Yolanda Mason

*Although news reports say the unemployment rate is going down, many Americans are still without work.  What used to be a three to six-month period, has now stretched to close to two years for some people.

As a CEO Coach, I have encountered many senior to mid-level managers, who have years of experience and talent, but still can’t find work. In light of the job climate, many of them have opted to start their own companies. According to census figures about 22 percent of all businesses are started by women, or men of African and Hispanic descent.

Starting a business is always challenging, but here are some of the issues that I see minority business owners facing:

  • Education.  Learning how to run a business is not a skill you can acquire in a classroom, but having some educational training in business does help. I would advise minority business owners to learn as much about the business world as they can. Read business books, attend seminars and also seek out mentors. Many of our clients seek us out because they realize that when they are the boss, there is no one to turn to when you need advice.
  • Capital. This is not only a problem with minority owners. I talk to business advisers all the time and they say one of the most common requests they face is assistance with funding. However there are many avenues you can look into such as business loans, savings, lines of credit, etc. The key thing to remember is that when you walk into a meeting with a potential financier, you have to have a business plan written out with quarterly revenue projections.  Investors want to know where their money is going and when they are going to see a return.
  • Management Experience.   Management experience is critical when you are running your own business.  But if you have never had the chance to lead a company, it can seem overwhelming when you are responsible for all the decisions.  You can learn a lot about leadership by evaluating past managers and noting what they did right, or what they did wrong. You can take the best elements of past managers to create your own leadership style. Estrada Strategies CEO Coach can also provide great management training.

  • Administration skills. In a small company, the CEO wears many hats, he has to be the accountant, the administrative assistant and public relations representative. Many of these tasks are mainly administrative, and while they might seem minor, they are still an important part of running a business. I have worked with many clients where I have realized that most of their problems are caused by the lack of delegation. Unpaid bills  and missed meetings, eventually effect the businesses’ bottom line. The mark of a good manager is knowing when to delegate authority.  The CEO cannot oversee every detail of the company. His time is better spent working on the big issues. But in order to delegate authority, you have to hire employees who you can trust.
  • Leadership skills. Many African Americans, and other minorities, are taught by their parents to go to college and get a good job. Schools often focus on students following the curriculum and learning to work through the bureaucracy. These skills do not nurture leadership, and you have to be an effective leader when you run your own company. You can gain leadership skills by volunteering to head up your professional association or civic group. Many civic groups, such as the Jaycees, also offer leadership classes held in conjunction with local cities. Leadership skills are critical because, as a business owner, your employees look to your for guidance and count on you to make good decisions that steer the business in the right direction.

These are just a few of the problems I have identified among minority business owners. Many of these problems are common among all new business owners. But, once these problems are identified, we can now take steps to either fix them or avoid them.

Yolanda Mason is a CEO Coach for Estrada Strategies. For more information call 909.489.5708 or [email protected].