The Natural Entrepreneur

| By Sarah Jester

Pride shines brightly through queer-owned businesses. Pride in the company itself, pride in the entrepreneur’s journey, and pride in queer identity. Through this pride, it becomes clear that LGBTQ+ individuals are natural entrepreneurs. Even prior to embarking on their entrepreneurial journeys, queer folks of all identities have faced obstacles and adversity at levels that heterosexual business owners may never experience.

“I believe that the level of creativity, critical thinking and problem solving that an LGBTQ+ person develops from navigating everyday life from childhood contributes positively to being able to address the business challenges that an entrepreneur can face while getting a business off the ground,” said Jayson Mamaclay, founder of Certified LGBTBE® Think Quick Events.

“When Ed Hellman and I established Punch Card Films, our respective identities were incidental to the work,” explained Katie Staab, co-founder of Certified LGBTBE® Punch Card Films. “We joined production forces because our values and leadership style align, not because we are both queer. We may not have known it at the time, but as it turns out, our queerness really is the tie that binds our business because without the precious challenges that come from being part of the LGBTQ+ community, we would not be a business at all.”

Upon coming out, many members of the LGBTQ+ community can experience rejection from their friends and family. This has led many of us to shape our own chosen family - a community that will always have our backs no matter who we love. In this way, we are the entrepreneurs of our own lives. We have navigated complex emotional and physical problems at every turn, and have managed to come out even stronger together. Through the shaping of our queer identities over time, we have gained valuable insights on how to shape a common need or passion into a thriving business that fulfills a niche. What’s more is that we have built up powerful, supportive communities that have the ability to seamlessly transition into business networks.

“I do believe it is my vocation to exercise an open heart and open mind in both my personal and professional life,” Staab said. “As a gay woman, I’m familiar with trial and struggle, so I stand by those who sit just outside of more conventional worlds. As a business owner and media maker, I’m in a fortunate position to extend opportunities to those same people—the unseen, often forgotten, and downright rejected—and that’s nothing short of a gift!”

“The LGBTQ+ community is a self-supportive group where, whether people are business owners or simply consumers, community members are excited to support businesses in led by people in the community,” Mamaclay agreed.

The first brick thrown at Stonewall laid the foundation for a vigorous civil rights movement that continues to fight for justice for the LGBTQ+ community today. It continues to set the precedent for how to most effectively unite around a common goal - a task that entrepreneurs must face and carry out every single day. Of course, no one can do this work alone. LGBTQ+ individuals know better than many that strength lies in numbers, and that the majority of their goals are best achieved together. Essentially, community is everything in the business world, and LGBTQ+ entrepreneurs are already equipped with one.

“I'm very thankful to be a Certified LGBTBE® and to have been welcomed in by the NGLCC and my local chapter of the Illinois LGBT Chamber of Commerce - and as such, I feel like they represent a large part of my business network, creating great, supportive overlap,” said Mamaclay. “I do find that the unique intersection of LGBTQ+ and business to be a tremendously valuable one, personally and professionally.”

“Our professional network and our LGBTQ+ connections overlap more than ever since we became a Certified LGBTBE®,” Staab explained. “We’ve forged relationships with business owners across industries, and I don’t know that we would have met many of them outside of the Chamber. Such contacts bridge a gap that we didn’t quite see before NGLCC and this spurs us into action.”

Don’t just take our word for it, let the numbers tell the story: in NGLCC’s groundbreaking America’s LGBT Economy Report, we reported that most LGBT enterprises have been in business at least 12 years— far above national average.

You can find and join your community of natural entrepreneurs today at nglcc.org/get-certified.

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Thanks to natural entrepreneurs like Katie Staab and Jayson Mamaclay for making our community great!