Is a Black Facebook On The Horizon?

facebook, black people, black, african american, business, black businesses, black businesses matter

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?

vending, black expos, should i be a vendor, black people, black, african american, business, black businesses, black businesses matter

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.