“There is only one boss. The customer. And he can fire everybody in the company from the chairman on down, simply by spending his money somewhere else.” – Sam Walton, founder of Wal-Mart
I made a vow that I wouldn’t devote a second more of my time to black issues because I consider it a waste of time. But I’ve received several requests for my opinion as to why blacks don’t support other black businesses. So, I’m gonna put my vow aside for one article and give you my reasons why blacks don’t support other black businesses.
FYI: Before you step to me with that “businesses owned by other races do it too” foolishness or accuse me of generalizing (a.k.a that nigga shit), keep in mind that those other races aren’t whining about their people not supporting them — you are. So shut your mouth and listen…and maybe someone will support you for a change.
The main reason why blacks don’t support black businesses is because a lot of black business owners feel the need to overcharge for their product or service. It’s very common to talk to a black entrepreneur and find yourself paying a lot more than you would if you were to go to any other business. The main excuse for black businesses owners would use for their astronomically high prices is — “we have to pay more for the goods we sell.” On that, I’m calling bullshit. While it may be true that they have to pay more for their merchandise, that doesn’t necessarily mean that they have to charge such high prices. Apparently, black business owners don’t understand the concept of running a high volume/low margin business.
Black businesses, despite their contempt for Wal-Mart, can actually learn a lot from Wal-Mart’s founder Mr. Sam Walton. Mr. Walton started his chain of Wal-Mart stores as your basic Mom & Pop retail operation after he’d severed tied with a franchise called Benjamin Franklin. Mr. Walton knew that by entering the retail businesses, he’d have to compete with mega stores such as Sears, K-Mart, J.C. Penny, etc. But Mr. Walton didn’t just wanted to be a retailer, he wanted to be a discount retailer. To do that, instead of going through the usual process or buying merchandise from a wholesaler, Mr. Walton began to buy products straight from the manufacturer. That way, the products were cheaper for him to buy which made it easier to sell his items at low prices. Mr. Walton also did something else that was very interesting. He also dealt in closeouts. By dealing in closeouts, Mr. Walton was able to receive merchandise for literally pennies on the dollar, sell them at a steep discount and still make a nice profit. Because of Sam Walton’s willingness to discount, Wal-Mart ultimately grew into the powerhouse that we see it as today. If you wish to learn more about the career of Sam Walton, check out his self-authored biography by clicking HERE. For you afrocentric idiots that are gonna condemn me for recommending a book written by a white man and using him as an example, take that bullshit somewhere else.
One last word about Sam Walton. Remember his quote in regards to running a low margin, high volume business — “I’d rather get a little money from a lot of people rather than getting a lot of money from a few people.” In other words, he’d rather make a million dollars by selling million products to a million people at $1 each as opposed to selling 10,000 products at $100 to 10,000 people. Ironically, drug Kingpin Frank Lucas ran his empire the same way Sam Walton ran his retail empire.
Back to the immediate subject. It is not only the high prices that scares away customers, it also the lack of service you normally receive from black businesses. The predominant attitude of black businesses seem to be how can they get the most by providing the least. In American history, there was a time when entrepreneurs prided themselves on being able to provide the best product or service at the cheapest price. In fact, some companies used to compete w/ each to provide the best for less. Think of names like Henry Ford, F.W. Woolworth, Sam Walton, Frank Lucas (he was involved in crime but he understood this principle), A.G Gaston, etc. These guys and others like them went on to make billions of dollars by providing high quality products at the lowest possible price. Today’s black entrepreneurs need to get back to that mindset — that of providing the best product for the lowest possible price.
When I say provide the best for less, it’s not just about the product or service. It’s also about treating people right. Face it — a lot of black businesses seem to miss the big picture in terms of customer service. Many black customers often complain about the way they’re treated when patronizing black businesses. They usually leave feeling unappreciated as a customer. I’ve often felt this way as well when shopping at a black owned business. The owners tend to act as if they’re doing you a favor. A real businessman or woman understands that the customer is doing you a favor by spending their money in their establishment and they treat the customer as such. Which is why Marshall Field coined the phrase “The customer is always right.” It also doesn’t help that a lot of black businesses will place some rude, funky attitude having black female in a position to deal with customers. You approach her with a simple inquiry and she acts if you’re interrupting her from doing something more important. That being said — black business owners need to understand that customer service is key. Why do you think black barbershops tend to do really well? Because the guys can go in, get their haircut and enjoy the discussions that usually take place in the barbershop. It tends to be a friendly atmosphere and customers leave feeling like they’re part of a family. The same should apply to those black businesses as well.
Another thing that black businesses need to work on is honor. Standing by your work seems to be nonexistent with a lot of black businesses. What I mean is — you purchase a product or service from someone, something goes wrong and the person will do everything in their power to avoid fixing the situation unless of course you spend some more money. For instance, around spring of this year, I bought a product from a black business. Immediately after purchase, I began to have problems with the item. The guy told me that he’d fix it this time and would provide a one year warranty if there’s any defect in the future. Fast forward to mid-September…the product began to act up again. I went to the guy and informed him of this and he told me that his warranties are only for 6 months, and I showed him in writing where he agreed to a one-year warranty. He, of course, did everything he could to avoid remedying the situation and even told me that I had to buy another of the same product (which I didn’t do). Needless to say, I’ll never shop with that guy again and I also told others about my experience. This is typical with black businesses — the refusal to stand by their work and to honor their word. By doing that, they are establishing a bad reputation. When you mistreat one customer, you not only affect that one customer. You affect many because that one customer will go back and tell others and those others will also go on to tell others. For some reason, black business owners don’t understand this.
Conclusion: Black businesses, instead of providing low-cost products/services and treating people right, would rather try to make you feel that it is your obligation as a black person to support black businesses. They attempt to guilt you into dong so. But you work hard for your money and you should spend it only where you are appreciated and your money will buy the most — period. That is why when I see “Black Owned” plastered on any business, I usually turn the other way because that tells me that that business is attempting to gain favor with customers not by providing a superior product and/or service, but by skin color alone. As with anything, there are always exceptions to the rule. I’ve met many black business owners who don’t play any games when it come to their business, meaning that those guys and women won’t tolerate any of the foolishness in the aforementioned parts of this article. Model yourself after successful businesspeople, regardless of their race and you too will increase your chances of becoming successful. There’s a formula for success in business and those who fail to apply it are the ones who say things like “people don’t support black businesses” when in truth, it’s not that people don’t support black businesses — people aren’t going to let themselves be taken advantage of as a lot of black businesses seem to try to do.