September 11, 2021

A Love Letter to Black Owned Businesses

Dear Black Business Owners,

I woke up with an urge to write this this morning because Black Owned Businesses are dear to my heart. Anyone who knows me knows this; however, if you are new here, I want you to know this first and foremost. I have always supported Black Owned Businesses and over the years, the surge of Black Owned Businesses has been both encouraging and inspiring for me to watch. We have been doing the darn thang and I'm here for it!

I originally grew up in a very small, rural town in North Carolina. I knew of a handful of Black Owned Businesses in our town. However, to think that now a strong majority of my everyday wears are from Black Owned Businesses is something I could have never imagined growing up. I love that for us! Also, with all of the trials that 2020 brought us last year, one of the bright lights during that time was Black Owned Businesses were being shown and highlighted more than ever. For me, it introduced me to so many new brands and small businesses. While I love supporting Black designers that may be in stores such as Target and/or have larger businesses online, this light gave me the chance to support even more small businesses. 

I have spent the last year adding to my collection of Black Owned pieces in my wardrobe and even seeking out Black service providers in my area. It has been such a great experience being able to support my brothers and sisters and I have made some wonderful connections along the way. I want this love letter to contain my admiration, my respect and my love for Black Owned Businesses.  I also want it to share some advice too.

I always want Black Owned Businesses to win! Always! As a customer, I have been disappointed in a few businesses over the last couple of months and I realized first that a few bad experiences do not equate to a whole experience. I would never let a few experiences stop me from supporting my people. Someone may miss the nugget in that. I also realized that the disappointments in these experiences were all very similar even though they were different types of businesses I was supporting.

So, as someone who has the experience of being a customer, a consumer, a Black Business Owner in my own right and years of administrative and customer service work, I wanted to share a few things that may help Black Owned Businesses, especially small businesses, navigate business and aid in the customer experience.

1.  Before starting your business, develop processes to help your business run as smooth as possible.

While this may seem self explanatory, it is not always that simple. I feel like a lot people have a deep desire to start a business and often dive in head first only to realize later that they missed a few things before starting. Seeing the big picture is always important, but in starting a business, you have to develop the smaller steps that lead up to the big picture. This is not something that always comes easily to people so that is why small business centers, business coaches and more can be essential for business owners.

Because there are so many types of businesses out there, I feel the easiest way to give an example is like this... Imagine you want to start a business while still working full time. How will that process work? Think about it! Make a list of how you can make it work for you. You can develop your website and social media on your off days. You can use a few hours after work each day to promote your product/service online, engage with your social media audience and/or pack orders. Developing a process instead of winging it will always pay off.

2.  Communicate expectations and delivery standards early.

My first bit of advice leads right into this one. Communication is key! Use your website to share proper expectations. For example, if it takes you up to 48 hours to respond to email inquiries, say that on your website. If you only ship on a certain day of the week, say that on your website. If your turnaround time for shipping can take up to two weeks, say that on your website. You avoid a lot of issues by just clearly stating expectations on your website.

3.  Develop an email list and utilize it. Stop relying on social media to be your only source of communication with customers.

I know we live in a world that uses social media heavily; however, if you rely on social media as the only way to communicate with customers, you will miss someone every time. Why? First, social media is fast paced and things disappear in the shuffle quickly. Plus, you have customers who only use social media at certain times, may work during the day or simply just aren't online when you post. This is why an email list is essential.

Almost everyone in the world will at least check their emails. Develop an email list and use it to share sales, delivery delays or any important information that is needed with your customers. I know I can personally say that email and text programs tend to work best for me as a customer and consumer.

4.  Always remain professional.

Above all else when running a business, remaining professional will take you so far. I know it can be hard and I won't be one to tell you that the customer is always right because some situations you may encounter can't be resolved; however, your attitude and manner in the way you act with your customer will speak volumes. Being respectful and courteous is key. If an issue arises, offer them something to ease the situation. Also, as much as you may have the urge to do so, don't share negative experiences with customers publicly. While it can feel redeeming for you in the moment, it can alternatively shed a negative light on you and your business to strangers. Keep it professional.

If you are a Black Owned Business reading this, I want you to know that I want you to win! Every business encounter won't be a positive one, but setting expectations early and handling all situations professionally can really set you up for success.

What do you think of the advice I shared? Anything you would add?

God bless & stay fab,


No comments

Post a Comment

Blogger Template Created by pipdig