You are welcomed! breaking the mold – A blog series that dives into the unique business challenges and opportunities of underrepresented business owners and entrepreneurs. Learn how they grew or scaled their businesses, explored entrepreneurial ventures within their companies, or created side hustles, and how their stories can inspire and inform your own success.
The LGBTQ community is small but mighty, contributing trillions of dollars and thousands of jobs to the economy every year.
Despite this, LGBTQ individuals are still marginalized. The community continues to fight against historical and current systematic discrimination, which can also present barriers to achieving equity and equality when trying to start or grow a business.
While progress is slow and not always linear, the good news is that there are many resources out there to help LGBTQ entrepreneurs gain a foothold. We’ve put together a list of some of the best that can help LGBTQ business owners thrive through peer networking, educational and leadership training, mentorship, and funding opportunities.
Resources for LGBTQ+ Entrepreneurs
1. NLGCC (National LGBT Chamber of Commerce)
NLGCCThe National LGBT Chamber of Commerce provides the only third-party certification for LGBTQ+ businesses in the US. If you complete their program and become a Certified LGBT Business Enterprise®, it opens the door to a new world of sales, networking and educational opportunities. opens. opportunity.
Government bodies, and many corporations, have supplier diversity requirements – and obtaining this type of certification can put you in the procurement pipeline. The organization also offers many educational and networking opportunities, programs, and resources.
This nonprofit exists to support LGBTQ+ entrepreneurs and help accelerate growth.
Resources include events, mentorship matching, a startup accelerator (Startup Growth Lab), and even access to business capital. to begin There are several chapters throughout the US with member networks and events, although if there aren’t any near you, the organization offers online events.
3. Outside Professionals
This organization is somewhat similar to StartOut, however it is a business network for all LGBTQ+ professionals, not just entrepreneurs.
outside professionals There is a membership program with chapters across the country that hold networking events, and the organization is open to people starting chapters in areas without them. These can be ideal places for LGBTQ+ entrepreneurs to connect with potential customers or partners. Members can also be included in an online directory and participate in educational webinars.
Finding capital to start or grow a business is difficult for any entrepreneur, but it can be especially difficult for marginalized or low-resource communities.
Gaingels Formed in 2014 as an angel investment group focused on helping LGBTQ entrepreneurs access capital, it is an excellent resource for startups seeking funding. Another Firm to Consider Pipeline AngelsWhich creates capital for entrepreneurs who identify as cis or trans women, non-binary, two-spirit, agender, or gender non-conforming.
5. Out and Equal
Whereas out and equal Primarily focused on supporting diversity and equality in large businesses, it also offers fellowship and career development training programs for LGBTQ+ leaders.
The organization also provides training on LGBTQ inclusion in the workplace, and its annual World Summit brings together business leaders to share best practices. They also offer a variety of online community engagement groups for people who want to connect with like-minded LGBTQ people (some existing ones include bi+, LGBTQ+ people of color, and transgender and non-binary people).
6. Gays Who Tech and Ally
Once focused toward lesbians, the group is now more broadly open to anyone in the tech industry who identifies as LGBTQ+, female, non-binary, trans, or ally.
lesbians who take Focuses on bringing more women, people of color, and queer and trans people into technology. The organization also works to create visibility, foster community, and provide career and educational opportunities such as coding scholarships. Their annual summit is an incredible opportunity for LGBTQ entrepreneurs to learn and network.
7. Out Leadership
This organization advocates for LGBTQ+ equality in the workplace. In addition to educating companies on how to be more inclusive, out of leadership Provides a global business network and programs for LGBTQ+ leadership. Entrepreneurs who want to hone their craft can apply to OutNext, a development program for LGBTQ leaders, or OutWomen to engage LGBTQ+ women in business.
8. SBA Resource Partners
The US Small Business Administration (SBA) offers many free resources, including several partner organizations supporting entrepreneurs. These are not specifically for LGBTQ+ individuals, but have been vocally affirmed and supported by the SBA.
One resource funded by the SBA is Small Business Development Center, which are located nationwide and provide free business consulting, training, and support. Another SBA-backed resource is NumberWhich matches entrepreneurs with free business mentors who can help you start, grow or transform a business.
9. Your Local LGBT Chamber of Commerce
The NLGCC is the only national LGBTQ chamber of commerce, but its affiliated network includes city, state and regional LGBTQ chambers across the United States. Review their list of affiliated cells To see if you have any.
These organizations are networks of LGBTQ-owned and affiliated businesses and entrepreneurs, and becoming a member adds you to a network of peers. Members are also included in directories, which helps with marketing and signals that you are in or a supporter of the community. Local chambers also usually host several networking, social and educational events for members.
10. Tech Out
out in tech Available to a broad audience of LGBTQ people working in technology, its 40,000 members are tech leaders across America. The organization has 32 chapters around the world, which include networking, education, social events, and a leadership training institute. Out in Tech also offers volunteer opportunities, such as Digital Corps, which helps build websites for LGBTQ+ organizations and activists.
access Created to connect LGBTQ+ business school students to alumni communities. It has several conferences including Out Women in Business, which brings together LGBTQ+ women in the business community.
LGBTQ entrepreneurs with an MBA can join this nonprofit and participate in year-long programming that helps build a network of MBA students, alumni, and corporate partners.
12. Stanford Executive Leadership Program
If you want to step up your leadership, consider signing up for week long program Hosted by Stanford’s Business School. Hosted in person in California for one week in June 2023, participants learn how to excel as LGBTQ+ business leaders, improve interpersonal and communication skills, and build a strong peer network. This program is unique in that it teaches attendees how their LGBTQ+ identity is a strength to their advantage in the business sphere.
you’re never alone
While these are some of the top resources for LGBTQ+ entrepreneurs, it is far from a comprehensive list. There are many more locally and in specific industries. LGBTQ people often experience isolation and discrimination, but know that our community is full of fellow entrepreneurs you can connect with and committed angel investors, nonprofits, and government partners willing to support you.