The pandemic hit black communities hard. As they faced unprecedented challenges, many black-owned business owners often found themselves reacting in new and unexpected ways.
To reflect on the resilience and opportunities that Covid brought about, Inc. contributing editor Tenacea Carr, who edits Inc.’s new destination for black women entrepreneurs. Panelists included the president of Acute Care Pediatrics at Mednax Services, a clinic in Sugar Land, Texas, a physician services provider based in Sunrise, Fla. Kevin Lloyd, co-founder and CEO of MYLE, an entertainment software and data-analytics company in Columbus, Ohio; and Jennifer Martin, co-founder of Pipsnacks, a food company in Brooklyn, New York.
Here are some of the most important takeaways from the session.
1. Build a strong network.
Lloyd, whose company is focused on helping people find things to do, places to go, and food to eat — all on their mobile device — believes in the power of community. “Build a strong supporting cast,” he says. Whether it’s family, mentors, or your work team, you need a group you can connect with, and people to share your startup experience with.
“Embrace the journey. Be committed and ready for the ups and downs,” says Lloyd.
2. Get out of your comfort zone.
Bryant encourages entrepreneurs to take advantage of established avenues for business owners like small business development centers, startup incubators, and more anywhere you can find support. Bryant bought Inc. in 2021. A list of 100 women founders was made.
While these types of programs often lack diversity, Bryant wants black entrepreneurs to get involved. “Just go for it,” she says. “To be successful, there’s going to be failure.” Don’t be shy, she says. Ask for introductions, and bring others with you. Most importantly, she says, “believe in yourself.”
3. Take care of yourself.
Martin says he rarely took a break in his first decade of running the company. It wasn’t until the pandemic that she realized how unstable her work habits were.
“Everyone thought it was going to end soon,” says Martin, who was named in the 2020 Women’s Founders 100. When that didn’t happen, he knew he had to start prioritizing himself.
She says the blur between work and life is often more pronounced for entrepreneurs, and the pandemic has exacerbated it. “I had no limits,” says Martin. Over the past two years, however, she has learned that she is a better leader and is able to serve her community when she takes care of herself. “It’s not failing,” she says, “it’s learning.”