With August kicking off in just a few days, it means that we’ll be ushering in the start of National Black Business Month. Created to celebrate the more than three million Black businesses operated in the U.S., it’s also a time to recommit to supporting Black entrepreneurship and setting the stage for Black business owners to thrive.
While there’s been a boom in Black businesses created since the COVID-19 pandemic, the resources for their businesses and successes to be sustained are less freely distributed to them. Black-owned businesses account for $206 billion in annual revenue, but made up just 1% of venture investments in the U.S. in 2022. Supporting Black businesses, then, is less of a trend to catch on to, but an act of solidarity and shifting power and resources back into the hands of the Black community.
Starting ShiftED Consulting has given me an entirely different appreciation for entrepreneurship, and what it truly means to support Black businesses. While the momentum from the 2020 Black Lives Matter uprising may have slowed down, as seen through corporations firing DEI leaders and ending many of their initiatives, it doesn’t mean that we can’t keep our commitments to building power for Black people through their entrepreneurial efforts.
Whether you’re an individual or a business, there are many ways to tangibly and substantially support Black businesses, including:
Provide Referrals: While all sales are valued, over time, buying a product from a Black business just once does little to move the needle. Giving referrals or writing strong reviews can provide an up and coming or existing Black business with the stamp of approval that’s needed to build trust and notoriety with different audiences. Taking a moment out to highlight how impressed you were with your service or product is a public expression of gratitude that can turn a one-time transaction into a long-term benefit.
There’s also no higher compliment for a business owner than recommending a service you enjoyed or had a positive experience with to a friend, family member, or colleague. For many businesses, referrals are exactly how new clients are secured or new audiences reached.
Practice Patience: We’ve all been there before in waiting for that long-anticipated package to arrive. Yet when things go awry with our Amazon, UPS, or DHL deliveries, seldom do we treat large corporations with the same admonishment and callousness that we do a small Black business owner. Being understanding of a small business’s limited capacity is a welcomed showing of grace that many Black entrepreneurs seldom receive.
For Organizations– Support, and Don’t be a Hindrance to Your Employees’ Own Entrepreneurship Goals: In the year 2023, it should be no surprise that many people take on a second role as an entrepreneur. While a single full time role should ideally pay enough for an individual to earn a living wage, many Black workers find more fulfillment building on their own visions and ideas. Whether it’s for the purpose of having a second stream of income or for the joy it brings, a supportive work culture for Black entrepreneurs is one that would not chastise or punish them for having business outside of the role they were hired for.
This Black Business Month and beyond, take a moment to reflect on the ways that you are showing up for Black businesses and all Black entrepreneurs. Sustained support for Black businesses also sustains the freedom, independence, and personal fulfillment that can be found in bringing a business to life.