2020 was a roller coaster for all of us, but it was particularly hard if you were a Black person or a small business owner. I happen to be both. If you want to learn how to support a Black owned business, you’re in the right place, but let’s start with some context first.
My company, Inner Workout , launched in September of 2019. My 2020 plans included growing the business by participating in large, in person events. You can guess how that turned out.
Fortunately, the business continued to grow through the start of the pandemic, simply because people were looking for self care support during such a trying time.
Then June hit. I was Black woman navigating the trauma that surrounded the uprisings while also trying to keep a business running. It was difficult. It was beautiful, too. I’d like to share some of what I learned.
I want to start by speaking to my fellow Black owned business owners.
Here are two things I have to remind myself of often:
- Don’t feel guilty. When opportunities started pouring in, my imposter syndrome really started acting up. Remember that you’re getting a taste of what it looks like to have access— to resources and to platforms and to capital. If you own a business that is doing good for the world, it’s in everyone’s best interest for you to make use of these newfound opportunities.
- Be abundant. The right opportunities will continue to come to you. They’re not limited to a month of the year or a date on a calendar. Don’t say yes from a place of scarcity. I’m speaking from experience. I said a yes because I felt like I’d be silly not to, and now, months later, the business is still digging out of the aftermath.
Thank you for your perseverance and for your courage. Running a business isn’t easy, and you’re doing it anyway.
Now, I’ll speak to everyone else.
How to Support a Black Owned Business
- Stick Around
If you treat supporting a Black owned business as a fad, you’re probably doing more harm than good. Seek out businesses that you can build long term relationships with. Yes, be a repeat customer where you can but also find ways to stay connected beyond making a purchase.
- Refer your friends
- Subscribe to their newsletters
- Follow and engage with brands on social media
Why is this important? Figuring out finances was a lot after the wave of purchases in June. It was hard to forecast because I didn’t know who was one and done and who was here for the long run.
This advice also applies to partnerships and collaborations. Set an intention to stick with people for the longterm.
2. Slow Down
Maryam Ajayi often talks about how urgency stems from white supremacy. I had many well intentioned people and brands want to work together on really tight turnarounds. I’m ashamed to admit that I allowed myself to be rushed. This “support” ended up not feeling very supportive.
Plan ahead. This advice also applies to consumers of any small business. Small businesses don’t have the infrastructure that companies like Amazon have, especially when they’re being inundated with more orders than usual. Understand that small businesses often move a little more slowly, and plan accordingly.
3. Stop the Savior Complex
Black owned businesses are businesses, not charities. There is an exchange of value. Be mindful of the language you use and ask yourself if you’d speak about your favorite large brand in the same way.