Being an entrepreneur is hard enough, but when you add being Black to the front of that, you may as well be, as my grandmother used to say, up Schitts creek without a paddle.
It isn't a secret that Black communities aren’t afforded the same resources and opportunities as many of our counterparts when it comes to learning the skills needed to run a business. This means that so many Black-owned businesses are starting from scratch with no guidance, business education or funding. The Founder and CEO of BCA Culture, Darbi, states, “Funding and access to capital for many business owners has been limited, due to the lack of information and knowledge available. Many new business owners do not realize that they can receive funding without relying on their personal credit history.”
Although bootstrapping is common amongst small businesses, it must be maneuvered strategically if the owner hopes to survive and bring in consistent income. With so many odds stacked against Black-owned businesses, many allies are wondering how they can go about supporting businesses in the Black community, and what that would even look like.
I decided to speak with Black entrepreneurs across various fields and discuss the ways that we can come together and provide effective support to Black-owned businesses. The following are a few of the responses that I received back from these self-made business professionals:
1. Engage with these businesses online.
If you see something that looks nice or that provides you with some value, let them know. Show them encouragement and provide positive feedback so that they’re able to clearly understand what they’re doing right. Not to mention that online engagement will improve SEO, boost the algorithm and allow them to reach larger audiences.
2. Leave reviews when you receive good service.
According to an article published in Forbes, only 10% of consumers will leave a review for a product, however, 97% of consumers read reviews prior to making a purchasing decision. Make an intentional effort to review the services you receive so that the business can demonstrate to potential customers that they provide a pleasant customer experience.
3. Give referrals and recommendations for their business.
Word of mouth is still the most beneficial and cost-effective marketing strategy for small businesses. When someone mentions a need or desire that they have, refer them to a Black-owned business. You’re not only driving traffic and leads back to that business, but you’re also helping a loved-one solve a problem that they have expressed to you, and what’s better than helping multiple people with a singular stone?
These suggestions seem simple enough, but they truly do make a difference when it comes to the support and success of Black-owned businesses that are just starting out.
While on my journey to finding ways to support Black-owned businesses, I came across a pair of sisters with a unique business concept that allows consumers to support multiple Black-owned businesses at one time. Their passion for supporting Black-owned businesses stems from a deep, unwavering desire to connect with Black entrepreneurs.
"We wanted to help support our community by providing simpler solutions. The Blk Lifestyle box was created to solve a need. It was to solve the fact that when we decide to support Black-owned businesses or switch our products to Black-owned products we had to do a lot of research to find the best companies to replace our products with. We then had to shop on different websites and pay a ton in shipping costs for each product. We wanted to make it simple for everyone to be able to switch their everyday products to natural ones and make it easy to support Black-owned businesses. We know that people are busy and don't necessarily have the time to research, buy,and try a lot of products to find the perfect one. So we did that for them and packaged it all into one box."
Following the footsteps of Laurie Fiona and Victoria Young, founders of The Blk Lifestyle, I want to strongly encourage everyone to be intentional and deliberate in the way that we go about giving our support to those who need and deserve it.
With the economy at such an unstable place, more families and individuals are turning to entrepreneurship in an effort to stay afloat. This year has been a setback for many, yet Black-owned businesses are insisting on standing firm and creating their own paths, while also giving back to their community in unique and creative ways.