I know. I really didn't want to have this conversation. To be frank, I've been avoiding this conversation for years because it's a touchy one, extremely complex but I can't continue avoiding it because what I know for sure is that this epidemic isn't going to fix itself.
So, let's chat, shall we?
We all know (or at least we should) that the rise of Black Businesses is at an all-time high. Folks are walking away from their jobs, creating side hustles, starting local businesses, selling t-shirts, skincare products, beauty products, becoming travel influencers, hosting pop-up events, you name it.
If it makes money, more than likely Black folks are doing it. We are the creators and innovators. And what I know for certain is that no other race on the planet can do what we can in the way that we can do it (which is why our style and culture is often appropriated).
According to an article I read somewhere (Entrepreneur magazine I believe), Blacks are THE fastest-growing group of entrepreneurs * in the world, Craig.*
In short, we are BRILLIANT.
BUT....yes there's a big but
While we are growing exponentially in size, many of our bank accounts are dry. And just as quickly as we are ramping up start-ups, we're shutting down faster than we can blink.
A few weeks ago, I was driving around in the city where I currently reside and one of the restaurants here has closed down. And unfortunately, it was a black-owned business.
Just last week I drove down MLK where many local black-owned businesses are housed and I was beyond disturbed that many of them were missing in action. There were offices whose office hours read 8am-5pm but they were closed in the middle of the afternoon. There were boarded-up buildings and the businesses that were open had very few patrons. I've seen this in every city I've ever lived in and I'm sure if you've driven around your neighborhood you'll notice a running theme too.
When I drove another 2 minutes down MLK which quickly turned into a different street name (which is also disturbing), the vibe shifted and I was quickly made aware that I was in a very different neighborhood with thriving businesses and plenty of patrons sitting out on the patio, walking the streets and sitting inside of restaurants and bars.
Deeply saddened by what I've been witnessing not just within the last few weeks or months but YEARS, I've decided to finally have this conversation and to not just talk about it but to put my expertise where my mouth is and to help.
According to an article in Forbes, "Many black women cite a lack of mentors who understand their businesses and business models or feel they can’t connect culturally with the ones they meet."
And when it comes to our Black Men, they may have even more of a challenge when it comes to building and sustaining businesses. According to an article in Huff post, " Black men who are entrepreneurs were walloped by the Great Recession. The exact causes of the poor performance of their businesses are not clear. The data discussed in “The Color of Entrepreneurship“ suggest that economic conditions forced the closure of many of the weaker of Black men’s business.
This is why I created Black Business Lab
I can no longer sit by and witness the downfall of Black businesses in my community.
In many cases, it's not that you don't have a brilliant idea. It's that you lack the knowledge, resources, and skills to cultivate, nurture and sustain that idea.
Oh, and did I mention support? Many black businesses do not have the support needed to truly thrive in business. Remember that restaurant I spoke about that closed down in my neighborhood? In the article that shared why she was closing down, she stated that she didn't have the support needed to stay open. My heart breaks when I hear these stories. I get angry as I'm sure you do too because it doesn't have to be this way.
WHAT YOU CAN DO TODAY TO SHIFT THE TRAJECTORY OF YOUR BLACK BUSINESS
Many black businesses don't succeed not only due to lack of funding but lack of knowledge on what it really takes to sustain a business. Attend local workshops, go to business conferences, stay up to date on what's happening in your industry.
INVEST IN THE GROWTH OF YOUR BRAND
Google, youtube and social media platforms host a plethora of information around business but you cannot solely rely on that to sustain your business or to scale it. That saying , "You have to pay to play" will forever ring true. At some point you are going to have to be willing to delegate the things you may not be so great to people who are and that will cost you. You have to be willing to invest in your business growth in the same way you'd want someone to invest in your product or service.
NURTURE YOUR CURRENT SKILLS
As a web designer, consultant and creative, I am a forever student. I understand that my work is never done. I am always going to be seeking out new ways to nurture and evolve beyond what I know now. This means that I am taking new classes, attending workshops that challenge me to expand my creativity and consistently practicing my craft to become a better designer and leader.
BECOME GOOD AT RELATIONSHIP BUILDING
This goes far beyond going to networking events and handing out business cards. How's your followup game? Do you know HOW to ask for what you want? If you attend a networking conference, local event or seminar, do you know how to work the room to ensure people remember you?
GAIN BETTER CUSTOMER SKILLS
This falls in line with relationship building but specifically when it comes to how you serve your customers. I love reading reviews online from customers but I often find myself gasping when I read how business owners respond to customer complaints. Not only that but I've heard countless stories of business owners abandoning their clients, not being open when they say they're going to be and overall delivering less than exceptional service to their clients and customers. This ultimately effects your money and often times many business owners don't fully understand this until it's too late. How can you create the ultimate experience for your customers so they keep coming back to you, rave to all their friends and family about your product or service and send them your way too? A company I think has mastered this is Chic-Fil-A. Their customer service is SUPERB. In my opinion they've mastered the customer experience and I think everyone could take a page or two from their book when it comes to stepping up your customer service game.
INCREASE YOUR BRAND'S VISIBILITY
Ever wonder put up a post only to notice you've gotten no like or shares? What about that one time you put on that event or workshop you were 100% certain people would attend only to have little to no people show up? You'll beat yourself up and start questioning that maybe your idea wasn't so great after all but maybe it's not the idea. Maybe enough people haven't seen it. Maybe people haven't seen YOU enough and because of that, they're a bit apprehensive when it comes to handing over their money. Increase your visibility by blogging, building up your email list and customer relationships, connecting with brands who are similar to yours, going LIVE on Facebook and Instagram. Try to get yourself and your product or service in as front of as many people as you can.
These things may sound extremely basic but they are the fundamentals to building any business no matter what industry you're in.
NEED SOME SUPPORT?
Black Business Lab is a mentorship program where you get personal support to help you grow your business. Not only will we work together 1 on 1 to fine-tune the structure of your business but you'll also get access to the Black Business Lab portal which will house everything from scripts, live trainings, and resources to grow and sustain your business. There will be in-person workshops and meetups to nurture community while helping you further your knowledge as you continue to build what you love.
There is no reason your business shouldn't be thriving with BLACK BUSINESS LAB unless you don't show up and do the work. And if you're being honest with yourself, you really can't afford to continue going it alone.You need support from someone who's been where you are but also has the knowledge and expertise to help you get to where you desire to be.
Curious? Excited? Ready to get started? YES!!!!
I hope you really feel my heart on this. It's time for us to go beyond surviving and to build solid businesses so that we can not only fulfill our life's purpose but so that we set the foundation and create a legacy for generations to come.
In the meantime, you can setup a free call with me to learn more about BBL and to get 1-on-1 support in your business.
I honor you and what you bring to this world. I see you. Let's do this!