Tea with the Queen

Why female entrepreneurs are scared to invest in their businesses



Are you scared to invest in your business?

Seven years ago, I bootstrapped my business with my own savings, not taking out loans or relying on investors. It was just me, making things work under pretty tight conditions. When I started the business, I had one rule: don’t spend money until you’ve made money. There were, however, two exceptions: one was a terrible website I made on my own and then quickly discarded (because it was atrocious), and the other was investing $26,000 per year into a business school. 

It felt like an enormous sum at the time, but I had faith that the work I would generate from being in that business school, would more than pay for the investment I was making. That decision turned out to be one of the best I ever made—I felt secure as I transitioned from my corporate role into my own business.

Now, let me ask you: would you have taken that risk? Women are quick to invest in our children, beauty routines, and family holidays, but when it comes to our businesses, we often hesitate and are scared to invest. In this episode, I dive into why this is the case.

1. Risk Aversion

Many women are naturally risk-averse, especially when it comes to financial investments. The fear of losing money or not seeing a return on investment can be a significant barrier. 

2. Self-Doubt

We’ve all been there—doubting our worthiness and capabilities. This pesky imposter syndrome can lead to hesitation, stumping both personal and professional growth.

3. Cultural Conditioning

Societal norms and expectations have historically placed women in more conservative roles, discouraging us from taking financial risks or prioritising our own development over family responsibilities.

4. Lack of Role Models

The scarcity of visible female entrepreneurs makes it tough for women to envision success in similar roles. Without relatable examples, the path can look uncertain.

5. Financial Constraints

Unique financial challenges, like the gender pay gap and career interruptions due to having children, often stand in the way of investing in our business and personal growth.

6. Fear of Failure

The fear of failure, along with potential public scrutiny, can feel paralysing to a lot of women. Some women feel they have more to prove and less room for error, deterring them from taking risks.

7. Lack of Support System

A lack of supportive networks and mentorship can make the journey feel isolating. Women can struggle to find the encouragement and guidance needed to confidently invest in themselves.

So, how do we overcome these barriers? Here are my top five strategies.

  1. Build a Supportive Community

When I started my business, I had my business school community but no women-in-business community. So, I created one: Lunch with the Queen. I created the community that I felt was for me and it was a fantastic experience. Engaging with women-centric business groups, mentoring groups, and networking events can connect you with like-minded individuals.

  1. Seek Mentors

Finding mentors who have navigated similar paths is invaluable. Some mentors you’ll need to make a financial investment into, others may share their wisdom freely. Either way, their guidance is invaluable.

  1. Invest in Education and Training

Enrol in courses, workshops, and seminars to enhance your skills and knowledge. This boosts confidence and competence in your business domain. That said, don’t use continuous learning as an excuse to procrastinate. Sometimes, you just need to get out there and start doing.

  1. Develop Financial Literacy

Create a budget that allocates funds specifically for personal and business investments. Regular saving alleviates financial pressure, and having a buffer can help during quiet months. There are a variety of grants or investment opportunities tailored for women out there if you’re open to looking around.

  1. Prioritise Self-Care and Wellbeing

Balancing life—ensuring you maintain your mental, physical, and emotional wellbeing—helps you make clear, confident decisions. Practices like mindfulness, meditation, and journaling can manage stress and build resilience. I personally meditate every day, and I’ve seen significant improvements in my mental health as a resullt.

Being scared to invest in your business is understandable, but the potential rewards far outweigh the risks. Build a supportive network, seek mentorship, and continually educate yourself. Prioritise your wellbeing and finances smartly. With these strategies, you’ll be well on your way to overcoming the fear that holds you back.

I hope my tips have been helpful. Pick one and try it. Give it enough time to work, and if it does, let me know


Day with the Queen

For a copy of Emma’s book, ‘Go-getter: Raise your mojo, shift your mindset and thrive’ – https://www.emmamcqueen.com.au/book/

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Read The Full Transcript

[00:00:00] Emma: Are you scared to invest in your business? I get it. I totally get it. I bootstrapped my business seven years ago. And what that means is I didn't take a loan out. I didn't have investors. It was little old me using my savings to start my business, which meant at the beginning, things were really tight.
[00:00:18] I had a rule with myself that I would not spend money until I made money. Now, there were two things. that I spent money on. one was a really bad website on GoDaddy that I did on the train on the way into the city because everyone's like, you need a web presence. And I didn't think LinkedIn was enough.
[00:00:35] anyway, I got rid of that as soon as I possibly could. And then the second one was joining a business school. The cost to join the business school for a year was 26, 000. It sounds like a lot, right? But I knew that the work I did would pay it off. That was my major expense in my business for two years, 26, 000 a year.
[00:00:58] Business school helps clever people be commercially smart. And I felt like I needed something to catch me as I free fall, out of my corporate role and into my own business. It felt like the seatbelt that I needed when I left my corporate role and it worked a treat. But also that was something that I had to discuss with my family.
[00:01:18] Would you have taken the risk? I would love to hear in the comments, would you have taken that risk? Women especially are very quick to invest in their children. They're quick to invest in their beauty routines. They're quick to invest in family holidays, which is all well and good.
[00:01:36] But when you're trying to grow your business, sometimes it might mean pumping that little bit extra into the business or stopping some of that other spending to allocate that for your business, especially if you're starting out, you've got to keep it pretty tight. People can also not want to invest in their business or not do big scary investment because they're not willing to take the risk.
[00:01:58] And I get that [00:02:00] too. Sometimes risks don't pay off and sometimes they lead to failure, but no risk, no reward. In a lot of cases in my second year of business, I kept getting random calls from women about another coach who was taking their money and not giving them the coaching. Eventually I worked out.
[00:02:22] that this coach had swindled about 250, 000 out of these poor women who had put their trust in her and their hard earned savings into her. And man, did I struggle with this. And so I offered to coach the women who came to me for free. I realize that that sounds selfless, but hear me out. It actually wasn't as selfless as you think. I just didn't want coaches to get a bad rap. because of one rotten egg. And to be fair, coaches do get a bad rap. The amount of eye rolls I used to get was unbelievable. Luckily after seven years and perhaps social proof and credibility and writing a book and all the things rarely happens these days when it does happen, I kind of call it and name it because I just don't want to.
[00:03:13] I think it's really inappropriate. But that's just me. So I understand why women are afraid to invest in themselves. They think to themselves, what if I get ripped off? I get that. What happens if it doesn't work out? Yep. What happens if my coach is not aligned to me? my question to you is what happens if it works out and that coach pushes you to be the very best version of yourself?
[00:03:36] What happens if the networks? That they bring in for you are amazing. What happens if they believe in you long enough that you get to catch up? Surely the positives outweigh the negatives. And I'm not saying that there's only one reason you don't invest. Actually, I think there are a few.
[00:03:53] we can be a bit risk averse. So many women naturally are, are risk averse, especially when it comes to financial [00:04:00] investments. The fear of losing money or seeing, not seeing a return on investment can be a pretty big barrier for some people. Two, self doubt, that pesky imposter syndrome, that mean girl, can make women question their worthiness and capability.
[00:04:17] And this lack of confidence can lead to hesitation in making some bold investments. which stumps their personal and their professional growth. There's a lot of cultural conditioning, you know, societal norms and expectations have historically placed women in more conservative roles, discouraging them from taking financial risks or prioritizing their own development over the family or social responsibilities, right?
[00:04:40] I am so very blessed to be married to a man who allows me to be me. And I have always, and will always be the main bread winner. And perhaps that motivates me as well.
[00:04:51] We have a lack of role models, the scarcity of visible female entrepreneurs, and that's going to make it really hard for women to envisage themselves succeeding in similar roles without relatable examples. The path looks uncertain. I get that as well. We have financial constraints.
[00:05:12] Women often face unique financial challenges such as gender pay gap. Don't even get me started. Um, career interruptions because we go and have babies. And sometimes these things get in the way from investing in our business and our personal growth. We have this funny thing, I don't know if you know it, but it's called fear of failure.
[00:05:35] The fear of failure and the potential public scrutiny that comes with it can feel paralyzing to some women. Some women feel like they have more to prove and less room for error, which can deter them from taking any risks. I figure everyone's looking out for themselves. No one's watching me. So who cares?
[00:05:53] That's just me. A support system. women sometimes have a lack of supportive networks and [00:06:00] people saying you can do this and mentorship and that can make the journey feel isolating and overwhelming and women can struggle to find the encouragement and guidance needed to confidently invest in themselves.
[00:06:14] We got to get under the hood and work out what's going on. I reckon you've got a few choices. Here are my top five. Build a supportive community. When I went out to business on my own, I had my business school community, but I didn't have a women in business community.
[00:06:28] I couldn't find one that I loved. So I just created one. It was called Lunch with the Queen. It was awesome. It was just a play on my name. And I invited 10 cool women that I wanted to meet. in real life to lunch. It was amazing. engaging with women centric business groups, mentoring groups, networking events to connect with like minded individuals, women who are in the same kind of place as you.
[00:06:49] This is why our Thriving Women Program is so popular. A truly supportive group of amazing women doing incredible things. By the way, we've just released tickets today with the Queen. It's our signature networking event in Melbourne. It's on September 6th this year. Tickets are very limited, but if you want a safe space to network, come along.
[00:07:09] We need to seek mentors. Finding mentors who have navigated similar paths and can provide guidance, support, and encouragement. Invaluable. Some you'll need to pay, and that's okay. and others will be very happy to share with you. Two, investing in your education and training. There's a caveat on this right, but you can enrol in courses, workshops and seminars to enhance your skills and your knowledge.
[00:07:37] This does boost confidence and competence in your business domain. My caveat on this one is there are so many women that I speak to who are like, maybe I should just do another course. And they're already good to go. They just feel like another course will help them do something. Procrastinate, uh, that inner mean girl comes out and says she can't do [00:08:00] it.
[00:08:00] But instead of going and doing another course, just go out and do some more selling. Go and build some more relationships. The other thing I would say is financial literacy. I did a Bachelor of Commerce. It did not help me one bit for running a business. My hope is that there are more options out there now to study entrepreneurial skills and how to actually run a business. Women seem to be very good technically at the thing they're good at. So if they're good at copywriting, great.
[00:08:27] If they're a great coach, great. But what we seem to be missing is the business acumen that goes with it. And so I had to learn really hard, really fast, and I'm still learning. But we've got to find people who can help us with that. Number three is cultivating a growth mindset. Carol Dweck wrote a book called Mindset and it's an incredible read and she talks about embracing failure as learning.
[00:08:54] So shifting your perspective to view failures as opportunities for growth and learning rather than any kind of setback. Also setting realistic goals. Breaking down those larger objective, uh, goals into smaller bite sized chunks so that you can achieve those goals and that will build momentum and confidence over time.
[00:09:16] Number four, it bears repeating, developing financial strategies. So, creating a budget in Xero or whatever software you use that allocates funds. Specifically for your personal and your business investments Regular saving can make sure that we alleviate financial pressure and also having a buffer which I've spoken about in a previous episode Really helps us to know that we're safe if we have a quiet month
[00:09:45] There are normally Some grants around some investment opportunities tailored for women, not as many as I would like to see, but there are some around. And so making sure that you're looking at all those funding [00:10:00] sources for you and your business, uh, goes a long way to researching what's out there. And then five, prioritizing your self care and your wellbeing.
[00:10:08] and balancing. Okay. I'm not going to say balancing work and life, I just think balancing life, right? ensure that you've got some healthy balance and you can maintain your mental and your physical well being and your emotional well being. That helps you make clear, confident decisions. Practicing mindfulness, helps with your resilience.
[00:10:30] So I practice mindfulness and meditation every day, journaling. If journaling is your thing to manage stress and build resilience against other challenges, they're just kind of five things that you can do. Uh, I hope some of those tips have been super helpful and I would love to hear how you go with any of them.
[00:10:49] Pick one, try one. Ditch it if it doesn't work, although give it long enough to work, but ditch it if it doesn't work, and if it does work, let us know. I'd love to hear.