The Truth About Starting a Business as a Woman of Color

Women of color are overcomers in life and business. Despite having endless challenges in their way, they continue to lead the charge in the business world. In fact, research has found that companies run by women of color are started at 4.5 times the rate of all other businesses. Seeing that number brings me joy and hope for other women like me.

You see, I immigrated to the United States from India in 2003, and though my journey has been anything but easy, I wouldn’t change it for the world. Every person who told me I couldn’t fueled the fire within me.

Gradually, I worked my way up from working as a cashier in retail to an internship at a medical billing company to a real estate agent. I now own multiple businesses in real estate and healthcare.

Though every obstacle has helped shape me into the entrepreneur I am today, I know they continue to hinder the success of many other women of color. Fortunately, I’ve learned a thing or two about dealing with minority women’s universal challenges in the business world. Together, we can tackle them and find success where the odds were stacked against us from the beginning.

1. Difficulty Accessing Capital

It takes money to make money. That cliché exists for a reason, and for immigrant women, it can be the biggest obstacle in starting a business.

The chances of obtaining traditional funding for a business owned by a minority woman are low.

Immigrants especially struggle to get loans because of credit issues, and without a solid support system in the U.S., it can be nearly impossible to get a cosigner.

Fortunately, you don’t have to let that stand in your way.

A growing number of female-focused funds are encouraging women of color to found businesses. After going through my own struggles and working countless hours to launch my start-up, I set out to help women like me. You can instantly access some of my favorite funding opportunities made just for women like you in my female entrepreneurship guide.

2. Language and Cultural Barriers

Adjusting to a new language and culture isn’t for the faint of heart, but then again, neither is starting your own business. Maybe that’s why so many immigrant WOC Founders find themselves launching their enterprises.

The feeling of insecurity as an outsider is one that immigrants and entrepreneurs share. It’s certainly something I’ve felt on numerous occasions.

For many immigrant women of color, the language and culture barriers present unique struggles, including:

  • Navigating the complicated world of finances when English is a second language.  
  • Understanding their legal responsibilities and rights in the United States.
  • Staying true to their culture while still embracing the opportunities before them.

It is important to remember that these challenges aren’t walls. They are simply hurdles, and as an immigrant woman, you already have the fire to adapt and overcome them. Otherwise, you wouldn’t be here.

3. Multiple Biases

Let’s move on to a similar issue—biases.

I’ve been called a “bully” and “bossy” since I was a young girl.


I promise it wasn’t for pushing kids on the playground (even though I might occasionally have till I was 5....). No, I was standing up for myself and others around me.

Unfortunately, being an assertive female meant that I was a bully, and that is just one of many examples that show biases women face.

Whether conscious or unconscious, the business world has many biases, so when you are a woman of color, you already have two things working against you—gender and race. Add immigrant to the mix, and things get more complicated.

Complicated doesn’t mean impossible. I used my tenacious spirit to charge my way into the business world until people stopped calling me bossy and started calling me a boss.

You, too, can become a fearless leader when you surround yourself with a network of businesswomen, but where do you find these women entrepreneurs?

4. Fewer Networking Opportunities

All my life, I’ve felt like an outsider. This statement isn’t any less true when it comes to networking events.

Across various industries, it can seem like an old boy’s club. The men dominate, and the women are “lucky to be there.”

If you manage to get into an exclusive network, you might find yourself struggling with imposter syndrome or feel a sense of vulnerability as It’s prevalent in women of color, but it isn’t your fault.

The lack of physical representation in many sectors leads women down the path of doubt.

I’m not qualified enough for this position.”

“I don’t have what it takes to succeed.”

“They’re going to know I’m a fraud.”

Sound familiar?

If so, seek a new network and watch your mindset change.

The internet and social media make it easier than ever to connect with people, so use it to your advantage.

An article on “Why Minority Women Now Control Nearly Half of All Women-Run Businesses” discusses Black Women Talk Tech. With over 500 members, it is a great Facebook group for women of color in the tech industry.

Finding a group specific to you and your field can provide you with the support you need to grow your confidence level in networking.

5. Limited Resources and Mentors.

I consider myself very fortunate to have had the chance to get my graduate degree in the U.S. and be a Harvard Business School alumni later this year. However, I recognize that not everyone is afforded the same opportunity—especially among immigrant women.

It is even more critical for those who don’t have the educational background to have access to other resources, including a mentor.

Luckily, the internet saves the day again.

With access to podcasts, research, guides, and books, you can learn more about your industry and successfully start a business. It also comes back to valuable Facebook groups where you can find a mentor who has dealt with your specific challenges.

Access the Tools You Need to Succeed

Whether you are struggling to obtain funding or need support on the days you are filled with doubt, I’m here to help.

I’ve rebelled against the status quo all my life, and I’ve faced the challenges you’re facing. Because of that, I can tell you that the dream is possible.

In fact, it is my goal to inspire and empower women like you to reach your highest potential and become the “Haute” version of yourself.

To get started, pre-apply to join the Haute Mindset Community. You’ll find everything you need to know about starting and growing your business including information on accessing funding, networks, and more!

Mona Patel

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