There are a lot of things people will tell you about entrepreneurship. They’ll talk about how hard it is, how much money you need to get started, and how much you have to sacrifice. And those are all important things to consider if you’re thinking about starting a business. But there are also some things people aren’t talking about—and these are the things that can make or break your success as an entrepreneur.
This article will give you some tips on what everyone is talking about when they talk about entrepreneurship—and more importantly, it’ll tell you what no one is talking about. It’s time to think outside the box and get real about what it takes to thrive as a female entrepreneur of color.
If you’re a woman of color and you’ve ever had an inkling to be an entrepreneur—or if you already are one—then chances are you’ve been told some version of the following:
- “You need to work hard, come across as confident and capable, and be willing to sacrifice everything for your business.”
- “You want to start your own business? Work on it in the evenings. On weekends. Keep your day job.”
- “You should know that minorities have a harder time getting funding or loans than white people.”
If any of these statements sound familiar, then you probably feel like it’s being suggested that you have to do just a little bit more than everyone else in order to succeed as an entrepreneur. And if you’re feeling that way, you’re right. But there’s something that no one is talking about: the fact that women of color face incredibly unique challenges when they work toward starting their own businesses.
There’s a reason why so few black women (1%) and so few Latinas (3%) are business owners in this country, despite the fact that they make up 20% of the U.S. population. The challenges facing women of color who try to go into business for themselves are often deeply structural, stemming from systemic issues in this country.
In America—and in the entrepreneurial world in general—the default image of an entrepreneur is a white man. And while we certainly can’t undo that just by writing this article, we can start to address what is missing from the conversation.
The conversation is missing:
- Women of color who are entrepreneurs.
- Women of color who have been entrepreneurs for decades and have some advice to offer the next generation.
- How women of color get started in entrepreneurship, and how their experiences differ from those of white women.
- The struggles women of color face as entrepreneurs and insights into how best to overcome them.
While some entrepreneurs are only concerned with their bottom line, the rest of us should be concerned with seeing a more diverse range of entrepreneurs—and not just because it’s the right thing to do. A more diverse population of entrepreneurs creates a more robust business ecosystem, which means that everyone has a better chance of success. Creating an environment where everyone can succeed is the best way to protect our economy from future crises like COVID-19.
There are some things we can do to help bring about this change:
- Identify and support organizations that support diverse founders.
- Speak out when you see unfairness or prejudice in your workplace, local community, and other places where people gather.
- Be willing to set aside some of your own resources (time, money, effort) to help someone who isn’t being given a fair shot at success because they’re different than you in some way.
Entrepreneurship isn’t just about starting a business—it’s about sharing your gifts with the world while staying true to yourself. It’s not just about making money—it’s about changing lives. It’s not just about having power—it’s about using it to make a difference.