We know the pandemic has affected all small businesses, but it hasn’t affected everyone equally. Black businesses have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19. Facebook’s forthcoming US State of Small Business Report revealed that businesses in majority-minority neighborhoods faced poorer business outcomes, including a higher closure rate (36% versus 22%).
Regardless of these challenges, many Black-owned businesses are showing resilience. Here are five pieces of advice from inspiring Black business owners whose businesses continue to flourish, despite the challenges of the past year.
Adapt to the virtual world. Today, many of us have become accustomed to living in a virtual world, from Zoom meetings to selling products online. Although this new norm can be difficult for customers and businesses alike, it’s important that we embrace it. Using online tools and resources is not something you just do in a pandemic, it’s a model going forward. I reach clients through Facebook and Messenger that I’ve never thought I’d be in the same room with. We need to adapt to online going forward. Don’t use online tools as a one-off. — Joy Williams (pictured above), owner of Joyful Designs
Approach any challenge with the right mindset. Staying positive during this challenging time can be one of the best decisions you can make for your business, even when the going gets tough. Sometimes all we need is a perspective change. I won’t minimize how hard it has been in the food and hospitality industry. But I’ve been through a lot in my life, and that’s given me perspective and the tools to be able to see through this incredible darkness. We make a choice and we can choose what path we take. Approach any challenge with the right mindset. — Olivia Colt, owner of Salt and Honey Catering
Connect with your niche audience. All businesses have an audience and it’s crucial to connect with them, even if it can’t be in person right now. We’re lucky that with platforms like Facebook, Messenger or Instagram, it’s still easy to engage in a meaningful way. I’ve found setting up a schedule can be an easy way to accomplish this. You can make a calendar for when to post so you don’t forget and it becomes a habit. You’d be surprised how much of an effect it can have on your business. I go live on Instagram once a week with creators to talk about their books and what projects they’re working on.I have fans of my journey and of my book who have been waiting for what I have coming up next. By going on live on my Instagram I can keep my fans in the loop about release dates while also shining a light on other creators. — Jason Primrose, owner of The Cluster Chronicles
Don’t be intimidated. Intimidation can stunt many of us, but it’s safe to say, there’s no better feeling than overcoming our fears in business and in life. It can be easy to feel insecure when you’re trying something new and different, but you’ll never know if you can succeed if you don’t give it a try. Eight years ago, I opened up a chess school. At first, I felt intimidated by the idea of running my own business. Regardless of my fears, what mattered most was my passion for chess and wanting to teach children about the game. Once I opened, my classes were primarily made up of boys, even though the school was available to all genders. One day a young girl joined my school. She was very shy at first, most likely because she was the only girl. Interestingly, when the school moved to online due to COVID she began feeling empowered and started to share her voice. She’s now the most vocal kid in the class. Although she was intimidated by playing with all boys, she was able to overcome her fears, just like me. — Demetrius Goins, owner of Shoreview Chess
Take Advantage of Tech: I run my business, Rock Your Month, an online feminine care subscription box, while also serving in the military full time. My business is my passion so I spend most of my free hours outside of my job in the Air National Guard to run RYM. Using tech helps me to do this. I rely on Messenger to keep customers informed while I work two full-time jobs. Automated messaging allows us to get back to customers right away with a quick response so they get the best service and attention. — JaBett Glenn, owner, Rock Your Month
In addition to taking the advice of these five Black business owners, you can visit Facebook Elevate to find educational tools, inspirational content and personalized support to help you adapt to the ways your customers shop, communicate and interact with your brand.
Joy Williams is the owner of Joyful Designs, Olivia Colt is the owner of Salt and Honey Catering, Jason Primrose is the owner of The Cluster Chronicles, Demetrius Goins is owner of Shoreview Chess, and JaBett Glenn is the owner of Rock Your Month.