Diverse Team of Professional Businesspeople Meeting in the Office Conference Room. Creative Team Around Table, Black Businesswoman, African-American Digital Entrepreneur and Hispanic CEO Talking.

A Seat at the Table: My Journey as a Minority Business Owner 

I’ve always had a passion for marketing and communications work, and though I had always worked for someone, one day I decided to take the plunge into self-employment. I started Herd Strategies in 2011, and since then the business has grown—both in headcount and clientele. As a Black, woman-owned business, our 12-year journey has included trials and tribulations; most notably the summer of 2020. As the global pandemic devastated minorities economically, the murder of George Floyd broke our hearts. However, as communities across the country have begun to act more intentionally toward equity, we’re finding that we finally have a seat and a voice at the table. 

Unnecessary Dues 

Herd Strategies is a Black, women-led business—which means for years, we were invited into the room and seated in the second row. Just ten years ago, our status as an XBE allowed us access to learn about requests for proposals and various project opportunities; however, seldom were we selected as the vendor of choice for said RFP or project. At the time, I viewed this as paying my dues, but upon reflection, I realized it was a byproduct of a corporate community that was unwilling to embrace diverse vendors. Fortunately, our clients experienced our expertise and quickly became champions of our business. 

Embracing Allies 

Herd Strategies works with a variety of clients, many of whom we partner with on community engagement strategies. Through this work, we found champions that could vouch for our knowledge, expertise, and potential—the third of these being the most satisfying for business today. At a time where DEI has become an overused phrase that oversimplifies the importance of equity, access, and intentional inclusion, we’ve experienced that our allies help prevent us from being pigeonholed during implementation. 

Beyond an XBE 

Yes, Herd Strategies is a minority-owned business. Yes, Herd Strategies is a woman-owned business. But we’re not just women and not just minorities. Our allies and many of our current clients are helping expand our scope of work in innovative and new ways. Through a host of branding, public relations, and marketing services, we’re able to offer our clients so much more than DEIA expertise. We can provide services across all demographics—and that’s good for our business model and good for our clients’ business. 

The business landscape is diverse and competitive—more competitive than people realize now that we have representation. Now, through Business Equity for Indy and other community-led initiatives, we’re seeing great progress and intentionality in the realm of supplier diversity. Events like the BEI Procurement Roundtable have offered us an incredible peek behind the curtain where we can see and engage with businesses we’ve only dreamed about sharing a room with. Initiatives like these not only level the playing field—they’re opening doors for minority-owned businesses like mine. 

As Herd Strategies matures as a business, we continue to be inspired by our nation’s and region’s progress toward equity and inclusion. With ongoing commitments toward equity, I can only hope other minority-owned businesses can access the networks of support, resources, and exposure. 

Learn more about Herd Strategies and the services they offer and learn how to get involved in the Business Equity for Indy Procurement Roundtable. 

Blog authored by Denise Herd, Founder and President of Herd Strategies

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