As the business world digitized over the last decade, it has become clear[i] that small businesses need help creating a digital presence and those in underserved communities often face unique[ii] and additional barriers[iii] to success. Recent data[iv] shows entrepreneurship is on the rise overall, especially amongst Black Americans who accounted for 26% of all new starts out of the 2.8 million more U.S. microbusinesses founded in 2020 compared to 2019.
Bolstering these businesses would promote equity and economic inclusion in low-income and minority communities and lead[v] to strengthened local, regional and national economies as microbusinesses[vi] make up 92% of U.S. businesses and are responsible for more than 41 million U.S. jobs.
Inclusive entrepreneurship – which fuels local economies across the globe and ultimately improves lives – means that anyone, no matter their circumstance or zip code, should have the opportunity to pursue their independent venture.
With the right support in context of the digital landscape, small business owners can build their ventures into viable commercial enterprises that are financially sustainable, contribute toward equity and economic inclusion, and increase the resilience of their communities.
Here are three ways your community can support inclusive entrepreneurship:
One: Local policymakers can be a powerful voice in advocating for the needs of small business owners. The city of Phoenix, Arizona[vii], for example, last year committed to reducing barriers to underrepresented business owners and set out to pilot new methods of targeted outreach and technical assistance to notify more small, local, and diverse businesses of contracting opportunities.
Governments are a powerful driver of inclusive entrepreneurship given their ability to create enabling policy and regulatory environments. They also play a role in ensuring innovators have access to necessary technological infrastructure, funding, and resources.
Two: Corporations can enable small business success and lean into their expertise to support underserved entrepreneurs. Rather than offering competing corporate give back programs, we must fill gaps and work together to provide the most robust and best experience for entrepreneurs.
For example, Empower by GoDaddy, created in 2017, is using its years of experience to help small business owners around the world establish their online presence. Partnering with diverse local nonprofits, such as the BBB Serving the Pacific Southwest and Kiva Hub[viii], Empower provides customized solutions – like skills training and mentoring – that uniquely meet the needs of communities.
Three: Business Support Organizations (BSOs) are key in advancing small business programs as they are connected into the local community, understand the gaps that exist and build trust with the entrepreneurs they are serving.
The Build Institute in Detroit provides local entrepreneurs with classes, networking events, mentorship, and connections to accelerate their business journeys. They also work with lenders such as Detroit SOUP to bring capital – a major obstacle to growth, especially among minority owners – to local businesses.
The need for digital skills is not only newly urgent for small business owners in the COVID-altered world of remote interaction but will continue to grow in importance as work and commerce evolve in coming years. Investing in a digital-first business-training approach is a strategic path to turbo-charge local economies and encourage more equitable access to resources that can ensure widespread distribution of the benefits of small business success, and foster community resilience. We must work across sectors to empower and equip entrepreneurs of all backgrounds with the proper tools for success.
Stacy Cline is GoDaddy’s Corporate Sustainability senior director. In her role she is responsible for driving the strategic direction of GoDaddy’s environment, social and governance (ESG) efforts, social impact programs, and employee engagement. Her passion for inclusive entrepreneurship is evident in her experiences running the Empower by GoDaddy program that equips entrepreneurs in underserved communities with the training, tools, and networks needed to accelerate their journeys.
[i] AEO in partnership with GoDaddy, “Leveraging Digital Resources and Training for Small Business Growth and Community Benefit,” May 3, 2022; https://aeoworks.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/05/Go-Daddy-Empower-Report-2.11.22.pdf
[ii] Jeffrey McKinney, “56% Of Black Entrepreneurs Say Gaining Access To Capital Is A Lingering Challenge, Lessening Their Ability To Grow,” March 1, 2021; https://www.blackenterprise.com/56-of-black-entrepreneurs-say-gaining-access-to-capital-is-a-lingering-challenge-lessening-their-ability-to-grow/
[iii] New Economy Initiative, “Why Supporting Underserved Small Business Matters”; https://neinsights.org/why-supporting-underserved-small-businesses-matters/#why
[iv] GoDaddy Venture Forward, “GoDaddy Venture Forward Report Winter 2021,” (2021); https://www.godaddy.com/ventureforward/wp-content/uploads/2021/12/VF-Winter-2021-Report_20211207-1.pdf
[v] AEO, “Bigger than you Think: The Economic Impact of Microbusiness in the United States,” (2013); https://aeoworks.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/Bigger-than-You-Think-Report_FINAL_AEO_11.10.13.pdf
[vi] Milken Institute, “Exploring the Role of Microbusinesses in Economic Growth and Recovery for US Cities,” (2021); https://milkeninstitute.org/sites/default/files/2021-07/Exploring%20the%20Role%20of%20Microbusinesses.pdf
[viii] ABC 15 Arizona,” GoDaddy and BBB launch partnership to provide interest-free loans to Phoenix small businesses,” March 8, 2021; https://www.abc15.com/news/business/godaddy-and-bbb-launch-partnership-to-provide-interest-free-loans-to-phoenix-small-businesses