America’s SBDC Blog

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What do we mean by “Underserved Communities”?

April 26, 2022
By: Tyler Demars.
 
While entrepreneurs can come from any demographic, life experience, or situational background, there are trends and common challenges related to identified population groups or communities that limit access to small business ownership. Folks from these communities are both underrepresented in entrepreneurship ranks in our state and underserved by the benefits of entrepreneurship which include wealth creation, job creation, community development, and increased community sovereignty. Wealth creation is the primary benefit of entrepreneurship for a community, other benefits flow primarily from this wealth creation. According to a report from our US Department of Commerce’s Minority Business Development Agency, business owners “represent roughly 10 percent of the workforce, but hold nearly 40 percent of the total U.S. wealth.” When we talk about underserved communities, we are talking about communities underserved by the benefits of entrepreneurship.
 

 
In North Dakota, Native Americans are our most significantly underserved community. New Americans, female entrepreneurs, and rural entrepreneurs face similar challenges related to being underserved. Find out what are some of the challenges faced by underserved communities. Click To Tweet
Common barriers to underserved entrepreneurs include:

Access to Capital

Businesses need capital to fuel growth. Poverty, lack of education, and low job experience in underserved communities affect an entrepreneur’s ability to use savings or other assets to self-finance, access private capital, and/or qualify for commercial or publicly backed loans  (such  as  SBA loans). Additionally, folks from underserved communities experience limited access to family or network-based investment.

Access to Professional Networking and Mentorship

According to research from the Kauffman Foundation, people who know entrepreneurs are more likely to become entrepreneurs. The value of professional networking and   mentorship is evident by the impact and momentum behind entrepreneurial ecosystem development happening in communities across the US. Entrepreneurial ecosystems are location-based networks of support systems for new and growing companies. Ecosystems are made up of entrepreneurs, resource support partners such as the ND SBDC and Chambers of Commerce, a talented workforce, and a healthy, inclusive culture that encourages access to the ecosystem. Underserved communities face unique challenges in connecting with their local ecosystems.

Systemic Discrimination & Oppression

Specific to Native Americans and New Americans, centuries of experienced discrimination and oppression have created doubts in the minds of Native American or New American entrepreneurs that they can succeed as business owners. We have made progress in facing our history and acknowledging the current state of cultural treatment of Native Americans, but still have work to do here.
 
 
It is the mission of Specialty Services at the ND SBDC to support underserved communities in improving access to entrepreneurship, leveraging their opportunities, and overcoming the unique challenges they face. Our Native American and New American clients bring innovative ideas, display a strong work ethic, and show up with a community-minded approach to business development. We are grateful and honored to be a partner in helping our neighbors from underserved communities in navigating the entrepreneurial journey. We believe all communities should be served by the benefits of entrepreneurship.
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About the Author: Tyler Demars, Specialty Services Director, North Dakota SBDC Network

What Is DEI and How Can It Benefit Your Small Business?

April 4, 2022

Workplace DEI, otherwise known as diversity, equity, and inclusion are top priorities and the path forward for all businesses, both big and small. Having a focus on DEI in your small business will work towards cultivating a more positive culture and provide fair and sustainable opportunities for everyone to grow both individually and together. 

What Is DEI? 

Diversity, equity, and inclusion are vital to creating and maintaining a successful workplace. Click To Tweet But to truly implement it into your small business, you need to know what each part means. 

Diversity is the presence of differences within a given setting. For example, differences could mean race, gender, sexual orientation, socioeconomic class, age, and more. Equity is the process of ensuring that processes and programs are impartial, fair, and provide equal possible outcomes for every individual. Inclusion is making sure that people feel like they belong in every aspect of the workplace. 

 

How Can DEI Help Your Small Business?

DEI is a necessity for all businesses. Small businesses stand to gain from diversity and inclusion (D&I) initiatives just as large companies do. A positive and inclusive workplace will attract diverse talent. This is important for continuing to grow your business. As businesses struggle to attract enough workers to reopen after the pandemic, the competition is even fiercer. Not only does DEI help attract new talent, but it also cultivates the existing talent. DEI has been proven to increase performance, lead to more creative ideas, and make stronger decisions. 

When your team is diverse, it can present great opportunities for a small business to use personal professional networks of employees to generate future customers. DEI will create stronger brand or company recognition and lead your small business to thrive. 

Where Do You Start?

To start thoroughly incorporating DEI into your small business, take a personal assessment of the current state of your employees. Ask yourself some of these questions, do your employees have equal chances to advance? Do your employees represent different religions or different political views? Do your employees have different backgrounds in education, home life, and economic class? 

After you have determined how your business stands, create a DEI plan to implement. Then communicate your DEI expectations, the reason behind the changes, and schedule training. Let employees be their authentic selves and celebrate their differences and similarities. Be realistic with the resources your small business has to set aside for a DEI initiative. Do not expect instant change or improvement in your business, developing DEI in your employees is a process that requires time, dedication, and consistency.  

Go beyond the motions of a DEI initiative by continually seeking opportunities to improve your workforce. By creating a solid plan, implementing training, and consistently maintaining high standards, your small business will experience vast benefits in its culture. You will have an increase in worker productivity which will help your business grow and succeed

SHIFT HR Compliance Training, LLC is a training and development company dedicated to improving the company cultures and inclusivity of businesses across the country with our DEI training course, anti-harassment training courses, and more.

8 Reasons to Consider Collaborating with Another Small Business

October 26, 2021
By Sharita Humphrey – 

Yes, the business world can be very competitive and harsh. But it doesn’t have to stop you from thriving. While competition is unavoidable, there are also endless opportunities to collaborate with other businesses in order to diversify your audience, reach new customers, and improve your products or services.

First things first: What does it mean to collaborate with another small business?

Collaboration is a great tool for businesses, regardless of their industry or size. Typically, it refers to organizations working together to solve problems and achieve goals that seem to be out of reach when working alone.

By combining the expertise, perspectives and skills of different people and organizations, all parties involved are better able to innovate and grow. (more…)

Three Ways to Make Networking Events More Successful

February 18, 2020
By Ramon Ray –

People networkingYou know that attending networking events is important for the growth of your business, but are you getting the most out of them?

Many entrepreneurs go armed with a bunch of business cards and a goal of getting them into the hands of as many people as possible. That strategy doesn’t work.

If you’re not sure how to make your networking events more productive and useful, here are three surefire ways:

1. Make a Goal

A networking event is a business meeting, right? And you wouldn’t go into a business meeting without a goal in mind. For a typical business meeting, your goal might be to close a sale. Except networking is a different kind of business meeting. It’s not about making sales. Think about it. Have you ever wanted to buy something from someone the first time you met them? Unlikely. You may have heard of the Marketing Rule of 7. It states that, on average, a potential buyer needs seven interactions with your brand before making a purchase. (more…)

Check Out the Koble Web App for B2B Business Discovery

June 13, 2019
By Jackie, for Koble –

Koble web appKoble is thrilled to announce the launch of its web app for Koble 2.0. The web app brings the ability to search for over 11 million companies in 30 categories, to an SMB or corporate buyer’s desktop.

The web app features Koble Pages – smaller than a website and larger than a listing – which are SEO optmized, and allow for businesses to gain unrivaled visibility online. Businesses can now own a company page which is optimized for search engines with Koble Pages, which are free. With nearly half of US small businesses without a website, owning a Koble page makes a website accessible to every SMB, without having any technical know-how.

Koble has already optimized for eight key categories, namely Accounting, Advertising Agencies, Engineering Services, Information Technology, Legal Services, Management Consulting, Market Research and Public Relations. This will progressively lead to increased traffic being driven towards companies that operate within those categories. Any company on the Koble platform is up to five times more likely to be found in a search. (more…)