It’s no surprise that minority women have already sparked a new revolution that is reshaping the working landscape, but even after almost two decades with women starting businesses at a higher rate than men, the success of these businesses is still at a dismal low, especially in the small startup business venture, according to business magazine Black Enterprise.
The women only “2014 Women’s Business Empowerment Expo,” hosted by the Prince George’s County Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Prince George’s County Delta Alumnae Foundation, International Franchise Association, and America’s Small Business Development Center of Maryland Corridor Region convened at the University of Maryland A. James Clark School of Engineering building Oct. 4. It highlighted several resources and outlets available to those who aspire to own businesses or are in the process of growing their businesses.
With about 75 women in attendance, the conference covered a variety of topics, including branding through social media, direct sales, understanding the method in marketing a business, and a panel discussion on seeking out resources available to support women and their businesses.
In the stratosphere of building a small business, Miriam Brewer, senior director of education and diversity for the International Franchise Education, and one of the co-chairs for chapter said she believes minority women do have a leg up in business, but they also do face challenges.
“We are at a disadvantage because sometimes ‘we don’t know that we don’t know,’” she explained, saying that sometimes women are not aware of the resources available to assist them. “We are at a disadvantage sometimes financially also because we may not have excess money set aside in a business. But we are at an advantage because of the growing number of women going to work for themselves. It may be a little bias, but I believe that there is something innate in us women that makes us good business women.”
Regarding creating special initiatives to empower more minority women going into small business, Tamara Birts concurred, saying the problem is most women are not equipped with a solid business plan or knowledge of available resources.
For Kathleen Driver, owner and chief business coach of Mind Your Business LLC, a consulting business that mentors emerging entrepreneurs, said more small businesses should take advantage of the social media evolution which big businesses are already using to build their brand. “Statistics show that more small businesses are creating jobs, so from an overall economic perspective more people are looking at what opportunities exist in the realm of being their own boss,” Driver said. “I think more small businesses need to realize that our time has evolved and some of the social media tools available to them are at no costs and it most definitely helps to increase their business visibility as well as audience engagement.”
“For me, I certainly would like to see more women, in particular more African-American women to become franchise owners, and for them to become the franchisor because we are represented,” Brewer said. A study conducted by the Minority Business Development Agency finds that based on gender, about 20.5 percent of franchised businesses was female-owned.