All Articles Tagged "african-american business"
Despite the discouraging predictions about the state of black economic future by of a group of scholars who met in DC recently, another new report says the forecast is looking sunny for black businesses.
“Of all the minority groups, African-American owned businesses posted the most gains in the early 2000s,” notes Credit Donkey. Among the facts the organization based this conclusion on:
- The 2007 U.S. Census found there were more than 1.9 million black-owned businesses in the U.S., which amounted to 7.1 percent of all the businesses in the country. “Compared to the previous collection of statistics, in 2002, these businesses experienced a 61 percent increase in number, while the national average increase was a mere nine percent,” says Credit Donkey, a comparison site that publishes credit card research.
- There was an increase in the number of black-owned businesses with one or more employees, a four percent increase over 2002.
- Black-owned firms hired a combined total of 921,000 workers, showing a 22 percent increase while the national increase was just 0.3 percent.
- African-American businesses are in sectors that are expected to see future growth, including healthcare/social service field, repair and maintenance/personal laundry services and administrative and support/waste management and remediation services.
- African-American businesses with employees grossed $99 billion in 2007. Those firms without employees earned $39 billion. This outpaced the rest of the country and showed a 55 percent increase over 2002 figures.
Are you patronizing black businesses? Seeing positive signs in the black business community?
It may sound strange considering the country’s ecomonic status, but business is good for most African American-owned businesses — especially in Michigan. According to Ken Harris, president and CEO of the Michigan Black Chamber of Commerce, black businesses are “growing at a rate three times the national average,” he told CBS Detroit. He continued, “…there’s more than 79,000 black-owner firms in Michigan; more than 32,000 in the city of Detroit alone, which ranks number four in the entire country.”
Harris believes one reason this may be happening is the younger generation’s passion for becoming entrepreneurs. “Entrepreneurship is extremely attractive,” Harris told CBS Detroit. “That’s why we have a Chamber of Commerce there now, to really nurture and develop young entrepreneurs; to put the types of resources in place that will allow them to benefit, to build their businesses [to] more than just a one-employee business. [M]ore importantly, to compete globally.”
It’s not only in Michigan where black businesses are growing. According to the most recent numbers from the Commerce Department’s Minority Business Development Agency and the US Census Bureau, the number of African American-owned firms in the United States increased by 60.5 percent between 2002 and 2007 to 1.9 million firms. Because of these stats, African-American businesses are proving themselves very important to the U.S. economy and its recovery. The Bureau reported that “African American-owned businesses also drove job creation over the five-year period, with employment growing 22 percent, exceeding that of non-minority-owned businesses.”
Despite this positive growth, however African-American businesses only represent seven percent of all businesses in the U.S.
Valorie Burton was 24 years old when she started her first business, a PR firm. It’s been more than a decade since she founded Inspire Incorporated, a company that aims to equip business leaders with the tools to live happier, more successful, fulfilling and enriching lives. Through the company’s Coaching and Positive Psychology Institute Division, Burton offers coaching certification training to nearly 100 coaches a year; she also offers one-on-one coaching sessions for busy executives. Some of her clients include McDonald’s, Blue Cross Blue Shield and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC). This University of Pennsylvania graduate also appears weekly as the expert on CNN’s “Reclaim Your Career” segment. Other media outlets Burton has appeared on include Oprah Radio, ABC Radio Network, TD Jake’s “The Potter’s House” and ABC’s Family Channel. From 2001 to 2003, Burton served on the Governor’s Commission for Women in Texas. Burton is also the author of the books Successful Women Think Differently, Where Will You Go From Here, What’s Really Holding You Back, Why Not You, How Did I Get So Busy, and Rich Minds/Rich Rewards.
MN: When and why did you found Inspire Incorporated?
VB: I went into business for myself in 1997, founding a public relations. Four years later, I founded Inspire Incorporated. I launched the Coaching and Positive Psychology (CaPP) Institute in 2009, as a division of Inspire Inc., to address the training needs of organizations. In the current economy, many companies and organizations are dealing with a lot of change. Large amounts of change affect employees. Even the most resilient people get tired of change: layoffs, taking on more work, etc. For this reason, one of our training programs revolves around resilience. For example, organizations and professionals can receive training on how to deal with and overcome unexpected change. Another piece of training provided through Inspired Inc.’s CaPP division deals with personal and executive coaches. There haven’t been a lot of programs that teach an academic foundation around what makes people happier, more resilient and prepared to perform better. When I created the coaching programs I also noticed that many coaches lacked a research foundation. What I mean by this is, just because someone is great at being a coach doesn’t mean that they know how to market and build a business. Inspire Inc. and CaPP fill that need.
MN: Was gaining access to capital a challenge for you? If so, how did you face and overcome this challenge, and how much capital did you initially invest in your business?
VB: Inspire Inc. launched as an offshoot of my writing and speaking endeavors. After I sold my PR business, I used some of that money to start Inspire Inc. in 2001. I also made sure that I didn’t have a lot of expenses when I started my business. It’s important to remember that when businesses first start, money may not come in as quickly or as regularly as it did when you worked for someone else.
MN: Tell us about the coach certification process at CaPP. What types of training and certification examinations do you provide?
VB: Through CaPP, we’ve been training coaches for about two years. As part of our certification process, coaches go through an in-person and online training process. After finishing a certain number of training hours, coaching client hours they then complete a written and oral exam to complete their certification. Coaches certified through CaPP also complete written exams in business development and positive psychology. We train about 100 coaches a year. We conduct in-person and online programs twice a year.
MN: What was your biggest challenge as an entrepreneur during the formative years of your business? What is your biggest challenge today and what strategies do you use to overcome those challenges?
VB: In the beginning I didn’t know how long it would take to ramp up business, particularly as a writer. I thought my business would be fully ramped up in six months. Keep in mind that I had begun writing and speaking before launched Inspire Inc. full-time. I was overly optimistic in terms of how long it would take to see my marketing efforts manifest into revenue. What I thought would take six months probably took the first few years of the business. Today the challenge is maintaining clarity about the business vision because there are always multiple opportunities to do something else that might be related to but not precisely what we do at Inspire Inc. This is so important – when you see opportunities – ask yourself if the opportunity is right for your business. As yourself if the opportunity is it at the core of your business’ mission.
by R. Asmerom
Celeste Walker, better known as Madam CJ Walker, is well known in the African-American community as the first African-American millionaire who built an empire on hair and beauty products. In the above video, Harvard Business School historian Nancy F. Koehn acknowledges that Walker’s story is not as celebrated in the cannon of American business history and discusses the significance of Walker’s emergence during the turbulent times of the early 1900s. The odds were stacked against her as a Black woman, making her endurance and success all the more remarkable.
According to her bio, Koehn’s research “focuses on effective leadership in turbulent times and how leaders, past and present, craft lives of purpose, worth, and impact.”
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by R. Asmerom
We all know that great entrepreneurs are ones who able to combine passion with commitment. Despite warning about a dire economy, Brooklyn-based business woman Zenobia Dewely did just that, forging ahead with her baking company after discovering a love for baking. Known for its creative cookie creations, her baking company Zenobia’s Sweet Tooth is known for such flavors as peanut butter and jelly, chocolate chip Twix, and Red Velvet. In a profile in Ebony, the successful entrepreneur talks about the initial reactions she got when she started her business:
Well, when I first started out, I heard, “The economy is bad”, The food industry always fails”, “I don’t think it’s a good idea to quit your day time job”, and “Are you crazy?” Now, some of those same people tell me how proud they are and how delicious my treats are. They often wonder, how I thought to put a Kit Kat or Snicker in a cookie. Whatever the case, they have found that I am a crazy cookie lady – crazy about baking and living out my purpose. Of course, my all time favorite response is, “Can I order more? People are undoubtedly amazed, excited, and satisfied with my treats.
Today, Dewely makes many media appearances to plug her fledgling business and is often referred to as the “The Crazy Cookie Lady,” due to the fact that she can often be found relentlessly plugging her brand. She told Ebony that she goes on celebrity scopes where she goes around New York City looking for celebrities to offer her treats to. Her level of passion for her business has helped it steadily grow since it was founded in 2009, and her advice to other entrepreneurs wishing to follow in her footsteps is as simple as it is practical. “All things are possible if you dream, move into action and believe,” she said.
Patricia Barron is a woman that understands the value of hard work and determination. It wasn’t until she retired from Ma Bell telephone company in Omaha after 30 years that she decided to pursue her life-long dream restaurant. By then she was a grandmother, but her young spirit refused to let her be called grandmother. Instead, she became known as “Big Mama,” and like many of the Big Mamas in our lives, Omaha.com reports that there’s a lot you can learn from her story.
Barron studied culinary arts in her early 20s and always loved to cook meals for her large and growing family. In her words she loves to feed people, and sometimes had 30 to 40 people over for dinner. Starting her business after retirement had been her plan for awhile because the restaurant she wanted to create was going to be big, and she needed time. She wanted to share her grandmother’s recipes, which included oven fried chicken, collard greens, stir fried cabbage, with everyone. She hoped that her business would be a source of economic empowerment for the financially unstable north Omaha where so many needed jobs. She was 65 when she started her business, and lenders were hesitant to lend to an old woman in a financially down area.
“I had experienced discrimination in my life, because I was black and because I was a woman,” Barron told Omaha.com, “but I had never been discriminated against because I was old!”
She kept at her dream despite the challenges and opened up Big Mama’s Kitchen on a youth services campus in north Omaha. Today Big Mama’s is doing well, and has been featured on Travel Channel, the Food Channel and the Sundance Channel. People hail her “Afro Burger” and in her community she is known as the queen of soul food.
The source of her success is a lesson that many businesses need to take to heart– the strength of her personal brand.
As she was getting her business started, she hired a marketing consultant who told her to put her picture on her restaurant’s logo and business card. Barron was skeptical at first, but was glad she decided to take the consultant’s advice. She is the face of Big Mama’s Kitchen, a face that inspires African American customers and helps her white customers put a face to the good food that they eat in her restaurant. While good food and good service are important to business success, never underestimate the power of a personal brand.
Today, the PR industry is dominated by women. It’s certainly one of the few areas in small business where women rule. Michelle Flowers Welch is not just an example of a women in pr success story but stands as an example of a black women successfully crafting a career in multicultural marketing and public relations. She launched her firm, Flowers Communications Group, twenty years ago. Since she launched her own business, she tells mediabistro that she has seen an improvement in multicultural marketing although it is still a work in progress.
“When I first started the company and even prior to that, it was a hard sell to get corporations to see the need to develop specific, authentic programs to reach African American and Latino consumers. It was almost like people would see the numbers but not yet the importance of changing the communications approach to reach that consumer base. Many thought they could use the same strategic approach, take the same ad, and plug in people of color, and put it in publications of color.”
Flowers originally wanted to go into journalism but got steered into PR by a guidance counselor. She went on to work with the Chicago Urban League and then to the big agency GolinHarris. She followed that impressive experience by moving on to Burrell Communications where she served as SVP.
Flowers eventually set up her own boutique agency in 1992 to target multicultural audiences and has successfully sustained a foothold in the competitive industry.
Meet Danita King, the Principal and Founder of PR Noir, one of the fastest growing boutique public relations firms in New York City. Hailing all the way from Houston Texas, this young CEO opened PR Noir in 2007, with a mission to fill the void for innovative, brand-centric PR.
Graduating from Tulane University, magna cum laude with a triple major B.S. in English, Spanish and African Diaspora Studies, King later received a full academic scholarship to Boston University, where she earned a Master of Science degree in Corporate Public Relations in 2003. She then began her career as an apprentice at a contemporary sportswear fashion showroom in London, later moving to New York City to work in-house positions for fashion and luxury brands Joseph Abboud and Coach in New York.
Throughout her career, King has executed strategic PR campaigns and media-driven events for such notable brands as Bill Blass, Simmons Jewelry Company (Russell Simmons), Disney, August Silk, Bongo, VH1 and Target, among others. She has also worked with a number of celebrity, sports and music-driven campaigns and holds close strategic partnerships with celebrity management, publicists and record label executives.
PR Noir has a solid client roster of boutique and mass-market brands in the fashion, beauty, sports, luxury goods and lifestyle categories. King has worked hard to carve a unique, niche specialty and competitive edge: equal footing and relationships with both mainstream and multi-ethnic media.
Flip the script to see what advice King has to offer for young black women wanting to break into PR or start their own business.
(Black Enterprise) – Aklia Chinn is a jewelry designer who is a vet in the business, with more than 15 years catering to celebrity clients including Blair Underwood, Lisa Bonet, James Pickens and Lawrence Fishburne. Developing a hobby into a lifetime career, Chinn’s pieces have been worn in films including Spike Lee’s Crooklyn and TV shows includingLiving Single and A Different World, and featured in several national publications. Today, she still caters to a celebrity and every day professional clientele, with pieces custom-made with exotic materials she gathers from her international travels.
BlackEnterprise.com caught up with Chinn on how she’s been able to remain viable in the accessories industry, why she continues to pursue her passion in a saturated market and how other up-and-comers can remain competitive.
by Tre Baker
- Some marketers say 85 cents of every $1 spent by blacks last year was spent at the influence of black females. Others estimate black female buying power at upwards of $565 billion last year alone.
- Muléy cited RL Polk and Yankelovich studies pointing out that black women account for 58% of all new cars and trucks purchased by African Americans, compared to 44% of women in the general population; that black women spend $57 billion on food items per year, and that black females spend 30% more than the general market on personal/beauty products.
- Black women started business at three to five times the rate of all other new businesses between 2006 and 2009. In 2008, there were 1.9 million firms owned by women of color – blacks, Asians, or Hispanics, according to the Center for Women’s Business Research. They employed 1.2 million workers and brought in $165 billion.
Now these are all interesting stats, and we already know that “women be shoppin” because Chris Rock said so, but what do we do with this information? Personally, I see an opportunity to directly combat Black unemployment and get our community out of this chronic depression we’ve been in for generations. And as a student of economics and history, it is clear to me that social and political power almost always come after economic power. It is a tradition in some African societies, that when things get so bad, it’s the women who call for war. Well ladies, it’s time for battle, and one of your greatest weapons is in your purse. It’s time for you to take the lead and start wielding and concentrating that economic power and putting those shopping habits to good use. We (the menfolk) will follow suit because…let’s be real…a lot of the money we spend is because of you anyway (either to get you, keep you, or prevent arguments)!
Let’s start with Black unemployment. The official rate is almost 20%, and real rates are estimated at over 30%. These are depression level numbers here folks, but despite all the back-and-forth debate and reliance on the government and major corporations for solutions to this problem, the answer is much more simple and lies with those $565 billion dollars Black women are spending and higher rate of business establishment.
All the Black-owned businesses in America only make about $140 billion in annual revenue. Meanwhile Black-women alone are spending over half a trillion dollars annually. So if we can re-direct just one third of that money to Black businesses, we could increase that $140 billion to about $188 billion. To handle that growth those businesses will need to hire more employees, and it is known that Black companies are much more likely to hire Black employees. So there’s your solution to Black unemployment that doesn’t require help from the government or white-owned companies. This is basic stuff, and we can do it with MONEY WE ALREADY SPEND. We know what we need to do, all that’s left is to do it.
Then, once we’ve started re-directing those consumer dollars, we need to pump up the rate of Black entrepreneurship by starting more businesses and supporting them with adequate investment, advisory services, and mentoring programs. We basically need a Black version of Silicon Valley to encourage and support entrepreneurship, because anyone can start a businesses, but it takes resources to really grow that business and create a significant numbers of jobs. And Black entrepreneurs should AT LEAST be able to rely on Black consumers to patronize them. Who better to start businesses that cater to Black women than other Black women? Then Black women can support them and re-direct even more of those 565 billion dollars. As the most important Black consumers, if Black women don’t lead this charge, it’s not looking good for any of us.
Finally, I must mention the cultural component that has to go along with any struggle for Black Empowerment. It is not enough to control the Black economy and become financially free. We must also become mentally and spiritually free. Otherwise we won’t even know what to do with all this new money (just look at all these Black athletes and entertainers). Our problem really isn’t the lack of economic power, our problem is the lack of cultural power, and adopting a Eurocentric mentality that is just not compatible with who we are. But without economic resources, it’s hard to build a sustainable culture and defend it from other people that want to control or destroy it.
For example, we don’t need to own our own haircare companies that make the same poisonous products that non-Black-owned haircare companies make. We need our own Black haircare companies to make better products that are better for us and allow us to maintain the hair The Creator gave us the way we really want to while setting our own standards of beauty. Is it the $795 pair of red bottoms you want or the feeling (or praise) that you get when you wear them, and can you get that feeling another way? Do we really want to perpetuate a culture where people will pay thousands of dollars for a handbag, but allows children to starve when it clearly has the resources to prevent it? We need economic power so we can have the resources to perpetuate our own culture. We do not need economic power just so we can perpetuate, imitate, and support an inherently destructive/exploitative culture we did not create and do not directly control.
This movement for Economic Empowerment is something we all can get involved in by spending with Black-owned companies, working for them, and/or starting one of your own. Don’t know which companies to support? Start with ujamaadeals.com and maybe a google search or two. Don’t know how to start a business? Begin with startupexpert.us. These interwebs have all the information you need. There’s no excuse for ignorance. Let’s put these Black consumer dollars to work for Black Economic Empowerment.
Tre Baker is an entrepreneur and business development strategist. He is the co-founder of dnbeapparel.com, positive propaganda apparel, and ujamaadeals.com, daily deals from Black-owned companies. Tre has a BS in Engineering Science from Vanderbilt University and an MBA from Harvard Business School.