Struggles and Strategies of Black Women Business Owners in the U.S.
AbstractBlack women start businesses at a rate above the national average. Yet, a revenue gap persists when compared to businesses owned by Black men and White men and women. Existing explanations for the differences in revenue highlight the lack of experience and limited access to start-up capital that constrain racial and gender minorities and also the type of industries in which they operate. Research specifically examining Black women business owners is very limited. In this article, we explore if Black women business owners’ gender and racial identities pose challenges to running their businesses. We find that, because of their race and gender, Black women business owners contend with unique challenges that many entrepreneurs do not face. In-depth interviews reveal that they confront negative stereotypes held about them and, surprisingly, experience difficulties interacting with Black clients. These entrepreneurs cite navigation strategies that include monitoring self-presentation, adopting standards of excellence, and creating clear professional boundaries. This study suggests that Black women business owners might be spending more time than other business owners navigating challenges specifically linked to their identity, which seems to impact their business directly.
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