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Why Women Of Color Are Starting More Businesses Than Anyone Else

Written by: Mariela De La Mora, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.

 

And how healing is a necessary component of making more money in our businesses.


Author’s note: I apologize in advance for using binary gender terms throughout this article, however currently that is all the statistics we have available to us from in the time of writing.


As women - and especially women of color ‒ we have had to create our own paths, because systemically, the workplace is not designed for us. That’s why the higher up you go in corporate structures, the fewer women you see.

Just look at when the pandemic hit and children had to switch to distance learning, causing the biggest mass exodus of women from the workforce. A 2021 PayScale Gender Pay Gap Report found that the women of color’s labor force especially came to a 33-year low, as more of them took on caretaker roles at home. This will likely cause lower wages to those who do eventually return to work, and this impact on the gender and racial pay gap may go on for years to come.


We overwhelmingly make so many sacrifices including sidelining our careers, so it’s no wonder we opt-out of corporate life and traditional work in favor of entrepreneurship because for once, we are able to call the shots.


Why are so many women of color starting businesses?


I work almost exclusively with children of immigrants and women and femmes of color. Every single one of them is carrying the effects of one or more of the following: generational trauma, a history of financial insecurity, microaggressions and severe inequities at work, hitting a ceiling they couldn't get promoted past, or climbing the ladder high enough to where they felt unsafe due to lack of diversity at the top.


Systemic oppression, racism, and a workforce built on patriarchal standards make having a job far less attractive or sustainable. So it’s no wonder that women of color are starting businesses at 4.5 times the rate of all businesses.


Others started their business because they had children and the conventional workforce did not allow the flexibility they needed. I fall into that category; pre-pandemic, I was faced with a 90-minute commute and as a single mother with a child in daycare, I simply could not be gone for 12 hours a day.


Why it’s especially challenging for WOC once they start a business


While the idea of starting a business might sound like women of color are taking their power back, this often means that they encounter an entirely new set of challenges. According to the American Express State of Women-Owned Business report, although women of color own half of all women-owned businesses, they still earn significantly less revenue.


More specifically:

  • Black women-owned businesses brought in $24k a year

  • Latina owned-business brought in $50k a year

  • WOC-owned businesses in general brought in $65k a year

On the other hand, “non-minority” women-owned businesses brought in $218,800 a year on average. The disparity in income has nothing to do with capability and everything to do with the circumstances that each group came from.


What we can do about it


Unfortunately, there isn’t just one solution. It’s a mix between healing the effects of past personal trauma and reforming oppressive systems that disproportionately affect BIPOC, like lack of access to funding and loans. The latter is a huge, complex undertaking that is a perpetual work in progress.


Something we can address more immediately is unpacking and healing all the internalized trauma we carry that gets in the way of us creating our own wealth. Trauma doesn’t need to be a major, catastrophic event ‒ it can stem from being a child whose emotional, financial, or physical needs were either not met or threatened.


How this shows up in entrepreneurship:

  • Difficulty trusting yourself to make decisions

  • Imposter syndrome no matter your qualifications

  • Perfectionism

  • Burnout disguised as well-intentioned overachieving

  • Undercharging and over-delivering

  • Fear of being visible

  • A mindset of financial scarcity

Collectively, these things keep women of color underpaid, burned out, and stuck. And internalized patriarchy also makes us believe we are supposed to be kind, agreeable, nurturing, and put others’ needs above our own ‘just because.’


That’s why healing, quite literally, can help us create more money, more confidence, and more peace within our lives.


How women of color can start healing themselves to grow their businesses:

  1. Recognize it's not your fault if you have these struggles.

  2. Find a community of like-minded entrepreneurs to surround yourself with who have faced similar hurdles.

  3. Read Rachel Rodgers' book, "We Should All Be Millionaires" ‒ it touches on many of these concepts, including how women of color can get out of the habit of staying small.

Women of color start their own businesses to regain control and freedom, and that absolutely should be celebrated. However, it is vital that we acknowledge the unique challenges we still face even when we go into business on our own. It’s important to acknowledge and support women of color-owned businesses so that they see the same rate of success as non-minority-owned businesses ‒ through coaching, equal opportunity, and access.


Follow me on LinkedIn, Instagram, or visit my website for more info! Read more from Mariela!

 

Mariela De La Mora, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Mariela is a Life Coach and certified EQ Leadership Coach who helps women of color become powerhouse leaders of purpose-driven brands. Her mission is to help women of color break glass ceilings by healing the generational trauma and cultural conditioning holding them back from becoming the leader they can be. She was named one of the top 10 leadership coaches by Yahoo Finance and has coached 6 and 7-figure CEOs and even leaders in the United Nations. She previously spent 15 years in marketing while leading teams across the globe. As a 1st generation Mexican American, she was often the only woman of color in senior leadership and had to break past systemic and mindset barriers to do it. She now helps women bridge that gap through trauma-informed life coaching and emotional intelligence development, so they can fully step into their power and lead with intention.

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