Lee-Gosselin’s et al., (1990), the study indicated that the most frequent problems encountered at the launching of the business of women entrepreneurs were a lack of confidence from banks, suppliers and clients, start-up capital, microfinance and family problems. The new problems encountered after the launching of the business were marketing problems, problems with associates and labour problems.
Buttner et al., (1998), identified four major problems such as finding and keeping qualified professional staff; finding and keeping qualified skilled labour; making the business profitable; and doing government paperwork. Dealing with psychological pressures (e.g. stress) was also a major problem. The two major problems cited by Neider (1989) were the inability to delegate authority and tension caused by a conflict between personal life and career. McGrath (1987) felt that women had a more difficult time getting loans, had to finance businesses on a shoestring and had to face prejudice.
Other problems encountered by women entrepreneurs included reconciling family and work, finding required funds for business and lack of acceptance of women in business (Collerette et al., 1990); being discriminated against in getting business credit (Klein, 1993); and management of business and personnel (Hisrich et al., 1991).
Thompson (1987), observed that a successful enterprise would normally become a prime target for competition. In many cases, the competitor might have more experience or resources, was able to improve the basic product or could cut costs and prices. He suggested three ways to combat competition; develop a better product; refine the product’s market niche, and offer a better service.
Einsmann (1992) advised the “environmental problems should be approached in an entrepreneurial spirit. By harassing the ingenuity and enthusiasm that the entrepreneur brought to the job, the problems could be tackled with the entrepreneurial virtues of actions, consumer awareness, creativity and a talent to form alliances. A pro-active attitude was particularly important when dealing with environmental issues”.
Schlossberg (1991), agreed that “companies should keep with consumer trends and pay attention to the environment and its indications for marketing”. Gazeley (1990), further advised that to compete in an increasingly international business environment, the successful business manager would need good rounding as a far-sighted generalist. To avoid stagnation, more attention should be paid to maintaining vigorous and competitive activities.
The majority of women owner-managers considered themselves to be successful and their chance for further success to be between good and excellent (Lee-Gosselin et al., 1990). Some foresaw expanding their businesses in the next two years and were not considering giving up their businesses (Collerette et al., 1990).
Most women owner-managers were also reported to be satisfied with their business success which was attributed to the “customer-product” dimension (such as customer service, customer confidence, originality and quality of product); the entrepreneur herself (such as determination, hard work, concern with details, self-confidence); and their personnel (Lee Gosselin et al., 1990).
Scherer et al., (1991), felt that more than motivation was needed to make a business succeed. When starting a new business, besides market research and business planning, one must also be prepared psychologically. This was because some people were better suited to the corporate world than to entrepreneurship. She cited four points that had to be considered to ensure success: the reality principle; the sole factor; the amount of risk; and the need to create a network.
Stuart et al., (1990), contended that experience factors such as age, years of business, management and technical experience were not significantly related to performance (and hence, success) of women entrepreneurs.
Financial Sustainability of Women Entrepreneurs
Sustainability is one of the primary issues found among microfinance and micro enterprises service providers. Besides all the positive outcomes achieved by microfinance institutions and micro enterprises development programmes, not all of them are sustainable or able to return a profit. Despite their rapid growth and sound operations, less than half of all programs return a profit and most still require the help of donors and subsidies. Despite these issues, programmes assisting micro enterprises development remain a cost-effective method to provide financial services to typically underserved populations.
Market Penetration of Women Entrepreneurs
Micro enterprises development programmes continue to experience difficulty reaching the markets they intend to serve. Edgecomb and Klein (2005) estimate the size of the market for the targeted services provided by micro enterprises programs at about 10 million individuals. Assuming this figure accurate; the field has fallen short of reaching its target market, as it served 6,26,277 participants in 2005. Part of the reason behind outreach problems might be explained by the client-to-staff ratio, as the majority of micro enterprises development programs are short staffed and a number of potential clients far exceed their capacity.