Four Queer Entrepreneurs Share their Advice for New LGBT+ Businesses was originally published on collective.com.
In the early days of my life as a queer entrepreneur, I agonized about how out I should be in my business. I worried that if I came out to my audience, I would lose customers and revenue.
Finally deciding to be open about my sexuality, I sent a newsletter to my email list mentioning my wife. In the next few days, I had a record number of unsubscribes.
I was curious to hear if others had experienced the same thing, so I turned to an online entrepreneur group and shared what had happened. The majority of the group were not LGBTQIA+, and their responses surprised me: many told me that I misinterpreted what had happened and that people weren’t unsubscribing because I came out, but for other reasons.
This experience showed me that the discrimination of queer business owners, and the denial of this discrimination, are still very real.
The National LGBT Chamber of Commerce estimates that there are 1.4 million LGBTQIA+ business owners in the United States, contributing $1.7 trillion annually to the national economy.
Yet, despite these numbers, LGBTQIA+ businesses, especially those who don’t identify as male, still face discrimination when obtaining funding and securing customers. A 2016 study by StartOut found that LGBTQIA+ entrepreneurs that don’t identify as male raise less capital than their male counterparts and generate less revenue.
After my experience coming out, I decided to become more vocal about my identity and began showing up as an openly queer business owner. The result wasn’t an increase in profit or customers but building a more authentic business.
I had the opportunity to talk to other queer business owners questioning if they should come out and support them in making the best choice for themselves. And I was able to build a business aligned with my values and the community I wanted to serve.
Starting a business as an LGBTQIA+ entrepreneur comes with a host of challenges. Some are unique to the queer community and others common to entrepreneurship as a whole. I asked four successful queer business owners what advice they would give to someone starting a business.
Click here to read what they had to say.