You’re ready to make your idea real. There’s just something about entrepreneurship and the ability to control your own destiny that you find appealing.
It’s a no-brainer entrepreneurship is for you. Well, the question is, do you know where to start?
Having an idea is one thing, and executing that idea is yet another. Myriad resources exist for entrepreneurs.
From assisting with the development of business plans to groups that include individuals with similar goals, these resources can help entrepreneurs at any stage.
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Small Business Administration
This government agency provides support to small business owners and entrepreneurs. Its website (www.sba.gov) offers tips on starting and managing a business and securing loans and additional forms of financing such as venture capital. It also includes information on contracting programs for small business owners, including contracting programs geared toward minority and women-owned businesses. The SBA has at least one district office in every state and also the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.
Small Business Development Center (SBDC)
Through its partnership with the Small Business Administration, SBDCs have the goal of encouraging business ownership and competitiveness in the global marketplace. With almost 1,000 centers nationwide and in Puerto Rico, Guam, American Samoa and the U.S. Virgin Islands, these centers provide training and consulting services to small business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs.
This nonprofit organization provides free business counseling across 62 industries with a network of more than 11,000 volunteers. It also provides seminars and workshops for a fee.
Does a meetup group for entrepreneurs exist in the city you are located in? A few examples are LA Tech Happy Hour, DC Tech Meetup, and Atlanta Startup Village. Don’t hesitate to check Meetup.com, and specify your search by how many miles you’d like the results within, along with the city or postal code. The search results might just yield a group of enterprising individuals who are also entrepreneurs or small business owners. At the very least, you will have found a tribe to bounce ideas off of, share experiences, and garner tips on your path to entrepreneurial success.
Reading helps you to stay current with new developments and general information about entrepreneurship and your specific field. Also, learning the stories of those you admire within your field or in life provides valuable information on how you can get to where you want to go. In theory and hopefully in practice as well, if the company that you keep is great, what does this suggest about you?
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Do a bit of googling to see if a trade organization exists within your field, and if it does, decide if you want to become a member, and like with Meetup.com, you will find a group of like-minded people, this time within the same industry.
The Asterisk Clause: Resources for Minorities, Women and Minority Women Entrepreneurs
While it is true that the spirit of entrepreneurship can be found within anyone, women and minorities face a unique set of challenges in the realm of entrepreneurship. And if you are a double minority, then the challenges, mathematically speaking, might not exactly be double (who knows, maybe they are exponential). Yet what seems to be generally accepted is that two strikes as opposed to, in theory, one or none suggest that the challenges will be more pronounced. Each experience will vary, but here are a few statistics to put numbers behind The Asterisk Clause:
- Little data seems to exist independently for the numerous groups of women of color regarding venture capital fundraising. However, for venture deals closed between 2012 and 2014, startups led by black women secured, on average, $36,000. The average startup, which generally fails, raises about 36 times that amount, or $1.3 million according to Wired Magazine.
- Women are approximately half of the U.S. population, and have majority ownership of 38 percent of U.S. businesses, according to the 2016 American Express OPEN State of Women-Owned Businesses Report. These businesses account for four percent of U.S. business revenues and employ eight percent of the country’s private sector workforce.
- According to Fortune Magazine, 28.6 percent of businesses are minority-owned businesses, but account for 10.4 percent of the nation’s revenue.
Now that you have the data, here are the resources.
- Women’s Business Enterprise National Council: Founded in 1997, this nonprofit organization provides its standard of certification to women-owned businesses in the United States. It works with 14 Regional Partner Organizations to certify women-owned businesses (WBEs) and connects these businesses with partners in corporate America.
- Minority Business Development Agency: This agency encourages the growth and competitiveness of minority-owned businesses (MBEs). It connects MBEs with contracts, capital, and markets that will allow them to grow and scale.
- Women’s Business Center: This national network, which includes about 100 centers, aims to “level the playing field” for women entrepreneurs (see statistics above). These centers also provide training, workshops, and one-on-one counseling.
- National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC): Headquartered in New York City, this organization certifies minority business enterprises and connects them with corporate partners, from for-profit companies to non-profit educational institutions. NMSDC includes 23 affiliate regional councils across the United States.
And so concludes The Asterisk Clause. No matter the look, entrepreneurship is for the daring, for anyone who is bold enough to try. Do you have what it takes? Well start with this list, and ye shall see.