Tips & resources for finding success as trans entrepreneurs
By: Tobey Tozier*/Trans Headlines
Being an entrepreneur is difficult–and being a transgender entrepreneur comes with its own set of challenges. According to Startout’s Pride Economic Impact Index™, the United States could have 2,397,233 more jobs created by LGBTQ+ entrepreneurs if given equal opportunity. Trans entrepreneurs often have to fight harder for an equal shot at starting a business, but this doesn’t mean we’re any less capable or deserving of success. Here are three tips to help you grow your startup:
1. Recruit a Team of Mentors
The most important thing you can do for yourself as an entrepreneur is to take advantage of your available resources. It’s rare, if not impossible, to find a business owner who has accomplished everything on their own. It’s key to develop a strong team of mentors with varying skill sets to help fill in the gaps of what you don’t know, offer different perspectives, and share experiences of what it’s like to start a business.
As a transgender entrepreneur, don’t feel like you have to recruit only mentors who are trans or queer. Depending on the type of business you’re starting, it may be helpful to have at least one mentor who is LGBTQ+ to help guide you, however, it’s in your best interest to build as diverse a team as possible. This is especially important if you are a solopreneur without co-founders.
Here are a few places to start when building your mentorship team:
2. Build Your Community
In addition to building a team of mentors, you’ll work closely with, it’s also beneficial to surround yourself with other LGBTQ+ founders and creative thinkers. You can grow your network locally at meetup events or at local queer hangout spots where they serve coffee and play Laura Jane Grace. There are also a number of LGBTQ+ digital spaces to meet and chat with others in the tech community.
Here are a few places to start building your community:
- LGBTQ+ friendly hangout spots in your area
- Conferences (the Philly Trans Wellness Conference is a great one)
- Local Pride events
- TransTech Social
- Out in Tech
- National LGBT Chamber of Commerce
- Support local LGBTQ+ owned businesses and nonprofits whenever possible
3. Raise Funds
Whether you’re starting a for-profit business or a nonprofit, you’re going to need money to get started. Tapping into your own funds or friends and family for financial support is a good place to start if that’s an option for you, but you’re likely going to need additional resources to get up and running. While it may be tempting to launch a crowdfunding campaign for your full amount of starting cash, this can be a steep hill to climb if you’re looking to raise a lot of money and aren’t yet well-established.
Here are some other options to consider when fundraising:
- Grants (profit and nonprofit)
- Local startup competitions and accelerators (for profit)
- Backstage Capital (for-profit venture capital)
- Loud Capital’s Pride Fund (for-profit venture capital)
- Gaingels (for-profit angel investors)
- Crowdfunding (Kickstarter, GoFundMe, Indiegogo) (often for-profit)
Hopefully, these three tips are enough to get you started or at least get your wheels turning. As a takeaway, always remember that you’re not alone and you can’t build Rome in a day. Taking advantage of the local and national resources for startups, especially LGBTQ+ startups, will have a huge impact on accelerating your business.
*Tobey Tozier is a transgender designer and founder of Transcapsule, a transgender transition tracking app. He lives in Maine with his spouse, Mal, their two cats, and a senior beagle named Tuesday. Tobey has made it his life’s mission to help other people who are transgender live happier, more positive lives.