Setting The Scene: What Graduate Female Startup Founders Can Do To Navigate The Tech Landscape

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For many business owners and startup entrepreneurs, the ongoing economic turbulence is an unwanted spanner in the works following several years of pandemic-induced economic shutdowns.

Perhaps more prevalent today than before the pandemic, but a growing number of female-led entrepreneurs and startup founders are bearing the brunt of the gender wealth gap. Research suggests that back in 2019, only 3 percent of total global venture capital funding was allocated to women-led startups. The following year, that figure dipped to just 2 percent.

A closer look at the American landscape revealed that in 2022, roughly 2.1 percent of total capital invested by venture-backed deals went to companies and startups founded by women according to a report published by PitchBook.

Securing financial backing isn’t perhaps the only challenge women in the startup landscape may be facing today. Unique barriers at an entry level are making it harder for female entrepreneurs and business owners to find suitable financiers, gain a following, or compete with their male counterparts.

Navigating a great deal of challenges, especially as a young graduate stepping out of school, and into the business marketplace can be a daunting experience, even for the most fierce and business-orientated female entrepreneurs.

Tackling these challenges requires a lot of patience, ingenuity, and innovation to overcome them, to help you succeed and grow your startup.

Grow Your Network

Nothing is more important, especially as a young graduate entering the tech scene than growing your network. Right from the start you should make it a priority to network with the right people, and build the right connections.

A suggestion is to attend workshops aimed at helping to empower female business owners or sign up for local programs that can help teach you the basics of networking in a male-dominated industry.

When it feels as if you’re being pushed against the wall, with no exit strategy, consider all your options, as much as possible and see how you can leverage the resources you have available to build the right connections.

Be A Strategic Thinker

As a startup founder or future business owner, you must think strategically about all your moves, especially as a young graduate. Do diverse research about the type of investors you’re seeking, look at different opportunities that can help you raise startup funding, and be prepared to make hard decisions, even when you feel like it’s not the right thing to do.

Regardless of what you might be faced with, give yourself enough time to evaluate all possibilities. There is no shame in turning down an investor or partner if you feel that they do not resonate with the bigger purpose of your startup. However, it is important to do thorough research and strategically plan your executions.

Equip Yourself With The Right Knowledge And People

Let’s face it, the tech industry is largely represented by male-led businesses, and letting your voice be heard among all this noise is no easy task, even some of the most established female entrepreneurs still find it difficult to get their foot in the door sometimes.

However, when starting, make sure to surround yourself with the right people, within and outside of your business. These should be people that see and understand the value of your business, and how your techniques will further develop in the coming years.

Another thing to consider is how much you already know, and are willing to learn about the tech landscape. The industry is ever-changing, and what you might have learned in graduate school could already be somewhat outdated. Be sure to constantly learn, and understand where trends are going. The more forward-thinking you are about things, the easier it will be to stay ahead of the competition.

Take Advantage Of “Female” Traits

Even in today’s society, the majority of business leaders still think that certain traits are more associated with men, while others are more geared towards women. While there may be some truth to this, rather than denying these simplistic matters, see how well you can take advantage of female traits to make it work for you in the best possible way.

Traits such as intuition, communication, empathy, and emotional passion are often found in female entrepreneurs. Blending these traits, with those that might be more oriented toward men, and what the industry might consider “male-only” business traits could give you the step you might need to overcome difficult challenges.

Manage Your Resources

Whether it’s financial or physical resources, don’t lose track of the bigger picture. Whatever resources you might have accumulated over time, even as a graduate, ensure that it can work in your favor, especially as you begin to scale your startup.

By effectively managing your resources, you can find the solution to some of your startup’s biggest problems. The better you become at managing your arsenal, the easier it will be to see where problems can be avoided, and what you can do to sidestep these problems in the near term.

Think Like An Entrepreneur, From The Start

Being an entrepreneur isn’t easy, that’s why research shows that nearly 1 in every 5 U.S. small businesses fail within the first year of operation. Nonetheless, while you might be aware of the fact that your business could potentially fail, thinking like an entrepreneur from the very first day could help you limit your chances of becoming yet another failure statistic.

Make time to learn from every choice you make, even the bad ones that don’t translate into anything worthwhile. While you’re still young and have the enthusiasm to take on a lot of risks, you need to consider this as an advantage and build on the failures you’ve endured.

Without any mistakes, you won’t be able to get to the wins, so make peace with the fact that one or many mistakes can be a learning curve, it’s how you approach it.

Master Your Authenticity

The tech industry is constantly changing, and companies and consumers demand better, faster, and more innovative products and services. As you start your startup venture, consider what your strengths are, and how you can replicate this into your sense of authenticity.

Once you have a clear understanding of what you are good at, and it matches the demand of the marketplace, see how far you can develop these strengths to work in your favor.

Be True To Yourself

It can easily become an overwhelming experience, and you might find yourself slipping away from your original ideas. As long as you can stay true to your values, and integrity, and consider how your aspirations can help in the near and long term, you can continue pursuing better and more innovative outcomes.

Stay focused on why you started this in the first place, and now and again, see how you can keep yourself grounded, without getting ahead of yourself. If you are clear about what you are working towards, you will find more solace in the outcomes of your work.

Final Thoughts

Stepping into the tech industry as a startup entrepreneur requires you to have a thick skin because this is a fast-paced environment that’s constantly changing, innovating, and bringing new products to the consumer forefront.

As a young female startup entrepreneur, being focused on your goals, and sticking to your guns can be hard. Nonetheless, the more you are open to learning, and adapting as the market conditions change, constantly seeking ways to improve on your previous attempts, and using your resources wisely, the easier it can be to overcome challenges every startup entrepreneur might come to face in the tech industry.

Be open to learning, and make changes where needed. There’s no shame in backing down when needed, but remember to use your network to your best advantage, and rely on other female entrepreneurs to help give you the empowerment you require to become the next female lead in tech and software.