When Unilever announced an agreement to acquire Sundial Brands, (No. 10 on the 2017 BE Top 100 list with $300 million in revenues) for an undisclosed—but surely landmark—amount, many wondered whether the company behind SheaMoisture and Nubian Heritage would remain loyal to its consumers, values, and mission.
CEO Richelieu Dennis assures that it will.
But others in the business world—especially those among the fastest growing population of entrepreneurs in the world: black women—may also be wondering: How can I take my company to the next level to even be noticed or invested in by the Unilevers of the world? How can I expand my company’s mission and resources in the same way Sundial has? What’s the key to attracting lucrative partnerships or investors?
In an exclusive interview with Black Enterprise, Dennis shared three vital steps for women entrepreneurs to take in doing just that. The formula is actually fundamentally more simple than you’d think:
Determine your true north.
“Be very clear in what you’re trying to do and then go out and do it. Stick to it,” Dennis says. “Once you have a true north, it gives you great guidance. Mine has been investing in my community, and we’ve done that for 25-plus years. I make decisions around what I need to do for this business that will allow me to invest in my community.
Make sure you’re creating and offering a product that is truly adding value to your consumer’s life.
“When nobody was making natural products that worked for women of color, SheaMoisture was,” he says. “We’ve remained true to that for over 25 years. We’ve evolved over that 25 years, scaled, but we have not lost sight in making a great product for our consumers.”
Think and network outside the box, and be fearless in finding ways to expand and grow.
“Stand in the gap and do not be afraid to build your business, even in the face of adversity or critics. If you’re doing the right thing and for the right reasons, do not be afraid,” he says. “We see a lot of competition that comes through when we don’t have access to resources and we don’t have the freedom to go after other consumers. Every day, people from different cultures go into our communities and do business there. … at the end of the day, every night, they leave our communities and take those dollars and invest in their communities.”