#SoapBoxMoment Volume 1437175383
My reaction to all the “black business” convos on my news feed over the past few weeks:
TO THE CONSUMER
Why do you call out black business owner’s race when you’re complaining? Why do you make your issue with “black businesses” vs “small businesses” or just that business, period? I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone credit their poor service experience at a white-owned business to “white businesses” or the bad food they ate at an Asian-owned business to “Asian businesses?”
Here’s my first #SoapBoxCry: BLACK-OWNED BUSINESSES ARE NOT HOMOGENEOUS. We don’t all operate the same, market the same, nor provide the same level of customer service. There are great, good, not-so-good and crappy business owners from all races. I deal with it every day.
Now, let’s talk specifically about black-owned businesses: I’m sure everyone agrees that it’s much harder for black person to start a business than a white person. That said, when many black business in the city open their doors, they typically have just enough funding to do just that – open the doors. There’s no operations budget, marketing budget and certainly no funding for true customer service training. Additionally, there’s often no funding in place to pay people good wages to attract the best workers. As such, their path to success is steep and often times will lead to failure just like most small businesses in the country. We’re no different.
So if you want to support black businesses, just be intentional about it and accept that these small business may have some tolerable warts. Since Pepperoni Rays has been such a hot topic lately, let’s use it as an example. In my experience as a patron for years, they have great food but really slow service. Because we want to support, here’s how we manage that: When we order, we tell them exactly how we want our pizza and we expect it to take at least an hour. This is not where we go for “fast food” but when we have the time to wait, we do. The hope was that we will support them enough to the point that their service would get better over time but because it didn’t, it looks like it has caught up to them. That’s just business; it happens all over the country to a lot of really good people. And, like one of my guys said in a post earlier this week “if you can’t (for whatever reason) support each other, let’s at least try NOT to tear each other down.” It’s really that simple to me. I don’t see the value in publicly trashing a business. Send an email, inbox them if they are on social media, ask to speak to someone in the store or something.
TO THE SERVICE PROVIDER / BUSINESS OWNER
#SoapBoxCry number two… NOBODY OWES YOU ANYTHING. Not their support, not their dollars and not their empathy. If you start your business with this mentality, you’ll be much better off. Yes we know it’s harder for you, yes we know that you may not have professional trainers, an MBA or a marketing team, but that’s no excuse. You can learn just about anything via Google. Be resourceful and don’t bite off more than you can chew. Find what you are really good at, focus on going from good to great and then you should see growth. Lastly, before you bash the community for non-support via vulgar, distasteful or crude social media rants, do some honest self-evaluation. Do people (outside your friends and family) tell you that you have the best fried catfish in town, does your song really compare to Lil whoever? Is the dance floor really packed when you DJ? If you can’t answer yes to those questions in a private moment alone then maybe you’re just not that good. Perfect your craft so that you’re not relying on your friends, family and black community to support you. Make it so that your work is so dope that it demands attention.
At the end of the day, both consumers and service providers / business owners can be better at helping our community to grow. If you want to support a business, be intentional about it. If you witness bad product or service, ask yourself “what I can do to help add value to the situation before writing a scathing post about the business?”
Business owners, if you want the support of the community give them comparable product or service at a competitive price. If you can’t compete on price be sure to make sure people feel like they’re getting something better for paying more. In 2018, we all have the answer to life’s test. Just execute writing them down.
FYI, Here’s a peek into my background so you can have a better understanding of the basis of my opinion: I am an engineer by trade, have been a successful party and concert promoter, owned two bars, one restaurant and currently help my wife run her real estate and construction company. Additionally, I was a senior project manager on the largest civil works project in the history of this country, overseeing about $2B of work on the Westbank. I have sold $2 drinks and $700K homes and procured products and services ranging from pennies to millions.
Jeff Williams, MBA, PMP