To be of color and run a business is something to be proud of…unapologetically. The authentic work ethic that stems from the roots of breaking generational curses, thriving past our counterparts,becoming our own bosses and requiring the world to really put some RESPECT on our names, our brands, our proudly black owned and operated businesses. However, how much respect can we expect to be given to our businesses, when sometimes we lack the respect for ourselves? Although we stand unapologetically black owned and operated, oftentimes we stand unprofessionally operated as well. Thankfully, most of these characteristics we have picked up can be changed, due to the fact that in order to make a true respected name for ourselves in the business realm , we must properly critique and adjust. This is not to say ALL black businesses stand unprofessional, but being that “all eyes” are always on us in a sense, we must be cognisant of the decisions we make and the ways we choose to operate. Unfortunately we have associated ourselves with habits that put a mask over the effectiveness and lucrative potential of our hard work. You may just recognise yourself…
The “Sass Masters”
With so many eccentric talents and creativity we have, yall like to cover that up by making it something it is already stereotyped to be; rude, “ghetto”, unorganized, unprofessional, etc. Some of y’all are rude as all get out. These are what I call the “Sass Masters”. You speak to clients and guests in a manner that says, “you don’t need them”. No, the customer is not always right, however how you carry your responses in respect carry much more weight than moving forward with snarky remarks and rude gestures. Even some of your facebook posts advertising yourself or referencing your business, you seem entitled and smart assy. Some of yall really have no customer service skills. WHen it comes to your brand, the brand is not representative of just what you sell or the service you provide, but it is who you are. How do others reference you and what you are doing? Are you correlated with respect for your clientele, and a professional manner of communicating your company standards and representation, or are you often referred to as being rude, too straight forward, or fail to make guests feel welcomed and appreciated. What you service is half of the challenge while properly and professionally representing it holds much more of a standard and determining factor to whether you succeed in having guests return or never contacting you again.
The “Social Media Monsters”
These are the business owners who forget that facebook and instagram too are platforms. How you utilize it is completely up to you. It could stand as a great marketing tool in a new era of connecting with others. On the contrary, it can be your biggest downfall in maintaining the gradual progression of your business. How often do you check and even reply to messages? Whether it be price inquiries or questions regarding services, many can relate to the unprofessional impression left by reaching out to a business and never receiving a response. “But DejaVu I can’t get to everyone directly.” Innovators are problem solvers, how about preparing a pre-written generalized message for guests to receive upon messaging until time allotted? This at least leaves the guest with the idea that you intend to get back to them, rather than them feeling as if their message is “up in the air.” The real social media monsters are the ones who seem to forget the power of verbiage and perception in the statuses they make. Many of us can attest to reading statuses from business owners that sound like “Make y’all appointments early cause I do have a life and I don’t do last minute.” Hm, how welcoming? Rather than, “Hi! In order to accommodate you all in the most efficient manner, please be reminded to book your appointments as soon as possible. I look forward to working with you!”. It’s never what you say, but how you say it.
The “Consistency Killer”
This is the business owner who seems to not remain consistent. Whether you have to post 100 times a week, people may not like it, but they WILL remember who you are and what you do. Some of yall just stopped posting altogether. You stop promoting. You stop PRODUCING. Post so much that it gets on their nerves. So when the conversation comes up when someone needs a baker for a birthday cake, or a new fit from an exclusive boutique, or a caterer for a dinner, they will recall you and your business because you CONSISTENTLY reminded them over time. I see a lot of businesses start off strong, and over time their marketing and advertisement for themselves start to dwindle. Other customers notice as well. Keep up the posts. Keep up the work. Even when you feel no one is watching, we actually all are.
The “Head Turner”
Okay. Usually when we hear “head turner”, it is correlated with something good, like DAMN look at her! But, not this time lol. You actually make heads turn the OTHER way from you. This is for the business owners who turn heads by actually poorly representing themselves and their brand in a negative way by how you dress and carry yourself. I was at a vendor pop-up shop. The young lady had amazing inventory with great prices. However, the set up was not too appealing. It kind of seemed like she just “threw” the clothes on the vendor table. Not really much thought was placed in the setup or advertising of her product. However, she looked great. Moving on down and around the room, another vendor had reversed roles. A very nice table set up marketing her product, but she, herself failed to properly represent herself due to her physical presentation. We as guests do not expect you to be dripped in designer and in the flyest, but we do notice the manner of which you, as the business owner, carry yourself. Are you well groomed? Are you sitting up respectfully and proud of your product? Are you prepared to greet your guest upon approaching you? Are you friendly and welcoming? How you carry yourself is how we assume you carry your brand as well. If it does not look like you care about you, how do you expect us to believe you care about what you do? You gotta look the part to play the part.
These are just a few aspects myself as well as other customers have noticed in the growth of us building our own businesses. There are still the “CP” Timer business owners who do not seem to understand the impact and importance of time in business ventures, or what I call the “Life Mixers”, who mix business with pleasure and fail to separate the two. Or even the “Unorganized Organizers” who continuously remain unorganized with their businesses, failing to start on time or have things in order. However, there is one category we should all strive to fall under.
The “Note Takers”
These are the business and brand owners who understand it is not an overnight process, but purposely and intentionally take note of their faults. In doing so, they are able to properly adjust and pretty much do it better the next time around. They critique themselves and take note of where they are in comparison of how to properly plan for who they intend to be. They take bad customer experiences as learning ones so that they are better equipped next time. They understand customer service as one of the pivots in their brands representation. Most importantly, the note takers take note of the ways they can improve and excel. If you just so happen to fall under one of the categories above, you can also simultaneously fall under this one too. Do not be dismayed or discouraged, but instead motivated and pen ready, to take notes and adjust.
In order to move forward and knock down stereotypes already placed against us we must take note of these things. Entrepreneurship is a learned process, not an overnight experience. We have to be willing to see ourselves. To continue to grow and evolve and consistently look for room to progress. However, it takes us swallowing the pride and taking notice of the areas we could improve in. All eyes are always on us anyway, so give them something to look up with your PROFESSIONALLY operated business.