Black woman entrepreneur looking over blueprints and gazing out her office window.
Quotes from these 10 Black entrepreneurs share helpful advice and show how they cultivated success in their businesses. — Getty Images/Klaus Vedfelt

The number of Black-owned businesses has grown exponentially, even prior to the pandemic business boom. Data from the Census Bureau showed there were 134,567 Black-owned businesses in 2019, an 8% increase compared to the previous year.

Learn how 10 Black founders approach entrepreneurship as well as how they’ve created and maintained successful businesses through these inspirational quotes.

1. “If you approach 100 people for seed capital, 99 of them may say no. You just need that one.”

Dr. William Pickard, Chairman of the Global Automotive Alliance and co-owner of five Black-owned newspapers

When you’re starting out as an entrepreneur, just one champion of your goal or idea may be the catalyst for your business growth. Instead of putting pressure on the number of people needed to support your business, focus on the quality of individuals.

2. “To have a successful career, you have to approach it as an entrepreneur, even if you are working for someone else.”

Earl Graves, Black Enterprise Founder

Even if you’re working a 9-to-5 job or have a side hustle you’d like to take public, you can still begin to cultivate your own personal brand and vision leading you to an entrepreneurial path. Consider how you can grow your network by marketing your skill set and experience.

[Read more: Best Entrepreneurial Advice From the Founders Behind America's Hottest Startups]

3. "We can transcend the script of a pre-defined story, and pave the way for the future that we design. We just need to tap that power, that conviction, that determination within us."

Robert F. Smith, Founder, Chairman, and CEO of Vista Equity Partners

Gaining inspiration and support from Black leaders, communities, and networks can inspire and support your business ventures when things get difficult. Create your own path and story, then find helpful mentors.

4. “Women of color are the fastest-growing segment of entrepreneurs, so this is an excellent time for us. Getting the mentorships and training you need to go where you want to go is important.”

Angela Benton, Founder and CEO of NewME Accelerator

There are many identity-centric mentorships, fellowships, and training programs you can utilize to jumpstart your entrepreneurial goals.

Dream small dreams. If you make small goals and accomplish them, it gives you the confidence to go on to higher goals.

John H. Johnson, Founder, Johnson Publishing Company

5. "Dream small dreams. If you make small goals and accomplish them, it gives you the confidence to go on to higher goals."

John H. Johnson, Founder of Johnson Publishing Company

Breaking bigger goals into bite-sized, attainable steps can keep you motivated through your journey as a business owner. Goals that are too unrealistic or lofty may ultimately discourage you from even getting started.

6. “I was going to take my time and not force ideas, I will let the ideas come to me. And this time around, I would make sure that it was something that I was passionate about.”

Tope Awotona, Founder and CEO of Calendly

Individuals with an entrepreneurial spirit may feel the need to pursue every idea that comes to mind. Be sure to pursue ideas you feel passionate about.

7. “I’ve always been insatiably curious about human nature and that has influenced everything I’ve done. Having just one job for all of my adulthood never crossed my mind.”

— Arlan Hamilton, Founder of Backstage Capital

Being creative and curious is part of being a successful entrepreneur and business owner. As you build and maintain your business, capitalize on creative opportunities and exploration.

[Read more: 15 Black-Owned Small Business Directories]

8. “Success depends on employees. For me, knowing and connecting with my employees is very important.”

Dr. Divine Ndhlukula, Founder of SECURICO

When building your business, the people you employ and bring into your community are an essential part of organizational growth. Consider how to create a strong, honest, and healthy working environment.

9. “You don’t have to compromise who you are. You can very well find investors who are completely aligned with you.”

Kevin Dedner, Founder of Hurdle

As you expand your business, there may be pressure to compromise your values and views for your company. Find individuals who support both your business goals and your personal vision.

10. “If companies only build transactional relationships, people may enjoy and love their widget, but they won't have their hearts. And if you don't have their hearts, you can ultimately be replaced.”

Pernell Cezar of BLK & Bold

Adopt a consumer-focused lens as you build your business. What are the ways your customers can become invested in your products or services?

[Read more: How to Build a Stronger Black-Owned Business Ecosystem in the U.S.]

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

Follow us on Instagram for more expert tips & business owners’ stories.

To stay on top of all the news impacting your small business, go here for all of our latest small business news and updates.

CO—is committed to helping you start, run and grow your small business. Learn more about the benefits of small business membership in the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, here.

Finalists Announced for the 2022 Dream Big Awards!

The finalists for the 2022 Dream Big Awards have been announced! Click here to register to watch the Dream Big Awards Ceremony, part of the CO— Start. Run. Grow. Week virtual event, on Tuesday, October 18, 2022, at 6:30pm ET, where the winners will be announced!



Published September 13, 2022