As a woman and a minority myself, I know how difficult it can be to be taken seriously. It’s discouraging when it seems that people just see you for your skin color or appearance and don’t care about what you have to say. Statistics show that while there are a great many women and/or minority businesses opening, just as many seem to fail. Funding is also an issue, when minorities and women are denied credit, despite having good financial standing. But, there is hope!
If you’re a minority or female business owner, MWBEzone.com has small business grants categorized by geographic focus and interests. Within the categories, you will see 50+ categories from Aging/Seniors to Youth/Out-of-School Youth. Under Geographic Focus, you can choose your state. And under Funding Source, check out the type of funding source (or select all).
Starting a Business – According to the SBA, United States Small Business Administration
10 Steps to Starting a New Business:
1) Write a Business Plan
2) Get Business Assistance and Training
3) Choose a Business Location
4) Finance Your Business
5) Determine the Legal Structure of Your Business
6) Register a Business Name (“Doing Business As”)
7) Register for State and Local Taxes
8) Obtain Business Licenses and Permits
9) Understand Employer Responsibilities
10) Find Local Assistance
The concerns of a minority and/or woman-owned business are some of the same concerns as that of a non-minority or a non-woman owned business. “Will clients come? Will they appreciate what I have to offer? Will my employees respect me?” But these concerns are magnified because the difference in personnel is obvious.
Women-owned businesses represent a significant portion of the population. According to the SBA Office of Advocacy, “…The percent of female business owners remains fairly stable at 36.0 percent in 2012, as compared to 35.9 percent in 2007.” An Issue Brief reported that despite their economic significance, women and minority owned companies are smaller and rake in less profit than their male or non-minority competitors. They also have a lower survival rate.
According to the SBA, this may be because minorities are disproportionately denied credit, despite strong business credit scores, personal wealth, and revenues. For women, credit denials are more erratic, depending on the year. But both minorities and women reported feeling discouraged to apply for credit.
There is a way around this: MWBEzone.com. Instead of taking out a line of credit or a loan, fund your business with grants or government contracts. Our CEO, Libby Hikind, recommends borrowing a limited amount of money from your family, then reinvesting in your business. Libby advised,
“It’s a good idea to start small and do the grunt work. Good businesses start in garages and back porches. This is because you need to keep your expenses and budget low to start a business, so your profit margin is high enough that you can eventually hire people to work for you.”
GrantWatch.com and all its affiliate websites are women owned businesses. Libby began what is now called GrantWatch.com in her garage! From 2010 to 2014, she was without any employees. Before that, she and her daughter, Elana, did all the work; from contacting clients to posting grants. Any money they earned was put back into the business.
And, according to Barbara Smith of the Blake & Milford Daycare Center in Brooklyn, New York, she started off with loans but couldn’t have survived without grants. She said,
“As long as there is funding available, I know I’ll be OK. Without the two grants I have, I wouldn’t have the qualified teachers and the staff that I have.”
Barbara attributes her growth to grants. Without them, she wouldn’t have been able to establish benefits for her staff such as opportunities for a 401(k). She also confirmed that as a minority woman, she found it challenging to find start-up funding.
There are multiple types of certifications for small businesses. One is Minority Owned Businesses or MBE, and another is Women-Owned Businesses or WBE. According to one source, minority group members include US citizens who are Asian, Black, Hispanic and Native American. Certification with the NMSDCs (National Minority Supplier Development Council) is done at the local or regional level.
Some of the benefits of becoming MBE certified are the following:
- Business Opportunity Fairs
- Customized executive education
- Networking opportunities
A woman-owned business is identified as a business that can show evidence that at least 51% or more of the business is women-owned and managed. Certification as a WBE is available through the National Women’s Business Council. According to NWBOC.org, certification is important for the following two reasons:
- Most purchasing agencies have programs for doing business with female business owners
- Many publicly-held corporations and larger private corporations track and have programs for doing business with women-owned vendor companies
If you are trying to obtain a government contract for your small business you can hire a business consultant or start reading. Here is one guide: The Minority and Woman-Owned Small Business Guide to Government Contracts: Everything You Need to Know to Get Started. In this book, you will learn some of the following: why you would apply for government contracts, and how to get started. Use the steps in this book to help you navigate through some paperwork.
We hope this article has been informative for you. If you are looking to start a new business or to help support an existing one, go to MWBEzone.com and search for grants! It is easy to use and straightforward. Once you’ve located grants you want to know more about, remember to subscribe to one of the pricing plans (on GrantWatch.com) to get full access to both MWBEzone and GrantWatch.com to see the entire grant or contract!
About the Author: Sabeen is currently an MPH student with a history in Mass Communications. She is currently writing for GrantWatch.com and its affiliates.