Black-owned Businesses: Addressing the “How To,” When Feeling the “Why Bother?”
With all the discussion about the growth industries including health, IT, education, green technologies, etc. that will lead the country out of its fiscal slump, you do not hear much about Black-owned businesses being a “growth area,” but it should be.
The primary reason for the launch of many Black-owned businesses was the “concrete ceiling” effect within corporate America that drove promising Black executives into the entrepreneurial arena due to limited advancement opportunities.
Other Black-owned businesses got their start because the founder had an idea and through hard work and tenacity, they fed that idea and built a business.
While that represents the two general viewpoints of Black-owned businesses being relative newcomers to the scene, that concept is not altogether true. Black-owned businesses were the staples of segregated Black communities before those business start-up concepts took place, so there is a long, and sometimes, tragic history of Black-owned businesses and a track record for their success despite tremendous obstacles.
Despite current economic conditions, there are still opportunities for those interested in starting a businesses and seeking out these growth areas to reach their full potential.
Black-owned businesses are able to personalize their service platforms and incorporate a unique cultural awareness all their own. According to Elbert McQuiller in his article, “Black-Owned Businesses Leverage Social Networks to Grow,” today’s technological advances are making it possible for many Black-owned businesses to “overcome some of the pervasive discriminatory practices that have plagued the Black community for years by denying them equal access to capital and subsequently limiting the growth potential of their businesses.”
Access to capital has always been problematic for minority businesses and increased funding options by community banks and other investment models has generated a new era for financing possibilities for aspiring entrepreneurs to step to the table with a business plan.
The National Black Chamber of Commerce estimates that there are one million Black-owned businesses in the United States that accounts for more than $100 billion in sales. However, Black-owned businesses are still classified as “small business” in comparison to other groups.
What are some of the tools that businesses can utilize to grow their companies and to maintain their competitive advantage? First, networking and building a support base with organizations that are geared towards providing resources and contacts is crucial. Organizations including the National Minority Supplier Development Council along with the National Black Chamber of Commerce provide Black-owned businesses direct contact with the “movers and shakers” in the public and private sectors who can help them grow and develop their business.
The United States Small Business Administration and the United States Department of Commerce—Minority Business Development Agency are government organizations that can also provide businesses with information and access to vital resources.
Also, businesses should join trade organizations specific to the company’s product or service model. The global arena provides new opportunities and marketplaces for businesses to bring their unique style. Having strong business acumen, building solid relationships and maintaining a flexible approach will help Black-owned businesses to continue their storied history of survival and success despite the odds.
Mereday is a contributing writer for Regal Black Men’s Magazine.