The LGBTQ+ Entrepreneur Toolkit: 100+ Free Resources & Digital Marketing Tips
There are approximately 1.4 million LGBTQ+ owned businesses in the United States, which collectively contribute $1.7 trillion to the national economy annually, says The National LGBT Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC). And these numbers may actually be much higher. Businesses with a majority LGBTQ+ ownership (51 percent or more) are included in national revenue numbers, leaving out many other eligible U.S. businesses not registered as LGBTQ-owned.
Though numerous across many industries, LGBTQ+ businesses continue to face higher closure rates, and greater difficulty securing commercial loans compared to the U.S. small business community at large. According to research compiled by Reuters, less than one percent of U.S. startup funding is awarded to LGBTQ+ founders.
As the LGBTQ+ community and their allies fight for social equality, there are business resources available to help. Read on to access free resources that LGBTQ+ business owners can use to help their businesses grow and thrive, including directories, LGBT+ business associations, education and training, financing programs, funding resources and more.
Why Supporting LGBTQ+ Businesses is Important
LGBTQ+ business owners face discrimination in business ownership and wealth creation. Likewise, businesses belonging to the LGBTQ+ community suffer from these inequalities, limiting their ability to innovate and expand.
Given the climate of increased inequity and widening disparities, it is more critical than ever for LGBTQ+ entrepreneurs to scale and sustain their businesses, and, in doing so, create a more stable and prosperous economy for everyone. Here are a few other reasons why it is important to support and empower LGBTQ+ business owners.
LGBTQ+ businesses have brought millions in revenue to many communities across the U.S. with over 50 percent of LGBTQ+ certified businesses located in California, New York, Texas, Florida and Georgia — the states where more than one-third of all U.S. residents live and work.
Despite the fact that almost half of all startups fail within the first four years, the 900+ LGBT-certified companies have averaged 12 years in business, according to NGLCC, with 15 percent of these businesses in operation for 20+ years. These small businesses provide long-term jobs and economic growth in their communities.
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.
Free Resources for LGBTQ+ Owned Businesses
Tips and Toolkits for LGBTQ+ Businesses
It is essential to create a business strategy and timeline that will allow your LGBTQ+ business to succeed. Here are some free planning tools and tips to help you get started.
- The Definitive Guide for LGBTQ-Owned Business Enterprises — This guide offers helpful advice on operating a successful LGBTQ-owned business.
- The LGBT Entrepreneur 10 Steps To The Perfect Business Plan — Explore this list of ten steps for creating a successful business plan.
- Want to be an LGBT Entrepreneur? How to Start a Business — This article offers advice for LGBT entrepreneurs interested in starting a business.
- 3 Tips for an LGBT Entrepreneur — Here is a list of three tips designed to help LGBT entrepreneurs run a successful business.
- How to Make Your Company Transgender-Inclusive — This article shares tips on how to make your company inclusive of transgender customers.
- Startup Guide For Trans Entrepreneurs — This startup guide is designed to help trans entrepreneurs in their pursuit of business ownership.
- 4 Resources to Help LGBTQ Founders Grow Their Business — Here are four resources designed to help LGBTQ founders grow their business.
Directories That List LGBTQ+ Businesses
A directory listing is a great way to grow brand awareness and gain access to audiences that might not otherwise know about your business. Here are some directories for LGBTQ+ owned businesses.
- LGBT-Owned Businesses — The U.S. Small Business Administration has a featured list of businesses owned by LGBT entrepreneurs.
- Lesbian Business Community — The LBC is a Lesbian-owned and LGBT-friendly business directory and resource guide to help provide online exposure.
- Gay Business Directory — This directory by We Are Gay Friendly can provide added online exposure for your LGBTQ+ business.
- The National LGBT Chamber of Commerce New York — The NGLCC New York maintains a directory to promote LGBTQ+ businesses.
- LGBTQ-Friendly Business Listings — A comprehensive list of LGBTQ+ businesses is included in this directory by Pride Guide USA.
- The Pink Pages Directory — According to the directory’s website, this is the largest LGBTQ+ business directory available.
- OutGuide757 — OutWire757 offers directory listings to all LGBT-owned, operated and allied businesses and organizations.
- Proudout — You can start listing your LGBTQ+ friendly business in Proudout’s Business Finder.
- TransFriendly — Connect with trans and non-binary people in this global directory of transgender-friendly businesses.
Digital Marketing Tips for LGBTQ+ Businesses
A digital marketing strategy is a critical component in your business’s success. As you build a solid online reputation, it’s important to keep your customers engaged while educating them about your products and services. The following resources can help:
- 54 Marketing Ideas for Your LGBT-Owned Small Business or Nonprofit — To help you on your journey to a great marketing plan, this site offers marketing ideas for your LGBTQ+ owned small business.
- How to Make Your Brand Inclusive of Trans and Non-Binary Folks — Here are some tips to help your brand feel more welcoming to transgender and non-binary customers.
- Insightful Tips for Thoughtfully Marketing to LGBTQ Customers — Gain insights into marketing to an affluent LGBTQ+ audience.
- LGBTQ Marketing 101: Ten First-Year Steps — Here is a long-term guide for marketing your business to LGBTQ+ customers.
- 10 Tips for LGBT Startup Entrepreneurs — This LinkedIn article shares ten tips designed to help LGBT startup entrepreneurs.
- 10 Email Marketing Tips for LGBT Businesses — Email marketing is a great way to engage core customers. This site shares ten tips to help with email marketing.
- How to Do Great Content Marketing For LGBT Business Owners — Do you want to create great LGBT content? This resource is designed to help you get started.
- 5 Smartest Ways to Use LGBT Facebook Ads — This resource gives tips on how to effectively market your LGBTQ+ business through Facebook Ads.
Associations That Support LGBTQ+ Businesses
The LGBTQ+ business community is supported by a number of organizations. Here is a list of professional associations that can help you connect with industry contacts, as well as other business owners.
- American Library Association Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Round Table — The Rainbow Round Table is the nation’s first organization for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender library professionals.
- National LGBT Chamber of Commerce — The NGLCC is the exclusive certifying body of LGBT-owned businesses.
- Out in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (oSTEM) — oSTEM is a nonprofit professional association for LGBTQ+ people in the STEM community.
- Pride at Work — This organization facilitates mutual support between the organized Labor Movement and the LGBTQ Community to further social and economic justice.
- National Association of Gay and Lesbian Real Estate Professionals (NAGLREP) — The NAGLREP is a forum for LGBT home buyers, sellers and real estate professionals.
Click here to jump to a list of LGBTQ+ business associations in certain states compiled by The Greater Seattle Business Association (GSBA)
Funding Resources for LGBTQ+ Owned Businesses
While LGBTQ+ businesses often face difficulties when seeking financing, there are still a number of options you can explore. Here is a list to help you get started.
- 8 Start-Up Funding Sources For LGBTQA+ Entrepreneurs — If you are a member of the LGBTQA+ community, and are looking for funding opportunities, here are eight places that can get you started.
- 20 Grants for LGBT Entrepreneurs — Here is a list of 20 grants ranging from $500 to $10,000. Each is dedicated to LGBT entrepreneurs.
- LGBTQ+ Covid-19 Response Funding — Explore resources for LGBTQ+ pandemic funding.
- How to Raise Money for Your LGBT-Owned Business — This article shares tips on how you can raise money for your LGBT-owned business.
- National Resources for LGBTQIA+ Entrepreneurs — Explore this list of national resources designed for LGBTQIA+ entrepreneurs.
- 7 Helpful Financing Options for LGBTQ+ Entrepreneurs — Here are seven helpful financing options for LGBTQ+ entrepreneurs.
- Backstage Capital — Companies led by LGBTQ+ founders can apply for funding at this venture capital firm that invests in organizations owned by underrepresented founders.
Crowdfunding Resources for LGBTQ+ Owned Businesses
Crowdfunding offers an innovative way for LGBTQ+ businesses and other economically marginalized minority groups to raise funds. It enables businesses to secure small investments from large pools of investors. Here are some resources to help you get started.
- Pinkstart — Pinkstart is the new global crowdfunding platform designed for the LGBT community.
- Crowdfunding And The LGBTQ+ Community — This article by Forbes looks at the history of crowdfunding and the LGBTQ+ community.
- Pride Pocket — Pride Pocket is an LGBTQ-focused organization providing factual, informational, inspiring articles and opportunities for crowdfunding.
Allyship Resources to Support LGBTQ+ Businesses
The following list of resources can assist you in expressing your allyship to LGBTQ+ businesses, organizations and the greater LGBTQ+ community — even if you’re not an owner yourself.
- How to Make Your Small Business an LGBT Ally — Here are several tips to promoting your small business as an ally of the LGBT community.
- Here’s What a Good LGBTQ Ally Looks Like — This article shares examples of what a good LGBTQ ally looks like.
- 10 Ways to Support the LGBTQIA+ Businesses in Your Local Community — Discover how you can support LGBTQIA+ businesses in your community.
- 11 Simple Ways You Can Make Your Workplace More LGBTQ Inclusive — Here is a list of tips for making your workplace more inclusive to LGBTQ employees.
- How to Support LGBT Entrepreneurs — Here is a list of 14 ways you can support LGBT entrepreneurs.
- How to Be An LGBT Ally — This CNN article shares tips on how to be an ally to your LGBT friends, relatives and co-workers.
- 10 Ways to Be an Ally & a Friend — GLAAD has created a list of ten ways to be an ally and friend to LGBTQ+ individuals.
- Call Yourself an LGBT Ally? Here’s How to Actually Be One — Explore these tips on how to be a better LGBT ally.
Additional LGBTQ+ Business Associations By State
In an effort to help you narrow your search for LGBTQ+ business associations, The Greater Seattle Business Association (GSBA) compiled a list of LGBTQ+ associations in certain states to help you get started.
Greater Phoenix Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce
- Desert Business Association
- Golden Gate Business Association
- Long Beach Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce
- Los Angeles Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce
- Rainbow Chamber of Commerce Silicon Valley
- Sacramento Rainbow Chamber of Commerce
- San Diego Equality Business Association
Colorado LGBTQ Chamber of Commerce
Connecticut Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce
Equality Chamber of Commerce | DC Metro Area
- Greater Fort Lauderdale LGBT Chamber of Commerce
- The Pride Chamber of Greater Orlando
- Miami-Dade Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce
- Tampa Bay Diversity Chamber of Commerce
- Southwest Florida Harmony Chamber of Commerce
Hawaii Rainbow Chamber of Commerce
LGBT Chamber of Commerce of Illinois
Civitas: Regional LGBTQ Chamber of Commerce
Gulf South LGBT Chamber of Commerce
Massachusetts LGBT Chamber of Commerce
Maryland LGBT Chamber of Commerce
Detroit Regional LGBT Chamber of Commerce
Mid-America LGBT Chamber of Commerce
New Jersey LGBT Chamber of Commerce
Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce of Nevada
Portland Area Business Association
- Austin LGBT Chamber of Commerce
- San Antonio LGBT Chamber of Commerce
- Greater Houston LGBT Chamber of Commerce
- North Texas LGBT Chamber of Commerce
Utah LGBTQ+ Chamber of Commerce
The inclusion of these resources is for educational purposes only and does not constitute an endorsement by Berkeley Boot Camps or University of California, Berkeley.