African American women continue to make undeniable progress in starting and growing their own businesses. In fact, the number of women-owned firms has grown at a rate five times the national average—up 45%, versus the 9% increase among all businesses since 2009, according to American Express OPEN State of Women-Owned Businesses report.
The key to longevity is to create a sustainable business—one that can survive negative market conditions and take advantage of strong market conditions. Sustainability is, in part, dependent upon developing a shared vision, which is used to guide the company toward becoming a viable, profitable business.
Building Sustainable Black Women-Owned Businesses
Some 120 women business owners recently convened in Houston for the “She Said. She Led. She Is…” dinner event, to engage in an authentic conversation about building sustainable businesses and breaking through business barriers, such as lack of access to capital and developing a team.
The host of the event was L’Renee & Associates, a project management firm, in partnership with the Small Business Administration and the Houston Area Urban League, which launched its inaugural women’s business initiative on October 27, 2016, in celebration of National Women’s Small Business Month. The evening resulted in strategic partnerships, endless exchanges of contact information and networking, and concrete, implementable solutions to help rocket launch business success.
“It was such a blessing to be invited to this amazing event honoring women entrepreneurs,” says Tashell Williams, owner of Euphoric Essence, a wellness hair salon.
“I saw an attendee seize an opportunity to offer business in the middle of the dinner! It was appropriate and timely. Additionally, she offered the very service that a fellow business owner needed,” adds author, Auketria Manor.
“I feel incredibly empowered that I will have the resources and people I can connect with, during my move from corporate America to a full-time entrepreneur,” explains Kandice Sullivan, owner of Chanel’s Closets, an in-home closet organizer.
Empowering Black Women Business Owners
Some of the women walked away with more than just great connections. Sponsored giveaways offered items such as a roundtrip airline ticket, an overnight stay at the Hilton Americas, two iPads, an Apple TV, Office 365, an Apple Watch, an Amazon Kindle, and QuickBooks software.
Also in attendance was Tim Jeffcoat, director of the small business administration’s Houston District office and Judson Robinson III, president and CEO of the Houston Area Urban League, and they offered management advice. Other topics of discussion varied from handling cash flow statements and managing strategic partnerships, to forming nontraditional business models and pursuing opportunities in franchising.
L’Renee & Associates is a project management consultancy firm that supports high-performing organizations by recruiting and sourcing certified project managers across all disciplines, and providing project management training and consulting for professionals, from the C-suite to the front desk.