The challenges facing women in business

A survey on the Women’s Inspire Network Facebook group (4,000+ members), asked what the biggest challenges are, as a female entrepreneur.


“For me, as a woman, I find it difficult to be taken seriously,” says Samantha Kelly. “Sometimes I wonder should I become more strict or tough but I don’t want to change how I am. I wondered were others feeling the same?”

Below are the thoughts of ten female entrepreneurs gathered from the survey.

  1. ‘My biggest challenge is time management and being disciplined with your day, ensuring that you’re as productive as you can. If you’re a working Mum, it’s hard not to feel guilty. My advice is to schedule in ‘me’ time.’ Lilach Bullock.
  2. ‘The emotional roller coaster is my biggest challenge. The guilt for leaving my children, the jealousy that my partner doesn’t juggle the same workload because Dads don’t get the phone calls from the child minder and women are still (for the most part), the homemaker. However, there’s also the joy and pride that you’re doing something for yourself.’ Karen Mc EcEvoy, Beauty Bright.
  3. ‘Expensive childcare costs and no tax breaks on the fees. Free years only apply to pre-school children, and they grow out of that stage so fast. Then there is the full-time healthcare tutor and all in between.’ Alison Metcalfe.
  4. ‘Being taken seriously. When someone looks you straight in the eye and asks to speak to the boss.’ Pat Murphy,
  5. ‘Being made feel guilty and crazy for having big ambitions and dreams. “Oh, really that’s what you’re going to try & do, and with three children? Hmm, good luck”.’ (Anon)
  6. ‘Sometimes it’s a curse that we are such good multitaskers as we can push ourselves beyond the limits, but working to the point of collapse.’ Betty Kehoe, Aisling Design.
  7. ‘Confidence that you are doing the right thing and that you have all the boxes ticked and won’t look like foolish if something goes wrong which leads to the second issue which is the fear of failure which I think us women reflect on much more than our male counterparts? Also, I feel that when you are the MD or owner of your business everyone in your business thinks you have all the answers and you know how to solve all the problems and well, I don’t. This is why I need a really strong network of other business owners around me that I can call on while I say “Let me think about that, and I will be back to you tomorrow”. This then leads to the next challenge which is building a network you can trust.’ Oonagh O’Hagan, CEO, Meagher’s Pharmacy.
  8. ‘Me Time. Like others – managing work, long hours, family life (the guilt) and the house. Fulfilling work ambitions and finding time for just me. Always saying I have a very demanding boss. Me.’ Pauline Geraghty, PassRight Driving School.
  9. ‘Finding time for me, forgetting the importance of prioritising my needs, because as many others have said, still we manage and juggle so much. We have to learn to take care of us first.’ Roisin Prizeman,
  10. ‘People think that what I do is a hobby.’ Carol Faughnan (web designer).
working mums 2

Clients that don’t care

Other comments were: ‘My biggest challenge as a designer is that sometimes when you send a client a proof of either first design draft or a concept idea for a new business product, that at times they forget that business evolves around time and money and just because their lives have got busy; they simply don’t bother to get back to me for over a month or two which is really unfair as you had put in all of your own time, to begin with. This results in the design project are simply evaporating into thin air. A waste of time for both parties.’ Lisa Marie Flanagan,

‘Being in the handmade sector, I find my biggest struggle is to be taken seriously as a business woman. People often make the assumption I’m a SAHM or housewife looking to make pocket money. I don’t feel my male counterparts suffer these struggles.’ Alia Moloney, Terramor.

If you would like to hear more

So as you can see, many women in business suffer from guilt, lack of confidence, lack of time for themselves and being taken seriously. Do men have the same challenges?

READ MORE: Never before has there been so many state-backed programmes designed to help women to start in business.