Considering women of color are the fastest-growing group of entrepreneurs in the United States, BlackEnterprise.com caught up with Jessica Smith, a business counselor at the Women’s Business Center of Northern Virginia, to give us some insight on how women in business are breaking barriers.
Tell us about your role at WBC.
I sit down with aspiring entrepreneurs and help them figure out the best steps to make their dreams a reality. I also teach business startup classes to our clients that educate them on how to build a strong foundation and avoid pitfalls. Pretty much, if you have a business idea and need help fleshing it out and finding resources to support you, I’m your girl!
What problems does the Women’s Business Center solve for entrepreneurs?
We help entrepreneurs get over the hurdle of not having enough money to launch their businesses by helping them finance it through microloans. We also teach clients how to write a business plan that will guide them toward success and secure funding dollars.
We are a support system. Entrepreneurship should never be pursued in isolation, so we provide our clients with countless ways to get plugged into our community and meet others along their journey.
What barriers are being broken by current women in business for future women in business?
The biggest barriers that today’s female entrepreneurs are breaking are the mental roadblocks of fear, doubt, and insecurity. When a young woman listens to her favorite podcast, she’s learning how many possibilities are out there. She’s learning that someone from her hometown with her education can be successful without an M.B.A. She’s learning that she doesn’t need $50,000 in savings to get started on her dream. She’s learning that she doesn’t need a lot of technical experience to build a website or a blog.
So, just by sharing their stories, today’s women in business are making leaps and bounds for the generations behind them. We can’t underestimate the importance of strong role models to look up to, to affirm that if they can do it, then we can as well.