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After reading this, you will understand why Black women need to mind their own business. It’s not just for themselves but for the benefits and impact on their communities.
I have attempted to make this case in the past but this year, I went all out, pulled out all the stops and did a deep dive into some research to support my argument.
Women of colour will be the majority of all women in the United States by 2060
The potential to create great opportunities, change our communities and grow happier families is in our hands, but not if we’re living a life that is not fulfilling, not if we’re living a life where our gifts and talents are not being used for the purposes they were designed for.
I believe that the best way for Black women to make an impact on this world is to mind their own business and here’s why.
We’re very smart but it doesn’t translate into our pay.
According to the National Center For Education Statistics (NCES), between 2018 and 2019, Black women made up 68% of associate’s degrees, 66% of bachelor’s degrees, 71% of master’s degrees, and 65% of doctoral, medical and dental degrees. While education may be soaring to new heights for Black women across the United States, pay disparities continue to persist. Even for those with the most impressive qualifications.
Based on median total income, women of colour earn
- Almost 80% of what men of colour earn.
- Just under 57% of what all men earn.
Black women are more likely to be employed in sectors such as health care, education, and hospitality, all of which often pay lower in terms of wages. Even those who are working in high-paying fields as physicians and surgeons still feel the unfortunate burn of pay inequality.
Black women also earn less than white women in most workplaces. When it comes to wealth, Urban.Org released a report showing that both white and black women have made wealth gains in the past 25 years. But in all the survey’s, the average white woman had higher dollar amounts in 1989 and 2016.
We face disadvantages that are driven by discrimination and let’s not forget about the glass ceiling which makes it difficult to get promoted or advance in our careers. This is compounded by the intersectionality of gender, which means that black women experience discrimination based on their race and gender.
According to intersectionality theory, discrimination is compounded for black women entrepreneurs because they experience biases from all angles. Black women entrepreneurs collectively experience racial and gender discrimination that impairs the magnitude in which they can build wealth, grow their businesses and impact their communities (Mora & Dávila, 2014).
Black women in the corporate world are also often forced to bottle up their emotions and try not to appear “too Black, or too feminine”. This emotional tax takes a toll on our mental and physical health, and it prevents us from being our best selves at work.
Entrepreneurship To The Rescue
Many Black women who work in predominately white organizations may opt for entrepreneurship to avoid racial and gender discrimination, as well as obstacles to pay equity and advancement.
Black women make the best entrepreneurs as their businesses create jobs in their local communities. Since Black-owned businesses are likely to hire from their local community, it creates increased economic opportunities for Black residents who may otherwise be barred from participating in the traditional labour market.
Private business ownership has significant implications for earnings and wealth inequality, however, Black women are underrepresented in entrepreneurship.
The Ugly Truth About Entrepreneurship
Don’t get it twisted. Yes, we should have our own businesses but the truth is, it’s hard out here in these streets for Black womenpreneurs.
Black women are the fastest-growing group of entrepreneurs in the United States but our businesses are not as successful because we lack the resources and opportunities needed to build and run successful businesses (Project Diane, 2018).
For example, the Harvard Business Review released a report sharing that 17% of Black women are in the process of starting or running new businesses, compared to just 10% of white women, and 15% of white men.
The reason why we are underrepresented is that only 3% continue to run mature businesses because we have little to no access to capital,
we earn $24,000 average annual revenue which is about $120k less than the average of all businesswomen and the types of businesses launched tend to be in crowded marketplaces with lower margins.
Most businesses fail within the first year due to a lack of resources, knowledge, and skills (Otar, 2018). Black women-led businesses fail at a higher percentage compared to any other group and make up less than 1% of business owners that still have an existing business after the first 4 years (Maki, 2004).
Black women have faced many challenges as founders and CEOs, and a lack of financial support is at the top of the list.
A LinkedIn article reports that 40% of Black women entrepreneurs believe having access to capital is key to growing their businesses.
Yet, only 19% have received funding, and those that do receive funding receive less than .5% of venture capital funding causing most to self-fund their businesses with the already-limited funds that they receive in their full-time jobs or through any other source.
So Why Are We Doing This?
Black women realize that the world is not positioned to meet their needs—so when it comes to Black services, amenities, and products, many Black women entrepreneurs have had to make the decision to create businesses that cater to themselves and other Black women.
It is through entrepreneurship that Black women are able to build solutions to the very problems that affect their communities.
Don’t believe me? Just look at Madam CJ Walker.
In her report on Black Women Entrepreneurs: Understanding the Challenges and Proposing Policy for Equitable Change, Nana Young gives the perfect summary of Madam Walkers impact on the community.
Young shares that what earned Madam CJ Walker her legacy was not just her financial accomplishments but also how she used her wealth for a larger social good.
Through her business, she trained over 40,000 Black women and men to be entrepreneurs while advocating for economic justice for Black people, especially Black women (Leila McNeill, 2019).
Walker also supported communities by directly donating funds to institutions and organizations that were making an impact in the lives of Black people. Walker is known for contributing the largest recorded single donation to Black students at Tuskegee Institute to support the NAACP anti-lynching initiatives ( McNeil, 2019). The more madam CJ Walker’s business and wealth grew, the more her community gained.
Social impact can be a motivator to start a business because like Walker, building a successful business afforded her the opportunity to uplift others.
Walker’s story showed that Black women entrepreneurs that paved the way contributed a great deal to the socioeconomic growth of Black communities.
Freeman & Milway (2020) state that “Each woman’s economic success paved the way for her political voice and philanthropic power at a time when African American women were fighting not only to obtain the women’s vote and turn back Jim Crow laws but also for recognition within their own business community.
Here’s How We Win
Finding startup funding and mentorship remain some of the biggest hurdles that Black female entrepreneurs must contend with**
However, there are three foundational elements that must be true for all successful entrepreneurs: Business relationships, capital, and entrepreneurial skills.
In Business News Daily, Simone Johnson shares some tips for Black womenpreneurs by Black womenpreneurs that fits within each of the three foundational elements of success for entrepreneurs.
Business Relationships Tips
- LaTonya Story, owner of LPS Consulting PR stresses the importance of networking in seeking out new clients and potential mentors. She tells budding Black women entrepreneurs not to be afraid to take chances and reach out to people they want to work with.**
- Black women entrepreneurs can benefit from mentorship and advice from successful business owners to help them navigate challenges in receiving funding and networking.**
- Access to low-cost or pro-bono services for Black women-owned businesses under 5 years old.
- Tiffany Griffin, co-founder and co-owner of Bright Black advises emerging Black businesswomen to save money before launching their businesses so they aren’t reliant on investors who may require them to make core changes to their businesses.**
- Britney Winters, founder and CEO of Upgrade Boutique urges business owners to make the most of the capital they have by starting small and selling products at an early stage of the business, which will help them grow their customer base and earn more capital that they can reinvest in the business.**
Entrepreneurial Skills Tips
- Janna M. Hall, chief experience officer of Leap Innovative Group encourages Black female entrepreneurs to avoid underpricing their services by researching the market and knowing their worth.**
- Genera Moore, founder of Motorparts Nation recommends finding a business opportunity by conducting market research and identifying communities that need help.**
- Know your tech and where to invest. Too often, we get caught up in the rush of using a new tool or resource, but each of these needs to be evaluated for use, functionality and the long-term. If you anticipate having new team members in the short-term, then signing onto platforms that offer a deal for 3 or more team members would serve you better.
If you are seeking more insights and information on starting and running your business, subscribe to my blog or leave me a comment if you could use a custom 1:1 consultation or if you would like to book a strategy call to get clear on your business goals and how to achieve them.
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