I'm tired of words like minority, underrepresented, undervalued, and even women-owned. As founders who fall under those categories, we need to claim that when given the same resources, we outpace the traditional "majority" in profitability and scale.
So, here and now, I want us all to claim a new term: the new majority. Or, if you like hashtags: #NewMajority.
This includes people of color, women, immigrants, LGBTQ people, veterans, and physically disabled business owners. We're entering the entrepreneurial space at a rate outpacing white men--yet venture investors, banks, and government agencies still consider anyone other than white men the "minority."
Why the disconnect? Here are six false assumptions I've heard while pushing for more investment in the new majority over the past three months:
- "Women are considered a niche market."
- "People of color? Too narrow of a focus."
- "Veterans starting companies are more likely to fail."
- "Isn't it too delicate to market to business owners with physical disabilities?"
- "While it's fine to include diverse individuals in your customer base, but make sure you run your models with the majority--white male business owners."
- "What the holy hell? I'm so tired of this." (I said this one.)
We need to change this mindset. Here are four reasons why it's important for every entrepreneur to claim the new majority:
1. Women entrepreneurs still aren't afforded the same opportunities as men.
Diversity and inclusion lie at the heart of successful entrepreneurship. However, many business development programs and initiatives are primarily male. Only 22 percent of Y Combinator's Summer 2015 class--the program's biggest class ever, at the time--had a female founder, according to FiveThirtyEight.
Meanwhile, the 2016 Kauffman Index of Startup Activity reported that 40 percent of all new companies in the U.S. are being started by women. I'm not great at math, but I know those numbers don't add up.
2. You'll make more money if you diversify your customer base.
If you aren't already, you'll soon be selling to the new majority. Diverse and inclusive customer bases are profitable: A 2009 Harvard Business Review study reported, for example, that women controlled $20 trillion in annual consumer spending at the time.
And that was almost ten years ago. Imagine how much that figure has grown since.
Is your customer base composed of women, people of color, or anyone other than white men? If so, you're in good shape. If not, you have work to do. Consider why these people aren't attracted to your business, and work to bring them in.
3. New majority entrepreneurs make outsized impacts.
According to American Express's State of Women-Owned Businesses report, as of January 2017 there were an estimated 11.6 million women-owned businesses in the U.S. Almost half of them were owned by women of color. These women-owned businesses employed nearly nine million people and generated more than $1.7 trillion in revenues. Sounds like the right investment to me.
4. The future will only become more inclusive.
Online advertising and demographic research is growing at a rapid rate--a 2018 PwC report predicts such spending will grow almost ten percent annually through 2020.
To me, that says enterprise companies want to know how women do business, how men of color think, and what services veterans value for their businesses. Our country's demographics are changing, and these companies seem to get where we are heading.
Yes, I think this is socially important. I'm also a capitalist, and I know this is the wave of the future. It's where the money will be.
Who is doing this already? I know of some business advisor platforms that have specifically been created for the new majority, such as Bumble Bizz, Blue Vine, and my own company, Alice. Others are stepping into investing in the new majority, including Signia Venture Partners, Back Stage Capital, Google's Gradient Ventures, and Forerunner Ventures.
All things considered, that's a fairly short list. There's still so much more work to do. The new majority is here and demanding a seat at the table, so you'd better set us a place. Let's claim it, folks: #NewMajority.