Just Jess: Do “we” have to hustle more?

I never anticipated owning a business. When I got a degree first in psychology, and then a Master’s in nonprofit management, I thought my path was set. Surprise!


Recently, I’ve had the pleasure of facilitating an eight-week business boot camp for women and minority business owners. It’s called HustleSBE (South Bend Elkhart).


Did you know that 90% of startups fail? Holy cow! And if a fledgling business makes it the first 12 months, then watch out for years two through five, where 70% of startups fail. Jeeze!


And my guess is those numbers get higher the browner-skinned the owners are. But one thing I’ve learned by both participating and facilitating HustleSBE, we’re scrappy. Women and minority business owners have ideas, and we aren’t afraid to roll up our sleeves and go for it.


What we aren’t as well versed in is how to do ALL THE STUFF outside our hustle. We may not have a network of folks to lend us advice and help. We get too focused on doing the hustle and looking away from the scary stuff (like budgets, contracts, and finances). The second largest reason startups fail (29%) is because they run out of money! Gulp.


I also believe the challenges women and minority small business owners face are no different than startups created by white men. Solid business practices are universal. However, the networks in which we exist are not universal. The level of comfort in asking for help, finding mentors, and having access to resources is not universal.


So, do women and minority small business owners have to hustle more? I think the answer is yes. I believe women and minority small business owners have to focus more on effective networking, adopting good business practices, and fighting our own internal garbage. And a lot of this is self-work, which is hard. Hard to balance and hard to sustain.  


I also believe programs like HustleSBE offer essential tools for women and minority small business owners. It is a safe place where we can find our tribe, share our struggles, and freely learn what we don’t know.


There are some things we all can do to help each other including:


Mentor/Support each other. We can freely offer to help someone who doesn’t know what we know. Help introduce others to people we know and take the time to support another woman or minority business owner.


Take time for lunch with your tribe. Once you have a tribe or support system, feed it, honor it, and enjoy it. Take time to gather with others and catch up. It gives you support (because being a small business owner can be lonely) and reassurance that you’re doing ok.


Partner with other women and minority-owned small businesses. When you need something for your business, first see if you can source it from another local small business. Begin to form partnerships with other women and minority-owned businesses. Diversify your own supply chain and take pride in the support you’re offering the ecosystem.


My goal for the 12 participants in my boot camp is that in 5 years, they will not only still be in business, but they will be thriving. It can happen, but it’s going to take the “write” connections.


The HustleSBE program is sponsored by the South Bend Elkhart Regional Partnership. Write Connections is a strategy and design firm that helps businesses solve problems. We are a women and minority-owned entity recognized by the State of Indiana. We are also certified as a minority-owned business with Mid-States Minority Supplier Development Council.

If we sound like the type of partners you want in building a strong business and achieving your marketing goals, let’s connect.