Starting a business can be costly, not to mention the element of risk that comes with every startup. But there are steps minority- and women-owned businesses can take that improve chances for success.
Pat Brown, director of Minority and Women-owned Business Enterprise at the Arkansas Economic Development Commission (AEDC), shares her top tips for navigating and thriving in today’s business world.
1. Sourcing Capital Is Key
A question that Brown hears from minority- and women-owned business leaders is how they can obtain capital to start or grow their business.
The AEDC’s Minority Loan Mobilization Guaranty Program helps Arkansas state-certified minority- and women-owned businesses with loan guarantees from $10,000 to $100,000 with a guarantee up to 90%.
“This program is tailored to address some of the challenges that minority and women business owners often face in underserved communities or being economically disadvantaged and to service minority and women business owners who might not qualify for traditional channels,” Brown says.
2. Networking Really Is That Important
“Networking is an excellent way to learn from others, get new clients and tell others about your business,” Brown says. “All being equal, people do business with people they know and like.”
The AEDC offers popular networking opportunities that connect businesses within the state through industry and trade associations, business after-hour events, conferences, matchmaking events and LinkedIn groups.
3. Hire the Right People for the Job
No matter what kind of business you’re in, hiring the right person is essential.
“Having quality employees will help you grow,” Brown said. “Your business is only as good as your employees. Hiring the wrong person can be a costly mistake. Always remember your employees are the face of your company.”
4. Certify Your Business
Though it’s not a requirement, certified minority business enterprises (CMBE) and certified women-owned business enterprises (CWBE) enjoy several benefits such as notification of opportunities to conduct business with state agencies, notification of training events, workshops, networking events and educational opportunities and an issuance of an official CMBE or CWBE certificate.
5. Know That Help Is Out There
A variety of federal and state-led programs are at your disposal to help you launch and grow your business. The AEDC’s Minority and Women-owned Business Enterprise division can advise businesses on how to write a business plan, obtain financing, register your business and more. The division also sponsors and supports business workshops throughout the year.