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This chapter is from the book

The Hurdle Analogy

Tenacity is a core value at our company. Maybe that's just because I've run a marathon and I'm a lousy sprinter.

—Laura Rippy, Founder, Handango

Starting a venture is a lot like competing in a track event. When you are in the starting block, every ounce of you is filled with a sense of hope, excitement, and challenge. You know that your talents and training will be tested to the limit, as will your resolution and endurance. You look to your right and your left and you see that there are fierce competitors to be reckoned with. When you look straight ahead, you see that there are also many hurdles to clear before you can claim victory. Reaching the finish line will require every bit of passion, experience, training, and skill you have.

Yes, entrepreneurs are a lot like contenders in a highly competitive race, but in many ways, they are different. Entrepreneurs chart their own course rather than following a prescribed track. Theirs is a very personal race to translate a good idea into a viable new business concept that resolves a problem or fills a market need. For most entrepreneurs, the creation of a new venture is anything but a short sprint over hurdles. It is far more likely to be a marathon that takes years. The easiest part might be getting out of the starting block. Surviving, maintaining the pace, and growing the business present far greater challenges. It might come as a surprise, but neither are there clearly stated rules that apply to all, nor is there a defined finish line for an entrepreneur at which point she can declare victory, claim the laurel wreath, and retire to the showers.

In spite of these rather obvious differences, the high hurdles race analogy captures the essence of the entrepreneurial challenges that women face when growing their new businesses. In truth, women with high aspirations for their ventures face challenges remarkably like the men in the next lanes. For women, however, the hurdles are often higher and closer together. Throughout this book, we will identify the obstacles you are likely to encounter and we will make recommendations for clearing them with ease (or getting around them, if that makes more sense). Remember that there are no hard and fast rules in the entrepreneurial game.

Each chapter considers the hurdle faced by women entrepreneurs, presents examples, and explores the roots of the perceptions. We suggest what might go right or wrong and provide suggestions for what you can do to minimize the impact of these hurdles. We provide both explanations and recommendations primarily for female entrepreneurs, and secondarily for equity investors and other entrepreneurial partners.

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