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Why I Hate The Hookup

Want to support black entrepreneurs? Stop hitting them up for freebies

"How will my business make money if no one wants to pay?"

Stop me if you’ve heard this one. Richard, a black comedian calls his white friend: “Hey, Chad. Just wanted to let you know: I’ll be in town next week to do a show. Hope you can make it.”

Chad: “Really? That’s great! What night is it? I’ll call all of my friends and we’ll pack the house! It’ll be a blast!”

“Thanks, Chad!,” says Richard. “It’s on Thursday night. I’ll see you then!”

Richard hangs up, excited about the prospect of a big night at the comedy club, which means more gigs. He then he calls his boy, Lamont. (What? You know he’s black. How many white, Asian or Latino guys named Lamont do you know? Try to keep up, okay? Anyway…)

Richard: “Monty-Mont! Whassup? It’s ya boy, Richy-Rich! Just hollerin’ atcha to let you know that I got a gig in town next Thursday. You coming, right?”

Lamont: “Hell, yes, I’m coming! You funny as a mug! Shoot, I’ll bring my girl, and tell her to bring her girls, and I’ll get Antonio and Big Rob and Lisa to come and get the word out to their peeps, too!”

“Cool!,” says Richard. He holds his breath. He knows it’s coming.

“You gonna hook us all up, right?,” says Lamont.

One of the biggest drags on black entrepreneurial growth and profitability is the “hookup”: black people expecting other black people to provide them with free goods and services just because they’re black. We need to stop it. Today. NOW.

No, she can’t hook you up with a few press releases and some public relations for your event.

No, he can’t hook you up with a few signed copies of his book.

No, he can’t hook you up with a quick shape-up so you can look fly at the club tonight.

No, she can’t hook you and your momma and aunties up with free tickets to the fashion show.

No, she can’t hook up a business plan for you real quick.

No, she can’t deliver the dinner keynote without an honorarium, in return for two tickets at the head table for food she won’t get to eat. Because she’ll be speaking during the dinner.

No, they can’t wash your car, pull your teeth, do your hair, fix your computer, edit your manuscript, paint your house, build your Website, etc. for free! Discount? Maybe. Complimentary services for referring new—paying—customers? Okay. An occasional freebie for long-time, loyal customers who always pay? Sure. Barter my goods or services for yours? We might be able to work something out. But, FREE? NO!

Hello? The point of being in business is to make money! How can entrepreneurs, and black business owners in particular, make money, if they’re expected to give their products and services—which costs them money to create, develop, market and deliver—away for free? If you don’t spend money with them, they can’t spend their money with you. If you won’t pay for your haircut, your barber can’t pay to eat at your restaurant. If Leslie the auto dealer won’t pay a competitive rate for wedding planning, Lisa the wedding planner can’t afford to buy a car from Leslie. Money has to circulate in order for economic empowerment to happen and for black entrepreneurs to have a chance to compete and thrive. You don’t support black entrepreneurs by showing up for the hook-up. You support black business by paying up.

When I find a black entrepreneur or professional who provides goods and services I like, I pay for those goods and services—period. I know that there are costs associated with providing a service and making a product, a cost they can only recoup by selling at a profit. I don’t want them to hook me up with free stuff. I want to hook them up with my spending, because then they can really hook me up, by creating jobs, growing the local tax base, supporting community organizations, doing business with other black entrepreneurs and professionals—or just having enough money and a predisposition to reciprocate, to buy goods and services (like subscriptions to Black Enterprise) from me and mine. I want black enterpreneurs to make money. I want them to succeed. I want them to get more than rich. I want to see as many wealthy black entrepreneurs, families and communities as possible. So if I like what they’re selling, I’m more than happy—I’m thrilled—to pay for it, and to tell all of my family, friends and associates how great they are.

Do you really want to support black entrepreneurs and black professionals? Stop hitting them up for freebies. If you believe in their products and services, pay for them, as you would for the products and services of any other business. If what they’re selling doesn’t merit that, why are you patronizing them in the first place? Do you really think you’re doing them—or yourself—a favor?

This blog is dedicated to my thoughts about money, entrepreneurship, leadership, mentorship and other things I need to get #OffMyChest. Follow me on Twitter at @AlfredEdmondJr.

ACROSS THE WEB
  • John M

    good points but is this really “one of the biggest drags on black entrepreneurial growth and profitability”. Really?? One of the biggest??

    • http://blackenterprise.com Alfred Edmond, Jr.

      Hey, John! I wouldn’t have said as much if I did not believe it. But of course, that’s my educated guess, and I could be wrong. I’d like to hear from entrepreneurs and small business owners. How big a problem do people trying to get the hook-up present to the profit potential of your business? Is it must an annoyance, a kind of “black tax?” Or is it really stopping you from getting your business established?

      • http://www.namdphiladelphia.com Earl Harvey

        thanks for this great article, can you hook me up?? I want to publish this in my newspaper for black business owners, my organization is sponsored by BE and we support black owned businesses, of course I will pay if I have too..!!
        The publication is The Black Professionals News, my next edition is February for Black Business Month edition.

  • http://www.thekeepakidnetwork.com Joy Swaby

    M. Edmond…I agree 100%…usually as a “baby” entreprenuer…people closer to me, (Kinfolk, old friends etc) think that I am obligated to offer services for little to nothing…I was a sucker in the begining, but I had to create and rehearse what to say when asked “How much you gon’ charge me?”….

    Im done with explaining myself and I am learning not to settle…if they cannot afford my already affordable services…then its bad business to begin with.

    This is good stuff!

  • Vicki

    This is perfect.

    Just another symptom of the inferiority complex, where i dont even respect myself enough to support you without begging for the ego stroke of the hook up. Like you owe me something just because I fulfilled the basic role of a true friend–support.

    I had a friend buy a ticket to my show once knowing he would be unable to attend. That is support. Getting dressed, driving to the music store and buying the album even though you already copied it from your friends music library–that is support. and self-respect. and respect for others. and empowerment. and Love.

    “We need to stop it. Today. NOW.”

    thank you so much for writing this.

    Vicki

  • http://www.energyrelations.net Andre W.

    Thanks Alfred! It’s about time someone was bold enough to put it out there! Another point to consider is the “snowball effect” that one hook-up can create. Lamont tells Leslie about the awesome hook-up you gave him… Leslie tells Shirley, Shirley tells Antonio, Antonio tells Big Rob, then they all assume you’re “obligated” to give a hook-up to everyone on this side of the track.

  • http://faithfilledgreetings.com Treena

    Thanks Alfred, I totally agree,I am in the infant stage of my business and I am constantly having to deal with individuals wanting to bargin with me regarding items that I am selling. I always ask the do you go into retail store such as Macy’s and attempt to bargain them down on the price. When I posted that question to one lady she said your not Macy’s at which I replied “And I won’t be if I entertain customers like yourself”. I usually don’t respond to negative comments, but this one was extra. Thanks again Alfred

  • http://faithfilledgreetings.com Treena

    I have already commented on this topic, I want to answer the person who doubts that it is a huge problem, “hook-ups” and “discounts” are business killers. Unfortunately, the majority of the people requesting them are so-called-friends and family and then the general public always wants a discount. I am just over the discounts and hook-ups think. I am thinking of posting a sign “NO HOOK-UPS” and “NO DISCOUNT” I think the term “black topic” fits perfect. Again Alfred you are correct

  • Haji

    As a foolish young man about 20 years ago, I went into a cultural shop in Brooklyn and spotted an Ethiopian shirt I coveted. The price was $50 and because the man who owned the store and myself were both black dreadlocks I asked him to sell me the shirt for $40. I’ll never forget the look he gave me: disdain, exhaustion, irritation. He gave me the discount, but that look woke me up. I never would have down that to a white business owner. Fortunately, now that I’m a man, I put such childish attitudes away.

  • http://www.karensouthallwatts.com Karen

    I am not one of your regular readers and stumbled upon this via a Retweet…excellent content. Though I cannot speak to being a black entrepreneur, I do know that this is a chronic problem for consultants, coaches and other service oriented businesses in general. I even wrote a short ebook on how to handle it call “Everyone wants a Freebie”…which ironically I give away for free.

  • J. Renee Miles

    I have to whole-heartedly agree with you. As a personal trainer, friends and others always want me to give them the hookup and I tell them “NO”. You get a complimentary 30-minute workout so that you are able to see what my style of training is, my personality and if I would be a good trainer for you. After that, then we discuss the packages that I have. If you want a hookup, I will discount my service by offering you 1 free session for 2 referrals who actually commit to a training package. I have to think about travel time, insurance, contiuning education, etc. If people would see it from our perspective as business owners, then this trend would start to decrease but not unless we put our foot down and stop this trend.

  • W.O.M.A.N.(Word Of Mouth Affiliated Network)

    Great topic Alfred. Fair exchange no robbery is my motto!! It’s just that simple! Before I started my business, a very knowledgeable woman once told me “As an entrepreneur, you must always expect to get paid for everything you do as it pertains to your profit making business!!! Otherwise people from the black community who you may have given a “discount” or “hook up” when you were starting out, will always want” The hook up” or a discount of some sort. In turn, that one discount will haunt you like the plague and WORD OF MOUTH will get out and what seems like the entire community is going to expect a “hook up” or they will think you are over charging them for your service and won’t want to pay you your worth. My advice to aspiring entrepreneurs would be to tell them to set the precedence early! No support, No discount! Do your homework before starting a business and know your WORTH!!!!! AND STICK TO IT!

  • http://www.startupbiztalk.com Cheryl-Start-up Business Talk

    Great point! Just LOVE this post! Especially this: “No, she can’t hook up a business plan for you real quick” I’m so tired of getting asked that– it’s called the cost to produce quality service and the time value of producing such service. It’s also important that business owners look at their expenses vs. revenues and stop doing hookups! If someone doesn’t know the value of your service (and you’ve properly positioned your pricing after studying your market) then they probably are not the ideal client you seek. Thanks for the post.

  • http://www.shoooincompany.com Jason Edwards

    I love the article. Great points.. what my people need to do is hook up the entrepreneur. I believe in not only paying what the person is requesting but also in tipping. For service oriented businesses this is especially important.I believe in hook-ups yes.. but I like to hook-up the person who is providing the product and service. Thanks for this!

  • http://www.keithstokes@comcast.net keith stokes

    I really don’t know what say about this the
    truth is what it is and this the truth.we
    need to check our self before we kill the
    dream.

  • B. George

    You should write a book on this!!!! It’s soooooo hard to be a ‘start up’ business when people are trying to ‘talk you down’ on prices for services all the time!!!!

  • http://TceNow.com Francina R. Harrison, MSW

    Alfred, this is SO ON Point! Since I deal with career coaching (and business connections) helping folks to get in position with getting jobs & contracts. You can ONLY imagine the “hookup requests” I get to provide FREE & FAST resume services, FREE career/business coaching, and “hook me up with one of your contacts” requests! Then when I share my business value/investment options…with some of “my people”, I get the “oh she’s not a Sistah” anymore replies. At first, it was hurtful, but I “got over it”. Like you echoed in your piece, I can do more for “my people” and “my community” with paying customers. Thank you for keeping it REAL and putting this “out here.”

  • http://www.divamanual.com Myia J

    This is definitely a problem and I agree with Alfred’s plea for the culprits to STOP! My biggest problem is that once I opened my business and published my book, immediately people think that I’m rolling in dough. Not only do they try to shy away from paying me for my services, but they get mad when I don’t invest in their get-rich schemes or when I have to sacrifice showing up to a BBQ for my business. The rewards for being entrepreneurial or hard working are not always seen among the ones around you, but from without. I believe that the above problem is the reason why black businesses seek other ‘neighborhoods’ to place their establishments or offer their services.

  • Leslie G

    AMEN!! PREACH!! So so very true, we need to stop with the hook-ups, but also the ‘bootleg’ thing… I’m come on really, I feel with this cycle of behavior we ‘block our own blessings’… Thanks for this post!!

  • http://www.edtecinc.com George Waters

    Great article Alfred. This is one of the things we must emphasize with young people interested in learning about entrepreneurship. Your article should be required reading for ALL who want to start a business.

    George Waters
    EDTEC, Inc.

  • http://www.muzatch.com Willie Nason-Solarologist

    Dear Mr. Edmonds, I appauld you 100% for your directness. It took me years of hard work, money, study and research to develop my products and I have been trying to get so many of our brothers and sisters to understand that very point, but some just don’t want to accept it. Being the only Solarologist in America, they think I should give them samples so they can “pass the word”. “YEAH RIGHT”! They never go to any other business establishment and ask for a “hook-up”. If they do, they are shown the door quickly. I can not provide jobs, training in the area of Green technology, if I give my products away free, just because you are black. For me and other busineses to become successful we need sales not hook-ups.
    Willie Nason-Solarologist-founder/CEO
    USA Solar and Digital Communications Tech. LLC

  • http://www.ksard.com Kristi Schmidt

    Over the past two years I have shelled out over $5000+ to purchase supplies and software, of which I have only recouped $600 back from ONE paying client who understood the value of paying for services. I was also gracious to receive a great barter from a friend who supplied me with much needed software upgrades (legal) because I ran out of money from spending money investing in trying to get my business off the ground. Had she not done this, I wouldn’t have been able to upgrade my software, so I am grateful for that.

    I still have $15,000 worth of equipment to purchase because I’m trying to get more photography equipment, which I have no idea how I’m going to get because I can’t afford it.

    I’ve tried to compromise by researching the cost of competitor’s price list for photography, website design, graphic designs etc, and lowering my prices for the sake of the recession and understanding that people are in a crunch but still to no avail, I get the same reactions from my own people and its very disappointing.

    “Why so much?!”, knowing good and well they’ve done research online to see the cost from other designers and use the “why so much” tactic as a way to guilt or talk down your prices.

    What I don’t understand is why we as a people will go out and purchase rims, blackberries, name brand clothes and shoes from white owned businesses and pay FULL price, no questions asked, but question the cost of services from black owned businesses. I had to learn the hard way in 2008 about NOT bartering and giving free services to clients claiming to be broke and/or use the “we’re friends” method of achieving their own selfish wants.

    Bartering doesn’t always work because 9.99 times out of 10 the client will never hold up their end of the agreement, so I had to stop bartering unless it is something of equal value, as aforementioned from a close friend of mine.

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  • http://www.jgriffithpr.com Julie O. Griffith

    Please repost this article on as MANY BLACK SITES as possible!

  • Robin

    I particularly hate it when men ask women entrepreneurs for the hook-up and/or freebies. I think that’s not only crass but it means on a very deep level that he has no respect for her as someone who is an earner and laborer. My personal and most humble opinion is that those men will be cursed for not considering that a woman has to keep a roof over her head, etc. I’m always cognizant of the fact that men I know have to take care of their families, I need that courtesy returned. Still, I believe you were listening to me talk to a colleague last night on the phone. I told her that my spidies tingle whenever I hear “Robin, let me run something past you” or “Robin, let me pick your brain” or “Robin, what would you do?” All of those sentences translate into, “Can you hook me up?” Alfred, I am that publicist you mentioned though are many more of us. I will leave you with this: A man I’d done a favor or two for asked me to hook him up with access to Inaugural events. He said, “Let’s see how you do and I’ll think about hiring you.” Users or hook-up artists come in many forms and the hook-up is becoming craftier. As a friend says, “In God we trust, all others cash.”

  • http://www.phoeniximpressions.com Tyrone Wicks

    Wow! Alfred you nailed it!! Thanks for having the courage to say it out loud!!!!!

  • Pingback: Da’ Hook Up | Blackinformant.com

  • http://www.blackstarnews.com Brenda Jeanne Wyche

    Alfred, thank you so much for this affirmation. I became very passionate while reading this excellent piece, because I too, have had my share, in the past, with people who don’t want to pay for anything. But when you DO reach into the kindness of your heart to help them out, some are obsessive, demanding, will call you all hours of the day, night, weekend and ON THE ACTUAL HOLIDAY AND HOLINIGHT, and will talk about you if you don’t do everything they say! Been there, and that is why I’ve gotten very proficient with the “N” word, meaning “NO!” – and if I’m pushed, I will put a Hail in front of it!

  • Marlo

    I agree wholeheartedly with the article! Sadly, it’s very on point.

  • James Brown

    Amen!!!!!!

  • Fred

    A waayyy bigger drag on black business are the following:

    1) Blacks spending so little with black owned businesses. (estimates claim less than 10% of black dollars circulate back into our community.)

    2) Black business owners not treating you with the same level of respect as they treat white customers. Ex: Acting too “familiar” with me just because we’re both black. (You can call me sir instead of “bruh” just like other customers).

    3) Poor attitudes by black owned business staff. (In most cases small business/retail shops don’t have pricing as low as the big chains, so if I’m gonna spend more with you, I don’t want an attitude thrown my way from sales associates, etc.,)

    4) CP Time!

    These have a greater impact on black business bottom line than “hook ups”.

    • http://blackenterprise.com Alfred Edmond, Jr.

      Fred;

      Those are all great reasons not to patronize a business (black-owned or not) at all. Again, if a black-owned business doesn’t deserve your business, you shouldn’t feel obligated to spend with them. However, none of the issues you raise (with the exception of your first point) have anything to do with why we should expect any entrepreneur or professional to just give away their goods and services.

  • http://www.laurenceaudesignstudio.com Patricia

    Alfred, I must say that your post was awesome and on point. As an entrepreneur I fell into the trap of giving discounts or free services to end up doing more work than what was anticipated. One thing I have learned is that customers that get your services for free are the most demanding and aggravating customers. Most of all, they tend to turn into a NIGHTMERE. My services is not for everyone but it is definately for someone. So I only do business with those who value my services. My motto is: “People Only Value What They Pay For”.

  • JTB

    A friend who has been providing the service longer and more successfully than me, told me she knows not to sign a client as soon as they start talking about negotiating her percentage. It’s an industry standard fee and if they expect “the hook up” from her, she said, it’s obvious they don’t respect her effort. It was the best business advice I ever got.

  • Charesse

    Thank you for this article.

    Another item to mention… When they actually sign a contract, they never pay on time.

  • http://www.overduerecognition.com Jackie Thompson

    This was a great article,This is a big problem, my niche market is African Americans, and they always want the hook up, they always ask- Is this the best price?, what can I get it for?, Ive even had people ask if they have to pay tax? Ive even thought about raising my pricing, because everyone wants to negotiate them, and I know I have great prices. A competitor of mine went out of business recently and we have “picked up” some of their customers, they come in and say how much they loved my competitor and how sorry they are that they went out of business and then turn around and ask me to honor their “hook up they had there” I tell them that hook up you were getting was probably why they are out of business.. I hope you explore what this “hook Up stuff” is all about and keep writing for us to stop it….

  • http://www.madamethejourney.com Paula C.

    I thank you so much for this article! I heard about this on the TJMS. I am an aspiring entrepreneur. Even in the prepatory stages of my projects, I get the occasional “when you {write your book, get incorporated, etc.} – you’re going to hook me up right?” Unbelievable! To show support, is to pay. Some that I’ve run across don’t understand the value in resources or time it takes to produce what we wish to market. It undermines my value. Yes, I love you as my black brother or sister, and I gratefully appreciate your interests, but love me back and compensate duly, for what I have presented.

  • http://www.jayarceetravelgroup.myttn.com Juan Conner

    This article was right on time Alfred!! How can Black businesses EVER make a profit and stay in business if we’re constantly looking for a hookup? Point well taken!

  • Tory Butler

    I love this article. It is the truth!

  • Tory Butler

    March of this year, I started working for State Farm. The first thing I hear is “You gonna hook me up with a discount on my insurance”. I’m sitting there thinking to myself “Hey, I can’t even get one”. Not that I want it. But where is the positive conversation like “thats great, how do you like it so far”?.

  • http://www.williamsandcompany.org Latreeka Williams

    Thank you for a great article!

  • http://performanceconsultantsintl.com Hadji

    I think this article is stretching the issue of “hook-ups” a little too far: many of our Black customers don’t really have the standard of living of median income America, some can afford it and some really can’t. With that frame of mind, it may be useful for us to sometimes discount our products/services to our fellows Black clients w/lower than average income.

    As long as the discount doesn’t sink your business (not a 80% discount) then both the business owner and client win!
    I believe that it goes both ways: as a business owner you should be able to discount products to another black client because we have to support each other: the black client is supporting your business by shopping with you so you have to encourage that black client by giving him an incentive too (reasonable incentive).
    Should we charge every customer the same? that is open to discussion, but I choose to give a better rate to my black customers…it is just a personal opinion. So I am for the “hook-up” if you do it while still making a profit, even if it is a smaller margin of profit…because other races support each other: you better believe the the “good ol’boys” (white folks) support each other and watch each other back, so do the Italians…Jews, Russians, Indians, Arabs…

    We have to be on the same page…we can’t analyze the lower income of many of our black customers and blame them for it…that’s just the reality of many of our black clients. For those who got it, more power to them because they can pay full price and not worry about it…but for the less fortunate we have to allow them to play a part in our business growth.

    As a last note, as black business owners we need to improve our customer service, our responsiveness and pricing.
    While the black customers need to increase their spending with black businesses.

    Thanks

  • MelC

    Excellent post. There are also many excellent comments. FYI, I reside in Chicago. One question; when was the last time you saw a Korean/Pakastani/Chinese owned business offer a discount based upon ethnicity. Of course many don’t have to since their main patronage is AA and AA’s will pay for whatever they’re looking for and not utter a word looking for a ‘hook-up’. We continue to insult ourselves when we DO look for those ‘hook-ups’ and as the article mentions, the AA economy is affected negatively….plus it’s just sound economics. Rents and leases and overhead costs are not given ‘hook-ups’ and are fixed costs, so why would a business offer ‘freebies’ when they’ve got to cover costs…and make a profit. Unless, AA businesses are AFRAID to make money…or just that desperate.

  • B Wms

    I agree with posters that I don’t like the asking for a hookup. I had an ex that did that and it was always so embarrassing for me. Now my problem – we give the hookup to people who don’t really need it. I.e., a mega church pastor goes to eat at a restaurant, guess what? He doesn’t have to pay for it. Can he pay? Of course, but he gets the hookup w/o even asking. However, we will run a poor homeless person hanging around for the scraps from a restaurant but he doesn’t get the hookup. Now, who needs the hookup more – the rich pastor collecting his congregation’s rent money or the homeless man? We give the hookup to those we want to give it to but don’t you dare ask or need a hookup. I have a problem with that. I’m like the Godfather of Soul – I don’t want anyone to give me anything, open up the door and I’ll get it myself but we have a problem when it comes to the haves and the have nots. Period.

  • AirX

    I’m a airbrush artist in Houston TX. I’v been painting alnost 20yrs & in business for almoet 10 years, and to be frank I hate that shit. I pay 30 to 40 dollars for 1 quart of paint (1 color) and I use over 20 colors so do the math. Then have someone to come in either shop and ask for a free shirt really pisses me off, so in turn I tell them I will do it for free if you buy the paint, each color I need to do your shirt. The MF have a problem with that. So now Im back in school fulltime using my scholorship & finacial aid money to keep from getting a job. I’m realy enjoying the way my business is being ran now. Its not as stressfull as it was trying to hustle a sale back to back to clear overhead and home bills for the month. Long story short I dont need those customers there not helping me anyways. I feel bad that it took me almost 5 years to relize this was hurting my profits as a business

  • Marcia Cole

    Love this post. It’s so true and so sad.

  • http://www.ASAPTravel.net Margie Jordan

    Thank you so much for saying what we’ve all been thinking. I’m a professional travel agent and you have no idea (maybe you do know) how many phone calls I get requesting a “hook-up” for an airline tickets.

    I’m a travel PROFESSIONAL. I spend time and money in research, travel and professional development so I can offer my clients the best of my experience and knowledge with each destination I sell. My services are worth payment.

    I have felt betrayed by my own because I can’t “hook them up.” The “hook-up” is the reason why many of us just don’t survive in this arena.

  • http://Ambassador-MediaGroup.com Darryl D. Anderson

    TRUE!!! Too True! I have seen it time and time again. Obviously you are not talking about non-professional business but black entrepreneurs serious about their business and customer service. I have even seen plenty of people, churches and etc. pay extra and not question the fees from white businesses but ask that you “prove” yourself, do back flips and still ask for a discount for services.

  • Naima K

    Not a business owner, but I see both sides of the issue. While hook-ups should not be expected, I do not see a problem with asking for and/or providing a hook-up in some situations. There are some services/goods which are new and unfamiliar, and I think that providing samples, particularly to those who would otherwise feel compelled to support your business (as a friend and/or relative) would be appropriate, if you can afford it. This would allow those who would potentially be your most loyal supporters to experience your product or service and provide honest feedback, without feeling forced into spending money on something they otherwise would never have purchased. Their support for you is primarily a result of your relationship.
    I try to patronize black businesses, particularly when they are “the only one,” (or one of a few) so my support for them is primarily based on them being black, even though most of them do not have the best customer service, quality of product, or prices. I continue to “hook them up,” even though I have not gotten any freebies from them, in the hope that, in some way, I am contributing to the collective benefit of black people. So, I think that this unspoken agreement that you are supposed to support other black people despite your misgivings (stronger in some communities than others), helps fuel the “quid pro quo” expectation of freebies from the supporting customer. Also, I have experienced people of other ethnic groups and cultures receiving discounts and hook-ups based on their association with a group. For example, I have received discounts and freebies from Muslim people, based on being Muslim. Most of the freebies that are to be had, are a result of being a member of a certain group.
    That being said, obviously honoring too many hook-ups, such that they cannot be afforded would be detrimental to business. However, the responsible business professional should be aware of the appropriateness of all potential hook-ups and be able to politely refuse those which he/she doesn’t want to, and/or cannot afford to provide.
    Having personal experience selling handmade jewelry for a family enterprise, with a very low (if any) profit margin, I was annoyed by people (mostly black) looking for heavily discounted merchandise, that would put us all well under minimum wage, especially considering the high cost of materials. However, there are business ventures with very high profit margins, wherein providing hook-ups would be more appropriate.

  • Jennifer

    Hook-up syndrome is a real problem. Too many of us(AAs) have been conditioned to believe we need a hand-out. Some have been conditioned to believe that we need to be taken care of. I have noticed even when some of us “move-on-up” we still have this sense that someone owes us something, instead of giving and helping others, we beg. I don’t know about you guys, but when I was a kid, my mother used to tell me, and my siblings, when you visit a friend’s house, I better not hear about you begging for anything. If they don’t offer don’t ask.

    If they offer a discount, fine, if they don’t life goes on.

  • http://www.theheelshield.com HeelShields

    If you think of the hook-up as another example of Black people not buying from Black people – it is the number one issue facing a Black Business.

    I have supported some Black Businesses for over 15 years- paying full price and recommending other customers. Now that I have patented a product and have gone to those businesses for support – guess what! They don’t need my product personally (replacement for driving shoes – Heel Shields) and they can’t purchase them for gifts.

    I even gave one a few samples to show and he gave them away – WoW! Now he gets credit for a nice gift. But he can’t buy any to give away – mmmmmmmm. And, we do logos so he could put one of his multiple logos on them to giveaway as a promotional product to his customers.

    One day! One Day!

  • Tlynette

    OMG!!!!! This was just a topic of discussion this past week! We heard an NPR story about the Congressional Black Caucus’s criticism of the Prez, how he’s not focusing enuf on ‘Black issues’ and were beefing about how this attitude permeates the Black community. What the heck happened to us? I swear, before integration, F-U-B-U was what we DID, not what we wore! We were gonna work the ‘hook-up,’ but not to take credit for something we didn’t do or have. We all knew our brothers & sisters were in business or in school to try to make it, and the whole community benefited–because we HAD to do it. Now, we act like that principle doesn’t apply anymore. This happens in my ‘Hood all the time–we’ll pay ANYbody for the privilege of shopping/eating/going to school there, whatever, but get all PO’d and uptight at our folk in those enterprises, ‘cuz we can’t get a ‘hook-up!’ Even Greek organizations pick & choose what/who gets their support based on ‘hook-ups,’ but trumpet “BUY BLACK.” ?????? Whatever became of US doing our part–all that work hard, study, help each other, do the right thing stuff? Granted, it’s apparent there’s still a racism component, but that charge can only be brought legitimately IF and WHEN we have actually taken care of business, and the ONLY thing left is color bias. No other ethnic group is gonna ‘hook us up’ unless they’re getting something, too, and if we aren’t willing to work our own stuff right, they will take their marbles and go to another playground. If Blackfolk can EVER get THIS right, I still believe the possibilities are endless!

  • http://www.commoncentsoutsourcing.com Joyce

    excellent, excellent piece! I couldn’t have expressed the sentiments better myself if I tried. It’s hard enough making a decision to go out on your own & hang your shingle, then here comes everybody & their momma wanting “the hookup”. It’s a pet peeve of mine that ranks extremely high on the list! Thanks…

  • http://www.altruisticleadership.com Annalisa

    Thank you for the article. I agree completely. It is so important that we support our black-owned and small business owners by recirculating our monies into those business and communities.

    Excellent piece!

  • http://homes4saleinpa.com Tracee

    THANK YOU!!! THANK YOU!!! THANK YOU!!! I am a Realtor and i got involved in my profession to educate, empower and assist our people in real estate. I have found that (for the most part) our folks are the hardest to work with, they want something for nothing, and they drain you for your information but do business iwth someone who is not of color. I recall one incident in which I began showing a friend and his new wife houses 2 1/2 years before, he finally did the bait and switch. Not only did i show them houses, I set him up on automatice email to receive houses on a daily basis that met his critieria. I also advised him on issues with his rental properties in a larger city that’s about 2 hours away. I offered to refer a colleague, or someone I trusted, that worked in that city so that he could be serviced correctly. (in this instance I would’ve received a referral fee) I should’ve known there was a problem when he advised he was going to continue renting it however, not even 60 days later he tells me it is on the market and that he was having trouble with the realtor. I then assisted him in writing a letter to evict a tenant in our local market. At that time, he asked me to walk thru the property, and advise on the fair market value. I did that.It was understood that I would be the listing agent on his property. I went back to my office, pulled comparables, determined the fair market value. I advised where he should market his house. He said ok. We maintained constant contact and followed-up as needed. He advised during the follow-up that he was going on vacation and when he returned he’d contact me and we would put his house on the market. When he returned he didn’t contact me therefore, I waited 4 days and called him. He actually had someone list his property. This is after I assisted this man and his wife for 2.5 years. I called him and in a very calm tone, I informed him that he had just taken food off my family’t table. I explained to him it is as if he drove his tractor trailer, moved someone else load from one state to the next, used his fuel and money to move the load and when he went to get paid they said thanks but…. This however, is not the end. This man knew that I was upset and apologized. In the interim, his wife overheard our conversation and advised that I was right. The next time I saw him he apologize again and gave me a gift bag with a card in it. In the gift bag there was a bag of bath crystals and a nice card that said thanks and I am sorry but, in it he had a $20.00 bill. I am a sister and I am a Taurus. Steam blew out of every orifice in my head. I said thanks and put the bag in my car. Later that night, we were at a mutual friends home to watch a fight. I politely handed him the gift bag with the card and the bath crystals in it back. I am not saying that I was right for returning the gift but, in no way are my services worth $20. In good conscience I could not allow him to think that was ok. I however, have learned a valueable lesson…. People, especially our people, pay for what they believe has value and they also pay for what they want. If I do not value my time and talent, no one else will. thanks again for this article. I am going to keep this article and refer to it as needed. have a blessed 2010!!!!

  • Valerie

    The Hook Up is a Hand-Out!!!Thank you so much for this valuable and timely article.

    Thankfully, due to being raised in a large family, I know the power of NO.

    I am a performing artist and designer. Sad to say, the people who value and buy my arts and services are non-Black. I don’t play with The Hook Up, as my Mother used to say “a broke person can’t tell a rich man how to save money”, we should stand firm and demand the same respect that non-Black artists receive. Being from a large family they taught me that James Brown was right (regarding those asking for a hook-up): talking loud and saying nothing. I do not care if they say I’m acting white, not down, etc. The Hook Up DOES NOT PAY BILLS.

    Last time a “friend” asked for a freebie I point to their shoes phone car and sometimes– gold grill– “did you get the hook up for that?!”

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  • http://www.essentialsbychana.com Chana

    This article touches on key points. Yes we need to stop taking advantage of Black owned businesse’s just because we are Black. Normally people who want the “hook up” have no sense of what it takes to run and stay in business, therefore, they come across as being rude and instursive, but all-in-all this needs to STOP!

  • http://www.ruoldschoolreunion.com Tai

    I agree that looking for the “hook up” is in fact a hand out. Now, I lead a nonprofit organization and look for opportunities to come up with “barter” agreements. In this way, I can have something to offer the person I’m seeking help from in return in exchange for cash. I think it’s something we’ve lost as people in general, the notion of, I may not be able to give you cash, but I can provide a service to you that is worth cash for an exchange. Giving doesn’t always mean that a person should have to come out of their pockets.

    For the event I help sponsor, I don’t even ask my friends of 20 plus years to do something for free. It’s just not right. I am thankful that they are willing to discount their services to me so that I may raise money for the ultimate goal in mind. I won’t tear down people who always ask for handouts, I would just teach them better….show them better. I find that starting with my own family members is a good way to go. Then it becomes easier to share that principle of exchange and actually promoting one another through honest interactions.

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  • http://faydra.com Faydra Deon

    In my African-American History Examiner column, I referenced this post in the article I wrote today about this fourth day of the Nguzo Saba. You can see it here Kwanzaa: Day 4: Ujamaa means cooperative economics or death to the “hook up!”

  • http://www.findsuccessmentors.com Bert

    Two points. 1. Alfred practices what he preaches. I met him at a recent event and offered him a free copy of my book and he stopped me in my tracks, told me I was making a mistake, and purchased a copy of the book. 2. I think this article speakers to a larger issue-confidence. Sometimes when entrepreneurs are starting out in the emotional roller coaster that is business ownership, they are still building confidence. Even if you have a great product you may have given a few samples of it away and after a series of rave reviews your confidence builds. Once you get to that point you feel validated when a customer pays you what you are worth. Giving a hookup ABSOLUTELY erodes the confidence for young entrepreneurs. I myself have felt a “cringe” feeling every time I charge less than what I was worst for public speaking. That has since stopped. But Alfred is right I learned that people respect you when you honor the integrity of your products and services by commanding what you are worth. Getting paid what you are worth also builds confidence. Please consider the emotional damage next time you ask someone for a hookup. If we don’t build each other up, emotionally and FINANCIALLY we won’t ever prosper.

  • simplycandycane
  • Shearill Brown

    I am one million percent positive and motivated. As a business owner, that is the Worst word in business. Let’s throw that word out and replace with Network(Bring value and get value).

    Shearill Brown (www.ShearillBrown.com)

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  • Shawneda Marks

    I don’t believe in the hook up. I do believe in bartering and donating in kind services. While I don’t believe the “hookup” is the greatest detriment to black businesses I totally respect the author’s viewpoint and can understand his point of view. I USED to patronize African-American owned exclusively until the lack of customer service and attitude of entitlement to black support became too much to entertain. As an entrepreneur my first priority is offering the best product to my “client”. The hookup is in my opinion nothing compared to the lack of customer service unless the reason I’m getting bad customer service is because the business owner is unable to tell their friends, family and associates no when they ask for the hook up and taking their frustration with not being paid by those who should support them the most out on a paying customer (me). Either way, good post. Free samples and promotions have a great place in business it is the entitlement to free stuff that I believe is the problem, in my humble opinion. But the entitlement attitude of all Americans is a different topic.

  • Deborah M. Cofer

    AMEN…It’s about time someone addressed this low-life mentality!  

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