Ron Busby, President, and CEO of the United States Black Chambers Inc. said it best in an interview with HuffPost:
“When America catches a cold, Black America catches pneumonia.”
According to an NPR article citing findings from CDC-based studies, 33% of those hospitalized for COVID-19 are African American.
That number alone is a reason for concern. Then there’s the fact that the U.S. population is only 13% African American. Suddenly, it becomes clear that this crisis is affecting black communities disproportionately.
The adverse impact of the Coronavirus has trickled down even harder onto black-owned businesses.
When our physical health is put at risk in such a widespread manner, financial health is soon to follow. The many destructive factors that are causing the outbreak to affect our communities will work against our economy.
Yes, black-owned businesses will face more obstacles than others throughout the U.S. -- but that doesn’t mean we can’t manage operations and fend off the costly damage of this pandemic.
It’s the business owners that are the leaders in our community. They create jobs and give opportunities for others to grow and thrive. That outlook and vision can’t change in the face of this adversity.
Despite the hurdles in front of us during these challenging times, we must be creative and resourceful in our quest to combat the Coronavirus.
While it is undoubtedly difficult to find ways to battle the crisis with no precedent for this situation, fortunately, other black-owned businesses have led the charge. We’ll look at the example some of these brave, driven people have set, and what lessons can be taken from their stories.
Before the pandemic closed their doors, the business partners were so successful that – after hosting nearly 2,400 in the past year – they were going to expand to Washington D.C. and L.A.
Now, The Gathering Spot’s services are limited to takeout and delivery, which means exponential losses for at least March, April, May, and June.
It should come as no surprise that their plans for expansion have been halted.
Whereas many business owners might be weighed down by such a blow to their bottom line, Wilson and Peterson are primarily focused on their 100-plus staff members.
Instead of frantically laying people off to stay profitable, the owners of The Gathering Spot have done everything in their power to pay and offer benefits to their team.
Furthermore, Wilson and Petersen are playing their part in helping the community. They’ve recently opened a virtual portal for members who can now access discussions and watch parties digitally.
The two restaurateurs also hosted roundtables centered on the effects COVID-19 is having on businesses. They aimed to discuss steps that owners could take to offset the damage being caused.
When the epidemic caused the U.S. to shut down, the couple had pop-up events and televised media exposure in their immediate sights. These opportunities were snatched away, which was a crushing blow.
Another challenge that the pair is facing doesn’t initially seem as though it’d be a problem.
Parents are seeking engaging activities for their children while schools are shut down, and puzzles fit the bill. Unfortunately, the Coronavirus has far-reaching destructiveness. As such, Puzzle Huddle’s global manufacturers are slow to replenish the store with stock.
So, while the demand is high for their products, Matthew and Marnel can’t necessarily keep up with the supplying.
The two toy store owners have remained resilient through this time and focused significantly on outreach efforts for their audience.
Through their social media channels, Matthew and Marnel have provided activities, tips, and resources to their client-base.
For instance, the husband and wife are sharing links to the advice of homeschooling experts. Plus, the duo does weekly giveaways on social media, aiming to reach families that can’t afford their products during the crisis.
They’re also adjusting their product line and supply chain strategy. The goal is to eliminate weaknesses that could impact the business in the future, especially if faced with another pandemic.
The resilience of these black-owned businesses cannot be denied, as they keep fighting against the economic windfall of COVID-19.
Here are some valuable takeaways and lessons for black-owned businesses from the stories we’ve discussed:
- Look beyond yourself and your own bottom line. Think about your surrounding community and how your business can play a role in helping it recover from this crisis.
- It’s only through healthy communities that your business can succeed in the long run. If you take care of them, they’ll be there for you.
- Take care of your staff, as they depend on the income you’re paying. Of course, difficult decisions might have to be made. Still, as The Gathering Spot proves, it’s possible to keep larger teams employed even with a lack of incoming revenue. Layoffs should be a last resort.
- Keep looking for strategies to overcome the challenges presented by the crisis. It will provide you with a blueprint for how to act if something similar happens.
Hopefully, this blog can inspire other black business owners to keep pushing forward during this disproportionately tough time for our communities.
Also check out our other tips during Covid-19 -- 5 Ways to Keep Your Kids Busy During Quarantine.