Black entrepreneur’s playbook to bringing investors and sponsors
For so many years, the lack of diversity and equal inclusion of black/African Americans in entrepreneurship was visible. Now, we are at a period in history when black people are taking up positions of strength and power more than ever. We are seeing black people thrive in business, tech, commerce, and every aspect of the food chain.
Only a few years ago, we had our first black president. There's so much more glass ceiling that we have shattered over the years but the truth remains that we need more black entrepreneurs.
In 2017, American Express released a study that showed that the number of female black entrepreneurs in the united state has risen tremendously over the years (from 1997 to 2017, the number of women-owned businesses grew by 58 percent and the number of businesses owned by black women increased tremendously by a remarkable 164 percent in that time ) and that's an impressive record that we should evenly spread across the industry.
Obviously, the struggles of the black entrepreneurs over the years which includes lack of capital, competition from other white businesses, and most especially customer discrimination, are breaking no news. We know how much we have had to struggle to get to where we are. We know it’s been a journey of blood and sweat. This is why we cannot relent.
Despite all the strides we have made, unemployment rates in blacks are still perpetually greater than the unemployment rate of the white folk. And the solution is pretty simple. Entrepreneurship has been a major game-changer for the black community and now, we need even more people to get involved. This way, we are creating more jobs, opportunities and improving our community as a whole.
There was something about the character Ghost from the hit show Power - striding in his elegant suit with a head full of strategy - that you had to admire. He was the ultimate entrepreneur. And if there’s one thing every black entrepreneur must learn from the life of Ghost, it was his ability to expand the scope of his business through investors and sponsors. Ghost knew so well, from the beginning, how important it was to leverage people with greater resources to help build a large network for his business.
The thing about entrepreneurship is that it has to be prepared. There's really nothing more important than having a defined work strategy/plan that contains everything you need to do to improve your business. It's like a template, you see. A master plan of your entire business. Something that (and we cannot stress this enough) will always work for you in your business.
So just like Ghost, every black entrepreneur must have a plan to bring in investors and sponsors to help grow their network. Below, we will be looking at some of the strategies that should help you get sponsors to lead your business.
1. Identify Investors in Businesses similar to yours: This is probably the first step every black entrepreneur should take when trying to find sponsors for their company.
The best way to do this is to locate your niche. So if you are into tech or commerce, for example, check out other companies in this niche and draw out a list of the sponsors in their companies. You can also use this information to get the names of people who you feel can be potential investors through their previous activities.
To further streamline your scope, even, you can focus on sponsors that are largely interested in promoting black businesses.
Attend fundraisers and watch out for venture capitalists who are ready to spend the check on a business like yours. It is important to note, however, that not all investors who appear legit on the surface are actually coming to you with good intentions, it is your job then to cross-check their background, engage in conversations, ask about their funds, etc, so that you do not get roped into something that will be detrimental to your business in the future.
2. Improve your business: It is not merely just looking for investors. If you do not have anything to offer, you are wasting your time. It’s quid pro quo, you see - they help you and you help them. VC's are looking at the strength of your company now and the potential it has to become a huge profit machine for them in the future. Nobody wants to ever put their money into something that they are unsure about. Literally nobody and most certainly not investors.
So before you start actively seeking investors, you should probably take a critical look at your company and evaluate if it’s ready for the massive change you want it to go through. You have to evaluate, also, if you are ready. Because everything stems from there
3. Use social media: Probably already cliché to talk about the power of social media in 2020 but it definitely has to be said. Through the strategic use of social media, you can get the attention of potential sponsors with your activities. You can even deliberately source them out by engaging and flirting with their social media profiles. One thing investors love is a good name. If they believe an association or partnership with you will be great for their own name, then you have a great shot.
Black entrepreneurs should also blog more. Write more. Put out content more. When you attend events or fundraisers, put up clear pictures with expressive captions to show that you understand your community. Improve your visibility some more. It is not always about finding investors, through your own activities, sometimes they can find you.
Investors and sponsors are a great way black entrepreneurs can get more financial and capital leverage to take their business to the next level and the above are just some of the ways to do it right. It’s a template that works and you should include it in your business playbook today.