LGBTQ-owned businesses are on the rise as the community is stepping out into the light without shame. We still face a great deal of danger, bigotry and hatred, but strides are being made, and the more LGBTQIA+ businesses that arise, the more we are leaving a mark that says diversity and inclusion matter in this world.
Of course, starting a business is only the beginning. To succeed and be seen, you need to take the right steps. Let’s examine some statistics and facts surrounding LGBTQ-owned businesses, why it’s important to support their efforts and how the right LGBTQ marketing agency can help build a strategy that will take your business to the next level.
An Overview of LGBTQ Businesses
While LGBTQ businesses are on the rise, there are still only about 900 such certified businesses among the 28 million total small businesses in the United States. In order to be a certified LGBT business, a company has to be more than 50% owned, operated or managed by an LGBTQ person who is independent of a non-LGBTQ-owned business. The numbers show that such businesses make up less than .01% of all small businesses.
These are just the businesses that are LGBT registered and certified. Many LGBT business owners are still concerned about revealing their sexual orientation, especially transgender and genderqueer owners who have in recent years faced an exceptionally difficult climb toward equal rights and acceptance. In fact, only about 2% of LGBT-certified businesses are owned by transgender people.
While there’s still a steep climb ahead, however, there is some good news.
Longevity and Revenue
Across the nation, almost 50% of all small business startups fail to stay open for even four years. Among LGBTQ businesses, however, the average length of existence is 12 years, more than three times that of businesses in general. Somewhere around 15% of these businesses, in fact, have exceeded 20 years of success.
In addition, the number of LGBT businesses may see a dramatic rise in the future. In 2011, surveys indicated that only 4% of millennials identified as LGBTQ. By 2015, that number had risen to 7%. As more people are willing to step forward and proudly identify as LGBTQ, and as LGBTQ culture becomes more accepted, it stands to reason that certified businesses using LGBTQ marketing strategies will be on the rise as well.
Finally, LGBTQ insights for business indicate that while these companies are classified as minority-owned businesses, they create considerable revenue. In fact, certified LGBT business enterprises, or LGBTBEs, were responsible for $1.15 billion in contributions to the economy, according to a 2017 report. When analysts account for those businesses that are not reported or certified, the number rises to an estimated $2 trillion. Overall, LGBT-owned companies rake in nearly three times the average revenue of other small businesses.
Getting a Seat at the Table
Unfortunately, the best information we have is from businesses that certify themselves as LGBTQ-owned. The reason for this is that the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics doesn’t track data regarding business owners’ sexual orientation. To this end, the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, or NGLCC, uses a survey to collect this data, which it then uses to lobby for diversity and inclusion at the tables of local municipalities. Of course, getting these seats at the table means showing that LGBT-owned small businesses are important, and that means supporting them.
Pursuing Diversity and Inclusion
Diversity and inclusion are not just nebulous ideas — they’re clear, quantifiable goals. Over the past few years, the ugly underside of bigotry in our society has been laid bare and clear. It’s more prevalent than many realize, and it’s a distinct threat to all minorities, not just the LGBTQ community.
Diversity isn’t just about race or sexual identity. It’s also a cultural thing. Adding LGBTQ insights and LGBTQ culture into the larger picture can only increase creativity and ingenuity because it means more points of view. To its credit, corporate America has put in work to advance the rights of the LGBT community in the workplace, but more work remains to be done. Supporting businesses owned by LGBTQ people increases diversity and inclusion as well as creativity, perspective, outside-the-box thinking and innovation across the board.
Supporting LGBTQ Small Businesses
Supporting LGBTQ business isn’t rocket science. The easiest way to do it is to shop at LGBTQ-owned stores. Look around your neighborhood to see if there’s a business you can patronize. This goes for those who own LGBTQ businesses as well. It’s important to spread the support around. We should support each other as well as seek support for ourselves. More support means more visibility, and visibility is the key to LGBT marketing.
Next, hit social media channels. Look for companies that identify as LGBT in your area. Check out LGBT influencer marketing online; this can be a great start for finding local businesses to support. It’s all about research and taking an active role in the community.
If you are an LGBTQ person who owns a business and you’re not certified, now is the time to think about getting certified. Your certification will help the overall community by increasing the accuracy of numbers used to show how important this sector of business operations is.
Resources for LGBTQ Marketing Strategy
If you are an LGBTQ business, there are resources available to help you build your business, grow and last. The first step, as we’ve discussed, is to get certified as an LGBTBE. Certification opens up an entire network of resources and help. It allows you to build relationships with other corporations, create leads, team up with other partners and create opportunities.
The process of getting certified isn’t complex and takes between 60 and 90 days. You’ll create a business profile, supply documentation to the NGLCC to validate your status, verify your company’s legal structure, pay a certification fee and submit to a site visit from the organization’s team to interview you.
- TransTech, an LGBTQ talent incubator focused on economic empowerment
- Out Professionals, the leading networking organization for LGBTQ professionals in the U.S.
- Start Out, an entrepreneurial organization that offers mentoring, education and networking
- Reaching Out, an organization focused on students pursuing MBAs
- The Gay Pages, a website including a gay business directory that serves 7 million unique visitors
- The Gay Lesbian Directory, a straightforward listing of businesses and organizations supporting the LGBTQ community
- The Lesbian Business Community, a nationwide directory of lesbian-owned and LGBTQ-friendly companies, with event listings and articles
- TheS. Small Business Administration, which has a wide range of resources related to LGBT inclusion and outreach
Next, get in touch with your local chamber of commerce and be involved. This gives you a direct voice in the local economic direction your community takes.
Facing Funding Challenges
One of the biggest challenges for any minority-owned business is getting funding. One of the sad realities is that in many states, LGBTQ businesses still don’t have formal legal protection from discrimination. The minority community in general struggles with financial instability and increased rates of poverty more than the rest of the population. This means that getting funding for your startup can be a challenge. Still, facing these challenges is a fact of life, and they aren’t insurmountable if you take the right steps.
Microlenders, angel investors, community development investors and others are out there if you know where to look. In addition, it again cannot be overstated how important it is to get certified. This opens up a whole world of opportunities that can help you build, establish and grow your business.
Go to Conferences and Join Local LGBT Business Chambers
Another big way to be seen is to attend business conferences. Find local and national trade shows and conventions in your industry and go to them. Don’t just go as an attendee; get a booth and go there as a vendor. It’s a costly effort, but one that will pay off (and is a tax write-off at the end of the year).
When you’re looking at conventions, look at both LGBTQ-specific conventions and general conventions. Your goal should be to expand your visibility outside of the LGBTQ community. Some specific conferences along these lines include LGBTQIA+ Week in New York City and Gay Days Expo in Orlando.
Almost every community has a chamber of commerce, and we’ve talked about joining that organization above. Check to see if your area also has an LGBT business chamber. If so, join that as well. It can help you form partnerships and give you a voice in expanding the influence of the community. A good way to start is to check the listings of affiliate chambers maintained by the NGLCC.
How an LGBTQ Marketing Agency Can Help
Marketing is the core element in getting seen and finding success as a business. Once upon a time, it was enough to find a good location, hang a sign and depend on word of mouth. That’s no longer the case. We live in a digital world that moves at the speed of light and is constantly evolving. Getting the word out about your business requires specialized knowledge and approaches that you may not have the time to develop.
Having the right skills for LGBT marketing or any kind of marketing requires years of work, experience and education. Very few business owners have the time to devote to building these skills; after all, if you’re opening a craft store, for example, your skill is in selling crafts, and that’s where it should be focused. Hiring an agency to handle your LGBTQ advertising can allow you to focus on what you’re best at: delivering your goods and services into the hands of the people who demand them.
What To Consider When Hiring an LGBTQ Marketing Agency
There are a lot of things to think about when looking for a company to help you build the right LGBTQ marketing strategy for your business. First, you want an agency that understands LGBTQ insights and LGBTQ culture. That means an agency that is an LGBT-owned business in its own right. This is, in fact, essential to building your relationship because the right business will understand where you’re coming from and have its own unique insights into the community and the approaches needed to properly market and advertise you.
Certainly you want to ask them questions — what’s their track record and do they have any client testimonials they can share, for example. They should be able to provide a list of satisfied clients who can testify to their success. Find out what their approach is. Furthermore, think about what they ask you as you sit down to discuss working together.
They should want to know what your brand is — what your DNA is and what kind of company culture you seek to express. They will absolutely need to know your story, how you came to be where you are and what drove you to create your company. Finally, they should ask you about any issues you want to specifically address. This is the cornerstone of your relationship with them and their efforts.
Call Authentique Agency for LGBTQ Marketing
Authentique Agency is an Atlanta LGBTQ marketing agency that has a unique understanding of the needs of our specific community. As a minority-owned business, we understand the struggles you go through on a daily basis, and we are uniquely qualified to help you tell your story. Marketing a minority business requires a level of authenticity that may not be as important for other companies. People will see through shallow and typical ad approaches. Our agency is here to help you build a truly authentic campaign for LGBT influencer marketing.
We can tell your story in a way that’s uniquely you to bring people to your door. Explore our website to learn a bit more about who we are, and get in touch with us for more information today.