There are many portals in both print and digital formats which assist with the promotion and support of Black businesses. Prior to the boom of the internet, many cities relied on “Black Pages” in print format to promote and advertise all Black businesses in that particular area. As noted in a 1994 New York Times Article, word of mouth was once the only means of letting potential customers know about a Black business prior to the inception of the “Black pages.”
However, once reliance on the internet and social media picked up, many organizations and fellow business owners started to utilize Twitter, Instagram and Facebook to solicit and promote business for African-Americans. With most Black-owned businesses existing on the “mom and pop” level, access to millions of dollars in advertising and marketing budgets simply does not exist, leaving them to handle promotion on a grass roots level and often solely based upon their own merits and to our own community.
Supporting Black businesses has become a more important topic of discussion as many of my peers have now become entrepreneurs. Many of us did not realize how dependent we would be on referrals and positive reviews of previous clients and consumers, even if we provided said services for free. The more positive feedback we receive from consumers, the more referrals and inquiries are received, which, in turn, increases business opportunities and cash flow. But, again, recognizing and understanding the importance of supporting Black-owned businesses did not completely register to me, and may still not register for some.
To further assist with the edification of Black businesses, especially during this holiday season, here are four ways to continue to lend support to those within our community:
1. Make your support a priority.
With certain services, specifically health care, I make it a point to only give my business to an African-American woman. It is sometimes hard to locate them, and secure an appointment, however, this is one area I have made it a priority to stick to lending my support.
2. Research, research and more research.
It isn’t too difficult to locate Black-owned businesses these days, especially by searching via the internet and via apps such as “Around the Way” which helps find black owned businesses near you.
3. Make referrals.
Majority of the new business I receive is through word of mouth referrals from a previous or current client. If you are highly satisfied with the goods and services of a Black-owned business, by all means, share your experiences with others who may be potential consumers.
4. Don’t Make Excuses.
We all have had negative experiences with vendors and service providers in our years as consumers regardless of their race or ethnicity. It is important to not use these bad experiences as a reason to not lend your support and spend your dollars with Black businesses.
Rashida Maples, Esq. is Founder and Managing Partner of J. Maples & Associates (www.jmaplesandassociates.com . She has practiced Entertainment, Real Estate and Small Business Law for 10 years, handling both transactional and litigation matters. Her clients include R&B Artists Bilal and Olivia, NFL Superstar Ray Lewis, Fashion Powerhouse Harlem’s Fashion Row and Hirschfeld Properties, LLC.