Women entrepreneurs, and particularly women of color (WoCs), are making great strides in business. According to recent statistics, the percentage of new businesses owned by women in the US grew to 40%. Of this number, 64% of new women-owned businesses last year were started by women of color. It is a great time to be an aspiring female entrepreneur, more-so for women of color.
However, these great stats do not take away from the fact that starting a business as a female entrepreneur, especially one of color, is much harder than for any other ethnographic group. There is still a mountain of challenges to overcome if you’re in this minority group. However, if you decide to take that great leap of faith into entrepreneurship as a WoC, the result is more satisfaction and more respect from amongst your peers.
So, here are 8 success tips for every aspiring entrepreneur who is a woman of color:
1. Start Small Regardless of Lack of Funding Opportunities
Our society is still coming to grips with being balanced and presenting equal opportunities to all regardless of gender or color. Granted, there are advancements and a new wave of feminist minds leveling the playing field and shattering the glass ceiling. It is, however, still more difficult for women, especially women of color, to access funding and mentorship opportunities.
If you lack funding, start with the idea, develop it and perfect it until there is no way that your venture will fail if you eventually do secure funding.
2. Be Tenacious and Develop a Thick Skin
As a woman of color, you will be facing a double bias because of both gender and race. Surprisingly, a lot of the opposition you’ll face trying to start your business won’t be from men but your fellow women, especially those around you. “It’s not possible” and “you won’t make it” are just some of the things that you might expect to hear.
Turn a deaf ear to every negative sentiment and work in silence until your spotlight can no longer remain hidden.
3. Be Proudly You and Remain True to Yourself
Don’t conform to society’s expectations of what success should look like. In the male-dominated business world, it is easy to turn cold, competitive, and even harsh as a woman. As a woman of color, you need to set yourself apart as unique, building on your strengths and learning from your weaknesses.
Own your color and be proud of who you are, but don’t let it be the thing that defines your business, especially if you anticipate expanding your reach beyond your community.
4. Network and Look for Opportunities Around You
When someone talks of starting a business, the model stereotype is to move to the “big city” because that seemingly makes more financial sense. However, if you are a woman-of-color living in the inner city, the projects, or even far from a major urban center, start looking for opportunities from the immediate community around you.
Financially, this may make little sense because your community may not be well-endowed with money to spend on your dream. However, there are key business lessons that you will learn from this experience, including starting small, scaling as needed, and keeping your ear to the ground about what the masses want.
5. Surround Yourself With Competent People
Being heralded as an achiever within your family or community with your new startup can lead you to feel responsible for others. You might end mixing business with family or friendships, to the detriment of your venture. Love and respect your family and friends, but always remember that there is a thin line between love and hate when it comes to business.
Instead, surround yourself with competent people and grow first. For example, you could seek out the best essay writing service to create your professional marketing copy for you instead of having your family member with no experience do it. As success increases, so can your contributions back to your community.
6. Celebrate Yourself Through Failure or Even When Success Isn’t Visible to Others
About half of all new businesses fail within the first five years. This happens because of a lack of adequate funding, a good business plan, overheads, and mismanagement. However, your business could also simply fail because you hadn’t prototyped a concept, or you didn’t think about every aspect of the business operation.
Learn to recognize the difference between failing and learning through failure; the latter is always a part of success. Sometimes, the business is growing, but it isn’t growing fast enough or how you expected it to. Pat yourself on the back and keep going, even when nobody toots your horn.
7. Master Yourself and Master the Culture
If the culture back home is to “pop champagne” and live it up at the first sign of a positive gross margin, you need to change this mindset before it pulls your business down. Celebrating your success doesn’t need to be ostentatious, and neither does there need to be an entourage about it.
Your Odds of Success as a WoC Entrepreneur Are Higher Than Ever
As a woman of color building one of the more than 1.5 million businesses owned by black minority women in the US, your odds of success are stacked higher than they ever were. So, always look to the future, shatter that proverbial glass ceiling, and empower others who will come after you.