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Today, minority groups are well on their way to becoming the majority of our workforce and a large part of the nation’s entrepreneurial endeavors.
According to the Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA), the number of U.S. minority business enterprises more than doubled between 2002 and 2012, totaling around 8 million.
But starting and running a business can sometimes seem particularly challenging if you’re a minority business owner.
A Forbes study shows minority business owners “typically encounter higher borrowing costs, receive smaller loans, and see their loan applications rejected more often,” and the MBDA claims that though minority-owned businesses make up 29% of the market, only 11% have paid employees.
But that should never stop you in your tracks. Fortunately, there is a great wealth of resources for minority-owned businesses seeking specialized advice or assistance on getting started, finances, networking, and education.
We’ve collected many of those resources right here. Make sure you’re taking advantage of all the opportunities available to you: See below for our monster guide of 22 resources for minority-owned businesses.
In order to qualify for many of the benefits of being a minority business owner, you might need to officially certify your business’s minority status. According to the MBDA, certification can significantly help your business gain access to government contracts—whether you are just starting a business or your company is already established, you can drastically benefit from these “set aside” contracts.
Several government agencies at the local, state, or federal level offer certification:
According to Black Enterprise, several grants are available specifically for minority-owned businesses—but don’t miss out on some of the general grant opportunities either.
You can do a search on Businessgrants.com or Grants.gov using keywords for your business, including “minority owned,” to find grants tailored toward funding your type of business. See a few of the suggestions below.
Though there isn’t a particular lender you can go to that specializes in minority business loans, there are federal, state, local, and private loan programs tailored to address some of the challenges that minority small business owners often face, like seeking small business loans, starting businesses in underserved communities, or being economically disadvantaged.
A few options of the many minority business loans available are the following:
The SBA 8(a) Business Development Program can help qualifying minority-owned firms develop and grow their businesses through one-to-one counseling, training workshops, and management and technical guidance. The program also provides access to government contracting opportunities, letting these businesses become solid competitors in the federal marketplace.
SCORE is a non-profit organization composed of volunteer business mentors who offer mentorship and educational opportunities, often working one-on-one or in small groups with entrepreneurs seeking assistance. The organization serves all small-business owners, but they do have a focus on minority entrepreneurs, including offering classes, seminars, and resources that provide assistance in setting up and operating your minority business.
The Minority Chamber of Commerce is a nonprofit that provides members with educational opportunities, financing information, and assistance with contract bids. According to OPEN Forum, many local chambers of commerce, like the Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce or NYC’s Corporate Alliance Program, also have their own programs for minorities that offer advice and financial assistance, so it’s a good idea to give your local chamber a call and inquire.
Affinity Groups might be a good entry point for meeting other business owners in your industry or area. According to OPEN Forum, business owners have found “success gaining valuable business information and assistance by participating in a variety of affinity groups.” Most groups are localized or industry specific, so do an online search for affinity groups tailored to your business type and location.
Though there are no direct tax incentives for minority-owned businesses, understanding these tax breaks and assistance programs may help your minority-owned business.
A number of tax incentives at the local, state, and federal level are designed to encourage businesses to operate in locations that are economically distressed.
These are not only for minority-owned businesses but for any businesses that qualify—it’s worth a search to see if your business runs in a qualified area. See below:
Note that the credits have expired for 2016 but may be renewed.
Black Enterprise is an online magazine that provides business news, educational tools, and minority business trends, as well as networking opportunities for African Americans. They also publish articles on career advice, how to build wealth, and profiles of African American business success stories.
Making It TV is packed with information pertaining to minority enterprises. According to QuickBooks, you can watch lively discussions on the site’s DirecTV show or check out video clips available online to learn the secrets of entrepreneurial success. Ever wish you could pick the brain of a successful business owner? Here, they confess all their secrets. The site also hosts events or workshops on topics from finding small business grants, getting government contracts, and starting a business.
Minority Business Success: Refocusing on The American Dream by Leonard Greenhalgh and James Lowry charts a path for the full participation of minority businesses in the U.S. economy. According to Amazon, the book “summarizes demographic changes in America and shows why it’s in the national interest to foster the survival, prosperity, and growth of minority-owned businesses.” The book also suggests what minority firms must do to take their place in major value chains and examines how governments, corporations, and support organizations can foster minority inclusion.
Start Your Own Business, Sixth Edition: The Only Startup Book You’ll Ever Need: Tapping into more than 33 years of small business expertise, says Amazon, the staff at Entrepreneur Media takes entrepreneurs beyond opening their doors and through the first three years of ownership.
This revised edition features amended chapters on choosing a business, adding partners, getting funded, and managing the business structure and employees, and also includes help understanding the latest tax and healthcare reform information and legalities.
There you have it—22 resources to start, grow, and manage your minority-owned business. While we still need to find more resources for minority entrepreneurs, this list of 22 are great places to get started!
What’s the best resource for minority-owned businesses that you’ve used? Share it in the comments!