Being a small business owner is difficult, and it only gets harder when you’re starting out with fewer resources, connections, and generational wealth than other entrepreneurs. According to statistics by Fundera, as of 2021, over 2 million US businesses are Black owned. But with 32.5 million businesses in the country, we can do a lot better. There are plenty of Black entrepreneurs out there looking for a little help to get started or to grow what they already have. If you want to learn how to support Black-owned businesses, here are a few tips to get you started.
According to Black History, the oldest Black-owned business in America is E.E. Ward Moving & Storage. Founded in 1881 by John T. Ward and his son William S. Ward, this company is still going strong and has grown into a multi-million-dollar award-winning company run by husband and wife, Brian and Dominique Brooks. Together, they work hard to preserve the legacy of inclusion that the company was built on. You can check out their website at eeward.com.
If you straighten your hair, you’d better be thanking Madam C.J. Walker, the first self-made woman millionaire and inventor of the first successful hair straightening process. According to Black Excellence, She used her invention to start a franchise called the Madame C.J. Walker Manufacturing Company. Another major entrepreneurial powerhouse, Marjorie Joyner, joined as her agent and became the national supervisor over Walker’s 200 beauty schools by 1919. She is believed to have taught some 15,000 stylists over her fifty-year career and was also active in the development of new beauty products. She helped write the first cosmetology laws for the state of Illinois and founded both a sorority and a national association for Black beauticians.
While it’s a difficult pill to swallow, the truth is that our society throws roadblocks against Black entrepreneurs more than their Caucasian counterparts. This means that if we want to encourage diversity in the business world, we need to break down those roadblocks and help Black business owners however we can.
It’s important to note that encouraging diversity in business is not just about how we can benefit from the perspectives and skills of Black people. Black business owners benefit the entire Black community by providing job opportunities, reducing racial wealth gap, and standing up for the needs and interests of the Black community. You can read more about it in this article by Green America.
It’s easier than ever to find Black-owned businesses, both for business owners and consumers. Many directories were founded during the COVID pandemic to specifically help support Black entrepreneurs during a time when business owners were struggling the most. One of these is the Black Business Green Book, which allows you to browse by category, filter to businesses your state or online only, and easily submit more businesses. You can find this and other major directories on this list compiled by US Chamber.
You can also find Black-owned businesses with Google. According to an article by CNet, Google has added Black-owned as an attribute that business owners can add to their business profile on Google Maps and Search. You can also search using that attribute to more easily find businesses with Black-owned attached to their profile. This gives them greater visibility for anyone who is trying to learn how to support Black owned businesses in their area.
There are lots of ways you can support Black and ethnic minority owned businesses in your area, especially as a fellow small business owner. This is especially important in areas where Black-owned businesses are scarce, and they may not have a large community support system to begin with. If you want to support Black entrepreneurs and business owners, start with these tips below.
Crazy, I know, but the one who will best understand the needs of each business owner is the business owner themself. If there are Black business owners in your area that you want to support, reach out to them and ask what their needs are. Even if they don’t give you a working list right away, just talking to them can help you get a better understanding of what their situation is and where you might be able to offer support.
Looking to invest in other local businesses? Why not start with one that’s ethnic minority owned? One of the greatest roadblocks for Black entrepreneurs is just a lack of funds and access to investors. If you’re looking to invest, or know someone else who is, you can be sure that there are plenty of Black-owned startups with amazing ideas that can take your money far. Go the extra mile and find entrepreneurs whose businesses specifically cater to the needs of the Black community. If you need ideas for where to start, Blak Business Directory has compiled a list of 150 businesses that Black communities need.
Are you part of any small business clubs or groups in your area? Are there any small business support funds or resources for your area you can direct them to? Did you just read this article that teaches you how to let people know that a business is Black owned? Don’t keep it all to yourself! If you know local Black business owners and they aren’t already connected to local supports that you’re aware of, now is the time to expand their resources with a little friendly advice. The more you can help them get connected in your area, the better.
If you’re looking to support a local Black-owned business that is doing well and looking to grow, there’s plenty of things that you can do to help both of your businesses at the same time. Offer to exchange advertising and branded giveaways to pass on to customers, so you both are advertising for both companies. If you do this with all your favorite local businesses in your area, then the trust that customers have in one company can spread to the others.
You can also do group sales and discounts with other companies so customers can get all sorts of goods and services in a single purchase. Spreading your influence like this helps everyone involved and creates a stronger small business community in your area. For more ideas, check out our other blog post on how to support small businesses.
There are a lot of ways any business owner can help local and national Black-owned businesses thrive. Whether you’re sharing your money, your contacts, your resources, or even just information, every little bit can help. Take the time to learn how to help Black business owners in your area and make a difference not just for them, but for your local Black community as a whole.
Columbus Underground: https://www.columbusunderground.com/nations-oldest-black-owned-business-celebrates-140-years-tm1/
Black Excellence: https://blackexcellence.com/black-owned/
Black History: https://www.blackhistory.com/2019/03/ee-ward-oldest-african-american-owned-business-united-states.html
Blak Business Directory: https://blakbusiness.com/100-businesses-the-black-community-needs/
Green America: https://www.greenamerica.org/blog/6-reasons-support-black-owned-businesses
US Chamber: https://www.uschamber.com/co/start/strategy/black-owned-businesses-directories
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