It might be difficult to get a business off the ground. Growing your business may be a lengthy and arduous process, especially if you’re a first-generation entrepreneur.
The Greensboro Chamber of Commerce is dedicated to make life easier for everyone, particularly minority business owners.
After being turned up for a huge promotion at a Fortune 500 business, Larry Fairley founded Marketing Resource Solutions, an advertising agency. His business is located in Jamestown.
“You have a lot of significant brands, Fortune 500s, and other major markets to chase if you’re in New York,” he said. “In North Carolina, particularly in the Triad, we don’t have nearly as many.”
He does not have the benefit of history on his side.
“This business hasn’t been very receptive to minority-owned firms, particularly Black-owned firms.”
Fairley is one of 15 minority business entrepreneurs who graduated from the Chamber of Commerce’s Scale to Excel program.
“As a business owner, you are constantly working on your company. Rarely do you set aside time to focus on your business and conduct the kind of planning that the program does, and it truly guides you through a rigorous process.”
Seven months of consistent executive education and management training. Niketa Greene, the Chamber’s Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion, says it gets them in front of larger companies to help them develop.
“Certainly, this is the type of initiative that is beneficial in terms of building that network, providing some education that enhances their understanding of financial resources, and providing an opportunity for them to collaborate,” she added.
Dr. Channelle James, a UNC Greensboro professor, is the instructor.
“Working with these wonderful entrepreneurs gave me so much, and the caliber of businesses speaks to the quality of entrepreneurs in Greensboro.” “As a result, I’m quite excited,” she remarked.
Regardless of the owner’s experience, the chamber recognizes that every firm faces difficulties and problems. However, they recognize that some firms face hurdles that others do not, and their purpose is to assist such businesses in overcoming those obstacles.
“A lot of them are first-generation operations,” James explained. “As a result, they don’t come from a lengthy history of business owners.” That is to say, they do not begin with the same level of capital investment as other enterprises.”
“There are a variety of systemic causes for this,” Greene explained. “However, because they don’t have the same access to generational riches, they often don’t have the same friends and family network.”
One cause, according to James, is that minority-owned businesses do not have access to the same contracts as other enterprises.
“Then there are the customers.” Customers may be aware that a business is minority-owned, and they may have preconceived expectations about the type of service they will receive before visiting the establishment.”
Greene wants dialogues to continue to grow as attempts to make the Triad’s economy more inclusive increase.
“I believe we’re having a more open dialogue about the discrepancies that exist in our community, particularly among our businesses,” she said. “You have to get started there.” And it’s not just talking that’s important; it’s also listening. I believe that people must be responsive, and I believe that is what we are beginning to witness.”
Later this month, the chamber hopes to begin recruiting for the next Scale to Excel cohort. They’re searching for minority-owned businesses that have at least one employee other than the CEO, have been in business for at least three years, and have a minimum annual sales of $175,000 dollars. Additional information is available on the chamber’s website.