There’s a lot to celebrate for the LGBTQ+ community when it comes to Pride Month. Over the last several decades, the presence of LGBTQ+ owned business has grown exponentially–in fact, today there are an estimated 1.4 million queer-owned companies in the US alone, which bring in an estimated$1.7 trillion dollars a year in revenue, according to the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce.
And while we love to see thriving LGBTQ+ owned businesses, the reality is that members of this community have all too often been forced to overcome obstacles or have been discriminated against before experiencing success. This year, we spoke to three LGBTQ+ business owners to get their take on what it’s like running a company today, their top challenges, and how they’re helping to uplift their communities every day.
Surround Yourself With A Supportive Team
For serial tech business owner Danielle Gaglioti, being open about who she is and having the support of the LGBTQ+ community has helped propel her forward. Gaglioti is the co-founder of Upright NYC, a start up based in New York City that provides guidance and strategies with younger companies. She is also the Chief Innovation Officer at Dynamic 3.0 a web3 studio that “incubates projects from ideas to launch.”
Gaglioti notes that starting a new company and being an entrepreneur can sometimes be isolating, and for her, surrounding herself with a supportive team and clients has helped make a huge difference. “I’ve often felt that I couldn’t “out” myself because I would be putting myself or my business in jeopardy. Living and working with that kind of mask on can be extremely lonely. Thankfully, by surrounding myself with supportive partners, clients, and peers, I found a sense of security and belonging. Sometimes I’m sad I didn’t remove the mask sooner, but I know things will only get better from here,” she says.
For folks who are looking to start their own company, Gaglioti offered this advice: “We’re all figuring it out as we go” isn’t just about professional skills — it’s also about personal evolution. We’re all constantly growing, and it’s okay to be yourself even as you evolve over time. When you show us as your authentic self, you’re creating space for others to do the same.”
Find Inspiration In What You Know
Carmen Perez, the mastermind behind Make Real Cents, grew her business out of real life experience, which came from having debt. Perez described it this way: “I paid off $57k of debt in two years and nine months while making pretty good money living in New York City. I still had to pick up a side hustle, cut back on discretionary spending, and stopped contributing to my 401k. It was by no means easy, but it was worth it. Paying off my debt changed my life, allowed me to change careers, and now start my own Fintech company.”
Perez’s struggle with debt is something that millions struggle with; and through her journey of paying it off, combined with her background in finance and first hand experience, knowledge was able to parlay it into a business. Today, Perez runs Make Real Cents, a financial platform that seeks to simplify the way people think about money and while helping empower them to achieve financial independence. For LGBTQ+ people,, being financially discriminated against is something they experience and is something Perez is very aware of, “Because folks in our community can and do face financial problems because of their gender identity or sexual orientation, side hustles are one of the best ways to give yourself a raise and bridge income loss/stagnant wages. While building a side hustle can take time, it’s advantageous to have a book of business or another stream of income you can rely on regardless of your employer.”
She also adds, “I completely recognize, however, that having a side hustle takes extra time and resources some folks may not have. Upskilling on the job or learning a new skill in areas where you can potentially earn more money is another way to take control of your money situation to give yourself more power.”
If you’re still looking for the best ways to approach your money every month, Perez offers these tips:
- Create a safety net for yourself, even if that means working a side hustle temporarily to get ahead. Having an emergency fund in place is critical.
- Working towards building a 3-6 months worth of income/expenses is one of the best things you can do for your finances.
- Create a spending plan/budget for your money each month. This gives you control over your money.
Know Your Numbers, And What It Takes To Protect Yourself
Yvonne Bradshaw, like Perez, had a life experience that she translated to her work. Bradshaw, a financial advisor and coach, found herself in the impossible position of having her partner in the hospital, and not being able to work for weeks at a time. This resulted in Bradshaw rethinking how to approach her finances and how to approach things in a new way and set her on a new path.
Bradshaw offers this advice for LGBTQ+ business owners: “Be completely honest with yourself about your situation, to know your numbers, and especially to know what you need to survive during the first phrases of establishing your brand, for both your business and your household. Protect your greatest asset, which in this case is you, and by this I mean look at your savings, your health insurance, and/or coverage like E&O. Define your ‘why’ — it will give you purpose, motivation and focus during the journey ahead. Define what success looks like to you, which will help you set priorities, keep you accountable and determine what sets you apart, because that’s your edge. Finally, learn from your mistakes — they are your best teachers.”
Bradshaw also emphasizes the importance of connecting with others in the LGBTQ+ community when it comes to being an entrepreneur and business owner. “Don’t stop working to connect with other LGBTQ+ entrepreneurs, startups, business mentors and professionals. In my experience, the community is friendly and helpful, and those who have been doing it longer are happy to offer the benefit of their experience. Like most communities, we are stronger together,” she says.
- How The LGBTQ+ Community Can Feel Financially Empowered
- LGBTQ+ Executives On How We Can Make Our Offices More Inclusive
- HerMoney Podcast: LGBTQ Money Matters
- The Higher Lifetime Costs of the Queer Community
- By the Numbers: Being LGBTQ+ In America,
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