I will say that again… supporting Black Owned Business Starts WITHIN the business… otherwise, you won’t HAVE a Business!
Without question being an entrepreneur is the greatest thing on the planet. I’ve been doing it now for 26 years and would not have it any other way. I love it but I would think it would be unfair to paint a picture that’s not accurate or common.
Running a business is like being married to it, it will consume a majority of your time, you will get frustrated and be overjoyed and if you are lucky you will wake up leaping out of bed looking forward to the new day and possibilities. This is actually the truth. When you are living your passions you have a special joy that most people will never experience in their lifetime because everything that you do belongs to you and the possibilities are endless.
I don’t know too many people who would trade it for the world but they would give up the stress of finding good, qualified help in a New York minute. If there is ever a way to duplicate ourselves or mass-produce product the way we want to produce it … sign me up. There are entrepreneurs rolling out the red carpet for AI, mostly because when it’s all said and done the job GETS done. No excuses, no delays, few mistakes, and little frustration. Gary V, who is a huge no-nonsense entrepreneur influencer has said it best, the definition of an entrepreneur is not to run a business, it’s to be a fireman and put out fires … constantly. FACTS! That singlehandedly is the most frustrating aspect of running a business. It appears an entrepreneur’s passion is quickly taken over by everyone with their hand out to take his money, experience, and hard work and profit from it. It’s unfortunate but often true.
However, while you may never work you are certainly constantly putting out fires.
1. Supporting Black Employees
This week I am dealing with an attorney’s office who is asking me for money for an image that a former part-time employee ran on one of my sites. He was explicitly instructed not to run images from Google and to use one of the services that we pay each month or to ASK if he wasn’t sure about something. He didn’t do it.
Black Business Owners can’t be in all places at one time or constantly double-check the work of people who work for us when they have been working for us for a while. So he posted something and I didn’t see it but the greedy attorney’s office scans the internet daily looking for images that people use from Google on their sites without permission. They saw it before I did and now I have to pay for it.
[Sidenote: Never, Never, NEVER use images off of Google searches. It’s better to simply pay Getty Images or Shutterstock instead of using an image off of Google. It doesn’t matter if ownership is indicated it’s a scam and as unfair as it is, you ARE liable if you use an image off Google.]
Ironically, the same person, before all this happened, was given another assignment to complete a task which I told him I will give him a bonus for when he was done. After a few days, he sent me a message and told me it was done.
Something told me to double-check and when I double-checked I found out he hadn’t done ANY of the work almost simultaneously, another email came from him saying “Should I send you an invoice now?” Two weeks BEFORE the pay period. I responded to him the work has not been done he responded to me yes it has I responded to him, no it hasn’t I just checked. He paused then said, “Well I tried to do a couple of them can’t you just pay me?”
This is a young black man who has the idea that the world owes them something after I tried to give him an opportunity. These are the things that frustrate the black business owner more than anything. You are TRYING to help your community and this is the end result. Would he have done this at Fed-Ex or Instacart or Walmart?
2. The High Cost of Running a Business
It is ironic that at this point, after being threatened with a suit if I don’t pay for an image he used that now I have to delete ALL of his previous posts on the sites because I’m not sure if he did something else that may cost me in the near future like using someone else’s pictures. Now it is clear that hiring him has cost me MORE than NOT hiring him at all. I’m the one who is out of money, time, and wasted training.
I get it, it is not his job to care about my business and he never will I totally understand that but it should not be unfair of me to ask that he at least care about doing his job that he is paid to do.
3. Becoming a Black Business Leader
I noticed that I had a consistent morning routine and it was not rewarding. I would get up, check email then the sites and immediately, start putting out fires. Pictures were missing, hot news wasn’t posted, titles were wrong or the site was down because I had a really bad server host that I finally got rid of (another story). As a news site, this was disastrous.
Every single morning this was my routine for almost 10 years and by noon (3 pm east coast time) NOTHING was done. My entire day was spent correcting everybody else’s mistakes that I was paying and I literally had to take a nap from being exhausted. The entire business day was shot. I had grown the business with other ancillary products but it further served to exhaust me because I was an octopus. My growth was not where I wanted it to be in that 10 years and I was not getting any younger.
I had to take responsibility for this. It was my fault for not having the right team and for fixing things myself instead of having them fix their own screw-ups. How could they ever learn? It seemed when I did point it out, it still wasn’t done so I rehashed the old adage, “If you want something done you might as well do it yourself.” The same adage many business owners state and there is truth to that.
As black business owners, we are often married to giving people opportunities who don’t want them. It just seemed easier to deal with the struggles that I thought came along with running a business but I was lying to myself and wasting a lot of time and money. If you hire someone even if they are Black and they are not doing the job, they have to go. The first rule of thumb for ANY business …
4. Hire the BEST person for the job…
You Might See a Nice Guy on Stage but if You Worked for me You Might Think I was AbusiveT.D. Jakes
I had to ask myself why am I doing all this work and paying all these people and keeping important things on the back burner for days, weeks and months because I can’t grow the business in the process? If you are running a business and you have to constantly check the work being done without trusting that your team can, will, and are able to do it, you have the wrong team and you will kill yourself with the double, triple, and quadruple work, wasted time and dwindling profits that you could be investing into the business instead of wasting on nonproductive people on your team.
I am VERY dedicated to hiring Black people and giving people in the community opportunities but I will tell you something that is rarely said out loud but often said amongst Black entrepreneurs in private. There is a high price to pay for hiring people who don’t respect Black business and it’s unfortunate when those people are FROM the black community.
Hire people who are passionate about what they do. It will absolutely show in their work. Doing several websites for example. I have noticed that honest and compelling articles like this one do very well. I am very passionate about being an entrepreneur and it shows in this story and people can pick that up. The people that you hire should be passionate about the work they do but it sales, writing, singing, designing, filming, whatever. The BEST results will come of it. If you hire someone who is just trying to pay their cell phone bill next month the WORST results will come of it.
So how do you get around this? After 26 years I’m actually still trying to discover the answer to that question. But I’ve made a lot of progress. The first thing is
5. Stop being nice and doing the work You have assigned to other people.
If something is not right let it be known and don’t give a flying fk about hurting somebody’s feelings. There is no place in the Black entrepreneur space for wimps. You will get run over, beat up, stabbed, shot, and pushed down a flight of stairs while having a stroke and heart attack at the same time. Nobody is going to give a F about your business as you do so you better take care of it FIRST and stop shrugging your shoulders and making excuses for other people. Either they want the job or they don’t.
I used to work as a radio DJ, I was never passionate about it, I was passionate about music and singing and it was a way for me to sing as loud as I wanted in the studio and play all the music at the station but my heart was never in it. I didn’t LOVE it I didn’t even LIKE it.
I did it because I could do it not because I wanted to do it and that wasn’t fair to the people who ARE passionate about it and love doing it so I retired in my 30s and started a magazine about the music industry. Now, I LOVE doing that.
6. Hire by Projects
A small business is like a relationship and dating. Small steps, before committing to a marriage. Hire people, to start, by projects and see how they do. this way you don’t waste a LOT of time showing them how to do an entire job and you can get a good feel for how they work. If they do well, hire them for another project then another one. Let them work THEMSELVES into a promotion instead of giving it to them before they have proven themselves. There is a reason jobs have a probationary period.
I have found that when you make commitments that go above and beyond a project that is generally when you have issues it seems that giving somebody 40 hours to handle something is not gonna be the same as asking them to do it within two days and it’s not always their fault just like us things constantly pop-up they have their lives to live just like we do but unfortunately at the end of the day if we take the time to show somebody how to do something and then we try to start on a new project that has been waiting in the wings forever then we discover they haven’t done their job then we are in the hamster week running like crazy and going nowhere.
There is a reason 9 to 5 is a set time to work each day. The job needs a commitment from you for 8 hours then you can go and live your life. I get that now and that’s what I’m saying about hiring people to give them a certain and fair amount of time to complete the task then you can decide if they get hired again.
7. Know When Someone is a Good Worker or Full of
Why is it so hard to find good help for black small business owners? A huge part of it is as a community there is a lack of respect for black business and that is something that is very unfortunate. From the smallest business to the most successful I hear the complaint all the time.
These Look Like Excuses to me, I’m Looking for Results!Clair Underwood – House of Cards
I also hear a lot of complaints coming from the employees of the black corporations and they are always the same. “They’re not paying me what I’m worth.” “They are not treating me right” etc But it is so ironic you rarely hear them say that about companies like Walmart. A company where many of the employees can barely survive from the pay without some kind of gov’t assistance.
I was talking to a millionaire the other day who said something that struck a chord when he said “I know that I make a lot of money Kevin, but every time I hire an assistant I end up being their assistant” we both laughed but that ironically is very true … by the time you show them what to do and you go back and have to do it yourself because it has not been done. You really would be better off doing it yourself in the first place.
8. Due Diligence, CHECK References BEYOND What they Give you
Diddy said in an interview not long ago that people are really good at selling themselves and then you bring them on board and find out they’re full of it. Unfortunately, that is so true but we have to realize that there are people out there whose goal is to pay their rent or a gas bill our goal is to build a corporation or empire. These are two separate goals and you have to know how to deal with each one.
I once was talking to a woman that I was thinking about hiring for a writing assignment. She came to me and said ‘”Look I’m staying in a motel with my two kids and I don’t have any money and if you pay me in advance for this job I’ll do additional work for two months.”
I didn’t actually know this woman she was a reference but that was not gonna work for me I knew that I would not get those results and I didn’t think it was a good idea to give someone money for work that hasn’t even been started. What does your personal business have to do with my professional business? That is why they have predatory companies like payday loans that deal with these kinds of people and unfortunately those people end up getting ripped off because of the extremely high percentages they are charged. She may have been telling the truth or lying but I was not going to find out either way.
9. Enhance Your Circle of Entrepreneur Influence
I am truly excited about AI and I used aspects of it in my business now which saves a ton of time, money and frustration because it helps me to find ways to mass-produce products and the quality of your product is where you want it to be. No excuses, no mistakes no bs.
We must understand how niche business works. If you are really good at one thing, like cooking soul food, no matter how hard you try or who you hire, if they are not of the culture and if they don’t share that same passion, your customers will know it. The food is not seasoned right or the chicken if overcooked or the mac and cheese looks like soup.
ALL of my friends are entrepreneurs. Every single one of them even the ones who started off working for other companies. I don’t seek them out we attract who we are. I have entrepnreur friends who are just starting out and those who are very wealthy and I learn something from all of them.
After every conversation, I am educated in a new way and they say the same thing about me. I hear about grants, or interest rates, investments, deals on real estate, ways to make money with my sites you name it, and most of them I only talk to once every few weeks. Think about the people you take to EVERY DAY and make NO progress. How you spend your time is going to make, break or stagnate you.
This pandemic has been an incredible blessing to me and my business. Certain people have walked out of my life without being asked and I’m glad they did. I needed that to happen. I have done the same with some people. Then greater people appeared from nowhere without me trying to replace the ones who left.
We are living in a world where it’s about coming to terms with who we are and how we want to live and there is no longer room for what drains us or keeps us anchored in our limitations. I don’t like arguing, or debating, or complaining and I don’t spend my time with people who like to do that anymore and it’s great. What is your circle of influence like? Do they help you grow, keep you stagnant or frustrate you. All of this plays a HUGE part in your mental health and the success of your business.
10. Hire Wisely
Look for people who know what you DON’T know. I have overutilized certain people who have worked for me and underutilized others too. It’s all about conversations and seeing their strengths and weaknesses.
When it comes to writing I know some great writers who charge top dollar but the days of the LA Times super journalists are gone we are online now and if I don’t get a return from what I have spent, it’s not worth it. If it’s not gonna get shares on social media or there’s no affiliate income return then I pretty much have just thrown the money away so what I do is I offer a reasonable lower fee for the writing and then tell them if it gets 50 to 100 to 1000 shares I’ll give them a bonus. Everything in your business is an INVESTMENT are you seeing returns?
This concept works for me and maybe not for others but I know other people who use services that cost a LOT less than I pay and they get more out of it. You have to figure out what works best for you. I would love to know how you find the best people for your business. Feel free to comment.