Running a successful business is hard – and building a successful business as a black woman is even harder. But the obstacles to entrepreneurship can be eased with the right people in your corner.
Black women are the fastest growing group of entrepreneurs in the United States, according to JP Morgan, but they face disproportionate financial barriers. A 2019 report from American Express found that women-owned businesses bring in an average of $142,900 per year. However, black female founders average only $24,000 in profit.
Additionally, black women only receive a “tiny fraction” of venture capital funding, according to Crunchbase, which found that they received just 0.34% of total VCs spent in the U.S. l ‘last year.
Chelsea C. Williams, founder and CEO of Reimagine Talent Co., a workforce development and talent retention company, has successfully grown her self-funded business to seven-figure revenue, and she says her relationships have played a huge role in its success. .
“I didn’t do it alone,” Williams, 32, tells CNBC Make It. “There are so many people who have guided me, who have supported me, who have opened the door and made the first email communication with some of these organizations.”
According to Williams, these are the four essential relationships every business owner should have to “increase their impact.”
The source of inspiration
According to Williams, this first person is the “visual representation of what you want to do”.
“They may not be doing it the way you are called to. They may have a completely different background, but you see them and the way they run their business, the way they facilitate speech, the way they have an impact is something you want to emulate in your own way.”
Williams, who has a bachelor’s degree in economics from Spelman College, says when she entered the workforce as a Wall Street intern, she met an expert on multigenerational workplaces and New York Times bestselling author , which had a huge impact on her.
“I was sitting in a training room thinking about how we train bankers and Wall Streeters, and she was talking,” Williams recalled. “I remember sitting in my chair and writing as she finished her presentation, this is what I aspire to in the future.”
Williams introduced herself to the woman, who later became her mentor. She says that although their careers are “very different”, the relationship has been key in starting her business.
“When I took that step to start the business, she gave me introductions, she told me the events I needed to attend. She really advocated for me, and she still does.”
The Mindset Coach
As a black woman starting a business in her twenties, Williams explains that she faced many internal battles that “prevented her from sitting down in entrepreneurship and taking it to the next level.”
“My first full year, I couldn’t call myself CEO. I would say I’m a strategist. I couldn’t hold that title, because what the world says a CEO is often isn’t a black woman. …especially a young one,” she says.
“Being a black woman in her twenties starting a business is a whole different thing because sometimes there’s a credibility issue with people, especially in the work that I do that’s focused on organizations and Workforce.”
Williams says a therapist, or “mental coach,” can help you align with your goals.
“My therapist has been a big part of helping me find my identity…helping me understand my value and worth and how to present myself as I am. I don’t need to be aggressive or imitate men and how they build businesses. I can sit in my femininity and demand certain things and run this business.”
According to Williams, cultivating friendships with other entrepreneurs you identify with can help boost your business success.
“For me, it was important that [my squad] to be women of color. Because again, we’re navigating through something very different from everyone else.”
While it can also be helpful to form friendships with business owners whose identities don’t match yours, your work interactions and experiences will likely be different.
“Having my CEO team who I could ask the questions, who I could have my grunt moments with, is vital. I have a trifecta [women] business owners and we meet weekly to share resources,” Williams shares. you.”
“That’s been critical. Because even though we’re in different fields and industries and sectors, just to be able to say that we’re navigating this space together and have a safe place to be able to talk about the ups and downs… game changer.”
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