5 Things Female Entrepreneurs Do That Hurts Their Business

This is a Guest Post by Chandra Clark

Stop me if this sounds familiar: You walk into a business or click through to one online, and pretty much immediately notice half a dozen things the proprietor could, and maybe should, be doing better. Ah, objectivity. It’s easy to see what other people are doing wrong. The question is, can you be as critical of your own operations? It’s a skill you need to practice.

Women entrepreneurs in particular seem to suffer from something I call “I have to do it all myself” syndrome. Perhaps it’s because a lot of us are perfectionists, or perhaps we feel like we have to do it all because we’re not getting a lot of support from our partners. Either way, this syndrome is holding you back, big time. Here are five ways this is hurting your business:

1. You Don’t Have Enough Staff

In any business venture, there comes a point where you have too much stuff to do yourself, but you’re not sure if you should roll the dice and hire help. What if you can’t make payroll? What if they don’t do it as well as you would? You need to get help. Mitigate your risk by being clear about what you need done, and being selective about the hire—but do it, now. The minute you start taking off some of those hats you’ve been wearing, your business will start to grow.

2. You’re Coddling the Staff You Do Have

Are you spending time fixing the things your staff have done? Either you’re being too fussy (learn to let go, Grasshopper), or your employees are underperforming. Make sure you’re being very clear about deliverables, and if training and guidance don’t fix the issue, it’s time to find better employees.

3. You’re Keeping it all to Yourself

Perhaps you know where you’re going, but do your people? You should have a clear sense of what you want to accomplish on a weekly, monthly, and yearly basis, and your staff should know how what they do fits into this big picture. If they don’t know this, they won’t know how to prioritize what they’ve been given to do, and may even be working at cross-purposes to you and other staff.

4. You’re Making all the Decisions

Yes, the buck stops with you, and ultimately you have the final decision. But did you consult with anyone along the way? That logo you adore might be confusing the heck out of your clients. That product you’re developing might be awesome to you, but will it resonate with your customer base? Decisions need to be based on facts, not feelings. Get some data, fast.

5. You’re Reinventing the Wheel

While there’s a lot to be said for keeping mission-critical processes in-house, there’s absolutely no point in investing time and money developing infrastructure for something that you can get from a reliable vendor at a fraction of the cost. Everything from online stores to project management to payroll processing—the tools are out there. Find one that’s right for you.


Chandra Clarke runs a new blog which analyzes the female entrepreneur. It's called Neverpink and you should check it out. She's also the founder and president of Scribendi, a service that includes blog editing and book editing


  • Bev
    March 12 2012, 01:27PM

    Thanks for this. I’m guilty of more than a couple.

  • Sarah
    March 12 2012, 02:49PM

    Felt like I was reading a review of my performance these past couple years. Great article!

  • Suzanne Grant
    Suzanne Grant
    March 12 2012, 03:25PM

    Chandra recommends “get some data fast”.

    I would like to see her share the data backing up her list – ie what percentage of women entrepreneurs suffer from " I need to do it myself syndrome"? What level of women entrepreneurs are having these issues? In which areas of business? A particular age group.

    I want to get that data to understand if this is a factual piece of information or opinion. I may be an entrepreneur – but you can’t take the scientist out of me.

  • kim
    March 12 2012, 03:57PM

    are these really unique to women entrepreneurs? I would be interested in seeing the stats to support these findings as well as those related to male entrepreneurs for comparisons.

  • Rebecca Lynn
    Rebecca Lynn
    March 12 2012, 04:49PM

    I think these are less facts and more smart observations Suzanne. Data on this sort of thing ins’t always available. If there isn’t a study or some type of comprehensive analysis its simply not possible to state as fact.

    And no these are certainly not unique only to women entrepreneurs. I know many men that should read these.

    Still. Great article that shares some excellent suggestions on how women can remove whats slowing them down.

  • Janelle Zhao
    Janelle Zhao
    March 12 2012, 05:18PM

    I was/am guilty of many on the list and I am a women. However, I think it has a lot to do with being uninformed/idealizing on what it means to be an entrepreneur more so than the fact that I am a women.

    Men or women are susceptible to these mistakes but perhaps it is because there are currently more support for male entrepreneurs so they learn quicker than the females who may be faced with more obstacles.

    Anyway, I’m happy that there are more awareness and support for female entrepreneurs so for that thank you!

  • Paul
    March 15 2012, 04:17AM

    Shame on you for resorting to such a low sexist poo-pile.

    Having spent many years in business, I can tell you that gender makes absolutely NO difference when it comes to business success. Everything you write here applies equally between entrepreneurs from all walks of life. Race, gender, age, education (often), even physical disability are non-starters when it comes to the potential for business success.

    Publishing this sort of crap at this sexist level shows just how little you know about people and the REAL world of business.

    Now I am not going to say that the cautionary notes you make are not valid… far from it. But directing it to women as if it is all their fault? Man, you gotta get a life out of Shopify and into the REAL world. Only then you will appreciate what a travesty this “article” is.

    Sorry Chandra, this doesn’t cut it. Mark, I’m disappointed you let this get published under your name.

  • @Shopify Mark Hayes
    Mark Hayes
    March 15 2012, 07:02PM

    Hey Paul,

    Sorry you feel that way. It certainly wasn’t the intention of the author, or me (the poster) to come across like that.

    I can assure you that neither Chandra, or myself, are sexist. In fact, Chandra runs a popular blog that analyses female entrepreneurs. Check out NeverPink, and you can read in more detail about why she write articles “specifically for women” in the About section.

    You’re right that all of the above information is very applicable to men as well! I’m sure many women have enjoyed and learned from articles in “men’s magazines” and vice-versa.

    Thanks for reading Paul. You’re most welcome to send me an email: mark.hayes at shopify .com

  • Ecommerce software
    Ecommerce software
    March 16 2012, 12:54AM

    Shopify is one of the best i online store provider they have a ready made software or they create a individual site to every customers

  • Ingrid
    March 27 2012, 01:05PM

    yes, that’s me, I need to make changes to see my business grow … great article, thanks

  • Jolene
    April 01 2012, 09:20PM

    You missed a mistake – grammatical errors on their websites. Speaking of, there’s one in the title of this article.

  • Prime
    April 15 2012, 01:23PM

    @Paul – I agree with you 100%

    @Chandra, You need to go have a seat somewhere. This article is trash, weak, sexist, discriminatory, offensive and fact-less.

    “4.You’re Making all the Decisions” — excuse me but what does that have to do with women entreprenours? And how do you know only women make this so called mistake? What studies have you read moreover what experience do you have that lead you to this conclusion? Have you consulted thousands of women entrepreneurs? Well MY research on YOU says NO, you have no facts. so you need to get some, fast….

    Clearly you aren’t taking your OWN advice since you failed to hire a fact checker, copy editor and a proofreader before submitting this delusional, grammatically error-ed garbage to WOMEN entrepreneurs. You give the problem but no real solution, resources, links,etc to any “thing” mentioned.

  • Jasmine
    August 29 2012, 05:50PM

    Wow, this is right on the money. I work as a strategic management consultant and while some of the commenters are right in saying these aren’t unique to women, I do see these exact things more often in women-led firms than in men-led firms. Janelle has it right – there’s just a longer history of male entrepreneurship and so more experienced male mentors available. There’s a lot of women out there without a more senior person to turn to. Mind you, that’s good for my business, so I can’t complain much…

  • Frank
    June 24 2014, 01:44AM

    If any women want to hire freelance editors and proofreader do let use know we offer proofreading service

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