CHASE IS GIVING MINORITY BUSINESS OWNERS THE TOOLS THEY NEED TO BE SUCCESSFUL, STARTING WITH MENTORSHIP
Shawn Hopkins has had an entrepreneurial spirit from a young age. She started her first catering business at the age of 18 before pursuing a degree in science at the University of Chicago and her MBA at the University of Houston. Today, Hopkins owns a successful automotive consulting company, Gulf Coast Dealer Services, that supports nine dealerships across the Gulf Coast region with inventory management, technical solutions and process improvement.
She’s been highly successful as a business owner, but as is the case with many small businesses, there are challenges. For Hopkins, the biggest hurdle hasn’t been how to market the business or manage cash flow; rather, it’s involved scaling the business and preparing it for growth.
“Uncertainty is the best way to explain how I felt when I first set out to start a business in this industry,” Hopkins said. “Thankfully, I’ve been able to expose opportunities in an industry driven by profit and not process, and as a result, I have proven myself in this field as a reputable, trustworthy business owner which has resulted in great success.”
For Hopkins, owning and operating a business is about more than the income that comes with it. As a first-generation business owner, she’s made it her priority to mentor and help pave the way for other aspiring business owners for generations to come. All of Hopkins’ employees at Gulf Coast Dealer Services come from entrepreneurial backgrounds. She says she feels a sense of responsibility as a Black businesswoman to uplift her community and employees in their journeys by providing mentorship and support.
“I want to show my employees, and other minority members of this community, that building a business, whether big or small, is attainable,” said Hopkins. “If you put in the work and align yourself with a network of people you trust and that can help you grow your business, anything is possible – no matter your gender, race or ethnicity.”
Accelerating Growth Through Mentorship
While Hopkins’ Gulf Coast Dealer Services is already serving dealerships in the region, she’s focused on taking it from good to great. She connected with Robert Hines, a vice president and senior business consultant at Chase, which recently launched a new initiative to address the structural economic challenges experienced by minority entrepreneurs.
Through the program, Hines provides Hopkins with tailored solutions that support her business fundamentals and helps build her network. She says having someone like Hines to ask questions and more importantly, trust the answer, shows her where the gaps are as a minority business owner and how she can successfully access capital for a strong financial future for her business. Through Hines’ mentorship, Hopkins has gained the confidence she needs to navigate the sometimes-scary world of entrepreneurship and go on to build wealth for future first-generation business owners like herself.
“For me, supporting small business owners like Shawn is more than just a job, it’s my passion,” said Hines. “My goal as a mentor and consultant to minority business owners in this community is to be the bridge to not only [financial] capital but intellectual capital.”
Hines spent a decade as an entrepreneur, so he knows firsthand some of the institutional challenges associated with being a minority business owner. Working with minority businesses has allowed him to identify the gaps, specifically in education. It’s this experience that he says led him to seek out opportunities to work with minority business owners like Hopkins’ to help them realize financial success.
As part of JPMorgan Chase’s $30 billion Path Forward commitment to drive an inclusive economic recovery and advance racial equity, the firm launched a new program to help strengthen sustainable business growth for entrepreneurs in historically underserved neighborhoods. Through this initiative, small business owners in 13 cities across the U.S., including in Houston, will be matched with a Chase senior business consultant who will provide advisory services such as mentorship, business development coaching, resources and financial planning. The program is available to all, Chase customers and non-customers alike.
To learn more about how Chase for Business is supporting minority entrepreneurs in the Houston area, reach out to Chase senior business consultant Robert Hines at Robert.H.Hines@jpmorgan.com.