Dear, Sis: An Open Letter to Black Women Business Owners Who Want to Grow Their Customer Base

I wrote this open letter to black women business owners because more of us are starting businesses than any other group; but unfortunately, very rarely are those businesses scaling to seven figures. One reason is because black women do not have the mentorship, sponsorship, or access to capital like others; but I’ve found that sometimes, a little information can go a long way. I’m a serial entrepreneur and now, a professional business and executive coach, hoping to fill that information and support gap. I recently served as an official coach at the Black Enterprise FWD event in Charlotte, North Carolina. Many of the clients I supported there wanted to know how to grow their customer base. This letter is based on an actual letter that I sent to one of my clients.

Dear, Sis…


I wanted to send you this note with some tips that will support your efforts to grow your customer base. I don’t remember how long you’ve been at this, but let me tell you that it takes time. It also takes “planting and watering” every day. I see the work that you put in every day on social media, but I’m also hearing your pleas for help as I’m in the trenches with client entrepreneurs who are just looking for ways to find more clients.


Set S.M.A.R.T. Goals

I borrowed this one from the corporate realm: You need to set Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-based goals for yourself every month. By attacking a goal every week, you are “chunking,” which will allow you to not feel overwhelmed. Making it measurable means simply that you can count the results numerically, whether it means you want to convert two prospects or make a certain amount of revenue. Write your goals down, claim them, and work like the devil at them.

Know Your Target to Get More Customers

Sis, have you outlined exactly who your target is? This is key to get more clients. Start with basic demographic aspects then branch into habits and behaviors. Keep it laser focused. It isn’t enough to say, for example, “business people” or “celebrities.” Do focus groups of people you believe to be within your target. This can happen in person or by survey via email.

Capture Leads and Nurture Relationships 

Lead capture and customer relationship management (CRM) are crucial to getting more clients. How are you capturing qualified leads? Are you doing it on social media, on your website, at events in real life, or with e-mail marketing? You really should be getting leads at every touch point.

Here are some best practices:

My website has several points of lead capture: calls to action to sign up for my newsletter, pop-ups with new product offerings and events, forms to fill out for speaking requests, coaching requests, etc.

Landing pages are great! MailChimp is free, and it not only does email marketing, which is crucial to keeping relationships nurtured, but allows you to produce landing page promotions calling people to action to sign up, register, or buy. When they do, you capture a name and an email address at the very least. You will also know their interests this way and be able to segment the lists as your database forms. If you are wondering what to offer, start with the FREE stuff—consultations with you, digital content, webinars, for example.  

Don’t sleep on business cards: Look, I’m a convert. I use to tell people to find me on LinkedIn, but I’ve since changed my tune. Now, I always have a bundle, and people are quick to share as a great enhancement to your rapport building.  

Your podcast. Tell your audience to drop you an email at least twice during your show. Take that sound bite and share it on your social handles. People love that access to you. Someone will take you up on it (take a listen to the recent episode of my show, The Culture Soup Podcast.)

How often are you sharing your business phone number? Start today, everywhere you can. There are low-cost options if you don’t want to call the phone company and open a whole new account. Try I also have a virtual office that I go to once or twice a week, with a live receptionist, mail handling, and office space where I can meet clients. I work through Regus, but WeWork is also popular. It costs very little monthly.

LinkedIn is your friend: If you aren’t active on this platform, power up your profile and get socially active. You’d be amazed at how many qualified leads will come your way. But always remember that people are looking for useful information, so always position yourself as a thought leader and share tips.

Sis, are you are speaking? If you aren’t, and you have a talent for it, be aggressive about getting more of these opportunities. Have your business cards on hand after you speak, when people approach you.

Touch base with your leads each week. It should not be a hard sell. Most times, it’s just offering a helpful nugget—or just seeing how they are doing. 
Let me know if this helped. In business, I’ve lived it, and I hope that can be a resource and a sounding board for you as you plot your course. You are doing amazing work, and I celebrate you for doing your own thing.
All the best!
L. Michelle Smith

Black Enterprise Contributors Network