Let me first give you a little background on the necessity to address this issue. In the last couple of months, I experienced quite a bit of grief from some who felt that I had betrayed a small business owner. For some reason the people felt that because I am black, the only business I frequent should be black owned businesses.
Admittedly, I have no problem supporting black owned businesses. I think it’s fair to say that most people are biased at some point in time towards the places they choose to do business with. People normally gravitate towards who or what they’re familiar with. So with that being said, I wouldn’t be surprised if I found out that more whites support white owned businesses, blacks more black owned businesses, and asians more asian owned business. But I haven’t actually done the research to support that statement, because this isn’t the problem I have.
The greatest issue I have is when I’m expected to support a lower-quality business, all in the name of staying black. Let me be perfectly clear, and I hope this does not sound negative, but “The only business I support is good business!“ If doing business with a black owner is comparable to doing business with a white one, I will do my best to support the black business. But a line has to be drawn, when expectations are built on the idea that I should patronize a black owner, despite his/her ability to deliver quality goods and/or services to compliment it.
As an entrepreneur, I expect people to utilize my services because they are of superior quality, not because I want them to pity me or because I’m black and they can identify with me. I want them to know that they are getting the best they can afford and if I can’t deliver, I welcome suggestions for improvement. Now, I can understand that many small start-up businesses don’t have access to capital to allow them to necessarily compete with well-established businesses. But it’s for that reason that when you consider opening a business, you create a business plan and hopefully it will include a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, & Threats) analysis, so you can adequately recognize your weaknesses and properly address them or at least use your strengths against your adversaries.
For example, maybe you’re a small business owner who doesn’t have enough capital to do a huge advertising campaign or may not be able to offer the product at the lowest cost. But he/she should work to deliver impeccable customer service, to make up for the price increase. To be honest, I’ve often paid a little more for a product at retailers or restaurants, because I thought the quality service warranted the price. But I think it’s unreasonable to ask someone to support their businesses strictly on the principle of them being a certain race.
No matter how you look at it, great business is great business. And just like love, it doesn’t come in a specific color. Realistically, you will never win over every customer, but that shouldn’t hinder you from always striving to.