Starting a successful business is hard – and it’s even harder to build a successful business as a black woman. But, entrepreneurial hurdles can be made easier with the right people in your corner.
According to JP Morgan, black women are the fastest-growing group of entrepreneurs in the United States, but they face disproportionate financial barriers. A 2019 report from American Express found that women-owned businesses earn an average of $142,900 per year. However, black female founders earn an average of $24,000.
Additionally, according to Crunchbase, black women receive only a “small fraction” of venture capital funding, showing that they received just 0.34% of all VC spent in the US last year.
Chelsea C. Williams, founder and CEO of Reimagine Talent, a workforce development and talent retention firm, has grown her business into seven figures, and she says her relationships have played a big role in her success. .
“I didn’t do it alone,” Williams, 32, explains to CNBC Make It. “There are so many people who have guided me, supported me, opened doors and set up the initial email with some of these organizations.”
According to Williams, these are the four essential relationships every business owner must have in order to “scale their impact.”
source of inspiration
According to Williams, this first person is “a visual representation of what you want to do.”
They may not do it the way you called them to do it. They may have completely different backgrounds, but you see them and the way they run their business, the way they facilitate the conversation, the way they influence 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 he entered the workforce as an intern on Wall Street, he met an expert on multigenerational workplaces and a New York Times bestselling author who made a huge impact on him.
“I was sitting in a training room thinking about how we train bankers and Wall Streeters, and he was talking,” Williams recalled. “I remember sitting in my chair and when he finished his speech, I wrote, ‘This is what I want to do in the future.'”
Williams introduced himself to the woman who later became his mentor. Although their careers are “very different,” she says the relationship was key to starting her business.
“When I set out to start the business, he gave me introductions, told me events to attend. He really supported me and still does.”
As a black woman starting a business in her 20s, Williams explains that she faced a lot of internal battles that were “about entrepreneurship and growing to the next level.”
“My first full year, I couldn’t call myself a CEO. I could say I’m a strategist. I can’t sit in that title because what the world says a CEO is often isn’t a black woman…especially a young one,” she says.
“It’s another thing for a 20-year-old black woman to start a business, because sometimes there’s a credibility problem with people, especially in the work I do that focuses on organizations and the workforce.”
Williams says a therapist or “mindset coach” can help you align yourself with your goals.
“My therapist was instrumental in helping me find my identity… helped me understand my own worth and value and how to present myself. I don’t have to be aggressive or imitate men and how to build careers. I can sit there. My femininity, demand certain things and lead this business.”
According to Williams, building friendships with other entrepreneurs who you identify with can help increase the success of your business.
“That was important to me [my squad] Women of color because again, we’re going through something that’s very different than other people.”
Although it can be helpful to develop friendships with business owners whose identities do not match your own, your interactions and professional experiences will likely be different.
“Having my female CEO team that I can ask questions and have a rant with is vital. [women] “The business owners and we meet weekly to share resources,” Williams says. We have a text string for when anything comes up, like, “Here’s a grant opportunity for you.” Here is a loan opportunity for you.”
“It’s been so important. Because even though we’re in different fields, industries and sectors, just to be able to say that we’re moving through this space together and have a safe place to talk about the highs and the lows… The Switcher “