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What I Wish I Knew Earlier: Advice for Black Business Owners

from the C-Suite Coach founder & CEO

In 2023, there are 3.12 million Black-owned businesses in the U. S., generating $206 billion in annual revenue and supporting 3.56 million U.S. jobs. But the path of Black entrepreneurship isn’t easy. Here are a few things that Angelina Darrisaw, C-Suite Coach founder, has learned along the way on her journey.

1. Don’t be afraid to get started.

“You have to get out of your head.

Start with one tool. Whether it’s making a website more effective in connecting with customers or using a branded email account — pick that one tool that will help you engage with your customers more effectively, and really just focus on that.”

2. Invest time in building your network and support system.

“For Black business owners, leveraging our network is really critical.

My network has taught me how to position myself for the right opportunities. This support system will be your biggest advocate, even if you don’t yet have a seat at the table.”

3. Identify the value of your business… and proudly speak up about it.

“A lot of business owners say ‘I don’t want to be a salesperson’ — but you need that skill. You have to be the person that is the visionary, the spokesperson, and also the one that is going to be out there sharing the goals.

What’s your secret sauce? What do you do better than someone else? Speak up about it.”

4. Seek funding (big and small).

“We’ve seen the stats: Black entrepreneurs have trouble accessing capital… which is tough because this funding is critical for growth. Start by seeking out small business grants for your industry, community, or demographic. I’m a big believer in the right doors opening for you at the right time. Keep applying, pitching your business, and stay the course.”

5. Shift to a CEO mindset.

“Even when you’re just starting, don’t just think of yourself as a small business — but really think about running your company as if you are a CEO.

Your mindset shift includes accepting that you are worthy of running a business, that you are an expert in the field, and that you are ready to take on the job.”

6. Consider business coaching.

“The same way that you would get more skills training or another degree to make yourself more marketable—finding a business coach to have a deeper awareness and more clarity on your goals and a more focused plan helps you to be more marketable. It will create a pathway to success in a more sharp way.

But ask yourself: Are you ready for the process of hearing feedback? Coaching can be a great process for many but a bit challenging if you’re not in the right mindset to receive and grow. Ask yourself, ‘Am I ready to grow and go through the changes that are necessary to get myself to the next level?’”



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