Black women founders are the fastest growing demographic of entrepreneurs in the U.S. From wine to technology, Black women entrepreneurs changing industries and society for the better.

While these women make it look effortless, there are so many hardships and glass ceilings behind the scenes. Only 3 percent of Black women-owned companies mature and survive longer than five years. Before starting a business, it is essential to be as prepared as possible.

With April being Financial Literacy Month, 21Ninety spoke with Black women entrepreneurs to get their tips on starting a business.

Develop a Comprehensive Business Plan 

Netta Jenkins, the founder of Aerodei, encourages entrepreneurs to develop a comprehensive business plan and understand how they will increase revenue. “Without a clear business strategy and goals, you will struggle to make informed decisions or measure your progress,” she told 21Ninety.

Build a Supportive Network 

Entrepreneurship and the journey to building your business can be lonely. However, Ariel Belgrave Harris, founder and chief wellness officer of Gym Hooky, encourages founders to be proactive and surround themselves with mentors, advisors and other entrepreneurs. This supportive network can offer diverse perspectives, feedback and encouragement. She suggests joining entrepreneurship networks, attending industry events and participating in online communities. 

“Create genuine relationships with people who share your values and are invested in your success,” she said. “Don’t be afraid to ask for help when needed and reciprocate by offering support to others in return.”

Do Your Market Research

Crystle Johnson, founder and retreat host of Design Your Soft Life, explains that new entrepreneurs often seek to solve a problem they’ve encountered. They want to be the solution they never had. Johnson says it’s essential to do market research. That will help entrepreneurs “understand the breadth of your target market’s problem.” It will also help them curate the solution that they would want to have.

Keep Your Day Job

It takes time to build and scale a business to the point where you can support yourself financially. In the early days, founders will need to sustain themselves. 

“It is a balancing act, but it is definitely doable to invest time into your business, as well as your regular job,” said Joy A. Cooper, a co-founder and CEO of Culture Care.

Cooper suggests working as a freelancer, instead of taking on a more traditional staffing position. In her early days, it allowed her to balance her time more efficiently.

“The mantra I have had to take as a Black founder is to channel the saying, ‘Make a dollar out of fifteen cents,’” she said. “Yes, we are underfunded, but that shouldn’t keep us from getting to the bag.”

Prioritize Your Own Wellness

When starting a business, it’s important to prioritize your wellness, so that your business can grow. “As a business owner, it’s tempting to always be on the clock, but be sure to set aside time for yourself, so you can rejuvenate and prevent burnout,” said  Lindsay Banks, founder of Healthy Motives 365

Self-care also helps with spurring creativity and sparking new ideas to implement in your business. 

Prioritize and Delegate Tasks

As an entrepreneur, trying to do everything yourself can lead to burnout and inefficiency. Harris advises practicing strategic prioritization to focus on high-impact activities that align with your business goals. Invest in help and delegate tasks that fall outside your strengths or that can be handled more efficiently by other people. 

“Kick that ‘I can do it faster’ mindset to the curb because those small tasks can add up to hours of your time,” she said.

In agreement with Harris, Banks acknowledges you may need to start off doing everything. However, she believes it is important to invest in experts.

“Starting off you may have to do everything but when you can, invest money in experts who can help you get where you want to be faster,” she said.

Don’t Give Away Equity Too Easily

Jenkins advises founders to thoroughly understand their market, clarify their organization’s purpose and analyze competitors before seeking capital. This knowledge will help you navigate the fundraising process more effectively and avoid giving away too much of your company too soon.

Embrace Learned Lessons 

Belgrave Harris encourages entrepreneurs not to view lessons learned as failures, but as opportunities to learn, adapt and grow stronger as a leader. 

“Entrepreneurship is often glamorized on social media, but the truth is it will have its ups and downs,” Jenkins said. “When those downs happen, remind yourself of your ‘why’ for starting your business, stay encouraged and keep moving forward.”