Starting your own business is a challenging but exciting and rewarding achievement. Entrepreneurs face a variety of obstacles when starting a new venture, from obtaining financing, hiring a team, marketing their product or service, keeping up with competitors, and so much more. For some Black entrepreneurs and business owners, these challenges can be even harder to overcome.

A study by Guidant Financial found out of all the challenges Black entrepreneurs face, one of the most prevalent is lack of funding. For most entrepreneurs, regardless of race, obtaining financing is often the greatest challenge to getting their business up and running. Many entrepreneurs first look to family and other social connections to raise funding. For many Black entrepreneurs, the racial wealth gap means we almost inevitably start with less capital.

For those who want to become their own boss and/or pursue their passion, it’s worth the effort to overcome these challenges. The good news is, there are a variety of resources specifically set up to help Black entrepreneurs and business owners push beyond obstacles and achieve their dreams and goals. Take a look at some of these local and national resources.

Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA)

MBDA is an agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce that promotes minority-owned business growth by linking minority-owned businesses with the capital, contracts and markets they need to grow.

They also serve as subject matter experts and advocates for the minority business community by providing free educational content and loan and grant opportunities, including a loan opportunity specifically for Black women business owners.

National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC)

NMSDC’s mission is to connect minority-owned organizations, big and small, with a vast network of corporate members who wish to buy products, services and solutions from minority-owned businesses. The corporate membership includes the largest public and privately owned companies, as well as healthcare companies, colleges and universities.

NMSDC also helps businesses complete the minority business enterprise (MBE) certification process often needed to obtain other minority-owned business benefits.

U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA)

While the SBA services all U.S. small businesses, its 8(a) Business Development program specifically sets out to assist minority-owned businesses, including Black-owned businesses, by providing revenue generation opportunities through government contracting. To qualify for the program, you must first certify your business is an 8(a) business, which you can complete on the SBA website.

Iowa Center for Economic Success

The Iowa Center for Economic Success believes for a small business to succeed, entrepreneurs need support in three core areas: education, capital and networking. The organization has built programs supporting these core areas to empower all entrepreneurs, and in turn, help communities thrive. Programs include business counseling, tax services, and loans with flexible underwriting guidelines, and programs are open to all small business owners and entrepreneurs who have lived in Iowa for more than six months.

Targeted Small Business (TSB) of Iowa

The Targeted Small Business (TSB) program of Iowa is designed to help individuals with minority status overcome hurdles to start or grow a small business in Iowa. In addition to helping Black aspiring business owners, the program offers assistance to women, service-connected disabled veterans and individuals with disabilities. Find information about applying for the program or a loan and information about other program benefits here. 

America’s SBDC Iowa

America’s SBDC Iowa provides personalized counseling designed to fit the unique needs of every business, including unique needs and challenges Black-owned businesses face.

SBDC Iowa can help educate on loan options, as well as properly prepare a business loan application, which can help prevent being denied a loan. They also provide free online business trainings, as well as in-person training opportunities throughout the state focusing on starting and growing a business.

Des Moines Fellowship Program

The Des Moines Fellowship Program is a professional development initiative that aims to recruit more diverse candidates within the Central Iowa workforce. The program is a great opportunity to network with peers who also come from diverse backgrounds and connect with executives in the community. These social connections can help strengthen your own business community and professional development.

Black Chamber of Arizona

The Black Chamber of Arizona connects the community of Black entrepreneurs and business owners in Arizona by facilitating relationships between Chamber members and between Black-owned businesses and the greater Phoenix corporate community. The Black Chamber of Arizona also provides education and training to its members, and they are an active political advocate for policies that address Black business’s challenges.

Look Beyond Funding

One commonality among the Black entrepreneurs and business owners I’ve seen succeed is an unwavering focus on marketing their business and networking with everyone who is an ally. Funding is an important factor in getting your business up and running, and maintaining capital is important in ensuring your business continues to succeed, but often overlooked is the importance of networking with members outside the community to expand our reach.

Our community is a good place to establish connections and resources through all stages; however, continue connecting with those outside the Black community and expand relationships outside your typical market. Remember, a resource may not always be funding. A resource can be a mentor or an advocate willing to promote your product, service or brand.

The Bottom Line

All entrepreneurs share a lifelong dream of starting and growing a business. Unfortunately, Black entrepreneurs and business owners still face an unfair struggle in some arenas. Thankfully, federal and local programs are available to help provide educational tools, funding resources and network building opportunities.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s latest figures, the number of Black-owned businesses is on the rise. As long as we are provided support and opportunities, our businesses will flourish, and in turn, our communities will thrive.

When you’re ready to take the leap toward owning your own business, or you’re ready to grow your existing business, know you have educational tools, funding resources and network building opportunities to help achieve your dream.

Next steps:

  1. Check out our other Business content, including tips for businesses impacted by COVID-19.
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