Running a successful business is hard — and building a successful business as a black woman is even harder. But, entrepreneurship hurdles can be eased by having the right people in your corner.
Black women are the fastest growing group of entrepreneurs in the United States, according to JP MorganHowever, they face disproportionate financial barriers. 2019 report from American Express It found that women-owned businesses make an average of $142,900 per year. However, the average earnings of black women founders are only $24,000.
Furthermore, black women receive only a “fractional portion” of venture capital financing, according to Crunchbasewhich found that they received only 0.34% of all venture capital spent in the US last year.
Chelsea C. Williams, founder and CEO of Reimagine Talent Co. Inc., a workforce development and talent retention company, has gone from growing its self-funded business to seven-figure revenue, and says its relationships have played a big role in its success.
“I didn’t do it on my own,” Williams, 32, explains to CNBC Make It. “There are a lot of people who have been my guide, who have been supportive of me, who have opened the door and made the initial email contacts to some of these organizations.”
According to Williams, these are the four essential relationships that every business owner must undertake to “extend their reach.”
According to Williams, this first person is a “visual representation of what you want to do.”
“They might not do it the way you were called upon to do it. They might have a completely different background, but you see them and the way they run their business, the way they make it easy to talk, the way they make an impact is something you want to emulate in your own way.”
Williams, who has a bachelor’s degree in economics from Spelman College, says that when she entered the job market as an intern on Wall Street, she came across a multigenerational workplace expert and New York Times bestselling author who had a huge impact on her.
“I was sitting in a practice room helping to think about how to train Wall Streeters bankers, and she was talking,” Williams recalls. “I remember sitting in my chair, writing when you’re done showing it, This is what I aspire to in the future.”
Williams introduced herself to the woman, who later became her mentor. She says that although their careers “are very different,” the relationship played a major role in starting her own business.
“When I took this step to get started, she gave me introductions, and told me the events I had to be in. She really stood up for me, and she still does.”
As a black woman who started a business in her twenties, Williams explains that she has dealt with a lot of internal battles that have “hampered sitting in entrepreneurship and growing to the next level.”
“My first full year, I couldn’t call myself CEO. I would say I’m a strategist. I couldn’t sit in that title, because what the world often says is that CEO isn’t a black woman…especially a little one”, as Says.
“Being a 20-year-old black woman starting a business is another thing entirely, because sometimes there is a credibility issue with people, especially in the work I do that focuses on organizations and the workforce.”
Williams says a therapist, or “mental coach,” can help you align your goals.
“My therapist has been important in helping me come to an identity…helping me understand my aptitude, my worth, and how to emerge as who I am. I don’t have to be aggressive or mimic men and how they build business. I can sit down my femininity, demand certain things and lead this business.”
According to Williams, making friends with other entrepreneurs you get to know can help boost your business success.
“For me, that was important [my squad] Be women of color. Because again, we are sailing through something completely different from the others.”
Although it could be so Helper, helper, helpful, benefactor To build friendships with business owners whose identities do not match yours, your interactions and professional experiences will likely vary.
“Having a CEO team of my master who I can ask questions to, and who I can be with for my moments of sarcasm, is vital. I have a trio of success [women] Business owners and weekly sharing sources meet with each other, “Williams Shares.” We have a thread of text messages when anything comes up, like “This is a grant opportunity for you. This is an opportunity to get a loan.”
“This has been very important. Because even though we’re in different fields and industries and sectors, just to be able to say that we’re moving through this space together and have a safe place where we can talk about the highs and lows… is a changer.”