If you’re ever in doubt of the power of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) owned businesses in the United States, consider this: today, they comprise over 1.4 million businesses and counting.
That statistic comes from the National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC), a group that has done immense work helping LGBTQ entrepreneurs form a significant part of the workforce in the past 10 years.
A New Era of LGBTQ Entrepreneurship
Working in tandem with countless digital hubs, nonprofits, and community support organizations, LGBTQ entrepreneurs now have unprecedented access to business and networking opportunities to continue leading the charge toward equality in society and the marketplace. If you’re looking for the best resources to help your business thrive, it’s time to pull on the available resources.
In business, networking is an invaluable way to make connections and build new opportunities. Here are some top resources for networking:
You can gain access to a yearly summit (in the autumn) as well as regular events throughout the year from this national organization. Learn how to gain visibility and find community as a lesbian entrepreneur.
Though its name might suggest otherwise, the Lesbian Business Community focuses its efforts across the LGBT spectrum, providing much-needed online exposure for businesses owned by lesbians or LGBT-friendly individuals. The Lesbian Business Community puts new companies in front of new customers. It’s a great platform to connect with other businesses and explore potential new partnerships.
Connect with other LGBTQIA+ entrepreneurs across the nation with this free platform. You can also apply for a credit card for your small business.
This NYC-based symposium features diverse workshops, conferences, and events that are great for making connections in the business world. The event is lovingly organized by Pink Banana Media and Community Marketing & Insights.
This directory connects you with other gay and lesbian entrepreneurs. Regular meetings provide outstanding exposure to networking and new resources.
Investing in yourself and learning business skills are as important as seeking funding. Multiple organizations offer business training opportunities for LGBT business owners to develop themselves professionally:
Headquartered in the belly of the beast, the San Francisco LGBT Resource Center is an invaluable asset for entrepreneurs in America’s beating entrepreneurial heart: San Francisco and Silicon Valley. This center provides one-on-one business counseling, micro-loan access, and workshops to help LGBT entrepreneurs access capital.
This online community is headed by the successful entrepreneur and LGBTQ champion Cee Smith, who offers valuable advice for LGBT entrepreneurs who have to fight stereotypes and prejudice along their journeys.
The NGLCC is considered one of the most dependable resources for LGBT entrepreneurs. With centers around the nation, it provides invaluable help with training, networking, and other resources.
This SBA tool directs you to local resources for LGBT entrepreneurs, and you can receive counseling on its Business Development Program.
Out in Tech has 10 chapters, over 25,000 members, and countless ways to connect to meaningful opportunities for your business.
Start Out is a nonprofit whose mission is to support LGBTQ+ and other business leaders. It provides a constantly updating menu of programs and events on its website. Its physical presence has expanded to over six cities, and its site features success stories from LGBTQ+ entrepreneurs and businesspeople. It also presents local and national awards and offers mentorship and support for lesbian entrepreneurs.
Numerous resources are available to help LGBTQ business owners gain the capital they need to create a lasting, successful business. The following are links to organizations that have proven themselves to be friendly to LGBTQ applicants:
Camelback offers a fellowship to diverse entrepreneurs, with education focusing on its “5 C’s:” coaching, capital, connections, community, and curriculum. The “capital” part of that consists of a $40,000 investment in your venture if you’re accepted.
Pipeline Angels is an excellent resource for LGBT-owned businesses that work with a socially responsible business model. Here’s how it works: Pipeline Angels holds several pitch summits each year in various locations. At these summits, business owners can pitch to a network of leading women investors. Investors have already funded over 90 businesses with over $7 million.
Eligibility requirements include being a for-profit U.S. business with a social or environmental mission, as well as being led by “trans women, cis women, nonbinary, two-spirit, agender, and gender-nonconforming founders,” according to its website.
If you’re an LGBT individual hoping to become an MBA student, Reaching Out provides national scholarship opportunities that could help finance your education.
DiversityVC is a venture capital firm committed to funding underrepresented entrepreneurs. Its mission is to free the industry of bias.