Starting your own small business has always been a challenging undertaking. For some groups who have historically been left out of the business world, these entrepreneurial challenges can multiply. For members of the LGBTQ community, the possibility of being out and operating a business is a very new one. In the past, it would’ve been nearly impossible to be openly gay or transgender and expect to receive the kind of aid that more privileged entrepreneurs have enjoyed. Even today, many businesses can still discrimate against LGBTQ people, either as employees, partners, or customers.
Thankfully, there have been more and more efforts in recent years to right this imbalance. Many lenders and investors are starting to offer support specifically aimed at underrepresented groups in business. There are small business loans for veterans and for women, and now there are members of the business community who want to assist LGBTQ entrepreneurs as well. Here are some of our favorite small business resources for LGBTQ people that can help with everything from planning to financing and finally opening your own business.
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National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce
The NGLCC is the premier LGBTQ business organization in the country. Founded in 2002, they offer a wide range of support services for LGBTQ-owned businesses, including educational events, community news updates, and certification for businesses that are owned by an LGBTQ majority. Certification as an LGBTQ-owned business helps you to stand out when working with investors or corporate partners who would like to see more diversity in the small business world.
StartOut is an organization dedicated to helping LGBTQ innovators with a vision start and operate their very own businesses. They do this by offering educational resources and conducting research on the experiences of LGBTQ entrepreneurs, but they are also a great source for aspiring business owners to connect with investors. StartOut helps to bring LGBTQ small business owners and visionaries together with investors who are interested in supporting their cause.
Every entrepreneur’s dream is to find their angel investor — someone who appreciates their vision and is willing and able to bring to bear the financial resources necessary to make it happen. The Gaingels Syndicate is an organization built around investors who are interested in helping startups with at least one LGBTQ founder. Their intention is to keep money within the LGBTQ community, going from LGBTQ investors and allies to businesses with an LGBTQ background.
Lesbians Who Tech
Lesbians who are interested in starting a small business have to fight discrimination on at least two fronts. Not only are they working against LGBTQ discrimination, but they are also fighting against outdated notions that many people still have about women in business. Lesbians Who Tech is dedicated to fighting all forms of discrimination against queer women who are entrepreneurs, with an emphasis on start-ups and entrepreneurs in STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics). They organize events and provide educational resources that can be very helpful to lesbian-owned tech startups, as well as women trying to break out in STEM industries.
Almost everyone has heard of Kickstarter, whether they have sought funding on the site or have supported some projects through Kickstarter’s crowdfunding network. Although Kickstarter is not an LGBTQ-exclusive organization or even a group with an LGBTQ focus, they can be an especially helpful resource for LGBTQ entrepreneurs.
While some members of corporate America may hold on to discriminatory notions about the LGBTQ population, young people at large are typically very supportive of LGBTQ rights and everybody loves a dark horse. That can be the perfect recipe for Kickstarter funding success. If you’re having trouble finding the money to get your small business off the ground, try turning your underdog story into fuel for a crowdfunding campaign through Kickstarter. LGBTQ-owned companies like Flamingo Rampant have turned their own Kickstarter campaigns into strong, working businesses.
The LGBTQ community still faces unjust discrimination that can make it hard to turn a vision into a thriving small business. Fortunately, organizations like those listed above are taking matters into their own hands and offering LGBTQ business owners the resources they need to succeed.
For more tips and guides, visit our small business resource center.
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