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MED Week Takeaway: “Be Comfortable Taking Risks” + 5 Action Items for Women-of-Color Entrepreneurs

By Krystal Glass, NWBC Communications Director

 

The National Women's Business Council played an active role in this year's Minority Enterprise Development Conference as an exhibitor and conference speaker. The Minority Enterprise Development Conference better known as MED Week recognizes outstanding achievements of leading minority entrepreneurs and provides access to information, tools, and resources with the aim of growing minority owned businesses. NWBC Chair Carla Harris delivered a passionate and highly motivating speech alongside many notable leaders of color including SBA Administrator Contreras Sweet. The key takeaway: “Be comfortable taking risks.”

 

“I’ve traveled across the country and in the corporate world and entrepreneurial environment, I hear people saying ‘keep your head down, don’t rock the boat….’ Ladies and gentlemen, I’m here to tell you keeping your head down will not keep you from getting shot, so now I’ll say to you keep your head up so you can see the bullet coming,” said NWBC Chair Carla Harris during her MED Week speech.
 

When it comes to the path of entrepreneurship recent studies including NWBC’s upcoming research highlights fear as a major factor stunting the growth of women-owned business. When it comes to taking risk, NWBC Chair Carla Harris says ask yourself 3 questions:

  • Will the new venture give you skills and experiences that you would not get if you stayed in your current seat another12 months?
  • Will the new venture expose you to people, relationships and efforts that you would not get if you stayed in your current seat another 12 months?
  • Will the new venture create new branches on your personal decision tree of opportunity, i.e. you could go off to do some other things that you would not have been able to do if you stayed on your current seat another 12 months?

In addition to the fear factor, there are a unique set of significant obstacles facing women-of-color entrepreneurs. Yet despite the challenges and the fear factor, black women are the fastest growing population in the small business community, starting businesses at an astonishing rate of 6x the national average. To keep the momentum going, here are action items for women of color (WOC):

 

  1. Fight the Fear! Arguably the fear of failure is a major setback to many of life’s goals. Being an entrepreneur--a woman entrepreneur--and a woman of color entrepreneur, requires a thicker armor to fighting fear.  Check out how this woman entrepreneur worth $50 million overcame the fear factor.
  2. Increase Your Social Capital. Social capital is proving to be a major driver in business development and revenue generation. A recent Bloomberg Businessweek article lays out the importance of WOCs leveraging their network as financial capital.
  3. Contribute to the Ecosystem. In order for WOC entrepreneurs to collectively flourish, there must be a healthy “give-and-take,” the act of giving resources and receiving valuable resources available to communities of color.  Here’s a good place to start: Blackstartup.com- a fundraising platform for black entrepreneurs. Crowdismo.com, a platform catered to Latinos, and Walker’s Legacy, a women-of-color business collective.
  4. Be in the Know. Without a doubt there is an information gap, where WOCs are either not privy to valuable resources or simply aren’t aware of accessible resources. Stay in the loop. A great resource is the Small Business Administration’s webinars and resources.
  5. Defy Competition Honor Collaboration. Too often small business owners find themselves working against the “competition” which in most cases is another small business with a similar mission. Instead the power of collaboration is proving to be beneficial to growing a business.

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*Disclaimer: The aforementioned resources are solely those of the individual owner(s). These resources do not reflect The National Women’s Business Council or any of its affiliates; and are not endorsements from The National Women’s Business Council. 

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