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Black Women Entrepreneurs Offer Advice on Building Successful Businesses

February 22, 2021

Celebrating Black women image

By Lisa Diethelm

A panel of Black women entrepreneurs advised students to find innovative ways to overcome obstacles while creating businesses and to remember that asking for help is a strength, not a weakness.

Those were the primary messages conveyed at the J. Orin Edson Entrepreneurship + Innovation Institute’s “Celebrating Black Women Panel,” during which women entrepreneurs gave tips for success including building confidence in themselves and their products.

Retha Hill, the director of the New Media Innovation and Entrepreneurship Lab and a professor of practice at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, joined three other entrepreneurs for the virtual discussion. Cerila Gailliard, Shellye Archambeau and Lisa Guice shared their experiences as entrepreneurs and advised students on how to build successful businesses.

Gailliard, who has more than 15 years of project management experience, is the owner of Orchestrating Your Success LLC, which helps businesses remove barriers, maximize productivity and increase profits.

Archambeau, the author of “Unapologetically Ambitious: Take Risks, Break Barriers and Create Success on Your Own Terms,” is a CEO and board director with more than 30 years of experience in technology. She currently sits on the boards of Verizon, Roper Technologies, Nordstrom and Okta and advises both start-ups and established businesses such as the Royal Bank of Canada, Capital Markets and Forbes Ignite.

Guice, an international speaker, self-relationship expert and business consultant, partners with CEOs and entrepreneurs and advises them on personal, professional and profitable next-level breakthroughs. She also works as a business mentor at ASU.

When Guice first started her business, she struggled to find funding, which she said was typical for African Americans and women of color. She said she thought outside of the box, and found a way to save for her business through couponing.

“My advice would be that no matter what the obstacle is, just to keep pressing forward. And if it's an external block, always look internally to see how you can control what it is that's going on externally,” she said.

In addition to confidence, the panel discussed how entrepreneurs can find innovative ways to solve problems not just in their businesses, but in their communities.

“I want to see every person contributing to that and trying to solve the problem of climate change or violence or children being abused and affected. And I want all shoulders at the wheel so that humanity can grow and be better,” Hill said. “And it's important that women and minorities – people of color, the disabled, immigrants, you name it – we're all helping to solve the problems of this country and the world. We can't afford to leave people out.”

The J. Orin Edson Entrepreneurship + Innovation Institute is based at Arizona State University and provides a variety of opportunities to explore, share, test and advance students’ ideas.