This is an Influencer post by , co-author of Smart Customers, Stupid Companies

I asked Laura Novak about her worst experience trying to network through traditional entrepreneurial channels. The founder and CEO of Little Nest Portraits said, “In a business networking meeting for CEOs, I was tapped on the head and told I was so cute.”

Would you tap Elon Musk on the head and say that? No way. But there remains a persistent gender bias in many corners of the business world.

Plus – and this is extremely important – women and men don’t always think alike. The male view of what growing a business means is not necessarily the same as a female view.


Many female entrepreneurs lack role models. When they network with their male counterparts, there are subtle pressures to act like men. But they’re not men.

Laura says, “You could be someone who is transitioning out of an environment in which ‘kicking ass and taking names’ is rewarded.  Now you have the opportunity to create your own culture. You know it doesn’t make you happy to be part of an organization based on politics and positioning, but you don’t have a lot of experience with other solutions to management challenges.”

Many women are able to launch successful businesses, but they often struggle to scale past the solo entrepreneur level. They know how to be the business, but not necessarily how to grow a larger organization around their unique values.

Women often seek to grow a kinder, more collaborative organization while striving towards the type of business growth on which great companies are built.

Laura and I are trying to start a conversation – right here, right now – about what slows many women from scaling past that solo entrepreneur stage.

If you click through this SlideShare, you will learn that on average female-owned businesses are smaller than all other types of businesses:

Why do you think so many female entrepreneurs stall as solo entrepreneurs?

Is it because of gender bias?

Laura told me, “I once brought a male employee to one of the CEO network speaking events, and I was not even addressed or introduced in group conversations.  I’m quite certain they thought I was his admin.”

Is it because women have mixed feelings about the time and effort required to grow a large and successful business?

Laura observes, “Maybe you are a solo entrepreneur and are hesitant to scale. Your family is experiencing strain because of how often you work, or you aren’t sure where to even start.  It’s possible also that you never started the business you were dreaming about, because the idea of it all being on you is way too overwhelming.”

Disclaimer: This is an Influencer post. The statements, opinions and data contained in these publications are solely those of the individual authors and contributors and not of knowstartup and the editor(s). This article was initially published here.

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Bruce Kasanoff

Bruce Kasanoff is co-author with Michael Hinshaw of Smart Customers, Stupid Companies.

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