In order to create a successful economy you have to have people that engage in various things. Ideally business and products that compliment each other as opposed to competing with eachother. You have to have a butcher, a baker and a candlestick maker. You can’t just have a bunch of candlestick makers and no butcher.
When I look at the state of black business, while I am excited that we are all engaging in business and entrepreneurship, I think we have to consciously and diligently build an economy not just a bunch of individual stereotypical businesses (think barbershop, soulfood, hair salon and now online coaching and master classeses) business all out for self. I was reminded of this when I was listening to a webinar and every single person has a typical negro business. I was like sheesh is that all we are good for? Is that the extent of our creativity. I am not here to bash buy I am here to say that you can’t get to wealth doing what everyone else does. This is why tech creates a ton of wealth as opposed to your run of the mill corner store. There is more to that than just the store because an online business can reach more customers than the corner store that is limited to the corner but you know what I mean.
Building in line with a plan is not unheard of. When people plan out communities or even shopping centers they only allow one grocery store, one cleaners, one donuts shop etc. This is also seen in city zoning restrictions. That is how we have to engage in business otherwise we will cannibalize and commodotize each other out of business and be left with nothing.
We have to be conscious of what we build not just building what we see someone else successfully build.
When I first started my business infrastructure consulting business a lot of people decided that since I was pretty successful that they too would get in the business. Good for them, I am no hater (hah). Psyche, eff that, hate hate hate hate hate. Those folks caused me to have to lower prices and compete. All because they weren’t inventive enough to create within their own lane. I’ll win, because I’m a winner and I evolve and thrive, but I am not the rule, I am the exception. #humble.
Too often we see everyone trying to hop into the same lane. When selling hair is hot, people sell hair. Rapping is hot so we sell rap. Sports are hot so everyone flocks to sports. T shirts, soul food, whatever. Easy and popular, nice! That mentality and line of thinking isn’t an economy bro. I believe I said this earlier but we need a economy, not a bunch of hair, sports and music. We need black owned tire shops, black owned car dealers, black owned travel companies, black owned department stores, black owned gas stations, black owned burger stands, black owned everything. But we don’t need a bunch of rappers and athletes. If we continue to build like that we will do what we are doing now which is give all our money to immigrants and outsiders who provide those services and treat folks like dirt via poor customer service in the process.
A lot people want to open what I call glamour businesses. This is something that people see you building and think wow, cool. Whether you are successful or not they think “cool”. These are businesses that other people are already doing though. Think bathing suits and IG boutiques. You look cool, but you lack longevity, scale, and barriers to entry. These are usually businesses with a proven concept that won’t get you made fun of for trying something new. A lot of people are afraid of failure and failing in front of people so they never start. Here is a secret though, nobody remembers your failures, only your successes. We only talk about MJs rings, we never talk about the times he lost.
There are a lot of great things that happen when you create within your own lane and the community decides that you are the go to person for that industry. Each person helps each person through referrals and exclusively buying your products, as opposed to competing with that person and buying products from immigrants. Additionally, you tend to become SO GOOD at that particular craft through practice that you provide better service not just half ass service. Your product and service improves because the money flowing in allows it too. In turn, the community benefits because they get top quality service and you benefit because you aren’t just scrapping by and competing with everyone else who wants to sell what you sell. You create a monopoly which allows you a lot more flexibility. Competition KILLS business and don’t let Erin Lyons tell you any different 🙂
So I want to encourage folks to be more inventive with their businesses. Wealth comes from creation not competition for what has been created. This means that if someone has already hopped into a lane, it’s too late. Create a new lane. It’s unfair to that person and its unfair to the community. We aren’t there yet. Think bigger, think beyond the obvious and lets build a community of diverse business owners that collaborate not compete. If you need help coming up with an idea, you need funding for that idea or you need help facilitating the development of that idea we want to help. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to work with one of our consultations on a no fee, equity only basis.