Maldonado notes that word of mouth is one of the best ways for consumers to become regular customers of Black-owned businesses.
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1. Support Local
Black businesses tend to be lesser known than their white counterparts, and many consumers don’t realize that purchasing from small local companies can make an enormous, impactful statement about our society and culture. We must make it part of our routines to visit and shop at local Black-owned businesses regularly throughout August and beyond – this will help close wealth gaps among Black Americans while strengthening Black communities.
Allies can help Black-owned businesses by sharing their favorite finds via social media and writing reviews on websites or apps like NextDoor and Yelp that allow users to stay up-to-date with local recommendations, get updates on new spots in their area, and receive deals sent directly to their phones.
Other ways you can support Black-owned businesses include subscribing to their email lists, scheduling an appointment to visit and informing them of what service or product you require, applying to be listed in their directory as a business, and being certified. Organizations like Coalition to Back Black Businesses and ByBlack also provide tools and certification programs to boost small businesses.
Supporting Black-owned businesses increases their likelihood of success. While many small businesses struggle in today’s economy, allies can help ensure these entrepreneurs continue investing their hard-earned dollars for our collective future. Not only can allies shop locally but advocate for laws that support small businesses and enable access to funding more easily.
One way you can support Black-owned businesses is to post online reviews about them. Reviews help local businesses boost their search engine ranking while assisting potential customers to locate them.
Another way to support local businesses is by inviting them to your networking events, forums, and group meetings. This simple gesture can introduce new entrepreneurs to a broader network and help them establish themselves more quickly in business. Various online directories connect conscious consumers with minority-owned small businesses, such as Black Owned Everything and The Green Book, that provide listings.
3. Spread the Word
Not only should black businesses be supported financially, but it’s equally crucial that people spread the word. Social media platforms offer an effective platform for spreading the news of these small brands that may lack the budget for marketing campaigns. With the wealth gap between races, black entrepreneurs need community support to thrive and succeed.
Apollo Woods, founder of OKC Black Eats–a marketing and consulting firm focused on aiding black-owned restaurants–has found word of mouth extremely effective at drawing in new customers. According to him, friends and clients have responded favorably when asked to try a black-owned eatery, even if its location does not directly connect.
He encourages his customers to share their experiences on social media to heighten awareness for his brand, thus making this strategy cost-effective and reaching more people with their message.
Maldonado suggests that those unable to contribute financially should share products from black businesses with family and coworkers as an easy and cost-effective way of showing support and drawing in new customers, she writes. “This simple but effective action shows both support and brings new customers through their doors.”
No secret here; companies often take advantage of movements like George Floyd’s murder, Black History Month, or Juneteenth to make a public statement of support and uplifting for black-owned businesses, yet commitment should extend throughout the year. Black-owned entrepreneurs need customers, mentorship, and an environment to thrive – so if we all make it a point to help one another by sharing products or an extra shift at restaurants – black entrepreneurs can continue innovating while serving their communities well.
If you had an excellent experience at a Black-owned business, post it on social media and write an honest review to support small businesses – especially ones just starting up and needing exposure and income to attract future customers. This could make all the difference!
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5. Offer Mentorship
Black-owned businesses are not alone when it comes to accessing resources and support; more companies–from major financial players like Mastercard, Bank of America, and Chase to retailers such as Target–are taking steps to increase support for black-owned enterprises by offering expert mentoring programs or creating networks of support.
Handy Duterlien, virtual relationship manager at Citizens for over 15 years, believes that COVID was an obstacle that encouraged business owners to utilize all available resources to help their company expand. Some examples are small business development centers, SCORE (the nation’s largest network of volunteer business mentors), and the U.S. Black Chambers of Commerce, which currently supports over 130 African-American Chambers and business organizations.
No matter if you are an established business looking to expand your reach or a startup entrepreneur starting fresh, staying connected and focusing on the strengths of your team are paramount for success. Finding people who share similar ideals to yourself and staying true to themselves are often critical components in business success; Duterlien emphasizes this point.
One way to stay connected is to create an Instagram account and promote your work using an appropriate hashtag, helping it reach a wider audience and potentially leading to sales and leads for future projects. Another effective means is networking events such as those offered by Black Business Network (BBN), with national membership comprised of Black business owners and startup entrepreneurs; locally organized networking events hosted by BBN as well as their directory of Black-owned businesses as well as workshops, activities and pitch competitions offered through them.