ESSENCE is proud to celebrate extraordinary Black women who are breaking glass ceilings as flourishing entrepreneurs with compelling backstories. Join us as we highlight a few of the 50 women featured in our November 2017 issue and chat with them to find out more about how they got to where they are now and what advice they have for other young women looking to follow in their footsteps.
This week, we focus on Patrice Banks, founder of Girls Auto Clinic.
What kind of company do you own?
Girls Auto Clinic is a female empowerment company that educates and empowers drivers by offering automotive buying and repair resources, services and products for and by women.
What advice do you have for anyone dreaming of having their own business?
Your contribution is needed to make the world a better place. Believe and know that it is for you and you can do it. Ladies we are so capable. Your gut knows it. Your heart knows it. Trust yourself, always. Your emotional strength, softness and cleverness, are needed. Find someone who believes in you and will mentor you. Look for free services through the Small Business Administration or Small Business Development Centers. Eventually, tour learning curve grows through the roof. Your failure rate increases. Your salary becomes non-existent. Your relationships fly away from you. It happens to all of us. Face the bad and keep the incredible urge and madness to move forward; to try it again. Your journey, hurdles, failures, and successes are unique to your character, personality, and story. How and when they happen is also unique to you.
As an entrepreneur, what is the smartest decision you’ve ever made for yourself?
Investing in personal development, business development, and networking. The payoff is not immediate so it often feels like it was a waste of time to spend money on a conference or a business class. But they always come through with something of value to drive me forward.
When it came to launching your business what kind of support system did you have in place and can you describe in what ways you were helped?
Most of my support comes from friends, other women entrepreneurs and mentors. We share our visions, goals and businesses amongst ourselves and to others. Word of mouth is the best advertising. I have had many mentors. I was never afraid to ask for help and was always building a network of support with each move I would make.
Black women are America’s fastest-growing group of entrepreneurs. However, we remain the most underserved, receiving less than 1 percent of all venture funding for our businesses. In what ways can our community better support one another?
Financial literacy and planning is so important for our communities to strive. We should be teaching how to save, spend and support local business in our communities. Women especially need to be educated on this because we are the first teachers. We must be powerful in our voice but also our actions.