6 Helpful Resources that Provide a Leg Up to LGBTQ-Owned Businesses

Owning a business has its ups and downs. There’s the freedom of being your own boss. But then there’s the responsibility to keep the business going—for your customers, your employees, and your family. Finding resources is a key part of that, especially for minority-owned businesses. The good news is there are specific resources for owners who identify as LGBTQ. See if these sources can play a role in growing your business.

The National LGBT Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC) estimates there are over 1.4 million LGBTQ business owners globally. They have contributed $1.7 trillion to the U.S. economy and created over 33,000 jobs. Those numbers represent a growing trend in the small business community and underline the growing need for resource support.

Take a look at these resources targeted to LGBTQ businesses:

LGBTBE Certification

Over 1,600 U. S. businesses have been certified as an LGBT Business Enterprise (LGBTBE). To qualify, the business must be at least 51% owned, operated, managed and controlled by an LGBTQ person. There is a fee to get certified, but it is waived if you are a member of a local NGLCC chapter.

This certification gives member businesses access to a network of over 200 corporations and governments looking to partner with LGBTBEs as part of their supplier network. They can also network at events with other members. Certification also increases visibility among LGBTQ consumers who spend more than $917 billion annually.

Small Business Administration (SBA) Outreach

The SBA’s network for LGBTQ businesses focuses on economic empowerment by providing access through its programs and services. Their local offices offer business counseling to help your business grow.

Participation in their 8(a) Business Development program makes you eligible to compete for federal contract awards earmarked for qualifying businesses. It also provides access to mentor programs that provide management and marketing assistance for your business.

Gay Entrepreneurs Network

This private Facebook group is aimed at connecting with other LGBTQ entrepreneurs and business professionals. It offers content and collaboration opportunities to grow your business—anything from marketing tips to management advice.

Lesbian Business Community

This business directory and resource is targeted at lesbian-owned and LGBTQ-friendly enterprises. It offers an opportunity for those businesses to build their visibility and to connect with like-minded consumers and suppliers.

Besides online content with tips on managing your business, its primary benefit is inclusion in their searchable and optimized business directory. They offer free and premium listings starting at $10/year which integrates features like video marketing. Here is a sample listing.

Pipeline Angels

This organization sponsors a Pitch Summit where qualifying business owners can make a presentation to a network of women investors who have committed to supporting eligible businesses. Take a look at the range of companies that have secured investment funding.

The event is open to cis or transgendered women as well as nonbinary founders who operate a for-profit, U.S. business with a social or environmental mission. Applications for the 2021 cycle must be submitted by July 15, 2021. Presentation sessions are scheduled for September 2021.

Startup and Out

This website works as an information hub for LGBTQ entrepreneurs. As part of the Hello Alice platform, it connects business owners to funding opportunities, accelerators, and curated content.

In addition, it has tools like “Startout NetworQ” that provide networking opportunities with other LGBTQ business owners. Their “Startout Experts” program helps locate mentors in specific industries who can lend their business experience.

Smart business owners know how to tap the resources they need to be successful. The key is finding them. If yours is an LGBTQ-owned business, consider whether these resources can help you grow your enterprise. 

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