How do we empower the next generation of black entrepreneurs?
Empowering The Next Generation of Black Entrepreneurs
In response to USAToday Article about Nas and Minority Entrepreneurs [and the many other articles on the topic], the problem is evident but without a real solution. Instead of writing about the problem again, I want to write about a solution from the viewpoint of a Black entrepreneur.
To improve Black entrepreneurship, we must have successful Blacks guide entrepreneurs, strive for better ideas and bigger goals, and establish a community.
Lack of Guidance From Other Black Entrepreneurs
As an Entrepreneur, my progress cannot be credited to me alone. With Sprout Connections, many people have been part of my thought development, execution and opening doors that has given me the level of success I’ve obtained today. Unfortunately, none of them have been black.
Entrepreneurs routinely seek capital to make their dreams come true. But before any capital what is most important is how we think about problems, strategy, and execution. The savviest entrepreneurs can get a lot accomplished with as little as a few hundred dollars because of their extraordinary business sense and creativity. There are 1000’s of successful black business professionals, entrepreneurs and venture capitalists who can at the very least offer knowledge and insight to help develop other black visionaries and hone their thinking.
As a technical founder, I currently advise two black-owned start-ups, and it only takes about an hour or two of my time a week. My hope is that one day they adopt a “pay it forward” mentality for supporting other entrepreneurs. Aside from just feeling good, advising does come with small equity points. There are plenty of other black professionals who are smarter than me. If they were to help the black business ecosystem, without a doubt, there would be a lot more successful black entrepreneurs.
Better Ideas For Blacks Seeking Funding
Today’s notion of being an entrepreneur is starting a company, find venture capital and have a skyrocketing exit. There are many kinds of entrepreneurs that start a variety of different businesses, but not all of them require venture capital.
I want to challenge black entrepreneurs to step way outside their comfort zone and try to create a successful business in areas that they are not familiar in. As an example, the article I referenced above talks about Tristan Walker and Bevel. There is no argument that he is creating a successful business with his trimmers, but every black entrepreneur cannot build a repeat business of another trimmer, a pair of shoes or clothing line.
The next generation of black entrepreneurs needs to step up their ideas that are not related at all to the black community: A drone delivery system, building smart homes, solar powered cars, etc. Reach for the stars. No, it won’t be easy, but if it was easy everyone would do it and the challenge and reward wouldn’t be the same.
Black Entrepreneur Community To Educate & Support
Several ethnic groups have communities based around entrepreneurship and even have funds dedicated towards entrepreneurship. Did you know that in 2015, 6 Jewish ventures funds raised $825 million in venture capital? If you are Irish, they have a well-run organization called the Irish Business Organization (IBO).
The value of community is multi-faceted. A healthy community will not only provide the education needed to start an idea, but also connections to resources valuable resources, and support to grow a vision. We can very quickly start organizations of our own.
As an example, why not at local Boys & Girl Clubs, as well as other community centers, start entrepreneurship classes. Shaping the mind at a young age can be crucial to later success. We can also stop relying on government support and create our funds. As an example, the average cost of starting a business is $400. Imagine if the top black VC’s created a vetted scholarship fund of $500,000. They could jump start 1,250 serious entrepreneurs and form relationships with what might be the next big idea.
Stop Talking And Start Doing
Not to sound cliche, but if we want to change we must be the change ourselves. I commend Nas for stepping and striving to make change both through action and voice. It should be noted even his counterpart Jay-Z has invested in companies. But as a people, we have to rely on more than just rappers or basketball players to have a successful change.
To recap, we need to:
- Have successful black business leaders be willing to mentor entrepreneurs
- Think of bigger ideas and be prepared to leave the comfort zone of what we know
- Establish a community around Entrepreneurs
As Nas inspired this article, it’s fitting to end it with one of his quotes:
“Too many rappers athletes and actors, but not enough brothers in NASA” ~Nas