"African Americans have over 700 billion dollars available to spend as they please. The most they spend with Black business is only 6-7%. That's a major problem. That means 93%-94% of the money that Black people earn (income) is being spent with someone else (outgo). Some else is getting the "lion's share" of our money.
Other ethnic groups spend money with THEMSELVES 3-6 times before their dollars leave their communities. Black people only 1/2 a time. There's something wrong with that picture."
Unfortunately there are many factors that involve losing out to others. An important issue is being reliable in delivering the service. I am sure you have often heard the phrase "That's why I don't like dealing with black people" which indicates the displeasure with the service. Customer service is also an important factor in doing business. We have often faced rather stoic, unpleasant attitudes with our people and for that reason it makes it difficult to support the business. In addition, our people like to be seen with the high end store shopping bags, the ability to say that we have the same thing that the celebrities and wealthy folks have attained.
However, I believe that in order for us to regain the dollars we must change this situation. We have to take responsibility and be willing to change our knowledge of doing business. We should have a great source of knowledge in the service we provide, be resourceful in finding out how we can refer our clients/customers to get the assistance they need, change our disposition in how we communicate, be reliable (operation of hours should be consistent), deliver on goods as promise or be sure to alert the customer if there is a delay as soon as possible and treat your customer the way you would love to be treated.
Much thanks for your reply! You make some good points about what business owners need to do to change and accommodate consumers, however do you think consumers have to change too?
One of the issues I hear when a Black consumer chooses to give their dollar elsewhere, is that it's cheaper and/or more convenient: "Why buy my shoes from that Black company for $25 when I can go to walmart and get it or something like it for $15?" walmart is a huge corporation that can afford to put their costs low, but a small store cannot. Or the situation on the flip side is that, as you mentioned, some of us have bought into wanting the "big name" gucci, dona karen, etc. but wouldn't spend the same money on a quality item made by a black company.
Therefore do we as consumers have to change our thinking and take on a "buy black consciousness"?
Absolutely, we as consumers must look at what we are purchasing and who we are purchasing from....... Will we show our support to our black owned businesses, or continue to support the high end stores for items that are unnecessarily high priced? The choice is up to us. We have to show support and our businesses have to step up in the delivery of customer service.
I agree that the Asian may not be the friendliest in doing business. However, we do need to take a look at how we conduct business with our own. We have to take responsibility for our own actions or inactions - as business owners and as consumers.While I agree that it may also be due to being miseducated, I am not so sure that it is just the lack of education because I can assure you that no one not even the most ill mannered person wants to be treated without respect. We need to step up and deliver the services that we would expect. Unfortunately, we have to work twice as hard to gain support from not only others but our vey own.
We have to become creative, make deals with the manufacturers/whole sale distributors, etc., make our business attractive, network, promote (tell everyone), be friendly, courteous, have something special that may be an on demand product/service, be visible. We have other black successful businesses that have had to overcome the hurdles. We read about them in Black Enterprise (also a successful black owned publishing/magazine firm). We see Carol's Daughter (supported by our own folks as investors, yeah!) Jennifer Singleton a black owned staffing firm in the competitive area of Wall Street area of NYC doing great,
I strongly believe that we must keep abreast of how business is being conducted and what is working and what may not work. Not to discourage anyone's dream because I believe that we all have unique qualities that can add to our own success. Go and check out your competition - see what you would add to your service.
Subscribe to the black business journals The Network Journal, Black Enterprise, as well as other business journals. Take advantage of any Small Business Administration and all other programs and incentives, meetings, seminars, etc. Go for yours and make it work. These are just a few ways that I would suggest that we prepare ourselves to reach out and get business in our community - arming ourselves with as much support and being an informed businesswoman.
Great points, good books, and pointed question too!
Mental enslavement (ie self hatred), economic oppression, these are major factors in why we don't support our own. However, let's look at solutions... there have been some black owned companies that we have supported... FUBU succeeded, John Johnson's publications have succeeded.
What allowed these companies to succeed where other have failed?
I've had experiences where I've supported my own businesses but I have to pay more! For example I try to shop at black beauty supply stores, but they are rare to find. The cost of the products are more money than the Asian stores. I understand that and am willing to pay more just to support my own, but unfortnately, not all of us are willing to pay more. Times are hard these days! Our businesses don't stay in business long because of the competition of the other businesses who charge less. Also, How can we support our own businesses when some of us can't even go into a bank and start a business or get a business loan to start one?
Good point Terella. Looking specifically at Korean hair care stores. Koreans had been given the monopoly on importing Black hair care products to the U.S. back in the 60's this laid the foundation for them being in the position they are in now where they are able to monopolize Black beauty supply stores. Therefore allowing them to charge cheap, while black owned beauty supply stores cannot.
One of the things I thought of when I came to BBWO is that here we are, almost 2000 Black business women with expertise and products to share with each other, why don't we all buy whatever it is that we need from each other? I created a group called the Buy Black Collective here on BBWO to encourage us sisters (and brothers) to buy products from each other and support one another on a weekly basis. The group started last week, and so far so good. Members are getting supported in various ways.
I am hoping this can be one of many solutions to the problem. We really should be looking at this as a crises- a state of emergency! And I would love to continue to brain storm with you and others on how we can address this issue!
How do we get a loan for a business... start a Black Bank! That's another business that is lacking.
You make some excellent points Melody. There are some major economic factors that affect our ability to buy from our own. Some would even say it is set up to be difficult on purpose. It seems to be a double edged sword, times are hard on Black folks because we don't support our own, but we don't support our own because times are hard.
The issue remains, we are till spending millions of dollars outside of our communities... so are times hard because we are making it hard on ourselves. If millions of dollars were circulating through every black person's hands times would not be as hard as they seem.
How do we make it easy for each other to support one another?
Love this discussion. When I use the term education, I am not implying any forms of degrees. Many of our black businesses were not created by those who held degrees. If we look back into the history of our people, we can see the first black millionaire woman held no degrees and there were other successful black businesses. However, I dare say she had courage, drive, commitment, determination and I can imagine that she faced many challenges. In many ways, I use those who have had to endure many hurdles where there were no government incentives to assist them yet they made it - as my motivation. I can also imagine that our people back then were more unified in keeping the businesses alive. If we look at all of the inventions that we have accomplished as blacks, we can see that we are a great people - we have gifts of knowledge that came without the resources available to us - yet somehow they made it work.
We live in a time where although we have some resources that are made available to us, it is still difficult for us. Solutions are many - we have to figure out a way to become a supportive force again like our fore fathers/mothers. We have to be creative in various ways - I think we can all do our best to make a difference and pray that something brings it all together.