“You’re an influencer in the market, you’re an entrepreneur’s entrepreneur,” said Kleiman, executive director of The Arthur M. Blank Center for Entrepreneurship, as Bowman laughed, appreciative of the acknowledgement.
Not only has Bowman built her own business, but, as a result, she also has helped many other Black entrepreneurs prosper, providing an avenue to their startups for customers seeking to support Black-owned businesses.
Bowman, who to many defines entrepreneurial leadership, shared some of what she believes are the best leadership traits for entrepreneurs in a fireside chat with Kleiman at the Summer Catalyst Showcase earlier this month.
“I always tell people (passion) should be at the top of your list when it comes to figuring out what you want to do as a business owner,” Bowman says. “There are so many days where you’ll ask, ‘Why am I even doing this? I should just get a 9-to-5.’ Passion is a thing that keeps you moving, and grounds you to what you’re doing.”
And, an entrepreneurial leader should develop one as early as possible. “We would have been a lot further if I had brought a team on, because I was doing a lot of things by myself. Reach out to your network, find other people who are skilled in what they do, whose work ethic you can trust. Do those things earlier on, so you’re able to move a lot quicker. A lot of businesses fail because the founder is working in the business and not working on the business.”
Growing up in Brooklyn, Bowman bared witness to the closure of small businesses that couldn’t keep up with big corporations. “Seeing the effects of gentrification, it made me want to go out and support those businesses as much as I could,” she said. “Black women receive less than 1% of venture capital funding. I figured the least I could do was try to support these small businesses as much as possible.”
“Being an entrepreneur is rounds and rounds of trial and error. Sometimes, you won’t get to the solution for months or years down the line. It’s difficult being an entrepreneur. Break things down into smaller steps, take things one step at a time.”
Posted in Entrepreneurial Leadership