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In response to recent and ongoing events in the country, you may be taking stock of how and with whom you do business and, ultimately, how to support minority owned businesses.. With minority-owned businesses totaling over one million businesses in the U.S., it’s not a difficult task to find businesses in your local community that can allow you to put your money where your mouth is when it comes to diversity and inclusion.
Here’s the challenge: Your effort has to be intentional. If you keep doing business the way you’ve always done business and with the businesses you’ve always done business with, change will be slow if not nonexistent. You might be donating money to well-deserving causes, but your wallet isn’t backing up your thoughts.
To help you both work and shop with intention and purpose, several minority business owners shared their thoughts on how the public – and other businesses – can support minority-owned businesses.
Go Easy with the Assumptions
As a publicist at The PR Shoppe, Carolyn Fraser’s job is to help other brands and businesses shine. As a certified minority- and woman-owned business, she’s been on the receiving end of assumptions in the business community, and often from her colleagues.
“I’ve had colleagues make decisions on my behalf because they ‘just knew’ my situation,” says Fraser. “One associate actually told a vendor that I ‘probably didn’t have much of a budget’ for a project, when in fact, money wasn’t a factor.”
If you find yourself assuming something about a colleague or vendor of color, step back and ask, “What am I basing this assumption on?” Is it first-hand information? Is it apparel or hairstyle? Is it the feeling that you’re in a new situation and unfamiliar with how this business does business?
Whatever your answer, the critical part is that you’re asking that question on the regular. Minority-owned businesses don’t benefit from your assumptions.
“Allow my work to speak for itself and give me a chance to wow you,” says Fraser. In the process, you just might wow yourself.
Commit to Collaboration
Kendra Hill’s day-in, day-out, is helping businesses worldwide achieve new heights and grow their businesses. Collaboration is a leading tool that creates the results her clients crave. She recommends that any business serious about a commitment to diversity and inclusion establish ways to collaborate with minority-owned businesses.
“A lot of people have huge platforms and engaging audiences,” she says. “Collaborating with BIPOCs on a project, such as a freebie, product bundle, or Instagram Live event, will expose [a business] to a whole new audience that they could potentially monetize.”
For example, one of Hill’s white counterparts invited her to take over her Instagram account of nearly 60,000 followers. Not only was Hill able to gain several new followers, but she also gained a couple of clients who then shared Hill with their networks.
“From this one collaboration, my white counterpart was able to align herself as an ally to the BIPOC community, and I was able to make over $100,000 in retainer fees from my new client base.”
Spread the Word
Cheri Williams-Franklin founded her business, LifeSnapshot so that other families wouldn’t have to endure what she did following the death of a loved one. As a platform that helps families organize and securely store personal assets and final wishes information so their loved ones can easily find it while dealing with overwhelming grief, it isn’t just for other minorities.
“Death is the universal commonality that we all have that transcends income, education, race, gender, and sexual orientation,” says Williams-Franklin.
When you find a business that benefits you in your search to diversify your wallet and make it more inclusive, Williams-Franklin wants you not to be shy about your good experiences.
“The greatest form of support for minority business owners comes from visibility and public awareness that our companies exist,” she says. “The public can make purchases of goods and services, provide positive word-of-mouth, and testimonials. Taking these steps will increase exposure, which often enables organizations to thrive as many of the products and services being offered benefit most Americans – not just a specific minority class.”
Checking assumptions, collaboration, and sharing positive experiences are three ways to put your wallet and voice to work in your local business community. If you’re a business owner and ally to the minority-owned business community, consider joining your local Urban League chapter or Black Chamber of Commerce. You’ll form powerful alliances, increase your network, and ensure that your business practices benefit from the experiences and capabilities of minority-owned businesses in your local area.