Black Americans own 2.2 percent of the nation’s 5.7 million employer businesses, according to U.S. Census data.Yet, many lack the proper financial tools, guidance, and resources to succeed.

States like Georgia saw a big jump in business growth last year with a 57 percent increase in new business formations. While this may seem exciting, Black businesses historically bring in less revenue because they face challenges related to funding, business models, financial understanding, and leadership. McKinsey & Company reported that while approximately 15 percent of white Americans hold some business equity, only five percent of Black Americans do.

Octavia Conner, a virtual CFO and founder of Say Yes to Profits, told AfroTech that for Black business owners to succeed, they’ll also need more support from corporate America. She said corporate America needs to stop limiting opportunities for entrepreneurs based on the color of their skin, offer more programs and financial resources, and grant funding to more diverse founders.

“Black-owned businesses and Black entrepreneurs play a critical role in fueling the economy and bringing needed jobs,” Conner told AfroTech in an interview. “Often, it seems like the resources for black businesses are not widely known, and therefore many of us become aware of something when it’s too late.”

Why Conner Decided to Become a Virtual CFO

Conner was born and raised in Atlanta. She’s married with four kids and has over 14 years of accounting and finance experience. After spending a decade working in corporate America, Conner said she got tired of helping build multimillion-dollar businesses, so she ditched the 9-to-5 life in 2011 and began building her dream business. Conner has been leading Say Yes to Profits since she left the corporate world. Her financial consulting firm specializes in virtual CFO services and helps clients maximize profit and increase cash flow. Conner said she has helped take consulting firms from low six-figure to over $1 million in revenue in as little as 12 months.

“In 2011, I started my firm as a general accounting practice. However, I soon realized that small businesses needed more than just bookkeeping,” Conner said. “They needed someone to help them understand how the numbers work and use that critical information to build generational wealth.”

After a major rebrand in 2015, Conner began helping her clients build business financial plans, strategize, understand pricing and reconstructing business models, solving cash flow challenges, and more. Conner works with consultancies and service-based businesses, the majority of which are lead by Black Americans.

“For any small business owner that enlists the help of Say Yes To Profits, the ultimate goal is for them to scale to seven figures and beyond while beating the IRS tax game,” she said. 

Financial Advice For Black Entrepreneurs

Improving your financial literacy is the ultimate goal when you’re working to improve your finances. Here are some recommendations from Conner:

  • Hire a qualified accounting expert to help bridge the gap between where you are and where you desire to be. 
  • Understand how to read and interpret financial reports by enrolling in business and personal finance classes or having an accountant or financial consultant willing to educate you. 
  • Understand what makes your business thrive; identify your company’s key performance indicators. Use these numbers to understand industry trends related to your business and apply them.