Tawonda Burks does not consider herself a typical consultant. For years she has been helping entrepreneurs develop their business plans and a path for success.

But she doesn’t help just anyone who is willing to pay her fee. Burks prefers to have a heart-to-heart conversation first to help provide a path to long-term success that is ethical and above board, helping her clients navigate the rules and regulations for their business.

When opportunities for grants are available, many of the people Burks works with steer away from organizations and government entities. Not because they have anything to hide, but because of barriers to opportunities they have experienced in the past and the difficulty they have had navigating the requirements of business ownership.

Many times, even Burks doesn’t hear about opportunities until the day before or the actual day the application is due.

Burks believes that the community can do a lot more to diversify its staff. If there are no minorities available or applying, businesses and organizations have to scale people up to be prepared to serve in those roles. Excuses are not acceptable anymore.

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Even though Burks still considers Rochester a small town, she finds it can be very hard to communicate and spread the word when it is something positive. When something is bad; however, word travels fast and far.

Stereotyping and assumptions based on a person’s skin color do not only happen to adults or come from those of another race.

Burks had to have an uncomfortable conversation with her son when he was a young teen after a darker-skinned boy made some hurtful comments about their heritage and why the young Burks’ skin was lighter than his.

To hear the full story behind Burks’ uncomfortable conversation with her son and learn more about her mission to eliminate the barriers faced by entrepreneurs of color in Rochester, listen to this week’s episode of The Other Side of the Table, Season 2, episode #10 Tawonda Burks Part 2.