About 20% of businesses fail within the first year. Unfortunately, the odds stack when you’re Black. Black business owners tend to start out with less connections, less resources, and less monetary assets. But recent data from the government census show that, in 2019, there were 134,567 Black-owned employer businesses (businesses with more than one employee) in the U.S. That figure is up from 124,551 in 2018 (8% increase), and it’s continuing to rise.
We spoke to Black business owners about the best ways to support them year round. Here’s what they said.
8 Ways to Support Black-owned Businesses Buy from Black-owned businesses
1. Buy from Black-owned businesses
While it may seem obvious, one of the biggest and best ways to show your support is by buying directly from Black-owned businesses whenever possible. Some small businesses sell their products in larger chain stores. And although it is usually a quick and convenient option, going out of your way to shop from the source is much more beneficial to the owner. Not only does it put money in their pockets, it also shows your loyalty to the company, which is a major factor in any company’s success.
If you want to shop from Black-owned businesses but don’t know where to start, there are an endless amount of directories online that are dedicated to helping you find different Black-owned businesses for your every need. Sites like U.S. Black Chambers, Support Black Owned, We Buy Black, and Official Black Wall Street offer lists of Black-owned businesses to shop from.
2. Write and share positive reviews
Most customers rely on reviews to decide if a product is worth purchasing or not. Detailing your experience on platforms like Yelp, Google, or Etsy is a great way to boost a company’s visibility. We asked some small business owners what a helpful review looks like. Tiffany Obeng, the CEO of Sugar Cookie Books, suggested: “2-3 sentences about the product or service, what you liked about it, and who could benefit from the product/service”.
3. Tell a friend
If you have a had a positive experience with a Black-owned business, spread the word! Sharing a recommendation with your close circle can be even more effective than leaving an online review as your friends and family know they can trust you to be honest.
4. Be discreet about negative reviews
If you’ve had a negative experience, contact the company directly to give them feedback and discuss what they can do or are doing to make your experience with them better. Giving this direct feedback opens the floor for discussion and allows room for improvement without bringing down their online reputation.
5. Share a seat at the table
Networking is one of the most important ways to get your foot in the door. But many Black-owned businesses don’t have the same success as others simply because they don’t have the same networking opportunities.
A simple and easy way to combat this issue is by inviting business owners to networking events and introducing them to different social circles. This could very well lead to them meeting potential clients, customers, and business investors.
Collaborating is a great way for businesses to leverage each other’s following and grow their customer base. If you know a Black-owned business with a similar customer base to yours, why not work together for mutual benefit? If you happen to have a large following online, connect with a Black-owned business and introduce your following to their products or services
7. Offer mentorship and resources
Small business owner Clyde Guilamo says, “Many Black-owned businesses are led by people who are the first in their family to operate that type of business. If you are someone who has been in that industry and has specialized skills in that area, take a Black-owned business under your wing.” Offering support like grants, pro bono services, or sharing any helpful information you might come across are all different ways to add to the information pool.
8. Engage on Social Media
Engaging with brands on social media simply by following them and commenting, saving, and sharing posts can help a business expand their digital footprint.
Small business owner Crystal King suggests, “If you spend any amount of time on social media, take a moment to like or comment on a Black-owned business’s post. (Use hashtags to help you find them.) Most posts have a call to action; it might be to share the post, retweet the message, or in my case, download the app. Don’t just keep scrolling—take action!”
There are so many ways to support Black-owned small businesses that don’t involve spending a lot of money. Sometimes something as simple such as spreading the word is all it takes to send the right customers their way. Let’s make it our duty to go out there and be intentional about the way that we shop today and everyday.