Entrepreneurs: How Are Men And Women Different?

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Difference between men and women is reflected in their entrepreneurial styles. Their diverse abilities can be beneficial for your business.

Clients often ask me if I’ve noticed a difference between female and male entrepreneurs. It’s a fascinating topic, and while there is a lot of research on the matter (pun intended), my perceptions stem more from a combination of patterns I’ve seen in the marketplace, a little of the “left brain/right brain” philosophy and a little empirical research. How are men and women different?

Things I’ve noticed include their age when they embark on their entrepreneurial venture.

Men are younger, riskier, and tend to borrow the capital they need, where women are older, and typically dig into their own money. Mark Zuckerberg borrowed the capital for his Facebook business, and gazillionaire Sara Blakely cleaned out her savings to start the Spanx company. Mark was still in college, and Sara was nearing 30.

I mentioned that men are risk takers, as evidenced by the infamous Steve Jobs quote:

“Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do.”

Compare that to Sheryl Sandberg who hit the nail on the head when she asked women this:

“What would you do if you weren’t afraid?”

Women tend to offer a “give back” aspect to their business operation, like donating to causes that will find clean water for third world countries. It could be their nurturing side springing forth, or because of their age, they’ve seen more of the unfortunates of this world than their younger male counterparts. Women, I believe, are very self-critical, and blame themselves for failed programs. Men, on the other hand, will blame others, the marketplace, or another factor, rather than themselves.

In this left brain/right brain illustration, we clearly see that women take after the right side, and men the left. An interesting story by The Guardian of November 30,2015 states that the whole “men are from mars and women are from venus,” is mostly bunk. A more recent and closer look reveals that the brains of both sexes are similarly unique, with overlapping features, but nothing that would indicate that the brains are from different sides of the galaxy.

Notable Differences

  • Women entrepreneurs focus more on their experience and interests. For example, I’ve worked with several women who were trying to develop a bra that really fits.
  • Women entrepreneurs are more likely to work towards controlled, profitable growth with less interest in merely positioning themselves for a lucrative exit.
  • Almost 1 in 5 women say they lack the technical knowledge required for their business, compared to only 1 in 20 men. A quarter of women say they don’t have the networks necessary to build their businesses, while less than 1 in 10 men say this is a problem.
  • What we can take away from this is that men are generally more concerned with action and results. Women seem to be more focused, but worried about their success. Or, to put it bluntly, men tend to focus on quantity, while women worry more about quality (I’m only saying it like I see it.)

In the long run, no matter the gender, they both can fall into the trap of placing more of their time and energy into the passion part of their business, and ignoring the realities of running a business.


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