Book Excerpt

E-business demands a new wave of respect from today's brick-and-mortar entrepreneur

technology businesses to offer additional services and portal features to its growing customer base. The company has saved the cost of having to pay a contractor or hire an employee to develop custom applications and features. Subsequently, the year-old company has grown.

Due to increased corporate contract bundling, more and more minority-owned businesses will need to form strategic alliances to be competitive. Analyze your target market and consider those services that may add value for your customers. Pursue alliance partners before opportunities arise so that you’re not left at the last minute scrambling to find someone to help you win or fulfill a contract. Also, have your attorney develop or review strategic alliance agreements so that your risks are minimized.

The “e” in e-business does not stand for “easy.” The challenges are as limitless as the opportunities. The key factors involved in e-business are creating a usable site with relevant content; providing security (for both your clients and your business); providing excellent customer service and timely product fulfillment; selecting an effective team of employees; and forging legally binding, mutually beneficial alliances. Entrepreneurs who are more adept at these tasks are more likely to succeed in their online efforts.

The question for African American business owners and managers is certainly not “Should I incorporate new technology into my business?” but “How do I productively incorporate new technology and position my business for success?” Unless we employ strategic planning, technological limitations can and will impede business development and economic survival. This is not just about getting a Website, it’s about doing what’s best for your business’ productivity overall.

African American entrepreneurs must find a way to effectively target the “Black Digerati”–those of us who have grown up with technology firmly integrated into our lives–without alienating the generations who are catching up (or resisting).

We are well positioned to benefit from the digital revolution, but we must not allow the knowledge divide to widen. We must continue to develop traditional and virtual communities based on industry, geography, or special interest that serve as conduits of technology information. Black entrepreneurs should participate in communities such as MOBE (Marketing Opportunities in Business and Entertainment), founded by Kofi and Yvette Moyo, and produced by their company, Resource Associates International in Chicago. MOBE has expanded from an annual symposium series to include the MOBE Institute, a virtual learning and business building center. This organization was one of the first to recognize black innovators with their annual MOBE IT award. They also hosted a White House briefing in 2001 that brought minority entrepreneurs from around the country to discuss access to capital and marketing opportunities with the Bush administration. Their Website features marketing news, a message board, and a schedule of events. This global network of black movers and shakers is an inspiring example of how we can use technology to achieve the American dream.

African Americans do not have the luxury of dealing with technology issues later, especially when this is one of the first times in history

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