Authors/Film & TV

Published on August 26th, 2019 | by Guest Contributor


How to Rise Above the Struggles as an African American Entrepreneur

By Jean Paul Paulynice

Limited start-up capital, mentorship, support networks, and access to credit and business loans continue to put African-American entrepreneurs at a disadvantage from the start.

Research conducted by Prosperity Now places a human face on the numbers. Black-owned businesses nationally average only $58,000 in annual revenue compared to $546,000 for white-owned businesses. This one statistic illustrates the very real problems confronting African-American entrepreneurs when they try to start and run their own businesses.

African American business owners struggle with overcoming a variety of obstacles due to socioeconomic and racial stumbling blocks. While breaking down these barriers is an uphill battle, a black-owned business can succeed and thrive today. 

Black Enterprise recently published an article about a new survey conducted by small business financing firm Guidant Financial. The article revealed some interesting trends in black business ownership, with more than 2,600 business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs responded to the survey.

Why Start A Business in The First Place?

In this Guidant Financial survey, 62% of African Americans said their desire to pursue their passion motivated them to start a business. Another 53% said they were ready to be their own boss. Meanwhile, 30% said they launched a startup when the “opportunity presented itself,” and 22% said they were dissatisfied with working in corporate America. Twelve percent said they launched a business after being laid off or outsourced.

Believing in Yourself

One of the biggest obstacles you can face as a black entrepreneur is a lack of self-confidence. It is easy to stay where you are in life and not venture out into the unknown. Doing so would mean you would need to rely on your drive and believe that you can succeed. You can study, learn, plan, and do everything that is required to start and operate a business, but ultimately, turning your idea into reality is a leap of faith. There will always be a reason why you can’t do something—you’re not the number one expert on a subject, you’re not sure where to begin, you didn’t get a fancy degree, and the list goes on. Yet, once you’re ready to succeed, pursuing your passion and purpose feels natural because you’re on the right path. 

Overcoming Fear

Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary defines fear as “an unpleasant often strong emotion caused by anticipation or awareness of danger.” It is an incredibly primal emotion that can be difficult to overcome and can keep you from pursuing your dreams and business goals if you let it. The lack of access to specific opportunities, funding, resources, and tools is a scary obstacle, and it takes courage and endurance to build a sustainable business despite these issues. Many African American small business owners do this every day, and so can you. 

Look to Success Stories for Hope & Guidance

Times are changing. The world is quickly becoming populated with large, growing companies and emerging startups and businesses run by black entrepreneurs.  If we’re talking successful black-owned businesses, it makes sense to start with the IT behemoth World Wide Technology. With more than $10 billion in annual revenue and over 5,000 employees, WWT is one of the largest private companies in the U.S. reports. Look to those who lead the way. Their success leaves clues on where to begin.  Here you can read inspiring stories from 19 other black-owned businesses.   

Working with People with Common Interest

Conquering the challenges that society puts on black entrepreneurs is possible when you’re networking and collaborating towards a common goal. Partnering with other small businesses to compete for Fortune 500 contracts is one-way entrepreneurs can overcome the lack of access to capital.

Whether you’re attending conferences and events with other African American entrepreneurs or establishing mutually beneficial partnerships, collaboration helps your business succeed. 

It is my vision to creatively mentor and support black millennials, so they can pursue the work they love, and change the world in the process. In my book From Idea to Reality: An Entrepreneur’s Guide to Meaningful Business Growth, I demonstrate how to navigate and break down barriers so your business can thrive.

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