Black Women Are the Country’s Leading Entrepreneurs

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  • Women create companies based on their passions, skills, and areas of expertise.
  • Adapting the business model during times of difficulty helps their companies to thrive.
  • Seeing women who look like them succeeding in business matters to Black women.
  • Many organizations offer resources for women looking to start or grow their businesses.

Pandemic job layoffs and job market shifts are leading women to create companies in larger numbers. They are changing the face of entrepreneurship on a national level.

Entrepreneurship among Black women has experienced explosive growth. Businesses owned by Black women grew 67% from 2007 to 2012 and by 50% from 2014 to 2019.

Research from the Harvard Business Review shows that 17% of Black women in the United States create or lead a business, compared to 10% of white women. We look at why this fast-growing segment started their businesses, their ability to weather the pandemic, and resources to help other women step out as entrepreneurs.

The New Face of Women Entrepreneurship

Women in the United States own over 12 million businesses. Black women run more than a third of those businesses.

The business landscape completely changed with the COVID-19 pandemic. As consumer needs shifted, these women seized opportunities to provide new services.

After being furloughed during the pandemic, Jenna Morrow put her passion for interior design to work. She founded The Morrow Home and is the lead designer. For Dawn Carr, the pandemic highlighted the needs of black consumers that weren't being met. She founded Mahogany Insights.

Although the pandemic created an opportunity for some, more than 20% of U.S. small business owners said the pandemic hurt their companies. Initially, Leneille Moon was part of that statistic. But she decided to change the focus of the services she provided. The rebranding worked, and she continued to thrive as the owner and creative director of Special Event Factory.

Other women-owned companies have continued to prosper despite the impact of the pandemic. Businesses led by women employ over 10 million workers. Female entrepreneurs contribute significantly to the economy. Combining their interests and expertise, they create thriving businesses that supply viable sources of income.

What Led to Launching a New Business?

Millions of workers lost their jobs during the COVID-19 pandemic. Black people were disproportionately affected by job market losses, with higher job losses and lower rates of employment recovery than other ethnic groups. The losses led to creative solutions, with more than four million new business applications filed in 2020 alone — an increase of more than 20% from 2019.

"My husband planted the seed after I was furloughed from my job in hospitality. While I was furloughed, he witnessed how redecorating our home during that time helped me cope with the anxiety that stemmed from being pregnant and furloughed in the middle of a pandemic. What was once just a passion became a method of healing for me emotionally and mentally, and he recognized that."

— Jenna Morrow

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Exhaustion from the pandemic, elections, and social injustices — like the death of George Floyd — allowed Carr to see an unmet need that she could fill.

"There are very few market research firms that focus primarily on helping companies build better bridges with Black consumers," Carr says. "I wanted to be in a position where understanding how to bridge the gap with Black consumers is always front and center — not just in the moments where it is on-trend," she adds. "The only way to do this was to start my own firm."

Pivoting During the Pandemic

Moon started Special Event Factory in 2017, designing florals for events. Her business allowed her to leave corporate America to homeschool her children while still making money doing something she enjoyed. Things were going well. Then COVID-19 hit.

"When all events were canceled or postponed, I decided I had to pivot the business to ensure that the lights stayed on. I began offering Doorstep Floral Deliveries, which was an entirely new business model from what we typically offered. I also began teaching floral design workshops virtually and at our studio, and it was a huge hit. So much so, that my business not only stayed afloat, it flourished," Moon says.

The number of Black-owned businesses has increased by close to 30% since before the pandemic.

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She used her skills from working as an event planner in corporate America and her educational background in digital marketing to reinvent her business. Decisions like these that help keep businesses afloat are part of the reason that Black women are the country's fastest-growing entrepreneurial group. In fact, the number of Black-owned businesses has increased by close to 30% since before the pandemic.

While other companies may not have changed their business model, they still had to adapt to changes brought by the pandemic. Wearing masks, marking the floors to maintain social distancing, changing business hours, and adjusting staff and resources impacted businesses worldwide.

How to Support Women Entrepreneurs

Buying products and services that women-owned businesses offer is one of the best ways to show your support.

Women entrepreneurs also need support with business planning, strategizing, and access to capital to help their businesses grow.

The National Minority Supplier Development Council offers scholarships, programs, networking, and certifications. The U.S. Small Business Administration's Office of Women's Business Ownership (WOSB) provides access to credit and finances, along with training and federal contracts. Women's Business Enterprise National Council is an approved certifying entity for WOSB's federal contracting program.

Supporting these businesses makes a difference now and in the future.

"It is so important because the nation needs to see entrepreneurship that does not look like the traditional start-up, tech white guy. We create beliefs on what we see most often," says Carr.

Frequently Asked Questions About Entrepreneurship

What are the 4 types of entrepreneurship?

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The four types of entrepreneurship are: small business entrepreneurship, scalable startup entrepreneurship, large company entrepreneurship, and social entrepreneurship. The different models let entrepreneurs determine the best fit for their abilities and interests.

Small business entrepreneurship accounts for most people in the U.S. — those who go into business for themselves and their communities. Scalable startup entrepreneurship happens when a business starts on a small scale then grows larger with the help of outside investors. Large company entrepreneurship is when a large business creates new ventures. Social entrepreneurship is starting an organization focused on social change.

How do I start my own business as a woman?

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Determine your area of interest and expertise. You want to start your business with a solid foundation. Put systems in place to keep you organized, with everything from finances to customer interactions. Reach out to local organizations for tips on growth and support in your area. Network with other business owners who can share information on business grants and other resources.

Be open and adaptable to change. Be flexible in creating the schedule that works for you. If you are most creative first thing in the morning, shift other administrative duties to keep that time free. Make taking breaks in the day a priority. Self-care is not selfish; it's a necessity to help you function. Continue to learn about your industry and stay aware of consumer trends.

What does intrapreneur mean?

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An intrapreneur is an individual who acts like an entrepreneur while working at a big company, instead of owning their own business. Although working in a corporate management system, an intrapreneur introduces new ideas and takes calculated risks with new ventures. An intrapreneur shows initiative, seeking out creative solutions and projects.