As a member of an underrepresented community, your existence in the business world might be slightly different than that of your peers. Whether you’re a woman, a person of color, or part of the LGBTQ+ community, the world of entrepreneurship can present unique challenges. While there are many basic ways to get started as an entrepreneur, expanding an existing underrepresented business is different. With that in mind, here are a few tips to help you thrive in the business world and grow your business.
Lean into Your Uniqueness
According to the US Senate Committee on Small Businesses and Entrepreneurship, “Over the last 10 years, minority business enterprises accounted for more than 50 percent of the two million new businesses started in the United States.” This shows that there isn’t a lack of creativity and passion in the underrepresented communities, but that the problem arises when they try to grow and expand. Leveraging the aspects that make them most unique is a great way to help stand out from the rest of the crowd and highlight your offerings. This can vary depending on your specific business, but identifying your unique aspect and then growing your business around it can not only provide you with a more clear roadmap, but strengthen your identity as a brand.
Explore One-on-One Coaching
When aiming to grow and expand your current business, having some guidance from an expert can help you speed up the process. Someone who has seen firsthand some of the trials and tribulations of the business world can provide you with not only a more mature perspective, but bring some new ideas to the table. There are a lot of options in this area, you could explore a business coaching service, or aim for something a little more structured like a business accelerator program. They can provide networking events, monthly workshops, and 1:1 capacity-building sessions. While your needs may vary based on your level of expertise or offering, look into some of these options in order to help you get a leg up on the competition.
Use the Resources Provided
In addition to the more well-known resources, such as business grants, there are other resources that are more specifically geared toward underrepresented business owners. You can find lists of these resources online, so make sure you do the research to find the programs and options that best fit your business’s needs. In addition to the resources targeting minority-owned businesses, there are also ones that provide more general information.
As an entrepreneur, understanding financial literacy is a crucial element of your business’s success. There are a lot of books and resources available to help you get a better understanding of the finer details and how you can best financially support your business. Budgeting your small business can often become harder as your company grows, so it’s important to use the resources available to you, and ensure your money is being used wisely.
Grow Your Network
Having a strong and supportive network is a key element for all successful businesses, and underrepresented entrepreneurs have some unique opportunities. Understanding how to network is an important feat, and there are some ways to make sure you get the most out of your network. Minority-owned businesses often have strong networks and they range in size depending on location, in-person or online, etc.
Networking is important for a number of reasons, one of the most important being the information that can be exchanged between entrepreneurs. This can range from information on target markets, most successful marketing tactics, or even macroeconomic factors as a whole. The more perspective you have the better decisions you are able to make.
Take It One Step at a Time
When growing a business, at times entrepreneurs can want to see immediate results and impact, but it’s important to remember that, as cliche as it might be, it’s a marathon, not a sprint. These changes may take time to sink in, and it’s important to have patience and instead keep an eye out for indicators of change. This could range from seeing a shift in your target market to more obvious changes such as an increase in sales or profit. Taking a step back and looking for the beginning of change can give you a better understanding of cause and effect, and allow you to gauge if this is the direction you want to take.
Making the decision to become an entrepreneur is an exciting prospect, but the next step is taking that business and growing it. As an underrepresented owner, you may face some unique challenges compared to others. Making sure you understand what resources you have at your disposal and how best to use them can help you navigate some of the murkier waters.
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