Mentors are intended to help new and small business owners navigate the tumultuous waters of the entrepreneurial sea. They are the ship’s navigation system that steers us toward success. According to a recent study performed by Endeavor, as published in Forbes, nearly 92% of small business owners interviewed attributed their success directly to having a mentor. In striking contrast, a recent regional New York study, reported less than 41% of all Black business owners had access to, let alone actually connected to a mentor. This huge inconsistency puts Black business owners at a significant disadvantage.
While small business owners, in general, are burdened with obstacles on the path to growth and stability, the obstacles we Black business owners face are unique. As identified by The Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, they include:
Lack of Access to Financial Resources/Capital
Let’s be honest. The attempt to access COVID-19-related funds and relief programs was a huge eye opener for many of us, illustrating just how limited our resources and support truly were. Do you know what financial resources are available to you right now for maintaining your business or even starting a new one? If you said no, you are not alone. This was listed as the number one obstacle facing Black-owned businesses.
Lack of Access to Social Resources/Capital
Second is access to networking opportunities with successful Black entrepreneurs, who seem to be few and far between in our familial and social circles. Having access to proper networking opportunities is what allows us to make the contacts we need to help facilitate our growth.
Lack of Access to Human Resources/Capital
Third is our access to education and human resources. Most of us rely on experience as our training ground, rather than a formal education – not for lack of qualifications, but lack of access and the financial resources to get a proper education.
Mentors play a major role in supporting Black business owners and their goals, but especially in helping to avoid these unique obstacles. They have the financial, social, and human resources coupled with knowledge and life experience to help minority business owners achieve what might have otherwise been impossible without equal access.
Luckily for us, the benefits of finding a minority-centered mentor are gaining attention and recognition. There are a growing number of organizations which have developed programs that specialize in the support and empowerment of Black-owned businesses. Many of them, since the start of the pandemic, have grown their online outreach efforts. Check out the few below and then do your own research on some of the other amazing minority-centered mentor programs to discover the ones that work best for your industry, your area, and your business.
Hello Alice offers a comprehensive video mentorship, through an application process, to chosen Black owned businesses. In addition, they provide a huge network for you to take advantage of and connect to online.
Offered by the Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA), this mentorship program focuses on economic development and resources for Blackowned businesses.
SCORE is a FREE mentoring program available to anyone, anywhere in the United States with a specific mentorship division that supports the ongoing success of Black owned businesses.
The Chamber of Commerce in your area can connect you to local chapters, with a Black Chamber of Commerce network that exists specifically to ensure you remain in business.
Linkedin groups are another great place to find a local mentor. There are plenty of studies, testimonials, and case studies of the difference that a mentor can make in the viability of Black-owned businesses.
Finding a mentor that suits your needs is the key to getting to the results you want. Start with the list I’ve provided for you here and continue to look for your ideal match.
Let us know in the comments what mentoring program you take part in that is minority focused.