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Small Biz Insider: How a Black Entrepreneur Took Challenges and Created Opportunities

Published Aug 02, 2020 by Julia McGowen

Ed Ryland, CCIM, MCR, is the President & CEO of ARVO Realty Advisors, a full-service commercial real estate firm based in Houston. 

Ryland started his company from a box filled with ideas on of index cards. Today, his business is global, representing corporate, governmental, and small business clients in the buying, selling or leasing of office, retail, industrial land properties. 

In addition to running his company with offices in Houston and New York, Ryland has established himself as a leading voice in the minority business community and mentor to many minority business executives. 

He was the first African American in the Houston region to obtain the CCIM (certified commercial investment member) designation, which is often referred to as the PhD of commercial real estate within the industry. 

While spending his career in a predominately white industry, Ryland has experienced the challenges that minority-owned entrepreneurs face first-hand. He's traveled the country to ask CEOs one question, “What do you think it takes to build a successful minority-owned company?”

On this edition of Small Biz Insider, Ryland discusses challenges minority business-owners face and strategies for growing a successful small business. 

Here are the key takeaways: 

  • Disparities facing minority entrepreneurs: Ryland said there's a tremendous gap between revenue earned by African American and revenue earned by non-minority entrepreneurs, with Black entrepreneurs earning an average of $58,000 in annual revenue compared to $558,000 for non-minorities. He also discussed how there is a biased perception that minorities can only provide products and services in certain categories, which leads to a limited scope of opportunities, particularly within professional services that face challenges with diversity and inclusion with deeply entrenched histories that make breaking in and building relationships challenging. 
     
  • Keys to building a successful small business: Ryland explained ARVO Realty Advisors has built a culture of personnel that consistently looks at ways to be creative and innovative, which gives the business an edge in providing value added services to current and future customers. “We don’t run from the problems, we run to the challenges.” In addition to having the right personnel around you, Ryland shared that critical aspects to building a successful small business are focusing on your capital and financing and building a strategic business and marketing strategy. He shared how these principles have allowed ARVO Realty Advisors to remain nimble during the pandemic, which has hit both commercial real estate and minority-owned businesses particularly hard. 

The Small Biz Insider digital series highlights innovative business owners, entrepreneurs and leaders of the greater Houston area who are making a big impact in the small business community.

The Small Biz Matters Business Resource Group (BRG) offers curated resources, digital programming, and a valuable platform to champion business connections and information.

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