Resources for minority business owners haven’t always been available, yet they have overcome this obstacle impressively. Data from the Business Journals SMB Insights Group showed that in 2017 there were 11.1 million businesses owned by minorities, up 79% since 2007. One recent survey of small-business owners even showed that African American business ownership rose by 400% between 2017 and 2018.
Those numbers demonstrate that minority-owned businesses are thriving. Despite that success, these businesses still face unique obstacles and challenges. For instance, a study from Morgan Stanley found that investment in women and minority-owned businesses is 80% lower than the median investment in all businesses. Progress has been made to level the playing field for all ambitious entrepreneurs, but there is clearly still work to do.
A number of organizations and resources have been set up specifically to give minority-owned businesses equal opportunities. They provide everything from business advice to financing for business owners who meet specific qualifications.
No business is guaranteed to be successful, but that doesn’t mean anyone should have to operate with an unfair disadvantage either. Resources for minority business owners exist so that underrepresented entrepreneurs can bring new ideas and innovations to the marketplace. Explore these options to give your business a boost:
Grants award money and other resources to small businesses who can successfully meet the application requirements. Some grants have strings attached while others can be used for whatever needs arise. Numerous organizations award grants to small businesses, including some that focus on minority-owned businesses specifically. The website grants.gov is a great resource for searching all the different grants offered through the federal government. In addition to being an honor, getting awarded a grant can give a small business the capital infusion it needs to tackle the next big initiative.
Almost all businesses, minority-owned and otherwise, rely on funding to operate and grow. Borrowing money from a reputable lender is a big financial decision, but not necessarily a risky one as long as companies plan carefully. Some lenders offer minority-owned business loans designed specifically for entrepreneurs who may be denied funding elsewhere through no fault of their own. Minority-owned businesses should also consider alternative lenders, particularly ones that are committed to working fairly with underserved small businesses.
No one has ever mastered business entirely on their own. Having someone to turn to for advice, guidance, and lived experience is a huge asset to any entrepreneur. Various organizations offer access to mentors as well as other resources like training opportunities and networking events. Several that target minority-owned businesses specifically include the Minority Business Development Agency and the National Minority Business Council. Most metropolitan areas also have dedicated Minority Chambers of Commerce for Black, Asian, Hispanic, and other communities. All of these organizations exist to provide minority-owned business with support, resources, and advocacy that may not be available otherwise.
There are certain advantages to being certified as a minority-owned business. For instance, the National Minority Supplier Development Council helps connect corporations with supplier businesses that are run by minorities as long as their status has been certified first. Along those lines, many state and local governments award a certain percentage of public contracts to certified minority-owned businesses. Certification requirements vary, but typically they only require an application and certain supporting documents. After approval, businesses can use their minority-owned status to their distinct advantage.
No one understands the struggles of being a minority business owner better than someone in the same boat. Across the country, there are professional networks that cater to all minority entrepreneurs and specific populations. These groups offer like-minded individuals the chance to meet, converse, collaborate, and build partnerships. Many cities have vibrant local groups. National organizations to consider include the Hispanic Professional Network, the Black Business and Professional Association, and the National Association of Asian American Professionals.
Countless outlets cover the business community at large, so it only makes sense that some would focus on minority businesses specifically. Following these media outlets is a great way to stay up to date and engaged with the conversation. Various magazines and websites also offer actionable ideas and in-depth insights designed specifically to be resources for minority business owners. Dozens of publications focus entirely (or partly) on issues relevant to underserved communities, but some of the best known include Minority Business Entrepreneur, Black Enterprise Magazine, and Latino Leaders Magazine. Exploring the archives of these publications can answer a lot of questions for first-time and even long-time minority business persons.
Minority small business ownership is projected to keep rising. The majority of the US population will come from minority backgrounds by 2045, fueling economic growth in communities coast to coast. Just because things are improving, it doesn’t mean the playing field is perfectly level just yet. So don’t ever hesitate to take advantage of resources for minority business owners. When you do, you don’t just help your business overcome an immediate obstacle or accomplish an ambitious goal, but you also lay the foundation for the minority entrepreneurs of the future.