Historically Black Colleges In Need of a Makeover?

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Like many parents around this time, I too have a 17 year-old son who is about to be heading off to college. Since he was in the 9th grade I have been asking him if he would like to attend an HBCU (Historical Black Colleges and University). His answer then, and still remains, “No.” When I ask why, he stated that he doesn’t believe an HBCU will give him a true picture of the real world. He went on to say that the majority of America is not black, and though he has interest in the black progression, he remains adamant that an HBCU won’t prepare him for what’s real out there.

I sat and thought about his comments for quite some time. He is a very intelligent young man with a lot of inherited radicalism in his blood. However, I always encourage my children to run towards their true mission with passion. I tell them that God sent each of us here with an individual purpose that may be totally antithesis to those of even their siblings. So I don’t push him where I “feel” he should go.

Instead, I internalize. I objectively look at his opinions and the facts. The facts are HBCUs have been around for over 100 years and were created to give disenfranchised blacks a place to obtain higher learning that would prepare them for the challenges the state of the country, then, (Jim Crow & Reconstruction) posed. It worked. HBCUs developed some of the most brilliant minds and pumped out some of the most courageous Black Americans and made progressive differences in the black community.

But what about now? Is that still happening? Have they lost their zeal by not following the “Who Moved My Cheese?” mantra? Today, how is a black HBCU graduate any different from a black non-HBCU graduate, mentally, strategically and methodically? What actions are expected to be taken that’s different? I am speculating because I don’t have all the facts. So I humbly ask someone to help me communicate this to my son. Here are some statistics that the United Negro College Fund produced:

·         Over half of all African American professionals are graduates of HBCUs.

·         Nine of the top ten colleges that graduate the most African Americans who go on to earn Ph.D.s are HBCU graduates.

·         More than 50% of the nation’s African American public school teachers and 70% of African American dentists earned degrees at HBCUs.

·         UNCF members Spelman College and Bennett College produce over half of the nation’s African American female doctorates in all science fields.

However, are these acceptable successes? Is working for government, corporations or becoming professionals who rarely work to elevate current disenfranchised blacks considered a success? 100 years ago, simply being anyone who served in these roles would’ve been seen as inspiration for blacks and acceptably a success. But in the  21st century, other cultures have adapted, the market has changed and our country has developed in ways that seem like night and day compared to the early 20th century so are the designs of our HBCUs serving today’s needs?

Does schools like Spelman College, who was founded by John Rockefeller and named after his wife Spelman have relevance to the Black community or are we being undermined? My son has an interest in becoming an enormously successful entrepreneur who has an impact on the world. Just the mere fact that HBCUs took so long to begin offering online courses made my son feel like these black schools are lagging behind the power curve; though he’s not trying to attend school online but he is just not trying to lag behind too.

Blacks athletes dominate in the NFL and NBA, yet players like Reggie Bush and Dwyane Wade elected not to attend an HBCU. So are they also saying that their chances of success is reduced by attending these schools too? I can only assume that an HBCU should be the mental factory and athletic warehouse for these future professional athletes. Are we not doing a good enough job in our athletic programs, which, by the way, could generate hundreds of millions for athletic departments collectively, recruiting (or at least look appealing) to these students while they are in high school?

Are we too emotionally charged and attached to the schools so we justify the activities rather than demanding innovation? Is it just about job security and historical preservation or is it also about the future preservation of blacks? Are we too sensitive to even have a discussion over where we go wrong for everyone at-large? I root for HBCUs. I appreciate the rich history they provide and the overall progress they’ve made for black people over the past 100 years. But I also feel we shouldn’t rest on our laurels. I write heavily in my book “Rebuilding the Black Infrastructure” that we must be more substantive than we are symbolic. I know this op-ed may ruffle the feathers of some proud HBCU graduates. But at the end of the day, are we here to serve our emotions or serve our community? So help me. What words should I offer to him? Cause I know the longer we delay recognizing our problems, the longer we delay solving them.

Black Unemployment Explained: Economic Holocaust

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It’s all about ownership, really. Whoever owns the framework of any economy will be the beneficiaries of its wealth, along with those in their sphere of influence, of their culture and their race. Any economic opportunities left after that will go to whoever remains. This framework is an infrastructure that consists of elements with high barriers of entry and strongly needed by the occupants of the market. These elements are industries such as energy, transportation, communication, food, defense, etc. Those that runs these areas gain big contracts and outlive their wealth, only to hand it off to their heirs. In bad economies, those that peeked at the CEO and Executive positions and able to retire are sometimes forced back into the workplace. As the beneficiaries of businesses climb their way into retirement, those at the bottom of the food chain also see their careers blossom into promotions and increased pay. Those at the bottom are often Blacks. When CEOs and Executives return, everyone who climbed are pushed back down into slots they previously held. However, since reduction in pay and demotions are tough to justify and can result in horrible moral, it happens systematically by way of lay-offs. When the laid-off workers begin seeking new work, they start to realize that the only positions are available are positions beneath the ones they previously held.

Black workers often find ourselves push down below entry level opportunities and into extended unemployment. This is how this works. The key for black employment security is not hidden in policy or programs. It is hidden in entrepreneurship. The more economic opportunities created by Blacks, the greater the possibilities for a reduced Black unemployment rate. The problem is Blacks typically own businesses that only has an ethnic appeal. We don’t get into the high barrier high benefit industries, whether due to lack of capital, lack of interest or lack of patience. We want financial benefits now, so we spend largely as consumers leaving our children to start from scratch. Today, if a business is black-owned, the belief is it doesn’t apply to all across the board. It only applies to our group. Take my latest book, for example, the man on the cover is intentionally and unapologetically black. Though the contents of the book has no racial slant or undertone, has been marketed to the general population and applies ideas, tips and resources for anyone across the board, the purchasers of the book have overwhelmingly been black.

Poor people unemployed is a train wreck because when they were employed, many of them indulged in items that were reserved for the rich. They grab at consumables that make them feel like they are no longer living in the hood, but those who are able to escape the hood invest in items that allowed them to leave there. Unlike the owners and architects of the macro-infrastructure, they miss building their personal infrastructure to purse items of “feel good-look good”; items that do not lead to economic sustenance. There are Blacks who are able to rise up out of the trap of unemployment. But these individuals are not the rule, they are the exception.Image result for black unemployment

Now, this unemployment saga isn’t fully the Black fault, nor is it full the White or Governmental fault. It is a compilation. Blacks justifiably fought for free will in America. It eventually happened. But there was little strategy in place for post-slavery, whether by Black leaders or Union Government. So, in essence free will was earned to a developmentally immature group who was systematically locked out of the education and economic vehicle in America. Yet, the exposure to entertainment was, and still is, wide and full. So, we grab hold to that, and because of free will, we cannot be forced to become educated economically. Tell our leaders to fight for that! Instead, they fight for us to arbitrarily receive benefits without understanding the responsibilities that come with it. At the time of our emancipation, the Black group was not used to freedom, power and choices but it happened to our entire group almost overnight. I would say it was like giving an 8 year-old, the keys to the house, to the car and access to the bank account.

If I had to age our group today, I would say we are collectively a 15 year-old: selfish, entitled, untapped power and arrogant. We resist criticism from other groups. We only cry when we don’t receive the same benefits other groups get. We only copy their recreational activities and not their activities of hardwork.

I think about us daily; where we are and where we are going. I often wonder if it will be safe for me to live in a Black neighborhood when I get older. I wonder what type of leaders will emerge. I wonder if there will ever be another black theology hip-hop base similar to the one in the 1990’s brought on by Public Enemy, KRS-One, or Arrested Development that spreads throughout our community. I think about it, but for now I write and speak with attempts to empower others to act for themselves, their families or communities.

I believe the Black community can recover but it will come by way of economic sacrifice and economic strategy. It will come when we focus on the lives we are creating for our children and grandchildren instead of simply seeking 9-5 work, which subliminally tells our children, “You are on your own.” We don’t seek enough asset ownership and frugal living. When we have leaders that focus on that for our group, instead of that for themselves, we will forever be the largest unemployed group, while these so-called leaders maintain their employment off the plights of Black people.

7 Ways Blacks Are Predictable And Oppressed

If you can predict the people, there are two main things you can do: make money off of them and remain superior to them. Below are ways we keep ourselves predictable.Image result for oppressed black people

 

In Participation – We have an abusive relationship with this institution. We lean towards cooperating as employees and customers only. Forget becoming investors or owners, and those who do otherwise are made to feel bad or as if they owe the other blacks something.

 

In Greed – We focus on micro success and disregard the value of the entire race. Explicit rappers call it “telling our story”, freedom of expression or art. But they only tell that story for a buck and fame through CDs and shows. You wouldn’t find them on Capitol Hill, in courtrooms as witnesses, or in private meetings with chiefs of police telling that same story for the mere “payment” of a better community.

 

In Presence – We live in our comfort zones; around other blacks, mostly. So when opportunities are prevalent across the country, or even the world, we are unable to take part. Too many of us have no clue how dire our situation is as a group because are always around people just like us.

 

In Power – Blacks have been known to be shortsighted. We grab at the quickest opportunity even when that opportunity diminishes the rest of us; those who aren’t in power become tired of trying to educate the ones who are.

 

In Protest – We aren’t willing to fight huge battles that yield substantial collective progress. We fight sporadically and momentarily. We would fight the mistreatment from other races but not for the progress and fair treatment from ourselves.

 

In Proprietorship – Our business types are largely predictable or weak in statue. They either operate from home, the trunk of our cars or focus on lifestyle. The true American fabric-type businesses remain elusive from our desires.

 

In Protection – We have great ideas but we leave them unprotected. Because we stay in survival mode, we only go after the low-hanging-fruit. We go for the easiest and cheapest thing to get into but don’t go a step further to protect its intellectual property. Others see it, protect it and flourish from it. Now, how many stories have we heard about this example?

 

Modifying what we are known to do we make us more elusive on who we can become.

The Vicious Cycle of America…That Affects Black America

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Racial tension in America isn’t a new thing. It is reoccurring. It happens every so often. It simply reveals what is in the hearts of many. Prejudice. It’s not a fluctuating feeling. It remains. Blacks have been on the painful side of the stick of race relations for as long as the United States have existed. This isn’t an emotional opinion, it is a fact.

 

More facts include, Blacks have good reason to be angry. The anger isn’t unwarranted. The anger has become generational. It is brought on from trauma or the witness of trauma. Though a few Blacks escape the grips of racism, discrimination and bigotry, the fact is, they are a very small minority.

 

Blacks have yet to be seen as equal, even if at isolated times we may be treated as equal. What many people don’t understand that what Blacks go through, especially Black men, is the constant fear of being mistreated, dismissed, slighted or murdered. The same constant knowledge that a Black person has that our ancestors were slaves, Whites carry a regular memory that their ancestors were “Masters”. This knowledge affects the way we interact. We walk on eggshells with each other until we know it is safe to somewhat be ourselves.Image result for black racism

 

So what has happened is Black men have created a defense mechanism. This defense mechanism looks like “thug”. This “thug” getup helps young Black men feel safe and survive. It is a proactive stance at deterring aggressive behaviors towards them. It feeds the esteem of some young Black men who feel like failures. It helps them gain respect from their peers. No one is born a thug. It is learned ad adopted.

 

But sometimes this “thug” culture backfires. It puts people, especially those not in our community, at such fear that they shoot first and ask questions later; the police in particular. When this happens, the Black community’s anger reignites and the cycle starts all over again. This anger isn’t a figment of our imagination. It is brought on by generations of disparaging treatment. The lives of Black men are not understood, while people are busy trying to get Black men to understand.

 

Black people continue to feel hopeful when issues like Michael Brown arise. We assume that the harsh reality of what publicly took place, gives Whites, police and politicians some level of solace and grow a conscience. This is why we went back to life as usual after Sean Bell, after Eric Garner, after Troy Davis, after John Crawford, after Ezell Ford, and I can even go as far back as Emmett Till. We believe the conscience and compassion has emerged, we give Whites, police and politicians the benefit of the doubt that they now understand our pain, our aggression, our doubt…but future reveals, new situations of the same demographics reveals, that their conscience and compassion was never birthed. This makes us start all over again. I employ my Black family to turn on the engines of love for each other, for educational advancement, the suppression and disdain for thuggery/intra-hood crimes, and collective economic behavior, economic discipline, ownership, economic prosperity and movement towards being a sovereign group. I ask our Black women to be considerate and compassionate towards Black men who are trying, who are doing their best and who may not be communicating his fears and vulnerabilities to you. He is being beat-up daily in ways he doesn’t share with you.

 

Black people, we have a duty to be strategic, consistent and accountable. We have a duty to not choose money over morality. We have a duty to not only be angry but to take unified action. Protesting is not enough, being proactive is. We must use our influence responsibly. We must use our access to technologies progressively. We must use our intelligence positively. We can’t wait for the conscience of others to grow while the progress of our community is being impeded. What are your children saying about the society you create and the actions and inactions you have taken? It is time…

Baby Boomers Have Failed Today’s Black Business Community

black business, black wealth, black lives matter, black entrepreneurship, black business, blcak politics, black people

Baby boomers, those born from 1946-1964, are the generation of yesterday that would have been the ushering the younger generation of today into the “next phase” of the black evolution. Some aspects of this revolution needed to be enhanced and changed, while other aspects of it needed to remain the same. One aspect that needed to remain unchanged is “Race Matters”.

Today we see a bunch of rhetoric that race no longer is an issue. It has become so much of a campaign that some of our baby boomers blew out the torch and packed it away in the backs of their closets. I heard an activist say once, “Black protestors stormed the building for equality and came out with job applications”. Lol. Quite funny, but heavily true. Once we got some economic benefits we forgot what we came here for. We started to think to ourselves, “Hmm, you mean I can have the money and not the headaches of competing in business?” That concept soon eroded our very way of life and the black middle class. We began to feel ownership was no longer important.

Desegregation led to groundbreaking advancements but also brought on issues that emerged unexpectedly. For example, interracial relationships bring mixed children, what those children identifies as and who they dominantly alignment themselves with is a self-choice. Mixed children are often at the toxic end of criticism, bullying or teasing. They are often in an uncomfortable place when they overhear or are in the middle of conversation on race. Mixed children are usually lovers of two races and are intimately involved with the cultures of two.Image result for black baby boomers

This created a “Race-Don’t-Matter” movement in America. However, even with understanding the position mixed race children are placed in, race still matters. It matters from President Barack Obama, all the way down to the unknown child waiting at the school’s bus stop.

Baby boomers let their guard down.

 

They let this movement and beliefs permeate through our society to the point where we felt it was “business as usual” for other races to setup their businesses in our communities and run our black establishments out of town. Some would say, well, it is a free and open market and they should be able to compete. Well, that’s what we are forced to say now.  But the generation before them was responsible for the Black Wall Street and the Harlem Boom, an era Madame St. Clair fought with the Italian mob to retain control of. As soon as we were able to integrate and vote, things began to deteriorate in our minds. In the 60’s – 80’s it shouldn’t have been accepted. Now we are forced to fight backwards. If we take a close look, our mass acceptance is as consumers, any other leveraging position becomes a challenge for us.

Here are some of our challenges:

We have the least skilled workforce. We have the highest economic crime rate. We have the highest poverty rate per capita. We have the highest illiteracy rate. We have one of the lowest black judge, police, mayor and prosecutor population.

According to “Breaking the Bamboo Ceiling” by Jane Hyun, the Asian-American community has the highest graduation rate at 91%.

The deck is stacked against us and it shouldn’t have come to this. We had communities where our younger audience made entrepreneurship and buying black a part of our culture. Now, we have made independent survival and job searches the new norm.

They are continuing to make us believe that race doesn’t matter. Then we here gunshots, another killed black boy at the hands of police.

Look, I am not even trying to pull the race card or make us racially divided. But I am hoping you review the facts. Look at the statistics. If race didn’t matter, we would all share the downsides in the statistics. In regards to the mixed race children, I know it is hard for you to view any of your non-black parents with a negative connotation. You may be justified. Afterall, they procreated with a black and can’t be bigoted. But just like my black brothers do have a series of issues that causes me (the individual) to be stereotyped, so does the white, Asian and Middle Eastern community have some evil and predatory approaches to how we will live. Most of those issues affect black people on every economic level.

The Reason We Are Being Ignored

black business, black wealth, black lives matter, black entrepreneurship, black business, blcak politics, black people

Bottom line, we are being ignored because we are ignoring ourselves. The question is, where are we being ignored? I am glad you asked:

Politically – We religiously vote Democrat and then ask for no accountability from who we voted. If we think about it, the real help doesn’t exist in just programs. It must also come by way of government contracts. Can we say that any political party ensures we get the business training for areas of government procurement so we can get a fair play at government contracts? Actually, can we just get equal access to the RFPs? Folks, if we refuse to hold Democrats or black politicians’ feet to the fire when they are in office, we must also leave Republicans or white ones alone when they are in there too.

black business, black wealth, black lives matter, black entrepreneurship, black business, blcak politics, black people

Commerce – Some people say that a black business should not only rely on the black customer. They say we should focus on the community at-large. That’s just a cop-out to excuse those black folks who don’t support black businesses. At the end of the day, many, many non-black businesses thrive by only “focusing” on their own people. When we decide to patronize them, we are only bonus money. We must support ourselves and stop trying to find an intellectual argument as to why we don’t. Don’t be fooled. Holding back our money will not make them go out of business (maybe downsize but not go out of business) so let’s stop thinking we have such a great weapon as a customer. That weapon is fragile if we are not our own employer.

Religiously – How many of you all’s black churches have maintenance contracts with black businesses? Yet, they ask you (the black congregant) to volunteer to clean up and landscape the grounds in the beginning, only to give the contracts to a non-black business when the cash flow picks up. Is it because you can’t do the work or aren’t reliable? Is it because they also have stereotypes against black entrepreneurs? Or does your church just view you as the one who should “give” the money but not be “given” to. Let’s simplify it even more. How many of your black churches have bank accounts at black banks?

Black entrepreneurs get worn out by unruly, unrealistic black customers. Black employees get frustrated by shiesty black business owners. Black customers get turned off by poorly ran black businesses. Our problem is beyond an ecological problem. It’s more of a psychological problem.

We look in the mirror every morning before we leave our homes but still manage to ignore ourselves once we walk away from that mirror.

It’s no one else’s responsibility to save us.

There is no problem in the black community that black people can’t fix. However, first, we must fix ourselves.

Is a Black Facebook On The Horizon?

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Facebook has catapulted into the media gaining the attention of investors & venture capitalists with its over 500,000 million users who account for 900,000 billion status updates and likes on a daily basis. It is an idea that was cooked up by Mark Zuckerberg in 2003 that hatched in 2004. Despite the legal hurdles he’s had to climb over, he was able to launch an IPO (Initial Price Offering) worth $100 Billion. Technically, Facebook is a part of the 1% that the Occupy Movement has been protesting. It is a company that is cashing checks worth tens of millions from GM, Ford and others totaling around $600 Million in 2011.

When it was a $50 Billion company, it employed 2,000 people, a fraction of the $1 Million people GM employed when it was a $50 Billion company. It is lean, innovative and for some, addictive. It needs less people to generate much more than some of our antiquated businesses. So can its model and innovative prowess come from the ranks of the black community? Let’s examine some of the highlights.

Zuckerberg was attending an Ivy League college when he decided to drop-out to build his vision. (Yes, we have our HBCUs but what would we tell one of our students attempting to drop-out to pursue a half-baked idea?)

Facebook provided no compensation to the visionaries that tirelessly worked to build it working out of the home of Zuckerberg. (Would we encourage college students to work for free or to “get a job!”?

Zuckerberg is not flashy. (Nothing to say here…)

Zuckerberg, the 28 year-old billionaire, rejected two offers to purchase his company, one from Yahoo! for $1 Billion and another from Microsoft for $15 Billion. (Are we wired to turn down a $1 Billion check?)

Zuckerberg doesn’t have any baby mamas and recently married his longtime girlfriend. (Have you seen the story of the 33 year-old man with 30 children? Here’s the link.)

The Facebook visionaries didn’t sabotage the company by stealing information to start their own or decided to become haters against anyone supporting him. (Nothing much to say here.)

Some would say that Facebook is causing societal disconnect, but when we say that, we must also say that Zuckerberg is one dedicated and focused individual.

So, do we have a culture in our community to produce the next Mark Zuckerberg or will we simply remain spectators and users of everyone else’s visions? It is important for us to demonstrate frugal focused behavior to our children so they mimic what we do? It is important for us to actually “water” the seeds of our ideas by investing our earnings into them.

I may not be the very next billionaire nor am I promised to become one before I die but I do know that I work hard to do right and do good by others. What about your overall behaviors? If they are copied by those around you will it make their lives better or worse? Will it make them average or accomplished?

Only you can answer these questions but know that until we are able to layout an environment where our children can blossom or one where our adults can achieve greatness, as the Facebooks go public, our community will remain private and we will forever be eye witnesses watching history made while we protest the 1% to be paid.

How Do We As Black People Get Our Wealth Back?

black business, black wealth, black lives matter, black entrepreneurship, black business

There is no such thing as a bad economy in sovereign nations; a sagging economy, yes. Bad? No. I can’t count how many times I’ve explained this, but doesn’t ache me to do so. The only thing sovereign economies do is experience a shift in needs. When trauma hits an economy, people shift what they desire to consume and invest in. While this demand is shifting, businesses scramble to be able to accommodate these needs of consumers and are often forced to downsize or lay-off workers as they reinvent. Now, during this process, the economy contracts and those holding the wrong investments see a financial loss indefinitely, while others see their losses temporarily. So who’s who? Fact is the rich lost money during our recent recession but because much of their assets are in paper (stocks, business ownership/sellable equity, etc.), and these are instruments, which, quite frankly, see fluctuations in value almost daily, gives these people the ability to bounce back.

 

The Worker Mindset

I remember when I bought my first residential property in Georgia. A security system salesman knocked on my door attempting to sell me one of their security systems. I wasn’t interested. He wasn’t pleased. He became irritated over my refusal and said, “I am only trying to help you protect your biggest investment.” I didn’t issue a rebuttal but I was silently insulted. I thought to myself “How could this be my biggest investment? What about my human capital, my stock investments, my children’s education, business investments, and my investment properties that actually generates cash and wealth opportunities beyond my physical labor?” Frankly, I believe a resident is a liability. Assets are those that not only gain value, but pay for themselves and generate additional income. We slave to maintain our homes.

 

However, after looking at the numbers I can clearly see where he would get such a belief. He is not alone in his ideology. The average American’s major wealth is in their residential property and very rarely extends beyond that. We work hard to pay-off our homes and reach a vested pension or retirement. We try to play it safe. But is this really the safe route? In the book, “The Millionaire Next Door” the authors Thomas Stanley and William Danko said, “Being an entrepreneur or investor is the safest way to live in America. You have to upset all of your customers to lose 100% of your income, while being an employee you only need to upset one person (your boss) to lose 100% of your income.” After reading this book, I began to live by this theory!ent

Market Watch cites that just over 90% the middle-class worker’s wealth is in their home and between 2003 and 2007, these middle-class workers collectively lost (forever) $2.3 trillion in wealth. To top it off, those in control of real estate appreciation is the very corporate regulators who caused the bubble to bust in the first place. Since the no-down payment and “stated loans” are a thing of the past, investors are not rushing to make re-financing or purchasing easy, causing a slowdown in homes being built or available, thus leading to slow appreciation.

 

But why are the corporations able to stomach such wrongdoings? Why are they able to have such a negative impact on the lives of workers and move forward with business as usual?

 

The real problem lies in our financial dynamics. These dynamics doesn’t require millions either. It simply matters what position you put yourself in. Historically, we were in an interdependent relationship; workers relied on corporations for their wealth and corporations relied on workers for theirs. But the truth (that some doubters felt was fantasy) is revealing itself. Corporations indeed care less for workers as they do the financial gains. They are truly here for wealth not workers.

Technology is now able to work 10 times as hard with 10 times less errors than workers. Its productivity is well above the worker without the “emotional headache”, and let’s not discuss the workers overseas who technology has allowed corporations to employ in your place.

 

Think about it. The security guard is being replaced by sophisticated security systems, the receptionist is being replaced answering services, salespersons are being replaced by newsletter programs, the bi-lingual worker is being replaced by the translation software. So what do you do?

 

You Are Not Doomed

The truth is as long as there are people seeking convenience and Capitalists seeking returns, there will always be earning opportunities available for anyone who has guts. The beauty supply industry is one I advocate for simply because it is a $15 billion industry with almost 14,000 stores and less than 3% of them are black-owned. I see great opportunity because Blacks generate 96% of the revenue regardless of the economy. We can simply give ourselves a stimulus package by focusing our spending on these 3% of owners eventually creating 13% owners, then 23% owners, then 33% owners, etc.

 

Competition of non-blacks should not be the concern, it is replacing existing stores with our top-notched, professionally ran black-owned stores should be the focus. I am not speaking on some “hope” theory. I opened a store between two Korean-owned store that drove both of those out of business. We focus on replacing. Education in this industry is definitely vital. Entrepreneurship is key!

 

The solution for rebounding may lie in the pre-industrialization age; when money wasn’t backed by GDP (Gross Domestic Product) and when the GDP wasn’t so speculative. This was a time when credit wasn’t popular and consumption was based on real demand. It is a time when entrepreneurship was the norm and employment was for those who were indentured servants, or were mentally or physically challenged. It’s a time when our career pursuit was mostly based on our love, expertise, and passion for the craft; not tied to the amount of income or desperation.

 

The bottom line is regaining our wealth isn’t even a Black or White issue. There are many race-based issues but this isn’t one of them. This is an insight vs. ignorance issue. Those who feel safe in their dependency will suffer and those who understand history may be repeating itself will survive.

Is Being A Vendor At Events Worth The Trouble?

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I get asked quite a bit if attending expos, festivals, shows or galas as a vendor is worth it. There is no specific answer other than, “check out the dynamics of that event.” I’ve attended quite a few. So here is what I can tell you.

  • Are they your audience? – You want to check out who their (event) target audience is. If you’ve read my materials then you understand market segmentation. Not because there’s a bunch of people gathering in one place means you will make a lot of money. What exactly will you be selling? Push the expo organizers to give you detailed information on the profile of their expected attendees. If they can’t, that’s a sign. If they won’t, that’s another sign.
  • Is it free to attend? – Here’s the clincher. Organizers diminish the “perceived” value of their event when it is free to the attendees. It’s easy for organizers to fill up event halls with people if they can get in for free but will this translate into sales for you? Many of them will show up to see what else they can get for free. Depending on what your item is, this can be a problem; which leads me to my next point.
  •  Do organizers support the vendors? – Sadly. And I mean very sadly, novice organizers view vendors as revenue rather than partners. They put events together, announce to the world that it’s free then charge the vendors to participate. So in actuality, the event isn’t free. Someone is footing the bill. That’s right, the vendor. This isn’t so bad. There can be light at the end of the tunnel. It becomes criminal when the event is funded by vendors and organizers don’t make regular announcements encouraging attendees to support vendors or create purchase requirements of attendees. Organizers benefit greatly from events. They get publicity, endearment from the local community and build their contact info of attendees and vendors for easy marketing the following year.

What I look for is organizers who encourage attendees to support the vendors and organizers who share the contact information with the vendors they obtained from the attendees. As a vendor, you paid a fee! You should be given the opportunity to market to attendees of the event at a later date.

I know the feeling of making an investment and wanting to see a return. There are a lot of pop-up events that take place organized by folks who see dollar signs from vendors and spare creating a true economy at the event. With a naked eye, events seem like a great way to get out there and make some money. All I can say is be careful. If you are not expecting sales but just would like to get exposure, go for it. If you want your cash register to ring after you spent hundreds or even thousands on an event, vet the event.

Avoid being taken for a ride. Don’t get drunk off hope when organizers show you pictures of seas of people from the previous year. We are all in the business of entrepreneurship but you need to watch out for the entrepreneur cannibals. They simply lookout for their own bottom line, take from other entrepreneurs and disregard if you are able to see a profit from doing business with them. I’ve been to so many “free admission” festivals, events, banquets, shows, expos, etc. across the country. They typically attract a lot of attendees, but sales for vendors…the jury is still out.

 

 

How black employees unknowingly hold back black businesses

As we know, business start-up funding is often short in the black community. With only 19 black banks in the country, black entrepreneurs are often forced to seek funding from other sources, including major banks that mostly prefer working with entrepreneurs who are already well capitalized. Catch 22.

The thing about any new business is the staff has to perform impeccably in order for it to grow and become profitable. Those profits can then lead to more staff, higher wages, larger location, employee benefits, better technology and more. Businesses don’t have to start with all of this already in hand, plus that’s not a strong reality for black businesses, but they can build themselves into those things.

Sadly, employees often treat a business based on how it looks and feel visually, even in the beginning. This is businesses with large buildings and TV ads tend to get workers to give better effort in the workplace. To get workers to see a small unknown business differently, they would have to be visionaries and understand growth. Because black businesses are often underfunded and typically only attract black workers when it first starts, black employees treat the new black business as-if it’s undesirable and that behavior holds the business back. young black business man

While many white owned, Asian-owned and middle eastern owned businesses start with great funding, thus they have a great atmosphere, which makes workers put their best foot forward every day, it’s not the norm for a black business. If these non-black businesses do start underfunded, it is often offset by the very culture of those groups where they are more prone to be willing to be a part of something small until that something small becomes something big, especially if it is an origination of their own community.

It’s a vicious cycle. Underfunded black business, even when they have a great product and great leadership can still suffer from poor workmanship out of its workers. It’s not that black workers hate black businesses, they just hate the feeling of working somewhere that is not prestigious, plush and powerful. It’s a human thing more than it is a racial thing.

Because enterprising funds are not bountiful in our communities, it makes our businesses look shotty and poorly ran. Meanwhile, that is not always the case or often has another cause. The cause stems before the performance of the worker. It begins with how the worker views the business. How the business is viewed can be closely tied to how much money was invested and how much remains in its kitty. The kitty is often tied to the start-up funds the business was able to attain. You get the correlation?

Well, you may say, “What about them getting funding once they are already in business, it’s usually easier then, right?” Well, the thing is most banks only issue loans or lines for up to 10% of the company’s gross revenues. Here again, if the revenues are low, then so will be the funding even after being opened; and revenues are the direct result of the product, people and process. (Back to square one.)

It’s a rippling effect. business partners

However, the more we start to wake-up and see the end result of great black-owned businesses that started out of the gate with a limp, the more confidence our workers will build in performing well for them. Let’s not stick our heads in the sand anymore. Let’s truly be committed to build our finances, businesses, patronage, commitment and overall wealth by loving our community so much that we are willing to “work” for it.