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. 

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: 

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. 

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.

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. 

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.

Arizona 

Greater Phoenix Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce

California

Colorado 

Colorado LGBTQ Chamber of Commerce

Connecticut 

Connecticut Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce

DC 

Equality Chamber of Commerce | DC Metro Area

Florida 

Georgia

OUT Georgia Business Alliance

Hawaii 

Hawaii Rainbow Chamber of Commerce

Illinois 

LGBT Chamber of Commerce of Illinois

Indiana 

Indy Rainbow Chamber

Iowa 

Iowa LGBT Chamber of Commerce

Kentucky 

Civitas: Regional LGBTQ Chamber of Commerce

Louisiana

Gulf South LGBT Chamber of Commerce

Massachusetts

Massachusetts LGBT Chamber of Commerce

Maryland 

Maryland LGBT Chamber of Commerce

Michigan 

Detroit Regional LGBT Chamber of Commerce

Missouri 

Mid-America LGBT Chamber of Commerce

North Carolina 

New Jersey

New Jersey LGBT Chamber of Commerce

Nevada 

Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce of Nevada

New York 

NGLCCNY

Ohio 

Oregon 

Portland Area Business Association

Pennsylvania 

Tennessee

Nashville LGBT Chamber

Texas 

Utah

Utah LGBTQ+ Chamber of Commerce

Virginia

Washington 

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. 

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