In recent years, black entrepreneurs around America have found unprecedented success. The number of black-owned businesses has been steadily increasing for the last decade along with their profits. And yet, many black and minority professionals still find it difficult to get started or make progress in their careers.
Many individuals find that they have less access to resources, or are faced with more obstacles than others. But the success of other prominent black entrepreneurs is both an inspiration, and a sign that success is achievable.
Many of those successful men and women also understand the challenges facing young black entrepreneurs today, and try to serve as role models. Here are some of the best pieces of advice that today’s black business leaders have for aspiring entrepreneurs.
The easiest way to stay focused on achieving your goals is to be pursuing something you believe in. One of the most common lessons we can learn from black business leaders is the value of pursuing your dreams.
Many black entrepreneurs, like rapper and fashion designer Young Paris, started with little more than a passion, and worked their way up from there. If you care deeply about something and believe you can make a difference, it is always worthwhile to pursue it. At the very least, it could help you establish connections and move one step closer to your dreams.
Many black business owners are realistic about the unique challenges they face. Whether it’s a lack of resources, difficulty gaining support, or unfair stigma against them or their business, black entrepreneurs face many obstacles.
But in all cases, these black business leaders encourage each other to address these problems head-on. If you have added trouble securing resources, the solution is to work harder and more directly to address the situation. Is that fair? No. But can the hard work pay off in the end? Absolutely.
One way to mitigate some of the added obstacles that come with being a black business owner is to have a strong support system. This means finding people who believe in your goals and who are reliable enough to help when needed.
Experienced professionals can help navigate many of the challenges you’ll face, especially early on. Likewise, it helps to have good support from friends and family, too. Owning a business is stressful, often more so for young black entrepreneurs. Being supported by those around you can soften the impact of rough days, and make the good days even better.
Speaking of support, there may be plenty of resources available to you in your community. You just need to know where you look. You may be able to apply for grants for black-owned businesses, or partner with other organizations in your community. Many businesses and organizations appreciate the difficulties facing black businesses, and will offer support when they can. This is something you can, and should, take advantage of, especially when starting out.
Once you’ve found some success, it’s your turn to become one of those supportive community pillars. Remember all those who helped you get to where you are, and try to emulate them. This way you can continue to fuel the next generation of young black entrepreneurs, and continue building strong networks.
If you’re an aspiring young black entrepreneur, the first step toward success is simply knowing where to look. ASAP provides training and professional development resources for administrative and executive assistants across the country. For more advice from and for black business leaders, check out ASAP’s panel discussion, Championing Diversity, Equity & Inclusion as a Leadership Partner.