The Future Of Black Business - Page 2 of 3

The Future Of Black Business

yet another example. Our partnership with Clear Channel Communications to produce and distribute the Black Enterprise Magazine’s Keys To A Better Life daily radio segments for stations across the country allows us to tap into a new revenue stream, as well as new audiences, for our magazine and media offerings. Simply put, the view of black entrepreneurship as being worlds apart from mainstream corporate America is no longer tenable, if it ever was. To grow businesses of scale, black entrepreneurs must develop intimate and intricate relationships with decision makers at the corporations impacting their industries. This is why the Black Enterprise Entrepreneurs Conference, hosted by General Motors, is designed to bring black entrepreneurs together with the key decision makers of corporate America.

The black entrepreneurial success model of the future will also continue to reward those who build performance-driven networks, expansive and interconnected businesses, and political relationships driven by the ability to anticipate and consistently meet the needs and business objectives of others. RLJ’s Johnson has achieved mastery in this area, having established relationships with everyone from Shaquille O’Neal and Jay-Z to former FCC Chairman William Kennard, now managing director of the Carlyle Group, and cable industry powerbroker John Malone. Once upon a time, black entrepreneurs could operate in isolation, with a single-minded focus on squeezing profits from their small corner of the marketplace. That kind of isolation is no longer an option and is usually a precursor to elimination.

Another theme key to the future of black business is the emergence of the serial entrepreneur — business visionaries willing and able to apply and adapt their business models across a variety of industries. That means not just starting and maintaining one successful operation, but parlaying that success into new ventures with larger growth and profit potential. In Johnson’s case, he’s parlayed the wealth he gained as a result of launching, building, and ultimately selling BET into sports franchise ownership and the lodging industry. Both Johnson and Lawal have made the financial services industry the target of their next conquests — both recently purchased banks.

Tapping professionally trained, visionary management talent will be critical to our ability to create more billion-dollar businesses. Enterprises driven by the energy and vision of a single founding entrepreneur will always be a part of the lore of an America that celebrates rugged individualism. CEOs like Wright, Lawal, Johnson, and World Wide Technology CEO David Steward, however, understand that to build businesses of scale requires more than a driven entrepreneur. It requires a trusted, capable team of executives capable of managing a company with operations across the country and around the world, with businesses in a variety of industries. Now, more than ever, the future of black business requires entrepreneurs capable of building and leading great teams.

Let’s be clear: building black-owned companies is about more than creating more black billionaires. According to Thomas D. Boston, a member of the BE Board of Economists, one job is created for every $100,000 in revenues generated by black-owned businesses, and 85% of