In 2022, the opportunities for LGBT+-owned businesses have never been more plentiful.
Thanks to changing consumer preferences, supportive business networks and dedicated investment funds, being a LGBT+-owned business today can be a competitive advantage. But this fact is not widely understood in the greater LGBT+ community, and many businesses are unaware of the significant resources available to them. And among those who are aware, many are unclear how to access them.
To help businesses capitalize on this opportunity, I encourage all LGBT+-owned businesses in the U.S. to become a Certified LGBT Business Enterprise (LGBTBE) with the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC). This designation is open to any business that is at least 51 percent owned, operated, managed or controlled by a person identifying as LGBT+. It's one of our best resources in the country and joining helps expand our networks, increase our public visibility and ensure equitable access to financial resources for our community.
Why Getting Certified Matters
With the countless day-to-day tasks of running a business, it's understandable that certification may not be a top priority for a business owner. But the process is worth the payoff. Getting certified provides unique, potentially transformational opportunities for LGBT+-owned businesses.
It opens the door to networking with over 400 enterprises -- corporations, NGOs and governmental bodies -- that are all looking to form strategic partnerships or do business with the LGBT+ community. It provides a safe and welcoming environment to build strategic relationships with banks or peer businesses, most of whom have capital specifically set aside for investing in LGBT+ businesses. It offers major customer acquisition opportunities, including the significant population in the U.S. looking to spend more of their money with LGBT+-owned businesses.
And lastly, it allows for powerful opportunities to improve your skills as a business owner, including mentorships and continuing education.
By becoming certified, you're helping ensure a more equitable environment for all LGBT+ businesses. It not only advances your enterprise, but also increases the visibility, power and political clout of our entire community.
Making the LGBT+ Network Better for Everyone
The NGLCC helps address key pain points that LGBT+ businesses experience every day, including access to capital, strategic guidance, and a lack of partnership opportunities, by engaging the wider business community to help solve pressing challenges. As American businesses start to better understand the needs of the LGBT+ community, they'll engage more, offer more tailored products and come to understand the unique opportunities that working with LGBT+ businesses presents.
And as the size of the NGLCC network grows, so does the opportunity. So far, the NGLCC has certified nearly 2,000 LGBTBEs, a tiny fraction of the estimated 1.4 million eligible candidates.
But just how large our community of open LGBT+-owned businesses could become is still an open question. Despite our growing power and prominence, there's little comprehensive data on how many business owners identify as LGBT+. The NGLCC is hoping to fill some of those gaps by conducting surveys this year.
What is clear is that the business potential -- particularly for smaller enterprises in early growth stages -- is huge. Consider this: LGBT+-owned small businesses in the U.S. account for over $1.7 trillion in economic impact. And yet, less than 1 percent of venture capital funding goes to LGBT+-owned companies, according to the NGLCC.
How to Become Certified
The best part is that certification is simple. Step one is completing a business profile with the NGLCC. Once the necessary documents are submitted, a team member will reach out to you. The whole process could be accomplished in a month.
This is a major opportunity to join a community of thriving entrepreneurs, find major investment opportunities and open your business to new potential customers.
JPMorgan Chase is a co-founder of the NGLCC and committed to supporting diverse enterprises. We are working with local chambers of commerce to help LGBT+ business owners grow and we plan to assist hundreds of businesses with certification and business coaching this year.
In June, America acknowledges and uplifts the LGBT+ community. While Pride Month is in full swing, mark your accomplishments by certifying your business with NGLCC. I can't think of a better way to celebrate the community than by strengthening the network of LBGTQ+ business owners nationwide.
David Barbee is Managing Director of JPMorgan Chase Commercial Banking.