MAY SALE
Buy now and get
90% off for 6 months
See plans & pricing
$1/month
for 12 months
When purchased in bundles of 10
50 %off for 3 months
50 %off for 12 months
  • Invoices
  • Expenses
  • Reports
A group of five successful women smiling supporting each other
Small Business and Self-Employed

IWD Breaking the Bias and Embracing Equity: small business owners share their breakthrough moments & stories

If you’re a woman thinking of starting a business in 2023, you’re among a strong sisterhood of entrepreneurs. According to a recent QuickBooks survey, 1 in 10 women in the U.S. workforce — equivalent to roughly 7.2 million people — want to start down the path to business ownership this year. The number one reason? To be their own boss. Number two: To have more control over their future. 36% of respondents said that the COVID-19 pandemic caused them to rethink their priorities, with 22% reporting that losing a job or income during the pandemic accelerated their goal of small business ownership. The drive is there. And women are making moves. 

But there’s a flip side to every coin. In a study of professional women in the U.S. by Pew Research, 42% of respondents said they have faced gender discrimination in their professional lives. Discrimination presents itself in many ways, and gender-based bias is prevalent across industries. 

International Women’s Day in 2022 directly encouraged communities to call out negative stereotypes based solely upon gender and asks all to #BreakTheBias. In 2023, the theme is to #EmbraceEquity so everyone can set up themselves to challenge gender stereotypes, call out discrimination, and seek out inclusion for everyone. 

Read on to hear from a selection of women small business owners about how they overcame bias, self-doubt, and negative stereotyping throughout their business journey.

What are some challenges or biases that you have encountered as a woman-owned business? How did you overcome them?

JaLisa E. Jefferson (Entrepreneur, Owner of Luxe House – US)

JaLisa E. Jefferson (Entrepreneur, Owner of Luxe House – US)

A challenge I have encountered as a woman-owned business is navigating how to run a successful business and be present with my family. I’m in the process of overcoming those challenges by outsourcing help when needed, which allows me to spend time with my family. I also have cultivated a space within the business that helps my family to be included in parts of the company so they can see me making a difference. From product shoots to including them when I have to ship out orders during our family errands, they get to come along for the ride and be a part of it firsthand.

Teresa Moon (CEO, Teresa Moon – US)

Teresa Moon (CEO, Teresa Moon – US)

The biggest challenge for me in running my business is doing it while becoming a mom. Obviously pregnancy, breastfeeding, sleep deprivation... all that fun stuff. Then there's the judgment from others when a mom shows up online and shares their life—it can be brutal—both in person by friends and family, and in comments on the Internet. It's way more awful for women than it is for men. Over the years, I've developed confidence and mental strength. And I can't live without my community of other moms and female content creators. We help each other get through everything.

Tory Archbold (Entrepreneur and Founder, Powerful Steps – Australia)

Tory Archbold (Entrepreneur and Founder, Powerful Steps – Australia) 

I was told at 24 that I couldn’t start a business from scratch and take it global. I ignored that advice because I believed in what I knew I could create. Not only did I build a powerful brand communications agency, but we also attracted the world’s top-performing brands, celebrities, and influencers as clients. That same man who told me I couldn’t do it, called me for advice a decade later and asked how he could do it, too. The ironic part of this story was he was a CEO of a global advertising agency. Just because someone says you shouldn’t take that powerful step forward doesn’t mean you can’t show them you can—that’s true leadership. And leaders have followers.

Ramona Gohill (Founder, Rani & Co. – UK)

Ramona Gohill (Founder, Rani & Co. – UK)

I’ve noticed that some men don’t take my business seriously; they see it as a “hobby.”I even had one guy laugh at me when I mentioned that my brand is based on feminism. An important part of Rani & Co. is educating others on feminism, so I either challenge their thoughts on gender bias or ignore those comments and remember why I started the business. It’s a battle between speaking up and protecting your energy, but as long as you believe in your business, have a vision, and see your business progressing, that’s all that really matters.

Abigail Onoshioke Momoh (Founder, Abbynkas – UK)

Abigail Onoshioke Momoh (Founder, Abbynkas – UK)

As a young British Nigerian from a working-class background, starting my own business came with lots of doubts from people who didn’t believe I could do it. I have battled with impostor syndrome for years. Every time I accomplish something, I feel like a fraud and constantly question my accomplishments. I realized that no one could tell my story except me, so I started to speak up, talk to other people on the same journey, and turn negative criticism into positive action. I’m far from perfect, but if I can help others along the way I will be happy.

What is the most important piece of advice that you would give to other women-owned businesses that might also be encountering bias, stereotyping, or discrimination?

Quincy Davis (Professional Surfer and Founder of Quincy – US)

Quincy Davis (Professional Surfer and Founder of Quincy – US)

Don’t be afraid to ask for advice, especially from other women in the same field as you. I think we as women are stronger together than against one another. I am so grateful for the strong, hard-working women in my life, who have been nice enough to offer advice when I asked.

Nina Westbrook (Founder and Therapist, Bene By Nina and Minibrook – US)

Nina Westbrook (Founder and Therapist, Bene By Nina and Minibrook – US) 

Being a new and smaller brand with no true fashion experience, I was often overlooked by production companies who so often prioritize the bigger, well-established brands. I quickly learned that I was going to have to make the difficult decision to end certain business relationships that weren’t working so that I could explore others that align with my mission and what I’m most passionate about. You have to stay true to your values, maintain your integrity, and never lose sight of your vision. It can be difficult to stand up for what you believe in but, at the end of the day, this is your dream, and it’s essential that you actively advocate for yourself and your business. It is essential that you collaborate with people who respect you and value your space in the small business community.

Lucie Rhéaume (Co-Founder, Girl Crush Inc. – Canada)

Lucie Rhéaume (Co-Founder, Girl Crush Inc. – Canada)

If someone ever underestimates you, use that as a motivator in order to prove them wrong. Keep your head high and keep on moving forward. Every "no" and every closing door will get you one step closer to a "yes" and to an opportunity that will best suit you.

quote image
Every "no" and every closing door will get you one step closer to a "yes" and to an opportunity that will best suit you.
Rebekah Higgs (Owner, Matriarch Productions & Design Co – Canada)

Rebekah Higgs (Owner, Matriarch Productions & Design Co – Canada)

Women are resourceful and creative. We have the amazing gift of working well with others, delegating, and being natural-born problem solvers. I encourage women to lean into these natural qualities and not shy away from the collaborative efforts that can bring us to higher places of success. Your sensitivity and personal relationships with others will only make you a better, stronger leader, while also creating a positive work atmosphere that improves your life and the lives of others around you.

Teresa Moon (CEO, Teresa Moon – US)

Always remember that others' thoughts and comments do not define you. Here's one of my favorite quotes I have displayed on my desk as a constant reminder: "Ships don't sink because of the water around them. Ships sink because of the water that gets into them.”

JaLisa E. Jefferson (Entrepreneur, Owner of Luxe House – US)

The most important piece of advice that I would give to other women-owned businesses who are overcoming obstacles is to remind yourself that you are capable of doing, being, and having everything that you dream of. You can have a family and multiple successful businesses, have time for yourself, and still be able to enjoy all of them.

Isobel Perl (Founder & CEO, PERL Cosmetics – UK)

Isobel Perl (Founder & CEO, PERL Cosmetics – UK) 

My biggest piece of advice is to know your worth and stay true to yourself. If you know you can disrupt an industry by being a woman, then don’t let anyone get in your way.

Grow Your Business with QuickBooks

How can audiences support women-owned businesses?

Tory Archbold (Entrepreneur and Founder, of Powerful Steps – Australia)

Supports women-owned businesses by engaging and connecting with their message, sharing the power of their story, asking how you can partner with them, and advocating for what they are doing. And most importantly, doing those things because you believe in the power of what they are creating and delivering.

Rebekah Higgs (Owner, Matriarch Productions & Design Co – Canada)

Nurture and encourage the relationships you have with women in your company, encouraging women who work with you to be ambitious, inventive, and share their ideas for growth with your team. Add fuel to the fire of visionary women by giving them room to speak and share their truth. Support other businesses owned by women by buying their products, sharing their services, and visiting their shops, restaurants, and clinics.

Isobel Perl (Founder & CEO, PERL Cosmetics – UK) 

Aside from purchasing, you can support women-owned businesses for free on social media by liking, commenting, and sharing their business. If you do place an order, remember to leave a review of your experience. You can also share their business with friends and family, as many rely on word of mouth to spread awareness of their businesses.

Ramona Gohill (Founder, Rani & Co. – UK)

There are ways to support female-owned businesses that cost you nothing: For example, sharing your favorite female-led businesses on social media or engaging with their social media posts. Women-owned businesses tend to struggle with raising capital, so if there’s a woman-owned business that you admire, you can invest in them.








Want more IWD and Women’s History Month small business inspiration from other small business owners? read more about International Women's Day in our QuickBooks resources center.

FAQs


Related Articles