This month started out challenging - I wasn’t sure how we were going to meet all our obligations, the unforeseen expenses and the unmet goals and aspirations. It's hard to believe that it’s already the middle of August and we are still here. We made it through this storm, and we know there are many more to be weathered. This is the nature of entrepreneurship.
While the balance sheet and the Income statement are very important indicators of the health of a business, black founders may have to transcend the immediate challenges reflected in the financial statements and focus on what needs to be done to make the business work. It is a sense of purpose that drives us to relentlessly pursue the knowledge and resources we need to run economically sustainable enterprises.
During times of turbulence and uncertainty, I always think back to why we started Shea Radiance. Our motivation is similar to the 2 million other businesses started by Black Founders. We started our natural beauty brand to address a gap in the market, for luxurious natural body care products that were effective. In filling this gap, we not only solved our families problems but the needs of our local communities and the global market.
We can all agree that being an entrepreneur is not for the faint hearted and being a Black Founder can be doubly challenging because of access to networks, information, appropriate mentorship and capital. We are sometimes navigating uncharted business landscapes and figuring things out as we go.
Every time I run into a bump in the road or hit a wall, I have a made a practice of reminding myself why I started this journey. Understanding the impact that our very existence has in the marketplace cannot be overstated. Our resilience serves as an encouragement to other small businesses, our customers and our employees. Most importantly, we know that our business has a positive financial impact on the lives of our supply chain partners in Nigeria, Ghana and Benin. These reasons keep us pushing to figure out solutions and overcome obstacles so keep our businesses running.
So to all the amazing black founders doing what it takes to build generational wealth for your families, employees, communities and stakeholders, keep pushing to make your vision sustainable. Remember that the solutions you bring to the market have the power to change the world. You have the opportunity to show a new and better way to do business that uplifts many.
I will end by sharing some words from Vava Angwenyi, the author of a beautiful book titled Coffee Milk Blood. Vava is the owner of Vava Specialty Coffee, a social enterprise in Nairobi with a subsidiary in the US, that seeks to cause positive social and economic disruption within the coffee industry and create sustainable livelihoods for smallholder farmers as well as integrate more women and youth within the entire supply chain.
"It takes failure after failure to finally come across what you believe is something that simply needs to be done, and when you do, then maybe the success that has been preached for so long can be in reach. People will try to stop you. Don’t stop. Change doesn't happen overnight."
- Vava Angwenyi
Happy Black Business Month!