Black small business owners often have complicated stories to tell. There were an estimated 134,567 Black- or African American-owned businesses — including 1.3 million employees —reported on the Census Bureau’s 2020 Annual Business Survey. Despite growing numbers — in 2020 there were more new Black-owned businesses proportionate to the total population than at any time in the last quarter-century — black entrepreneurs often face barriers to building their companies that others don’t, like unequal access to capital and essential financial education[CL1] .
Consumers hold a lot of power when it comes to small business success, even as issues outside of our powers — like supply chain problems — continue to hinder progress. If you’re looking for ways to support the black small business community, here are some things you can do to help them thrive.
Buy from black-owned businesses
One of the easiest and most direct ways to support black small business owners is to purchase their goods. Start by using search terms like “black-owned restaurants near me,” or look for shops online that offer background information on the owners or that display an “identifies as Black-owned” attribute in their business profile. The #BlackOwned app also helps you discover new black-owned businesses by aggregating businesses that are tagged as such on social media.
Buy from black-owned businesses throughout the year
Yes, buying from your favorite businesses helps their bottom line, but paying attention to when you buy from them is also important. Making an effort to purchase from these businesses at different points throughout the year — aside from just the holidays — can help them stay afloat during slow times.
Share your love of black-owned business products
So much can be done with social media these days, and you can help your favorite black-owned small businesses by spreading the word. This can be done on any day, but especially in advance of big shopping holidays like Black Friday. Tag your products with #blackownedbusiness or #BlackOwned for more visibility.
Leave a good review for your favorite black-owned businesses
Companies live and die by online reviews these days, so leave a positive one for all your favorite black-owned products to help boost their rankings. Do this directly on their site, as well as on sites where they sell their products or have mentions, like Google, Amazon, and Yelp.
Engage with black-owned businesses on social media
Many small business owners are doing their best to grow their online presence, and engaging with them there is an easy way to help them do that. Like and comment on their posts when you can, and tag friends who you think might be interested in specific things they share to bring even more attention to their goods and services.
Donate to black-owned businesses, and to the organizations that support black-owned businesses
Pay attention to any fundraising opportunities that your favorite black-owned shops spearhead so that you can donate in support of their success. You can also donate to the organizations that provide resources for black-owned businesses, like the Minority Business Development Agency or the Coalition to Back Black Businesses.
Offer your services to black-owned businesses
When you know a business owner well enough, offering up your talents is a good way to chip in. If you’re great at social media, have a background in marketing or advertising, or excel at fundraising, volunteering your know-how (when it’s welcome!) can be a great service.
Invite black-owned business owners to your networking events
If you’re a small business owner yourself, consider inviting your favorite black-owned business owners to the events that have helped you connect with the greater business community and/or consumers in the past.
Ask black-owned business owners how you can help
Every business has unique needs, and it never hurts to ask your favorite owners what exactly you can do to help. Being intentional and strategic with how you provide assistance is the best way to ensure that your efforts will provide the most benefit.
Build a true and lasting relationship with black-owned business owners
Rather than just buying one product or commenting on one post, the best way to make a real difference for a black-owned small business is to build a relationship with them, and to continue helping promote their goods or services — in all the ways mentioned above — for as long as you believe in their missions and values.
The past few years have been eye-opening for many, and most of us have realized that there’s a lot more we can be doing to help support the amazing minority owned businesses around us. Take the time to research those black owned small businesses whose products or services you really enjoy, and whose missions you value. After that, helping them thrive can be as easy as tapping into any of the suggestions above.