By Ron Busby, President, U.S. Black Chambers, Inc.
As we approach 2017, many Black-owned businesses won’t make it into the new year. At the close of 2016, Black business owners continue to remain the fastest growing group of entrepreneurs in the U.S., yet sustainability remains a main concern for the longevity of Black-owned business. It’s clear that Black-owned businesses face unique challenges in obtaining business funding; access to contracts; and an array of challenges not including racially-motivated barriers which stunt business growth and hinder business sustainability. But you can’t let that stop you. There is a great need to bring Black business sustainability to the forefront. As we bring 2016 to a close, we’re encouraging Black entrepreneurs to make business sustainability their primary focus, by incorporating these
5 resolutions in 2017:
- Seek out Expert Advice – Growing a business is no easy task and requires a substantial amount of intellectual resources. More than 95% of Black-owned businesses are sole proprietorship, indicating most Black business owners play every role in the business from Secretary to Plumber. The DIY (Do it Yourself) predicament is a reality for many Black start-ups. In 2017, alter this reality and make it a priority to invest in expert-level advice and intellectual resources (courses, trainings, books, etc.) that can help you grow your business.
- Secure ‘Cushion’ Business Funding – By far, access to business funding appears to be one of the main challenges in starting and sustaining a business. The times we live in offer many alternative ways of funding including: crowdfunding, peer-to-peer funding, and many more. In addition to funding, it’s essential to have cushion funds to use for business or personal use. Earlier-on in 2016, we initiated a program with Liberty Bank to offer a low interest rate and low barrier to entry for Black entrepreneurs to secure a line of credit for business and/or personal use. Our Liberty Bank Credit Card Program is designed to broaden access to capital for Black business owners. Learn more and take advantage of this opportunity.
- Collaborate – The start of the New Year is prime time to seek out partnerships with other Black owned businesses. Collaboration is key to sustainability. The current socioeconomic and economic status of Black Americans shows us the dire need to collaborate with existing Black-owned businesses to increase economic growth in our community. In 2017, find ways to collaborate on initiatives, cross-promote products, partner on business ventures, etc.
- Innovate – We live in the creative economy where new products and services are launching every day; it is crucial to find ways to innovate your products and/or services. Black businesses must narrow the innovation gap, not necessarily by starting tech companies, but by innovating their business systems and processes to keep up with the rapidly innovative times we live in.
- Focus on Sustainability – Above all, have a strategic contingency plan in place to ensure your business has sustainability.
We’re hopeful our 5 resolutions will help your business prosper in 2017. On behalf of the U.S. Black Chambers, Inc. have a happy holiday season and a prosperous New Year.