This week on The Urban Business Roundtable, UBR Producer Angelique Westerfield speaks with Margaret Garner, President of Broadway Consolidated Companies Inc., the first black female-owned construction firm to build a Walmart Store. Garner translates her entrepreneurial success into employment opportunities and positive economic impact in the communities where her construction projects are built. Garner was also a speaker at 2020 Vision: The Black Enterprise Economic Forum, where she shared her views on what the Obama Administration needed to do to help advance the growth and profitability of black-owned small businesses. Check the following links to get more of Garner’s insights and to learn more about her path to success.
NO MORE HOOKUPS! BUT HERE ARE SOME ALTERNATIVES
Everyone who gets to know me even a little knows that I don’t believe in the hookup: the expectation that black entrepreneurs should give away their products and services for free—or “hook a brother/sista/cousin/etc. up”—because the patron is a friend or relative, and often just because both the business owner and the would-be patron are black. For years, I’ve railed against those who constantly expect to be hooked up, telling them that they are doing a disservice to black entrepreneurs, creating a drag on the growth and profitability of small black-owned businesses, and putting a damper on the economic vitality of black communities. (For more, check out my post, “Why I Hate The Hook-Up.”) On this week’s edition of The Urban Business Roundtable, I stressed that getting consumers to stop looking for a hook-up is only part of the solution; business owners need stop handing them out.
Sometimes, out of guilt, a lack of confidence in our worth as business owners, or a misplaced sense of black solidarity, entrepreneurs end up giving away their products and services for far less than it costs to produce them. Check out our post, “Standing Firm.” (Also, click here for insights on how best to price your goods and services.) Ask any experienced, successful business owner: Anyone who truly expects you to do that is not supporting your business, they’re hurting it—and taking advantage of you. End it—now.
If you must offer some kind of hookup, be sure to only do so in ways that rewards people who are either loyal customers and/or regular sources of new business. Examples include:
Free products or services to those who refer new—paying—customers to you. You provide the hookup (perhaps in the form of a discount or coupon) only after the new customer buys certain products or spends a certain amount of money.
Occasional freebies for loyal, regular paying customers. A common example is the restaurant that offers a free lunch for every 10 meals a patron buys.
For more ideas, check out our post: “Standing Firm: Getting The Most From Customers Without Lowering Your Prices.”
These are just a few things entrepreneurs can do to avoid giving products and services away free of charge. But I’ll bet you have some great ideas as well! Tell me, entrepreneurs, how do you handle would-be patrons who are looking for the hookup? Share your stories, comments and questions below. Also, take our poll, “How Often Do People Ask You For A Hookup?”
Alfred Edmond Jr. is the editor-in-chief of BlackEnterprise.com and the host of the Urban Business Roundtable, a weekly radio show, sponsored by Ariel Investments, airing CST Wednesdays at 8:30 a.m., Thursdays at 6:30 p.m. and Saturdays at 9:30 a.m. on WVON-AM 1690, the Talk of Chicago. You can also listen live online at WVON.com. Check back each Wednesday for The UBR Morning Post, which features additional resources, advice and information from and about the topics, entrepreneurs and experts featured on the show.