I recently watched a TEDx video about black businesses. This speech was given by author Maggie Anderson. She spoke about her year giving back to the black community. What do I mean by giving back? She supported black communities, black owned businesses, and black owned organizations like the NAACP. She touched on a very important statistic in her talk, she exclaimed that:
“In America, In Asian communities a dollar circulates among the community’s banks, retailers, and business professionals for up to 28 days before it is spent with outsiders. In the Jewish community, the circulation period is 19 days. In predominantly WASP (Caucasian) areas, 17 days. Hispanics keep their dollar for 7 days… But in the Black community, the dollar lives Six Hours!”
It’s funny because I never realized these statistics but I’ve always realized these statistics. What do I mean by that? I would always purchase goods and services from retailers outside of the black community because of the lack of black retailers. Money cannot circulate around a community that doesn’t enable that capability. You might be thinking, “But there are a lot of black retailers around the community I live in and I try and support”. Now while that may be true you have to look at this on a macro level.
Lets take for example the Asian community. The two popular products that are sold in the black community is food and beauty and hair supplies. The first thing that you notice is that in the Asian community, they tend to hire their own. The second thing you notice is the vendors they purchase their supplies from are Asians. Lastly, the vendors tend to get their supplies from, well you guessed it, other Asians. That is one strong supply chain process. So, you go to buy some Chinese food or that nice Brazilian bundle, your money goes as follows. You just paid the salary of the Asian employees at the store, these employees will spend their money in their own community, then it will help pay the Asian vendors for more supplies, finally the vendors pay the home company for more supplies.
Now, lets take a look at the Black Community. The supply chain is not strong at all. Where do we go for food, clothing, groceries, sneakers, apartments, houses, alcohol, etc… Well, you already know! We need to open up more businesses and start a strong supply chain process that will be beneficial to other Black own businesses. This is something I whole heartedly endorse.
But if we are to do this, a word of advice! Please allow other Black people to do business with you. I decided that I am a man of my word and live what I preach. I wanted to use black owned businesses while starting my company. Doing so has not been a smooth and sometimes professional experience. I won’t go into details but as a Black business owner, you should treat every customer with the upmost professionalism in order to gain repeat business and rave reviews. You don’t want your customers first experience to be awful because a person who is satisfied will go out of their way to tell 10 people, but a person who has had a bad experience will go out of their way to tell 10 times as many. You may not even realize the power the black community has, each of us is a constant walking marketing expert. This is the number one reason the black community is so powerful; yet blind. Black buying power is expected to reach $1.2 trillion in 2016, and $1.4 trillion by 2020, according to the University of Georgia’s Selig Center for Economic Growth. Just think about this. Think about some of the conditions our neighborhoods are in, our schools, our community centers. With this much spending power, you would think we would be better off but we’re not and thats because a very minimal amount circulates.
Now I’ve been in the customer service business for over a decade and it perplexes me at some of the horrible customer service I have seen in a lot of black owned or run business; mainly in the food industry. I know you’ve noticed it as well. You walk into a certain establishment and the person at the counter has a look on their face as if you are disturbing them. There is no inviting or friendly smile or exchange, it is right to the point and don’t have the audacity to need to think for a second or two. I often wonder how these businesses stay afloat. Then I think about it and see that the customers who frequent theses places allow this behavior by not speaking up.
My friend recently told me about a business that he and his wife are planning at their home. He needed to have a couple contractors come and give him a bid on some work that needed to be done. He had a Black contractor come one day and a white contractor come another day to take a look and supply them with a bid. My friend explained to both of the contractors the work that needed to be done in full details. He then received the bids from both contractors and the Black contractors bid was extremely higher than the white contractors. I deal with contractors and bids and I know that his bid was too high. We need to stop taking advantage of our own people if we want to keep our money circulating in our communities. We need to foster trust amongst our community in order to promote change. The more money circulating in our community the more we’ll be able to build our community. When have you seen or heard of a Chinese restaurant or Asian owned beauty store giving back to the community? But we will support their businesses without a blink of the eye. Lets build up our community like the Jewish or we will continue to buy or rent and increase their bottom line.
I leave you with this, Support and build each other up. If you’re intentional in supporting black owned businesses but they fall short of your expectations, SAY SOMETHING. We will not grow and empower each other if we walk away then give a bad report behind their back. Each one, teach one, reach one!