Black Female Entrepreneurs: A Bittersweet Perspective

Entrepreneurship can be a challenging yet rewarding and prosperous experience for anyone seeking to be their own boss and or have control over their finances and life. I have been a full time entrepreneur for the past two years and it has been a bittersweet experience for me. The one thing I can say for sure is that it has been a “sweeter” experience than not.

For anyone who has an entrepreneurial spirit, I’m sure you know how you “think you have a great idea and or product/service” and that it will take off like wildfire and you will be a success right? Well, I thought that way in the beginning yet soon realized that other people weren’t as excited about my service/product as I imagined them to be. Boy was that enlightening and it caused me to refine and refocus my intention, plan, purpose and strategy for telling the world about “Catriceology,” helping women becoming delicious from the inside out.

I have experienced a tremendous learning curve and have gained so much insight and wisdom on this journey of entrepreneurship. I must say the journey has had its share of pot holes, detours and bumpy roads. There were even times when I wondered if this journey was different for me because I am a woman of color. I spent many hours talking with my colleagues of color and discovered there were some unique challenges to being a woman of color entrepreneur.

Based on my personal experience and the experiences of my African American female colleagues here are the top five challenges:

1. Having the capital to start up a business and or having the right connections to get the capital.

2. Having access local and or national mentors who are doing the work you want to do and or in the business field you are in a a role model for getting started. (and getting them to say “Yes!, I wil help you.”)

3. Feeling like you have to work twice as hard to get noticed, get connected to create and run a successful business.

4. Networking with other AA women without them (or you) feeling threatened by your curiosity and or success.

5. Finding creative and effective ways to market to other AA women. Getting them to understand the value in sisterhood and support.

Thanks to all the women who have helped me become the successful business woman I am today. And yes, there are AA women out there who will help you manifest your dream!

On one or several occasions these challenges presented themselves and I had to get real creative on how I tackled the challenge to be successful. If you have a dream and a deep desire to become an entrepreneur you must prepare for the challenges on a variety of levels. You can become a successful business woman if you put your heart and soul into it and gather the resources you need for the journey. I will be bittersweet but hang in their because once you experience the sweetness of it all you will desire nothing else. I am living the sweet life because I am living out my dream!

According to other experts on this topic/issue I offer you their perspective.

Black female entrepreneurs have an even greater set of hurdles than the rest of us, which requires them to be that much sharper, stronger and more effective in their discipline. There is the “old boys” club, which can exclude women, especially women of color. There are hurdles with regard to access to capital and access to key decision makers which makes the job more difficult. Source.

“African American women need to go with the flow of new business trends,” says Robin L. Douglas, president of the African American Chamber of Commerce of Westchester and Rockland counties in New York. “We need to teach and learn new buzzwords and work within the definition of those trends.” Source.

Bill Edwards, executive director for the Association for Enterprise Opportunity (AEO), in Arlington, Virginia, concurs that a degree of racial discrimination or stereotyping does persist in the business world, despite the great strides that African American women continue to make. However, he says navigating the stormy waters isn’t impossible, thanks to support groups like AEO’s Microenterprise Program, which offers lending, training, and technical assistance to entrepreneurs primarily in urban areas with low to moderate incomes. Source.

Also, for great tips on thriving in your business, visit Simplicity Mastered.

If you are an African American female entrepreneur I would love to hear what your challenges have been and how you turned them into successes!

By Catrice Jackson

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