is still mainly male-dominated: women are still likely to get paid less than men even for the same job, only about 4.4% of the Fortune 500 CEO roles are occupied by a woman, and many other facts to consider.

That is why it is not an overstatement to say that the challenge is somewhat bigger and more difficult for women in order to achieve success. Having considered this, know that the advice you may need might be different from what men do.

So let us help you out a little with these pieces of advice to help you and your fellow women entrepreneurs to thrive in the male-dominated world of entrepreneurship.

  1. Don’t be afraid to be bold and show your strong personality.

Even if you are lucky enough to be brought up in an environment where people stopped lingering on the supposed “gender roles”, prepare to be surprised that such mentality still exists in the ‘real world’.

However, while it is true that such thinking is still around, that does not mean you have to level yourself down to fit the roles and ideas they have on what women should do. Be the living proof that women can do just as well as men. Do not be shy to show your leadership skills and to share your ideas. You never know, but you might help them realize that the idea of traditional genders roles should have been dropped decades if not centuries ago.

  1. Be your first fan.

There will come a time when people around you will undervalue you or doubt you. There will be times when you will feel alone and even start thinking negatively about yourself. Do not let these things get to you. It’s alright to make mistakes or be wrong, but what is important is to learn from them and move on instead of dwelling on them.

Keep a levelled confidence in yourself, and most importantly, believe that you can make it. There will be times when no one else would cheer for you, and when they do come, do not forget to be there for yourself to cheer you on and to keep you going.

  1. Keep things balanced.

While it is important to be bold and to not be afraid to show what you have and can do, do not lose sight of who you really are. Do not let the need to prove yourself and please others overcome the real you. Rather, pick your battles.

Know when you have to fight or stand for something, but also recognize the situations when you are the one who has to adjust. True, it’s the system that’s got to change, but to transform the way people think, sometimes you have to keep it slow and steady.

  1. Use your strengths and innate traits to your advantage.

Take the time to really get to know yourself. What makes you unique? Find ways to show it. What are your likeable qualities? Keep them up. Studies actually show that women are generally more intuitive than men, an advantage you should make the most of. Be careful though; not all gut feelings are actually intuition.

Women Entrepreneurs 2.0: What You'll Need to Thrive in a Male-Dominated Startup

  1. Transform your undesirable qualities.

Also, consider your qualities that may be slowing down your progress and learning. Although we have certain qualities that are innate and biological rather than learned, that does not mean we cannot do anything about the ones we dislike. For instance, someone with anger management problems can consult an expert in order to help him/her transform the anger as a motivation for success.

  1. Avoid comparing yourself to others.

It only adds unnecessary and unhelpful pressure to yourself to keep on comparing yourself to other people. You only end up losing more time which you can use to be productive instead. Rather than moping and ranting about how unfair the business world is and how slow you are progressing, find ways and take steps in order to hasten it.

Stop thinking about the legendaries, the prodigies, and those who achieved success before even reaching the legal age. Remember that people work at their own pace; in fact, some did not get to come up in the world until they are 40 or 50, like writer JK Rowling and designer Vera Wang.

  1. Learn new things.

While the tendency for women to underestimate and undervalue themselves is bigger, the tendency of overconfidence is greater for men. Use this fact to your own advantage by never being satisfied with what you currently know. Strive to know new things by networking, attending and presenting at conferences, and joining various groups. No matter how high your position is, everyone, even those below you, can teach you a thing or two.

  1. Love what you do.

More than anything, what is important is you actually enjoy and have a passion for what you are doing. Otherwise, you will not be as motivated, and all the hardships you will face will be extra difficult. When you are in love with your work, the bad times will become more bearable and seem more surpass-able.

Aim for this kind of feeling towards your job. Instead of troubling yourself more about the men vs. women competition, focus on honing your skills and improving your outputs at work. That would work so much better for your goal’s achievement.

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Founder @ The New Savvy
Anna Haotanto is the Advisor (former CEO) of The New Savvy. She is currently the COO of ABZD Capital and the CMO of Gourmet Food Holdings, an investment firm focusing on opportunities in the global F&B industry. She is part of the founding committee of the Singapore FinTech Association and heads the Women In FinTech and Partnership Committee. Anna is the President of the Singapore Management University Women Alumni. Anna invests and sits on the board of a few startups. Anna is also part of the Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce & Industry Career Women’s Group executive committee. Anna’s story is featured on Millionaire Minds on Channel NewsAsia. She hosts TV shows and events, namely for Channel NewsAsia’s “The Millennial Investor” and “Challenge Tomorrow”, a FinTech documentary. Anna was awarded “Her Times Youth Award” at the Rising50 Women Empowerment Gala, organised by the Indonesian Embassy of Singapore. The award was presented by His Excellency Ngurah Swajaya. She was also awarded Founder of the Year for ASEAN Rice Bowl Startup Awards. She was also awarded the Women Empowerment Award by the Asian Business & Social Forum. Anna has been awarded LinkedIn Power Profiles for founders (2018, 2017), Tatler Gen T, The Peak’s Trailblazers under 40 and a nominee for the Women of The Future award by Aviva


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