The business and entrepreneurial landscape is shifting constantly, and as leaders, we have to shift with it. For minority entrepreneurs, the tide changes even quicker—or, in some cases, not fast enough. To make up for the near 22 percent gap between the overall minority population in the United States and the number of minority-owned businesses (that’s 40 percent and 18 percent, respectively), we have to work harder to succeed.
There are many things that can help minority entrepreneurs succeed, but here are five of the tips and rules that I have found most helpful:
1. Be Clear About Your Goals
When embarking on any important project—whether personal or professional—it’s always important to have clarity on your end goal. Sit down and really try to understand your “why.” Ask yourself what it is you actually want to accomplish and what it is that’s motivating you to achieve that goal.
Though you might have an endless stream of great ideas, and even the wherewithal to bring them all to life, the satisfaction you’ll feel upon accomplishing your goal will be sweeter if the motive behind them is well understood. For example, if your goal is to earn $1 million in the next two years, ask yourself why you really want to do that. Sure, the money sounds great, but a goal without a “why” gives your energy and drive nothing to sink their teeth into—nothing to push you to make sure you see it through. Get to know your goal, and you’ll get to know yourself.
2. Be Flexible
You could have your business idea all mapped out in your head, but things might not go exactly as you’ve planned. When that happens, just remember: when results vary from what you expected, it’s not failure. It’s an opportunity for growth.
Don’t get discouraged if things aren’t working as you thought they would, or if they don’t happen at all. Use it as a chance to sit down and ask yourself why things aren’t matching up with your expectations. Take the time to really break down what’s happening and build a plan that can and will make your dream happen.
Being able to pivot your output and goals is a powerful trait for any entrepreneur. Be OK with change—it’ll only make you stronger.
3. Be OK with Imperfection
To be successful in any industry, you need to stop expecting things to be perfect.
The ideas inside our heads will naturally come to life a little differently than how we imagine. There are always many variables that can affect a project or product’s outcome, and most of them are outside your control. If you go into production already knowing the outcome might not be exactly as you expected, you won’t have to deal with any feelings of doubt or disappointment. Instead, you’ll view imperfection as a stepping stone to greater things ahead.
Life is going to throw a lot of things at you, so be resilient whenever possible. In other words: lower the stakes.
4. Be Proud of Your Roots
Though your heritage doesn’t need to be the only “thing” you represent or the only thing you talk about with your community, embracing your minority experience can be a powerful tool for setting yourself apart.
I always encourage minority entrepreneurs to own their stories and find a way to incorporate those stories into their brand values. For example, you could embrace your own diverse background by keeping your team equally diverse. This shows you and your team that you mean what you say and are willing to work toward effecting change in the workplace.
Outside of your own business, you can encourage diversity in an equally inspiring way by supporting minority-owned businesses whenever possible. Follow minority business owners on social platforms, interact with minority leaders in your local community, and help ensure that stories like yours continue to be heard and taken seriously. Help pave a new path for your fellow minority entrepreneurs and show future generations that a success story like yours is possible.
5. Be Prepared
At the end of the day, being an entrepreneur of any background is a daunting task. Be as prepared as you can be when launching a new brand, product, or idea. This means doing the necessary research, doing financial planning, engaging in robust ideation, and strategizing so that you’re ready for whatever obstacles may come your way.
For minority entrepreneurs, those obstacles tend to stack up even higher. The odds may feel against you at times, but knowing you have just as much right to bring your ideas to life as everyone else is key to keeping your head down and getting the work done.
In the end, the only person who can adequately prepare you for entrepreneurship is you. That means being intentional about who you are and what you want to accomplish.
Let those intentional goals inspire you to make a difference, to create something you and your community will be proud of. Embrace your role as a minority entrepreneur as a competitive advantage and fly with it. Before you know it, you’ll be soaring.
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position of Hispanic Executive or Guerrero Media.
Patricia Arboleda is a highly successful, certified executive & leadership coach and the founder of Arboleda Coaching, a company focused on advancing driven women and Latinx to the next level of their careers. Through the company’s specially curated corporate programs and breakthrough executive coaching, Arboleda Coaching is closing the gap of women and Latinx in senior leadership roles.
As a Latina woman who has climbed the corporate ladder and served as a senior executive for a Fortune 500 company, Arboleda has an insider’s understanding of what obstacles stand in the way for most female and Latinx leaders. It is through her innovative programs that Arboleda moves the needle, generating significant transformations and equipping the people she works with with the skills they need to develop a winning mindset, expand their leadership skills, create more impact, and set themselves apart with real, lasting results.
To find out more about her work, visit arboledacoaching.com or contact her on LinkedIn.