3 key opportunities female founders need to seize in 2023

With the macroeconomic climate changing so rapidly and the cost of capital reaching record highs, it’s probably fair to say that now is either a great time or the worst time to form a company! This especially holds true if you happen to be a female founder.

Those who do strike gold will likely enjoy the advantage of thinned competition and well-earned investment funding, although reaching new markets and finding the right business partners will prove to be ever more challenging as downsizing continues to sweep nearly every industry.

What are three opportunities female business owners should seize in 2023?

Alright, let’s cut to the chase:

  1. You need to watch your burn closely (keep reading, we’ll explain what that means in case you’re not familiar with the term) and you need to be very realistic about your sales pipeline in order to control spending.
  2. If you feel that your product or service is innovative enough, heck, go for it!
  3. Start doubling down on your mentorship, sponsorship, and networking – now!

For every element that may make forming a new company a daunting and laborious journey, there are even more untapped opportunities.

After all, it’s not a coincidence that some of the most innovative tech startups, which we know as “successful” companies today, were formed in the middle of a recession – Uber, Microsoft, Airbnb – you name it.

Business women and female led startups today are busy navigating the complexities of a turbulent and often volatile market. However, if they can look at some specific challenges and see them as opportunities instead, they can really come out on top:

1. Funding access and sales pipeline: Watch your burn closely

Remember when startups were almost always advised to ‘increase their burn’ in order to grow? Well, those days are gone. Burn Rate is a calculation which lets you determine the rate at which your startup is spending capital to finance the overhead costs before generating a positive cash flow. So, basically, the burn rate tells you how much your business is spending in any given month.

Today, one of the first questions investors ask not just female startups but all startups are about burn multiple and runway. Time for another quick lesson:

We already know what burn rate is so we need to be familiar with ‘runway’, which refers to how long you can potentially remain in business – it’s a good way to determine whether you should start fundraising to ‘extend the runway’ or cut non-essential costs entirely.

Burn multiple is an all-encompassing metric which revolves around capital efficiency. It shows the revenue generated per dollar burned, if that makes sense. It actually goes well beyond the basic burn rate to indicate how effectively you can use the raised capital to produce revenue. Fun stuff!

Back on-topic: the pace of investment will likely not slow down, but the bar will definitely rise for female business founders who can successfully obtain further funding after their first taste of success.

For CEOs and company founders, the main goal is to never run out of money, naturally. Therefore, if you want to remain competitive, then you must monitor your burn very closely and be super-realistic about your sales pipeline. Every ounce of investment you get must be justified from a customer and ROI standpoint, or you may end up spending money that’s not even yours.

2. Create your own room for innovation

Recessions have historically proven to be a twin-edged sword mostly for the startup ecosystem. Depending on your own financial, professional, and economic circumstances, you may be compelled to take the plunge and start your own company or forever latch onto the rope of uncertainty and what could have been. Your readiness to enter the market depends on whether you are innovation-minded. For example, if you’ve been wanting to penetrate an industry that’s rapidly innovating (like data science, for example), then this is not a bad time to do it.

The B2B SaaS (software-as-a-service) and cloud security space, for example, has really taken off and is showing no signs of slowing down or fading out of demand. And indeed, we’re seeing a whole bunch of female founders and technical leaders coming up with some incredibly innovative software startups – Jenn Knight, Sarika Garg, and Barr Moses, to name a few.

This is just an example of one industry and there are many hotspots in tech alone at the moment, so your willingness to innovate in an existing trend and industry will pave the way for your success. Hint: nearly every upcoming female founder seems to want to grab a slice of generative AI!

3. Networking and support system

During market breakdowns and crackdowns, it’s common to see an “every woman for herself” kind of attitude. Time, talent, and funding is usually in short supply and the sheer sense of competition can often overshadow that of collaboration. Well, do your best to not embrace this attitude!

Networking and support channels are even more important when you’re traversing rough waters than when you’re doing business under traditional market conditions.

For instance, if you try to build connections and sponsorship through active participation in mentorship, founder, and professional groups – you can easily gain access to hard-to-find talent, be in a better position to finalise a new product or idea, and even have your proposal accepted by a big shot investor.  

So, over the next year, instead of digging out a trench and getting your guns ready to face the inevitable, flex your female business founder muscle instead by contributing openly to your local communities and networks, and you will soon see the value it can bring.

Final thoughts

As female business owners and founders, we really need to get over the preconceived notions of what a female startup’s ideal success path should look like or, for that matter, the processes that lead to it.

We need to have an open mind and embrace new possibilities, while capitalising on some incredible opportunities, as discussed above. We are now in a new business landscape, so to speak, and female business founders absolutely need to be ready and flexible enough to turn challenges into opportunities, if they want to make it.