While the number of female-owned businesses rose 58% from 2007 to 2017, the number of black women entrepreneurs rose by a stunning 164%.
Even though black women are gaining momentum in the business sphere, they still face several complications and challenges along the way.
Let's get into the challenges (and the solutions) for women of color.
Lack of Representation
For a long time, women entrepreneurs were the lone breed in business meetings. Today, while women have made strides in the boardroom, there is still has a long way for the representation of African American women in positions of leadership.
This situation can create inherent biases and discrimination within the workforce. Black women repeatedly report incidents of needing to prove their qualifications, worth, and ambition to potential colleagues and customers.
This is why networking and connecting with other women of power is so important. It's essential that you feel supported in your business endeavors.
Lack of Mentorship
Mentorship has a longstanding role in the success of early entrepreneurship. Strong mentorship provides an invaluable opportunity to learn from someone who has experienced similar obstacles and hurdles in their professional path.
With that said, there tends to be a lack of mentorship opportunities for black women entrepreneurs who understand the unique challenges associated with being both female and a person of color.
To find a mentor, you may have to put in the legwork. This means attending volunteer events, scoping out various university scenes, and checking with your local chamber of commerce.
Lack of Monetary Funding or Capital
Women, in general, tend to receive smaller loans across the board- regardless of the product or service.
Minority women often face even greater hardships, and the chance to qualify for traditional sources of funding may be incredibly limited.
Fortunately, there are several small business grant opportunities and angel investors eager to help and support women and minorities fund their business dreams. Crowdfunding also remains a popular option for individuals who want to attract a large pool of investors very quickly.
Lack of Work-Life Balance
While both men and women face work-life balance struggles, women tend to feel even more pressure due to collective societal and cultural norms. Juggling family life, social relationships, work, and daily tasks and errands can feel like a never-ending mission.
With that said, creating a work-life balance is essential. Black women entrepreneurs need to be comfortable delegating and outsourcing tasks when possible. You must know how to set limits and boundaries with your time and with other people.
Finally, you can't expect the balance to be perfect! There is no ideal way to manage all the elements of your life. If you strive for 'good enough,' you'll be well on your way towards positive mental health.
Final Thoughts On The Challenges Black Women Entrepreneurs Face
Starting a business is never easy. It requires dedication, persistence, and timeless grit. Black women entrepreneurs face those struggles- in addition to potential racism, discrimination, and financial hardships.
With that said, times are changing, and opportunities are emerging. As business continues to evolve, we anticipate that the societal approach on who is running these businesses will, too.