There was no such thing as “entrepreneurship” in the household where I grew up.
However, there was such thing as:
Going to college.
Getting a (profitable) degree.
Landing a good-paying job with benefits and retirement plan options.
Working until retirement age.
Times have certainly changed since those principles have been instilled in our minds. Therefore, it’s time for a career shift into the unknown, especially for women of color.
Although the number of women of color entering the entrepreneurial field is steadily increasing, there are some lessons we need to keep in mind if we want to succeed in the long run.
These lessons are not discussed as much on social media, prompting us to become shell-shocked at the reality that entrepreneurship brings once we enter the field.
To prevent that shock and better prepare and protect women of color, here are six tips for us to take away from entrepreneurship that the media won't tell us.
1. Don’t expect any support or applause.
Walking along the path of entrepreneurship is never an easy one. One of the reasons why that fact stands true is because of the amount of support you get initially, which is virtually none for women of color.
This is especially true when you grow up in a household conditioned to think one set way for women within the family. Getting an education and building a career in a profitable field is all our elders knew growing up, and they don’t want us to stray away from the plan they have for us.
So when you tell your close loved ones and friends about your plans to become your own boss, don't be surprised when you hear crickets. The moment those words are uttered out of your mouth, they’re immediately thinking the following thoughts:
“You’re throwing away your life for something that isn’t guaranteed.”
“Having a career within your field of study is more secure than starting your own business.”
“I don’t understand why you didn’t go to school for that in the first place instead of what you got your degree in. That's a waste of time and money.”
Luckily, there are ways to combat the feeling of loneliness that may creep up from walking along your journey. First, you have to ask yourself if you’re ready for that feeling of aloneness to hit when it’s time to start?
2. Treat your business idea like your baby.
This idea should be etched in your mind right away. Because if you genuinely think about it, your business is your baby:
It’s your livelihood or why you live and work hard daily.
It's your motivator to break generational curses and set a foundation for generational wealth.
It’s the future for something bigger and better that can significantly impact this Earth.
Let’s not forget that you’re watching this vision you’ve had for a while grow before your eyes. It serves as a subtle reminder that anything we dream of is achievable with our Black Girl Magic.
That ultimately creates a ripple effect among other women of color hoping to change the world using their talents and abilities, showing them that it's possible.
3. Know your worth early on.
When people around you doubt the validity of your entrepreneurial journey, it will take a toll on you.
I’m not just saying that to spark fear within your mind; I’m telling you to help you prepare ahead for the mental damage that may take control.
For these moments, it’s important to remember both sides of the coin:
Your family members and loved ones are trying to look out for you by warning you about the risks of becoming an entrepreneur.
They do not understand your vision for your life (not everyone will).
It’s essential to look at both aspects because they revolve around the same central theme. Yes, there are risks associated with becoming an entrepreneur, and you do need to keep that in mind as you progress forward.
However, when you have your why and your vision at the forefront of your mind, the risks seem smaller than expected. This thought, in turn, opens the door for clarity as you achieve each milestone and learn each lesson associated with walking this unique path.
4. Making it through the first year should be your top priority.
As an entrepreneur, you may have dreams of growing your business to survive for years to come. However, for most entrepreneurs, that will not be the case.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, only about 20% of small businesses make it to their first year of business. Those statistics will be lower for businesses run by people of color despite the rise in black-owned companies.
What should this tell us, especially as a black woman in business? It should say to us that one of our primary missions should be to run and grow our business to reach that one-year milestone.
Once we’re able to make it to year one, then we can say the following things about our efforts:
Our purpose is more vital than our fears and doubts.
We have the capabilities to overcome it all to reach one central goal.
We were willing to do anything that it took to keep our dreams alive, even if it meant getting out of our comfort zones.
At the same time, this doesn't mean that you should stop after year one. The journey to making it to years two and beyond will get more complicated from here on out.
Nonetheless, with the skills you've acquired from year one and the drive maintained with your why at the forefront, adapting each year will help your business make it into multi-year operations.
5. Doubt will creep in at all stages of your journey.
If you’re a person who constantly doubts yourself and your abilities but wants to be an entrepreneur, I have some news for you.
That doubt will never go away. And if you’re going to let it get to you over time, maybe entrepreneurship is not for you.
Being an entrepreneur, especially as a woman of color, means you will have to master controlling the doubtful thoughts that fill your mind. Otherwise, your business ventures will fail before they can't even have a chance to take off.
Luckily, I have a few tips for you that will help you control those thoughts once and for all:
Speak positive affirmations to yourself first thing in the morning and before bed.
Take a couple of deep breaths and reminisce on how far you’ve come thus far when you feel doubtful.
Surround yourself with more positive and uplifting people who remind you of your potential and uplift you to push forward.
6. Authenticity is the key to success.
We’ve all heard the phrase ‘just be yourself,’ right? In the world of entrepreneurship, that phrase holds tons of weight.
Nowadays, everyone wants to try out the latest trends online to reach the same goal: to get more eyes on their profiles and businesses.
However, trends eventually become repetitive and boring, causing you to scramble to find ways to stay relevant. This action also causes more unnecessary stress that we, as black women, do not need on our plates.
When you can come to terms with who you are, you can begin to establish yourself online as someone with value and purpose.
This also means that when you can tap into what makes you authentic, you can appeal to various audience types and grow your business more organically.
Conclusion: Women Of Color Will Dominate Entrepreneurship
For women of color, entrepreneurship is a new route we’re taking to escape the negativity of working corporate jobs. Today, we’re ready to create a future for ourselves we never knew could exist simply because of our upbringing.
Yes, the advice from prominent entrepreneurs online will benefit our missions tremendously. However, there are specific points these same entrepreneurs do not mention specifically for women of color as a warning of what the journey may bring.
When we can prepare for our entrepreneurial journeys beforehand, we are ten times more likely to succeed in our efforts. We can also, directly and indirectly, make more significant impacts among our peers as we show them what’s possible with preparation.
Ladies, entrepreneurship is ours for the taking. It's about time we use these lessons to keep our missions alive and thriving toward making our world more inclusive and diverse.