When "We" Don't "shop black" For the Holidays -5 Ways Black Biz Can Succeed In Spite Of
| Rocky Parrish
Happy Holiday's to everyone in the Black Ownership Universe.
This is the time of year where business owners of all kinds get ancy. We want to figure out how to get customers either through our doors, or to our website or both.
However as black business owners, we especially get a little tense, as we know after Christmas business is going to slow to a halt for almost 2 months if you are truly a retailer selling products online or in store.
If you provide services, you just have to keep doing what you do. Well I wanted to share some advice with fellow black businesses for this time of year.
So relax like me and Lionel and read along.
Why? Because we are ALWAYS seeing lists that really don't pertain to us. Don't know our struggle. So take what you can from this and do with it what you can and will.
1. Throw out everything you've ever read before that had nothing to do with black ownership.
I'm not saying some things don't apply, but if what you have been usually doing hasn't worked, isn't the first rule of business to adjust?
2. Tell your story as much as you can and through your brand and products.
Personally this is something I was uncomfortable with initially because I had work previously that was all about me, and just speaking on the radio and television. People gravitated to me and my radio partner because we were us all the time.
No TV persona. Just unfiltered us. I was poor. I got what I needed from my parent's, not what I wanted.
I realized if I wanted to connect with my footwear and apparel audience and potential customers I needed to connect with them as well. So I began reaching out to resources to tell my story. Public Relations is everything.
We let folks know about our first sneaker on KickStarter and our goals and how we didn't meet them until the last day. If you want to experience stress as a laid back dude like myself experience a last of your KickStarter campaign and being almost $5000 short of the goal. But I digress.
Have folks you know blog about you. Interview you. I blogged myself. I let folks know where we started as a company and the struggle. Yet, you need to realize you will relate to different people about different things. Some may not relate at all, but at least know your personal and brand story.
Im not saying it's not ok to like and have nice "name brand" stuff, but every black owned brand can BE that "name brand" if the culture got behind it. It's what happens to every other brand out there isn't it?
Which brings me to my next point.
3. Realize you can't cater to ONLY black folks. Market to EVERYONE!
When we first started, I knew I wanted to shout black owned from the roof tops. It was out of pride, and to show those trying to start their own businesses that you can be black and be successful.
(get ready to hear some brutal honesty)
BUT. Black folks in many cases (not all) are the last to support a black owned company.
Let's keep this 100 as folks like to say: Most black business owners know this already. We have the spending power to make EVERY black owned business a multi million top 500 business on Forbes if we really wanted to. We as a people just haven't fully figured that out yet.
Im not saying it's ok to like and have nice "name brand" stuff, but every black owned brand can BE that "name brand" if the culture got behind it. It's what happens to every other brand out there isn't it?
We did outside the box marketing on platforms not even made for advertising and realized there's an entire world out there who wanted what we had, and some of them just happen to be black. Don't be afraid to offend those who look like you by catering to those who don't.
The real one's will ride either way. This flows into the next point.
4. Don't think of yourself as a black owned company. Think of yourself as a company that happens to be owned by a black person.
This is very important when going about your daily business. Remember you should be marketing to everyone, as some folks honestly don't care that you are black owned. They care how good your customer service is and obviously your product.
As a small business growing you can't worry about those NOT supporting your business and helping you grow. You can only worry those who are. We often know in life we have to work ten times as hard to compete in our industries but with our own folks we have to work twenty times as hard.
Who has heard the questions:
1. Are you giving back to the community with your sales?
2. Why don't you offer free _____?
3. Can I get a discount?
Yet we know these same questions aren't being asked of the other's in your industry.
5. Don't over or under value your brand.
When we started out, the intent was to provide a high quality product for under $100. Growing up poor you don't realize you are less fortunate until it's time to ask your parents for a pair of $150 kicks.
Well we have folks ask us all the time why don't we charge more. Simple. That wasn't the reason we started this. Sure we have folks walk past our stores and turn their nose up. Call us off brand or whatever. It doesn't hurt our feelings though.
We press on and I tell my employee's 'everything aint for everybody'.
But more to the point. If you are selling products you know can garner as much as someone else "big" try it out. Nothing says you can't change your price points. However, be ready to adjust on the fly.
So that's where we are. I could have given 10 15 steps, but keeping folks attention that long is a challenge within itself. This is why I added random pics of my footwear to get you interested. (slick huh?)
I could have started this and ended it with: "Just do you". But we all want to feel like there are other's out there to relate to and learn from.
Years later we have stores and have gone from two pairs of shoes to over 100 styles with over 500 colors within those styles. If you don't keep pressing on, you won't be made for this ownership life.