Exploring hurdles faced by female entrepreneurs in the furniture industry and beyond

High inflation, supply shortages and an ever-changing workforce continue to take a toll on business owners across product and service industries. These challenges pose even higher stakes for business owners to keep customers and drive growth in their business while making aspiring entrepreneurs more hesitant to open their own. Female business owners often have more reservations and a different set of challenges to face when deciding to open and run a business, adding to the challenges entrepreneurs are facing today. While discouragement and hesitation are normal in the process of owning a business, female business leaders should lean into available resources regardless of the industry they’re in. Here are some of the main hurdles female entrepreneurs face in the furniture industry and beyond and how they can navigate them successfully.

Doing What Is Comfortable versus Owning a Niche

Many aspiring entrepreneurs are faced with the challenge of being unsure of the type of business they want to launch, creating more hesitation and drawing out the process of starting one. This ambiguity can be debilitating and result in inactivity, and for women, oftentimes the struggle is deciding between a business that they want to run and a business that they’re expected to run. In the furniture industry, where female consumers are just as active if not more active than men in design and purchasing decisions for a home, aspiring female entrepreneurs can lean into their own ability to look ahead at design trends and use their own attention to detail to decide what their store will carry and ultimately sell. Combining research and passion for the product or service alongside skills that prepare one for the business they’d like to open will allow female entrepreneurs to develop new perspectives and secure their place in the industry.

Motivation for Starting a Business in a Male-Dominated Industry

One of the main reasons people hesitate to launch a business is a lack of enthusiasm for a particular endeavor, which can easily be swayed further with a majority-demographic leading the industry. Women can be less inclined to start a business if they see little or no representation in an industry, and in sectors such as home and outdoor services, automobile, furniture and more, the representation of women in leadership or ownership roles is still minimal. Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2022 found that the furniture manufacturing industry held only 26% of its workforce made up by women, employing around 370,000 people in total. Maintaining the motivation and drive necessary for business success becomes challenging without a genuine passion for a craft, and finding a business idea that fits one’s interests and values is the best way to start the path to success. As discouraging as it may be, women should continue to pursue their passion projects to grow and act on what’s of interest despite any lack of female presence in their industry.

Time Limitations

For aspiring female entrepreneurs, juggling personal and professional obligations is a frequent difficulty. Many people hesitate to start a new business because they are concerned that they will not have enough time and energy to devote to it. Prioritizing tasks and managing time is crucial for business success, and in detail-oriented sectors like furniture with many elements of the organization running at once, the management of one’s team of employees across levels is also important. To make the most of their time, entrepreneurs should concentrate on developing effective processes, establishing clear communication strategies, delegating responsibilities and defining achievable objectives.

Challenges in entrepreneurship will never truly dissipate, however aspiring female business owners in the furniture industry and beyond can lean into their skills and unique life experiences to build their business. Planning for and listening to design trends, consumer demand and industry news will help set a business up from the start and establish a base to grow successfully in the future despite hurdles along the way.

Christena Garduno is chief executive officer of Media Culture, a multichannel media agency.

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