March 2, 2021 en_US Expert Bola Sukunbi on the unique challenges that women face when building a business, the necessity of talking about them, and how to overcome them. Ask the Expert: How to overcome the challenges of starting a female-founded business

Ask the Expert: How to overcome the challenges of starting a female-founded business

By Bola Sokunbi March 2, 2021

Women face unique challenges when building a business. Although it’s tempting to sweep these differences under the rug, it’s important to shine a light on the challenges facing female business owners. Many female founders are dealing with similar issues. Talking about these issues together can help create a sense of community and understanding so we can all support one another in our professional endeavors.

With that in mind, here is how I overcame the challenges of starting a business as a female founder.

Challenges I’ve faced with starting my female-founded business

As a wife and a mom of twins, I’ve definitely felt the pressure of managing the obligations of running my business while dealing with the societal expectations of what I should or should not be doing as a woman.

There is no right way or wrong way to be a mother and wife. But society is great at making us feel like we aren’t doing enough. Even as a loving mother and partner, I’ve faced a feeling of guilt when I have to choose between family and business.

Beyond society’s general expectations, there are often specific naysayers who will come forward in your own life. Personally, I’ve been told that being a mother can impact the success of my business. I’ve even been told not to talk about my family in meetings because it may look like I have too much baggage to build a successful business. It can feel isolating and frustrating when those around you make judgments about how you should live your life and what you should prioritize.

Despite the naysayers, I have not been discouraged. Instead, I have looked for ways to face these challenges head-on as a female founder, and I’ve built up my community of fellow female business owners in the process.

How I’ve overcome the challenges of starting a female-founded business

The good news is that it is possible to build a thriving business as a female founder with a family. I’ve found ways to overcome the challenges facing my business. Here’s what worked for me.

Time management and prioritization

When running a business and creating a family, I found the best solution for me was to prioritize and manage my time effectively.

I prioritize my family time, which means that I am present at my kids’ important events. I leverage my flexible work schedule to set working hours that allow me to be there for my family when it counts.

I plan the important things I need to do for my business in advance. A clear set of priorities and a flexible schedule allow me to create a balance that works for me. Although it may mean working late nights or early mornings, I am happy with the balance I’ve created for my family while running a successful business.


When you’re managing multiple responsibilities, communication is key. I communicate with my partner and my kids about what I do, what I’m working on, and where I need support.

With a supportive family, I am able to focus on my business when I need to. Luckily, they are happy to see my business succeed, and they are proud of my success.

Sometimes family members are not always able to provide the support you need. As you build your business network, you can seek fellow female business owners to support and advise you. My network of female business owners acts as my accountability partner, mentor, and advisor.


When you start your own business, you may reach the point where you cannot handle all of the necessary tasks on your own. At that point, it is time to build a reliable team to take on tasks that don’t fit in your schedule to ensure you’re still able to manage your time in a way that works for you.

Although it has been a challenge to learn how to delegate, I’ve built a capable team to help my business thrive.

Most founders view building a team as a major hurdle. After all, your business is your baby, and you want to make sure that everything is done correctly. However, building the right team can be exactly what your business needs to get to the next level. There are only so many hours in the day, and an effective team can accomplish more under your direction than you could on your own.

Depending on your business, a good team could be exactly what you need to continue growing. It might be a difficult lesson in letting go. But learning to delegate effectively will free up time to focus on your other priorities, such as your family and relationships.


Self-care is often overlooked as a part of balancing a business and your family. With a limited amount of hours in the day, it can be tempting to focus on everyone else’s needs and skip taking care of yourself.

However, making time for self-care is critically important. I make an effort to prioritize my self-care and mental wellness. Without making this a priority, you’re likely to burn out with all of your responsibilities. For me, self-care could mean taking a long walk or taking a few days off from work.

Don’t forget that you are important as a human being. And that means making an effort to take care of your mental and physical health. It’s all about establishing a work/life balance that works for you because, at the end of the day, taking care of yourself is foundational to everything you do.

It’s not always easy to prioritize self-care, but you can start by being intentional about taking time off work, saying no to business requests that stretch you too thin, and building a schedule that suits your lifestyle with time for your self-care included.

In closing

The journey to starting and building a female-founded business is not always easy. This is especially true when you have children and other life obligations. But it’s important to pursue your dreams, which might include building an amazing business.

As you continue your journey, go at a pace that works for you. You don’t have to rush through your responsibilities to build your business at breakneck speed. But you don’t have to give up on your dreams either. Finding the right balance for your life may take some time, so leverage support when you have it. And remember, you are not alone.

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Bola Sokunbi

Bola Sokunbi

Bola is a Certified Financial Education Instructor (CFEI), finance expert, bestselling author, and speaker. Bola founded Clever Girl Finance, a financial education platform and community for women that empowers them to achieve financial wellness and live life on their own terms. Today, Clever Girl Finance is one of the largest personal finance platforms for women in the U.S. In addition, Bola and Clever Girl Finance have been featured by several media outlets, including, Money Magazine, CNBC, Forbes, Fast Company, Essence, Black Enterprise, Cheddar TV, ABC News, Good Morning America, BBC, Fox Business, and The Chicago Tribune, as well as on several other finance websites and podcasts. Read more