Entrepreneurs quickly become comfortable with the word “no.â€ They may hear it about a thousand times before they get the “yesâ€ that takes their business to the next level. This rings truer for minority and women entrepreneurs who have the added hurdle of wooing investors who are unfamiliar with the communities they serve.
A New York magazine writer, Kevin Roose, recently came under fire when he deemed the website NaturallyCurly, a leading social network and community for people with wavy, curly and kinky hair, as a dumb investment with “no redeeming qualities whatsoever.â€ Many felt that Roose ignored evidence that supported investment in the site including the potential market of over 80 million women in the US with textured hair. Roose later updated his article to say he only took issue with the social network component of the idea, but his generalizations underscore an issue many women and minority entrepreneurs face.
Gatekeepers to the business world — investors, manufacturers and the like — aren’t known for their diversity. Largely white and male, there is a myopic mindset that makes it all to easy for them to miss the potential and profitability of businesses that target consumers outside of the mainstream. It also creates an additional hurdle of shortsightedness for minority- and women-fronted businesses to overcome. Fair or not, the onus is on entrepreneurs to educate investors on the potential of their ideas and to have the tenacity to not let hearing “noâ€ stop their pursuit of success.
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