All Articles Tagged "small businesses"
For many people, the answer to curbing a lot of the social injustices that we as Black folks face has been to put money back into the community. I’ve been sent messages about it, seen it on social media, and read about the lengths that we should go to build ourselves up. Boycott mainstream businesses, back Black businesses. I couldn’t knock the idea because, to be honest, I didn’t have a better plan of action to offer. So I tried it. And if I’m being honest, I’ve been a bit disappointed.
I think it’s nice that we encourage one another to help Black businesses grow, but someone needs to tell a few of these business owners to help their customers out, too.
Just this morning I lugged my heavy bicycle, which needed new inner tubes for both wheels, about 15 minutes to a Black-owned bike shop (that also doubles as a West Indian record shop). It was supposed to be open at 10 a.m., but when I got there close to 11 a.m., lo and behold, the gate was down and there were no signs of life. For a minute there, I assumed they had closed down long ago and maybe I had just missed the memo. But when I called the number on the business’ sign, the owner picked up.
“Hello?” he said in the flattest way possible.
“Uh, is this the bicycle shop?” I asked.
“Yeah. I’m running a little late,” he said in response, already sounding exasperated.
“Oh, okay. So you’re on your way now?”
“Yeah,” he said. “I’ll be there in like 15 minutes.”
I hung up. I ended up looking at my phone to see if there were any other bike repair shops in the area. No dice. One shop that I saw and knew of, but was a 10-minute train ride away, had been open since 8 a.m. They weren’t Black-owned, but I was sick of standing in the heat and tired of lugging my bike around. The only thing that kept me from seeking out the services of the shop was the fact that UberXL prices would have been too high to get me there. Plus, those prices didn’t include the cost for the two inner tube replacements. So I kept waiting. And waiting. The owner would eventually show up, but he would need to make me wait a bit longer. Why?
“I have to go to the bathroom. I don’t even know if I can make it to the bathroom” he said.
So I waited some more. About 10 minutes later, and after what I assumed was a hearty bowel movement, the owner came back out. Two more customers had approached the shop. He pointed to a man with a specially-made BMX bike. When I stated to the owner that I had been waiting longer, he said, “I don’t know who was waiting first, but he was waiting across the street.”
And the fact that he had no problem with that, that he didn’t at one point ever apologize for his unprofessionalism or offer to let me cool off inside of his shop, irked the hell out of me. It was in those moments, as I stood in the heat with my heavy bike, that I said to myself, “See, this is why people end up avoiding Black businesses.”
Trust me when I say that I’ve tried. I tried with the beautician who asked for a picture of my locs before my appointment. When I got to her shop, she waited for me to get my hair washed and sit in her chair before telling me that my hair was thicker than my picture. Because of that, she would need to charge me more. (Did I also mention that she asked me to let her assistant finish my hair so she could go to bed early?)
I tried multiple times (literally I’ve been left sitting outside) with the smoothie shop that is supposed to be open at 10 a.m. on Sundays but doesn’t open until after 4 p.m.
I tried with the restaurant that charged my debit card twice and then left my food sitting on the ledge for about 10 minutes before my fiancé had to direct someone to get it.
I tried with the necklace maker on Etsy who sent my jewelry late, only for it to break months down the line.
I tried with the hair braider who also had me standing outside in the heat. When she braided my hair, she took breaks to eat potato chips before touching my hair with her greasy hands.
And I tried with the Black MUA who wouldn’t answer my phone calls for a consultation. Funny thing is, she had an attitude when she called me back the next day and I said I was no longer interested in securing an appointment for my upcoming wedding.
I’ve really tried, folks. But I’m getting really tired of the shenanigans.
Don’t get me wrong. There really are great Black businesses and business owners out there. The people at Khamit Kinks who do my hair in Boerum Hill are great. Peaches in Bed-Stuy has some great employees, as does the bar Bed-Vyne Brew. The nail salon I visit every now and then in Stuyvesant Heights (shout out to Very Polished Nail Lounge) is pretty awesome, too. Still, it took me a while to think of those places as opposed to the many places and business owners I’ve dealt with who acted as though they could care less about their customers.
I still believe that it’s important to enrich the communities that we live in. Black folks are truly more powerful than people give us credit for. If we were all to pull together and start buying Black more often, it could be a wake-up call to the world around us. But in order for many of us to feel comfortable moving on from what we’re used to and gleefully start supporting one another, a lot of people need to get their sh-t together.
Open your shops on time. Stop thinking it’s okay to open up late without offering a discount or at least an apology for the time wasted. Stop double booking. Stop hiring people who aren’t serious about doing the job asked of them. Stop doing what you think is best as opposed to what the customer asked for. And most importantly, stop acting as though because you’re Black and I’m Black, I should get over bad business practices and support you no matter what. Trust me when I tell you, ain’t nobody got time (or money) for that.
From Black Enterprise
The Securities Exchange Commission finally voted to release the proposed rules for Title III of President Obama’s JOBS Act, which will permit startups and intermediaries (funding portals) to finally participate in equity-based crowdfunding—allowing non-accredited investors to invest in crowdfunded offerings for the first time in 80 years. Entrepreneurs can now sell securities online to anyone who believes in their companies.
With Title III in place, investors don’t have to have $1 million net worth in order to invest in small businesses. Commissioner Kara Stein noted in a release that the rule would allow investors to use the wisdom of the crowd to identify and reward good ideas.
Oregon’s Senator Jeff Merkley, one of the drafters of the crowdfunding provisions in the JOBS Act, has stated: “This law will make sure entrepreneurs can use online tools to find investors, and make sure investors can put their money into exciting projects without worrying about getting ripped off.”
This major shift in securities laws could mean the emancipation of capital for minority and women-owned businesses, who traditionally have struggled with gaining access to capital through traditional means. More minorities and lower net worth individuals will be able to get in on investments that can drive more wealth generation to their communities.
Read more at BlackEnterprise.com
From Black Enterprise
Black Enterprise has developed a program called Small Business University. It is geared toward guiding small business owners to be successful and practical vendors. In this episode of Small Business University Ramon Ray, who is a marketing and technology evangelist for InfusionSoft and Small Biz Technology shares with readers the fundamental skills in social media. He helps business owners with email marketing, building their website and how to grow their following.
If you are interested in this Black Enterprise series, check out BlackEnterprise.com
There are many small businesses that are also government contractors. They will also feel the impact from delayed loans and work stoppage. And many of these government contract workers are black-owned small businesses.
“Black businesses are impacted at a higher number than the general population,” said Representative Donald Payne, Jr. (D-NJ), who serves on the Small Business Committee in Congress.
One such person is Staci Redmon, who is president and CEO of Strategy and Management Services based in Springfield, Virginia. Her 95-employee firm has six new federal contracts scheduled to start on October 1st. Her company, which receives SBA loans and participates in other programs under the SBA, generates 100 percent of its revenue from federal contracts.
Redmon will probably have to lay off 10 percent of her staff.
Redmon is just one of the many African-American small business owners whose companies will be hurt by the shutdown. The question is, how many will be able to survive?
Each day it seems, President Obama is answering questions about The Great Recession, whether or not the economy is getting better, and what we’re doing to make that happen. He answered those questions directly for Black Enterprise EIC Derek T. Dingle.
“The African American community ends up being hurt during recessionary times more than the population at large,” the President said during the exclusive interview. “[The] African American unemployment rate is still way too high. You had a credit crunch for small- and medium-sized businesses that disproportionately impacted African American businesses. But part of what we have been able to do is to specifically focus on disadvantaged businesses, disadvantaged communities.”
President Obama also talks about the administration’s support for black entrepreneurs, unemployment in the black community, and the impact of predatory lending.
“I told every single member of my cabinet, ‘I want you to increase transparency, simplify the process, make sure that the goals that we have for small, minority-, women-, and veteran-owned businesses are prioritized inside your agency, and think about other ways that we can break up these contracts into smaller pieces so that smaller businesses could actually bid for them,'” President Obama added.
The Presidential election is in full swing with fewer than 100 days left until we head to the voting booths. For more from President Obama about these important issues, visit BlackEnterprise.com.
Small businesses are the backbone of the American economy. For months now politicians have been encouraging shoppers to support independent store owners within their communities. We say why not show the sistahs some love. Black women have boutiques, wine stores, and a myriad of ways to help shoppers looking for a unique experience find exactly what they’re looking for. Here’s a list of some black women, with boutique businesses worth supporting:
Ooh La La Fashion boutique in Atlanta is owned and operated by fashionista Ronni McBride. The African American proprietor’s store promotes many Italian designs and showcases lines that are mostly European influenced. The store features innovative designers from around the world as well as talented locals. In addition offering fashion forward clothing, the boutique offers a range of unique and even custom made accessories including precious stone jewelry, purses, shoes, and hats.
(Technorati) — An entrepreneur starting a small business today is taking a gamble. According to the Small Business Administration, 50 percent of all businesses fail within the first five years. But the help of a business expert can mean the difference between small business failure and small business success – 90 percent of successful small businesses reported they sought out expert help, according to a Dunn & Bradstreet study.
(Phoenix Business Journal) — Americans aren’t as entrepreneurial as they used to be, according to two new studies. The Global Entrepreneurship Monitor found that only 6.9 percent of Americans were involved in early-stage entrepreneurial activity last year, down from 10.6 percent four years earlier.
The only increase in activity in 2009 came from necessity-driven entrepreneurs — those who started a business because they needed a job, not because they saw new opportunities. That’s not a good sign for an innovation-driven economy, according to researchers at Babson College and Baruch College, which conducted the study.
(Inc) — Serial entrepreneur Brad Oberwager founded Sundia (No. 130) in Oakland, California, in 2004 with the goal of creating the first national watermelon brand. To that end, he began licensing the Sundia brand to watermelon distributors, including Timco Worldwide, which packages and transports the fruit grown on this 5,000-acre farm in Bakersfield, California. Distributors, in turn, benefit from Sundia’s nationwide promotional campaigns, deals on bulk packaging, and other perks. In the past year, the $6.1 million company has shifted its focus to sales of fruit cups, none of which feature watermelon, in stores such as Kroger and A&P.
(Entrepreneur) — Troubling statistics have been rolling in lately about job losses. While the beginning of the recession saw the shedding of thousands of jobs en masse at major corporations, by the end of last year, job cuts were concentrated at small businesses. While financial aid aimed at small businesses continues to sit in the Senate, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported 62 percent of cuts were at firms with less than 50 workers — the kind that provide nearly one-third of all jobs.