Five myths you need to stop believing about black businesses now
“That’s why I don’t shop with black businesses.”
You’ve heard it before.
At some point in our lives, many of us have heard this dreaded phrase. Whether it’s someone lamenting about poor customer service, higher prices, or overall presentation, black businesses seem to get a bad rap.
What seems to be missing from this conversation is that for many years black entrepreneurs were denied equal access to business loans, property, mentors, and investors. And because of these challenges, many black business owners rely on personal financing to start their businesses.
This puts them at a disadvantage from the beginning.
In addition, a lack of a truly independent black economy essentially serves as yet another barrier to entrance and provides additional challenges for black entrepreneurs trying to navigate the business world.
In the midst of these challenges, black business owners continue to persevere and find success in many areas. And with the internet presenting an opportunity to level the playing field, black entrepreneurs are providing excellent products and services more than ever.
To help clear up some more misconceptions, here are five myths about black companies that you need to stop believing now.
- Poor customer service
The number one misconception of black businesses is that they are plagued with poor customer service. The truth is that many non-black-owned companies are guilty of poor customer service as well. The difference is that when some customers experience poor service with non-black-owned businesses they are not quick to write them off. They may continue to patronize these same businesses over and over again, but, unfortunately, may not afford the same leeway to black-owned companies. This negative perception of black companies also serves as confirmation bias when we are partial to information that corroborates our beliefs. Just like not all white-businesses provide excellent customer service, not all black businesses suffer from poor customer service.
- Lack variety
The second myth about black businesses is that they are all in the beauty, fashion, or food industry. If it feels that way, there is a good explanation for it. These industries tend to have lower overhead and low cost of entry making them easier to break into. Many black entrepreneurs have to invest their own money because of a lack of access to capital and it is much easier to start a company that does not need a lot of money. But with that said, black businesses are represented in many different sectors. From the travel industry, to software as a service (SAAS) businesses, to healthcare and finance, black enterprises come in many varieties and are growing.
- Poor presentation
Whether it’s in the form of websites, packaging, or business cards, many believe that black businesses are presented poorly. Any company can fall into this category, however, if you think this is limited to black-owned businesses, then once again lack of finances may be a significant contributor. However, black entrepreneurs are creative and talented individuals with a knack for beautiful designs and original execution. When it comes to branding, black talent is everywhere. Just look at social media.
- Too expensive
One thing that many people may not consider is that small businesses do not have the buying power or size to command lower prices from suppliers. And if you’re a black business starting out on your own, this issue is magnified. Large corporations can purchase larger quantities of items and save money by getting wholesale pricing. These savings are then passed on to consumers. Since small businesses are charged higher by suppliers, their products may cost a bit more than larger companies. That does not mean that they are overcharging or that their products or services are too expensive. We cannot compare black businesses with Fortune 500 companies who have been around for decades since they are not competing on an even playing field.
- They have to hide their ethnicity to be successful
For many years it has been thought that hiding your business as black-owned will make you more successful since some consumer decisions are affected by implicit biases. Some black entrepreneurs feel that some people would not patronize their business if they knew it was black-owned. With all the stereotypes, prejudices, and discrimination, it is not a far-reaching thought.
Till this day some black entrepreneurs choose to hide their identity in hopes of garnering widespread appeal. However, there are a couple issues with this. For starters, there are many businesses by black entrepreneurs that may lose out on support from individuals who want to shop black-owned. Second, if a black business is looking to reach a specific audience, it may benefit them to remain visible to capture that audience. Finally, shrinking visibility does not help dismantle negative perception, it only helps to accommodate it.
The assumption that black-owned businesses are substandard is incorrect. Although black companies may face ongoing challenges, many are making headway and thriving. As a community, our responsibility is to challenge our perceptions and attitudes surrounding black-owned businesses so that we can all help create a thriving global black economy.