*Written in collaboration with Leslie A Nettleford, Esq
In celebration of International Women’s Day, today we’ll share a story along with some suggestions on how women of color can thrive as business owners, even in this pandemic.
Heather M. Spears, a black female entrepreneur, spoke to us about how COVID affected her business and how she remained resilient during this “She-Cession.” “The pandemic forced me to pivot and experiment,” she noted. “With the restrictions placed on the hospitality industry, my full-service catering company experienced a huge reduction in gross revenue. This prompted me to tap into my creativity and embark on new activities. I held an online cooking class and conducted a virtual dinner party. I’ve created a new product line which consists of gourmet gift baskets for every occasion.”
Statistics on the She-Cession
According to an article on BusinessWire, in the five years prior to the pandemic, the number of women-owned businesses grew by 21 percent and the number of black women-owned businesses grew by 50 percent. However, as COVID-related closures and restrictions remained in place many businesses such as food services, hair salons and retail, that have long been popular choices for black entrepreneurs due to the low barrier to entry, have been hard hit.
A lack of capital reserves and denial of access to loans have caused many black-owned businesses to shut their doors. Payment Protection Program (PPP) loans proved to be elusive to black entrepreneurs and virtually nonexistent for Black female business owners. In fact, according to and article on Accountable, White males received 70% of PPP loans that noted demographic information while Black females received only 0.5%.
If you’re a Black woman who owns her own business here are four tips to help you navigate such discrimination and survive this She-cession.
Four Tips on Surviving the She-Cession:
- Find new resources. Are there grants that you can discover and apply for? Are there educational opportunities you can pursue so you can be better equipped when doors open again? One innovative new resource is Ascent, a free online learning platform, specifically designed by the SBA to aid women entrepreneurs in growing and sustaining their businesses.
- Freely re-imagine your business. Can delivery and virtual services replace your former in-person offerings? Can you adjust your products to fill a new COVID related need? Build a trusted volunteer team, your “Board of Directors” that you can bounce ideas off of and brainstorm with.
- Pay it Forward. Even when you are hurting, there are often others around you that are experiencing even greater pain. Can you donate products that you can’t sell to those in need? Can you give your time to volunteer or share your success (and failure) stories to help other entrepreneurs?
- Focus your Faith. Spears noted that, “the main ingredient in my recipe for success, is my faith in God. I depend on Him for wisdom and He continues to lead, guide and bless me.” Should you consider starting a business during COVID? Yes! Many industries are thriving despite or in some cases due to the pandemic. Delivery, house cleaning and tutoring services, home fitness and pet products are some of the areas that have been experiencing a boom. However, don’t pigeonhole yourself into a niche area that will disappear when things start to reopen.