NewsSmall Business Week

Pandemic Means Extra Challenges for Minority and Women-Owned Businesses

For the past two decades, women-owned businesses have been the fastest growing segment in the U.S. economy. Growing at twice the rate of all other businesses with 11.6 million women-owned businesses employing 13 million Americans, they are generating $1.7 trillion in annual revenues (“State of Women-Owned Businesses” report, 2017).

Going into the pandemic, research found that minority and women-owned business development is limited by disparities in education, personal wealth, and access to capital. An additional factor is historical discrimination: highly rated businesses in majority Black neighborhoods earn less revenue than businesses with similar ratings outside of Black neighborhoods, amounting to nationwide annual revenue loss as high as $3.9 million, by some estimates. The Greenhouse held a panel discussion during Small Business Week on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in Business that discussed overcoming these challenges. View full discussion here

As we come to a close on National Women’s Small Business Month this October, we wanted to spotlight a local woman-owned business who is continuing to pivot and thrive, despite today’s challenges.  We asked one of our past Greenhouse clients, Latifa Jackson with Hurst Consulting Group, to share their journey as a minority woman-owned business during this time.

Spotlight:

CEO of Hurst Consulting Group (HCG), Latifa J. Jackson is a native of St. Petersburg, Florida who has over 25 years of dual experience working in the corporate financial services, and human resources industries. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in Business Management & Administration from Eckerd College, and a Master’s in Business Administration (MBA) in Project Management from Saint Leo University. With over two decades of direct industry related experience; primarily with Fortune 500 companies in the Tampa Bay area, Jackson is eager to provide business owners with the knowledge and consulting services required to operate their small businesses more efficiently. The overall goal of HCG is to empower entrepreneurs into understanding the benefits of integrating cohesive accounting recordkeeping systems into their business infrastructure, and to also correlate how this concept will lead to overall
financial sustainability.

What have been your biggest challenges or obstacles?
I’m operating a new consulting firm in the midst of a national pandemic, which has consequently presented its own set of unique challenges. From increased safety standards, to quickly having to pivot my entire business strategy in order to accommodate this new way of conducting business in an almost 100% virtual platform. Additionally, there were concerns from a financial perspective; businesses were closing throughout the county slowing down our entire economic infrastructure. Meanwhile, there’s a wealth of aspiring, and fully operational small businesses within our community who just needed guidance on how to navigate throughout the essential process of maintaining their businesses under COVID-19 related restrictions. Business owners quickly recognized the importance of creating solid financial management systems, and maintaining validated financial statements. In all honestly, my biggest challenge is wanting to help more businesses; yet not having the staffing in place, or long-term funding secured in order to fully execute this plan.

What has proven most helpful for business growth?
Over the course of the past few months I’ve had the honor to work with some great local businesses, and organizations. These opportunities have allowed me to consult with small business owners within my community, and surrounding counties. Having the privilege to assist entrepreneurs with complex questions related to business operations, building professional relationships (as well as subcontracting partnerships) has been pivotal towards my business growth. However, I struggle to find the words to fully articulate the level of quality support that I’ve received from the St. Petersburg Greenhouse over the years. They’ve afforded me with the tools that I needed in order to launch my firm. They’ve provided a supportive framework that’s unmatched and has been an essential part of my companies’ quest to achieve long-term growth. Additionally, being an alumnus of Eckerd College has also played an integral role in my companies’ growth. By maintaining a close relationship with the college I’ve been able to leverage the wealth of resources made available to me as an alumni.

What are you looking forward to?
During the course of this pandemic I used this opportunity to really focus on strategic planning, repositioning, and long-term growth. Which involved the process of acquiring the necessary certifications that would allow me to compete for bidding opportunities in both the government, and corporate contracting arena. HCG is now certified by the state of Florida as a Woman Owned, Minority Business Enterprise (WOB, and MBE). We are also certified through the Florida State Minority Supplier Development Council (FSMSDC) as an MBE as well – which provides both national, and international marketing exposure. I’m looking forward to expanding, and potentially providing jobs for residents within my community. My goal is to create an all-inclusive workforce; one that reflects the diversity and values that I’ve always aspired to be a part of.