Why you must join our small business revolution.

Author:Graves, Earl G., Jr.
Position:Executive Memo


I know quite a few business owners out there who may be scratching their heads at this audacious statement. In fact, they're probably asking themselves how such an assertion can possibly hold true since most spend each day struggling to keep the lights on or trying to find another creative way to keep that single client. How can this be true when 9 5 % of the roughly 2 million African American businesses operating nationwide are sole proprietorships? How can minnows compete against corporate whales that gobble up market share in every industrial sector?

If you've asked those questions or others like them, my fellow entrepreneurs, then that is exactly the problem. To succeed in today's environment, business owners must first change their mindset. We must stop embracing a survival mentality instead of focusing on a growth strategy. That outlook continues to be held by a large number of entrepreneurs who constantly scramble to maintain contracts from year to year and, as a result, subsist as CEOs of micro-businesses operating hand to mouth.

Moreover, I find far too many African American companies willing to promote their minority status as their core competence instead of how their unique products and services can benefit prospective and existing clients. It's a flawed approach that pits them against countless companies that are part of the supplier diversity universe, including firms owned by women, Latinos, members of the LGBT community, and veterans, to name a few. To snare and retain customers, you must present a compelling value proposition to corporate clients and consistently demonstrate that your company will make good on its commitments through incomparable quality and performance, period.

So just what does it take for your small business to succeed today? You need these four key ingredients: scalability, capability, technological adaptability, and branding power. First, identify those partners--either for long-term viability or a short-term venture--that will enable you to bid for, secure, and complete business-building contracts with major corporations. You'll increase your...

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