By: Amy Gill (Mommy Monitor’s Youth Subcommittee)
Starting a new business is a daunting and overwhelming task for many aspiring entrepreneurs, and Black entrepreneurs face unique challenges that can hinder their growth and success. In fact, the New York Post found that 80% of Black business owners said they faced significantly more challenges getting their business off the ground due to their race and 85% said they had to overcome more obstacles than their non-Black business owners. A staggering 59% said that they faced racism or bias when they were starting their business, and three in five Black entrepreneurs said that they were not being taken seriously. Despite these challenges, many Black entrepreneurs have persevered and succeeded in getting their business off the ground and they continue to succeed in growing their businesses.
In 2017, HuffPost emphasized that “you don’t have to be the smartest person in the room”, but it is important to “surround yourself with people who are smarter than you.” Beyond networking with smart people, it is important to work hard so that others will want to invest in you and your business. You need to also accept that “failure is a natural part of the entrepreneurial process.” You learn from failure and the lessons learned during those difficult times will help you make changes that will propel your business forward. Amidst building your business, don’t forget to support other Black businesses. Supporting Black businesses allows for the following: building up communities, creating jobs and opportunities, closing the racial wealth gap, and empowering local communities.
Earlier in 2020, Forbes also provided tips to help Black entrepreneurs overcome adversities. They recommend learning as much as possibly about the industry. This can be done by “attending conferences, meeting with industry experts, and studying other similar successful businesses.” Beyond doing research, before starting your business, it is also essential to “understand your cash flow and requirements” and to be “resourceful and find other means to fund or bootstrap your business.” As soon as the business gets started, it is also important to “have clear agreements and understandings with yourself and others [(e.g., stakeholders and business partners)].” These conversations can be difficult, but it is essential to set clear boundaries in order to prevent future misunderstandings. Similar to HuffPost, Forbes also highlights, “Adversity is a part of the entrepreneurial journey, but it doesn’t have to break your spirit.” They emphasize the importance of push through the adversity in order to “grow a stronger business that adds diversity to…[the]business landscape and contributes to the legacy of Black entrepreneurship.”
One Black entrepreneur paving the path to wellness for other racialized women is Pearl Cicci. Pearl Cicci is a Nutritionist and Health Coach and her main focus is to help women entrepreneurs increase their energy levels and optimize their health through plant-based approaches. Throughout her life, Pearl has always had a great passion for holistic and individualized approaches to health. It was this passion which led her to become an entrepreneur who empowers other racialized female entrepreneurs in their health and fitness journeys. As Pearl explained, she strongly believes that everyone deserves to be the healthiest and happiest version of themselves and that the relationship that a person has with food and fitness can help shape that version of themselves.
Pearl offers a nutrition coaching program, educational series on plant-based eating, and personal training services. Recently, she authored The Ultimate 5 Step Guide to Increasing Your Energy Using Plants and she offers this guide for free on her website. She has multiple glowing reviews from her clients. She has also been invited to various speaking events where she not only educated attendees on nutrition and fitness, but she also shared knowledge on how to navigate the field being a Black female.
We interviewed Pearl to learn more about her journey and to ask her for some advice that she may have for other female entrepreneurs.
Q: What made you want to pursue a career as a Nutritionist and Health Coach?
A: Since I was young I have always had a love for food. I know I wanted to do something related to food and I originally stumbled upon dietetics which has now transformed into nutrition and overall wellness. Fitness has always been a part of my life so having the two together as a career made a lot of sense for me.
Q: What has been the most rewarding experience during your time as a Nutritionist and Health Coach?
A: The most rewarding thing as a coach is seeing the transformations of my clients, not only physically, but most importantly, mentally and how they perceive themselves and life differently. Truly amazing to help support people improve their wellbeing.
Q: What challenges have you faced being a Black female entrepreneur? How have you overcome those challenges?
A: The challenges that I face are the normal ones that every entrepreneur faces when building a business from the ground up. There have been many ups and downs but I have overcome them with a lot of support and work on my mindset.
Q: What advice would you have for other Black female entrepreneurs, especially those who are just getting started with their business venture?
A: I would tell them to make sure they have a very strong “why” to take on the endeavors of building a business. Networking and building important relationships is one of the most important things. Last, but not least, believe in yourself and never give up! You are going to pivot, and that is okay, but do not stop moving forward.
As a Black entrepreneur, if you are interested in starting a business or growing a pre-existing business, please check out the resources below: