Black Businesses Receive Tech Industry Push Ahead Of Holiday Shopping Bonanza

The Covid-19 pandemic has dealt Black-owned businesses a tough hand. Stifled by stay-at-home orders, on-again off-again store closures and stricter limits occupancy limits, many businesses are struggling to outlast the seemingly unending virus outbreak.

Although they’ve rebounded slightly in recent months, Black-owned stores have experienced the greatest decline this year, plummeting from 1.1 million businesses in February to 640,000 in April—a 41% drop.

But spurred by a national movement to support Black businesses, which kicked off this summer, a new number of corporations are taking small steps to put the Black in Black Friday.

Black Friday online sales pulled in a record $7.4 billion in 2019— the second largest online shopping day ever and a 19.6% increase over the previous year—while the holiday season overall generated more than $72 billion in online sales, according to Adobe Analytics. Online sales for this Black Friday are projected to generate $10.3 billion.

The surge in digital spending over the holiday season and the heightened visibility that’s been awarded to small businesses through corporate sponsorships could have a considerable impact on Black businesses in particular, sustaining them through the a few more months of the pandemic.

Facebook, for one, launched its #BuyBlackFriday initiative and a corresponding toolkit and gift guide in October as part of a broader three-month campaign to buttress small businesses during the holiday season.

The gift guide features products from Black-owned businesses and was curated alongside the U.S. Black Chambers and several corporate partners. 

“Black-owned businesses have been hit especially hard by the pandemic, closing at twice the rate of other small businesses,” Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg wrote in a blog post announcing the initiative. She added, “But we know that millions of people want to help.”

The campaign runs through Black Friday on November 27, a symbolic starting gun for the holiday shopping season.

More recently, Google partnered with Grammy-winning musician Wyclef Jean and the U.S. Black Chambers to promote its #BlackOwnedFriday campaign, an effort to make November 27 “Black-owned Friday” and galvanize shoppers to buy Black beyond the Thanksgiving weekend.

The tech giant has also showcased Black-owed businesses on its social platforms since mid-October and now allows users to find nearby stores that identify as Black-owned through its search engine.

“I’ve seen firsthand the strain and struggle that Black-owned businesses face,” Jean said in a statement. “For many of them, this holiday season will be critical to their survival.”

TikTok, the latest viral social media platform, threw its weight behind Black-owned businesses months after facing censorship allegations from Black creatives in June. Earlier this month, the video sharing platform, which has about 200 million monthly active users in the U.S., launched Support Black Businesses, a digital hub to amplify Black entrepreneurs. 

TikTok also announced #ShopBlack, an in-app campaign that allows users to create videos spotlighting their favorite Black-owned businesses or to share their experience as a Black entrepreneur.

As small businesses reel from the pandemic’s economic disruption, many big retailers have had breakaway growth. Amazon’s profits and sales exceeded analysts’ expectations, reporting a 37% sales growth and tripling its third-quarter profits as more shoppers turn to the e-commerce giant during the pandemic. 

But celebrities and influencers alike have started to leverage Amazon’s omnipresence to highlight Black sellers on the platform. Nearly 70% of the products on Oprah Winfrey’s highly anticipated annual list of her favorite things are created by Black-owned or Black-led businesses this year and all are available for purchase on Amazon.

This talk was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community. Learn more at http://ted.com/tedx

The billionaire media mogul has partnered with Amazon on the list since 2015 and her yearly picks have provided brands with considerable gains in sales since the list’s 1996 advent.

Black Americans have developed a growing presence among small businesses owners and could stand to gain considerable sales from dedicated shopping holidays like Small Business Saturday, which raked in an estimated $19.6 billion in 2019. And while physical distancing measures will significantly curb foot traffic this year, more than 112 million Americans visited a small business on that day last year, a record high.

As shoppers increasingly reject winding lines that snake around the store, a trend that’s long been in the making but was exacerbated by the pandemic, they’re also looking to support independent local businesses—a potential boon for niche Black businesses with an online presence this holiday season. Follow me on Twitter. Send me a secure tip.

Ruth Umoh

 Ruth Umoh

I’m a reporter covering the various aspects of diversity and inclusion in business and society at large. Previously, I was a reporter at CNBC, where I focused on leadership and strategic management. I’ve also dabbled in video journalism, working as a breaking news digital producer for New York Daily News, followed by a yearlong stint as a producer at Rolling Stone. My work has been featured on New York Daily News, Yahoo Finance and Time Out. I’m a proud alumna of Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, receiving honors for my investigative thesis on the alarming number of physicians dying by suicide. Tweet me @ruthumohnews or send tips to rumoh@forbes.com.

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MarketWatch

Black business ownership fell more than any demographic group since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. We spoke to some across the nation who are still fighting to survive. See this video on MarketWatch: https://www.marketwatch.com/video/sec… MarketWatch provides the latest stock market, financial and business news. Get stock market quotes, personal finance advice, company news and more: https://www.marketwatch.com/ Follow MarketWatch on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/marketwatch Follow MarketWatch on Twitter: https://twitter.com/MarketWatch Follow MarketWatch on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/marketwatch/ Follow MarketWatch on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/mark…

10 Tools to Help Your eCommerce Business Get off the Ground

While the COVID-19 pandemic has devastated the global economy, eCommerce has proven surprisingly resilient. As brick-and-mortar shops close, many people turn online to purchase, putting eCommerce in a promising boom.

If you’re thinking of starting an eCommerce business in these times, technology can be a significant boon for you. We’ve rounded up 10 of the best budget-friendly tools to help you get your business off the ground.

1. ImageX Ultra: Image & Graphics Editor – $28.99 (Orig. $85.00)

A budget-friendly alternative to the Adobe Creative Cloud, ImageX Ultra gives you design powers, even if you have no idea what you’re doing. With more than 500 customizable graphics templates, you can quickly create a design for your website without any technical expertise needed.

2. SocialBot by ZapApps: Lifetime Subscription – $29.00 (Orig. $1,740.00)

Facebook Messenger can be an excellent tool to improve your customer service and boost your sales. But who has time to constantly monitor messages? With SocialBot, you’ll have dedicated bots for Messenger, SMS, and email marketing to handle any job you program them to.

3. Blueprints Website Builder: Lifetime Subscription – $39.00 (Orig. $149.00)

With 200 examples pages, 500 responsive blocks, more than 30 navigation panels, and many more tools, Blueprints helps you build websites without writing a single line of code. Creating a custom eCommerce site is easy, even if you’ve never coded before.

4. WooCommerce 110+ Premium Plugin Bundle – $39.00 (Orig. $199.00)WordPress is one of the top platforms for building eCommerce websites these days because of plug-ins like WooCommerce. WooCommerce Plugin Bundle makes it extremely easy to build and manage an eCommerce website, and with this massive bundle, you’ll have everything you need to get the most out of your business. With more than 110 plugins, you’ll be able to vary images, analyze site data, and much more.

5. .STORE Domain Name 5 Year Subscription – $39.99 (Orig. $145.00)You’re an eCommerce business, why not have a domain that says what you do? With a .STORE domain, users will know exactly what they’re on your site to do: buy! Plus, you’ll have access to secure, fast hosting and be able to find a domain that more accurately describes your brand.

6. Sellful: All-in-One Business Software for Freelancers & Entrepreneurs – $49.00 (Orig. $840.00)You could invest in a dozen different programs, or you can just use Sellful: All-in-One Business Software for Freelancers & Entrepreneurs. This ingenious platform combines a website builder, CRM, SEO planning, appointment scheduling, and much more in one platform.

7. Botsify Chatbot: 5-Yr Subscription – $49.99 (Orig. $2,940.00)Botsify Chatbot is one of the leading bot builders on the market. With this clever tool, you can build your own chatbots and customize them to help customers answer their questions, complete sales, and much more.

8. Bouncer Bulk Email Verification: Lifetime Subscription – $50.00 (Orig. $100.00)Nobody wants to work hard on an email campaign only to discover that half of your email list is expired or broken. With Bouncer Bulk Email Verification, you’ll be able to verify your entire email list almost instantly. It goes through to verify syntax, check activity, and remove duplicates so your email list is always up to date.

9. JumpStory™ Authentic Stock Photography: Lifetime Membership – $99.99 (Orig. $2,340.00)

Stock photography is essential for any business that engages in digital marketing. JumpStory™ gives you unlimited access to more than 25 million authentic photos, videos, illustrations, vectors, and icons, as well as an AI tool to edit them instantaneously. You can crop images, insert text, insert your own logo, and much more, allowing you to quickly spruce up marketing campaigns in just minutes.

10. ThunderDrive Cloud Storage Plans: Lifetime Subscription – $59.00 (Orig. $1,200.00)

Every organization needs reliable cloud storage. This seamless tool gives you 2TB of access to secure AES 256-bit encrypted storage as well as a central hub for organizing all of your files. ThunderDrive is the perfect Dropbox cost-effective alternative. 

By: Entrepreneur Store / Entrepreneur Leadership Network VIP

Lessons of Lockdown: What Creative Freelancers Will Be Doing Differently When Things Return To Normal

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Over the last two weeks, our entire world as we know it has been turned upside down in a bid to protect the NHS and save lives. Although we’re happy to do our bit, it’s especially tricky for freelancers and small businesses in the creative industries, as often the first thing to be cut is marketing.

A lot of the design, illustration, photography and copywriting that keeps our clients ticking over is on hold and we don’t know when they’ll be hiring us again. For some of you, outstanding invoices haven’t yet been paid, and you’re wondering how long this will continue.

Rather than focus on what we can’t control, many of you are finding ways to adapt and survive. You’re refreshing your portfolios, approaching your network, starting side projects, and refusing to let the current situation stop you from staying positive and afloat.

We’re learning many lessons and are taking this time to reflect. We’re asking the question, how will we do things differently when all this has blown over? I asked Twitter about some of these lessons to share them here and help all of us be prepared in future.

1. Save, save, save

We’ve always said it at Creative Boom: have a healthy reserve of cash before you go freelance. There will be moments of quiet and you’ll need to be ready for them. However, no one could’ve predicted COVID-19 or the current lockdown. No one. If you’re struggling, first of all: don’t be hard on yourself if you’ve not got enough savings (you are not alone); just make sure you priorities having money in the bank in future.

“I’ve always had a bit of a buffer, by over-saving for tax and things,” says web designer Dave Smyth. “That’s seen me through quieter periods and times of prolonged interruption (like paternity ‘leave’), but something like this is quite different: there’s no endpoint, and it affects everyone.”

2. Change the way you get paid

Sick of waiting 30 days for payment? Yes, we are, too. It doesn’t have to be this way. You can choose how and when you get paid. “Make your payment terms work for you,” says London-based photographer Ameena Rojee.

“Even before coronavirus, my payment terms were 14 days after delivery because I thought to wait for an entire month was just ridiculous. I’m now requesting payment within seven days and also ask for a % on photoshoot completion, and the last % on delivery. I’ve surprisingly had very little kickback.”

Ameena makes an excellent point: start asking for payment in stages – how many depends on the length of a project. A deposit upfront might be all you need for smaller jobs. But if you expect the work to continue for months, then it’s not unusual to request payment as you go along. Manage expectations before any project begins, so your client fully understands how you like to be paid.

3. Remember that clients are human, too

“Be kind and human to clients, at all times,” says freelance graphic designer and web developer, Simon Minter. “You never know what individuals may be going through (even when not in a situation like we’re in right now). No need to treat them simply as the one that pays your invoices or gives you difficult feedback.”

It’s a valid point. We’re all in the same boat, so try not to make assumptions or forget that your client will be struggling too. In which case, pick up the phone and chat with them. If they can’t pay your invoice now, what could they afford to spend? Could they do it in stages? If they still need support, what can you do to help but at a reduced cost? Anything is better than nothing, right? And they’ll remember your kindness and loyalty when things return to normal.

4. Be more cautious about new clients

“I won’t be starting any work until the initial invoice has been paid,” says graphic designer Karen Arnott. “I won’t be coy with my pricing, either. I won’t work with people who don’t value design. I’ll be more assertive with scope creep and price chasers. And I won’t work with clients who use phrases like ‘quick job’ or ‘it won’t take you long’.”

Karen probably shares what we’ve all been thinking: we’ve got fire in our bellies. We’ve had time to think about what’s important and the bullsh*t we won’t be putting up with moving forward.

5. Find a better balance

The slower pace and chance to work from home have meant that many of us are finding balance like never before. “I will be working on getting a better work/life balance, take more afternoons off and enjoy long weekends to appreciate the outside world,” remarks Ellen Forster.

Creative Director Neil A Evans agrees: “Remember, you might love what you do: but you can’t burn the candle at both ends indefinitely. You will burn out. Making time to recharge your creative batteries, giving yourself thinking time, time for admin, time for eating and exercise and family and friends, is important.”

Writer Joan Westenberg adds: “I won’t be letting work overcome my boundaries to consume and define me. And I’ll be finding purpose outside of it all.”

6. Develop more income streams

In times such as these, it becomes apparent that we shouldn’t have all our eggs in one basket. “As creatives, we are frequently encouraged to be more niche or focused, and I often worried I had too many small revenue streams,” says illustrator Niki Groom. “But it’s been my saviour, I’ve switched all attention to my online shop, and it’s bringing me an income. I trade as a limited company, so don’t get government support.”

Writer Luc Benyon reminds us that: “Your biggest asset is not necessarily your product, but your expertise. When the delivery of your product is under threat, you can always find a new way to monetize your skills and knowledge.”

You have to adapt, expand your skills and find out new ways to make money. “I’ve diversified the writing services I offer and developed virtual ones like Skype-based consultations,” says writer and singer-songwriter Miranda Dickinson. “All of my income came from book sales, most of them physical, and author events, so the move to e-sales and virtual events has had to be swift to provide any income.”

7. Learn to say ‘no’ without guilt

Now we have all this time to step back and reconsider, many of us are realizing that we’re not happy in some aspects of our work. We might feel like we’ve been on a treadmill for too long and are craving change.

“If the work isn’t what you want to do or if it doesn’t add value to your portfolio, if the client has previously been trouble, or if you’re concerned in any way about getting paid fairly – don’t be afraid to say no,” says Neil A Evans. “Saying ‘no’ is empowering for small business owners.”

Writer Becca Magnus adds: “I’ll be doing work that feels genuinely human, different and empathetic. Marching to the beat of my own drum rather than copying anyone else.” It’s this fighting spirit and determination to gain back some integrity that we can all resonate with right now.

8. Continue to be efficient where possible

“We’re hoping that more of our clients will carry on video calling rather than insisting on client meetings,” says Ben Mainwaring, a digital marketer from Northampton. “It’s way more efficient and productive than spending six hours a week driving to meetings.”

We couldn’t agree more. Many of you are also providing virtual consulting, too. Some at discount rates compared to face-to-face. It’s a no-brainer and follows the growing eagerness to be more upfront and confident about how we run our businesses, how we get paid and what our expectations are for a healthy client relationship.

You might also be considering cutting costs elsewhere, now that you’ve seen how much you save from not having a co-working membership; nevermind the commuting!

9. Don’t forget your own PR and marketing

“It’s important to work on your website or marketing right now. Company marketing/PR spend will most probably be reduced even when this is done, so you need to be on top versus your competitors to get what work will be out there,” says Elizabeth Wilson, a freelance copywriter in Australia.

Elizabeth is right. What better time to focus on our websites? I’ve just overhauled my PR agency, Boomerang, bringing a new brand identity to life on an existing Squarespace theme. It was supposed to be built on a bespoke platform, but we’ve never found the time. With lockdown continuing, it suddenly doesn’t matter. What can you do today to improve your brand, copy, website, portfolio, marketing materials?

Still not convinced? We’ll leave you with these wise words from graphic designer Rob Birkenhead: “As an old boss of mine used to say… When the going gets tough, the tough get marketing.”

10. Get more secure, ongoing work

“I want to find more retainers to balance out the uncertainty,” says Sally Wanless, an illustrator, designer and photographer based in Edinburgh. It’s a valid point: how can we, as creatives, become so indispensable that our clients don’t just drop us the minute trouble strikes?

You need to find ways to keep things ticking over. If you’re a web designer, could you provide web hosting and ongoing site maintenance? If you’re a designer, what can you do that your clients will always need? If you write for a living, shouldn’t your client maintain its blog?

Could it be worth reminding your clients right now about the importance of marketing, especially when their own competition might be cutting back? Start with a small retainer and know that you can always increase it, should things change.

By:

Source: https://www.creativeboom.com

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Meet 25 Leading Black British Business People To Follow

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Over the last month since the tragic death of George Floyd we have seen riots across the world that have led many people to question their understanding of systemic racism. Many businesses including Netflix and Nike have committed to donating significant funds to increase equality after acknowledging they could do more. It is not clear to those outside of the black community how some of these biases can manifest themselves in the workplace and one way you can educate yourself is to follow outspoken business people who are doing great work to level the playing field. Below are a handful from a range of different industries:


Andy Davis

Twitter: @MrAndyDavis

Website: www.10×10.fund

Bio: Davis is an Angel Investor and Founder of 10×10 – a group of black founders and investors in the UK. He invests at pre-seed on Atomico’s angel programme focused on diverse and black founders.


Tobi Oredein

Twitter: @IamTobiOredein

Website: www.blackballad.co.uk

Oredein is the founder of Black Ballad, a UK based platform that tells the human experience through the eyes of black British women. Since 2017 the company has commission over 150 black femal creatives and worked with brands including Financial Times and Waterstones.


Dr Anne-Marie Imafidon MBE

Twitter: @aimafidon

Website: www.stemettes.org

Bio: Imafidon is the founder of Stemettes, a social enterprise which encourages girls aged 5–22 to pursue careers in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths. Prior to founding Stemettes she worked at institutions including Goldman Sachs, Deutsche Bank and Hewlett-Packard and graduated from Oxford University with a Master’s degree in Mathematics and Computer Science at 20 years old.


Andy Ayim

Twitter: @AndysHVC

Website: www.andyayim.com

Bio: Ayim is the founder of The Angel Investing School and consults organisations on how to build Product teams that work. He was the Managing Director of Backstage Capital, and has worked in a range of product roles in companies such as Investec Bank and WorldFirst.


Yvonne Bajela

Twitter: @YvonneBajela

Website: www.impactxcapital.com

Bio: Recognised in the Forbes 30 Under 30 list in 2020, Bajela is a Founding Member and Principal at Impact X Capital, a UK based venture capital fund founded to invest in companies predominately led by black and female entrepreneurs.


William Adoasi

Twitter: @WilliamAdoasi

Website: www.vitaelondon.com

Bio: Adoasi is the founder of Vitae London. Vitae translates to life and each Watch sold supports a child’s life by providing key resources for education. Their Watches are owned by the likes of Richard Branson, Ava DuVernay & the President of Ghana.


Sharmadean Reid MBE

Twitter: @sharmadeanreid

Website: www.beautystack.com

Bio: Reid is the Founder and CEO of Beautystack, a beauty professional booking app with a big emphasis on social. The company is backed by Index Ventures and Localglobe. Prior to Beautystack Sharmadean founded globally renowned salon WAH Nails.


Raphael Sofoluke

Twitter: @RaphaelSofoluke

Website: www.ukblackbusinessshow.co.uk

Bio: Sofoluke is the founder of The UK Black Business Show, an annual conference and exhibition highlighting and promoting businesses founded by people from the black community. The 2019 show had over 2,500 attendees and 110 businesses from across Europe and Africa.


Michael Tefula

Twitter: @michaeltefula

Website: https://bit.ly/38k7Hdm

Bio: Tefula is a Principal at Downing Ventures investing in Seed to Series A companies that are building the future. Michael is also a 3-time published author and a regular blogger as well as a team member at non-profit Diversity VC, which promotes diversity in venture capital.


Richard Serunjogi

Twitter: @RichTheWorld

Website: www.scorethebusiness.com

Bio: Serunjogi is CEO & Founder of the Y-Combinator backed startup Business Score, which connects online businesses with 1000s of funding options. Previously a management consultant at McKinsey where he served third, public and private sector clients.


Kike Oniwinde

Twitter: @KikeOniwinde

Website: www.byp-network.com

Bio: Recognised in the Forbes 30 Under 30 list in 2019, Oniwinde, is the Co-Founder and CEO of BYP Network, a platform that connects black professionals to each other and corporations


Marvyn Harrison

Twitter: @Marvyn_Harrison

Website: www.dopeblackdads.com

Bio: Harrison is the founder and driving force behind Dope Black CIC, an educational and healing platform designed to improve the outcomes of black people. He also oversees a strategic consultancy called XYXX, which has a strong 6-figure income serving clients such as WPP, Omnicom, City Football Group, and Samsung


June Angelides

Twitter: @JuneAngelides

Website: www.linkedin.com/in/juneangelides/

Bio: Angelides is an early stage investor at Samos Investments. Prior to joining the world of venture capital, she founded a social enterprise, Mums in Technology, which was the first child-friendly coding school in the UK and worked in the early stage team at Silicon Valley Bank.


Izzy Obeng

Twitter: @IzzyObeng

Website: www.foundervine.com

Bio: Obeng is the founder of Foundervine, an award-winning social enterprise specialising in digital start-up and scale-up acceleration programs. Since launching in 2018, Foundervine has helped over 2,000 diverse, future leaders create, test and sustain enterprises.


Dennis Owusu-Sem

Twitter: @dsem221

Website: www.success-talks.co.uk

Bio: Owusu-Sem is an Oversight Relationship Manager at Bank of Montreal Global Asset Management. He is also the founder of Success Talks which profiles some of the leading BAME individuals throughout the world and he also sits on the NatWest Advisory board for diversity where he helps the firm achieve their diversity targets.


Deborah Okenla

Twitter: @deborahokenla

Website: www.thisisysys.com

Bio: Okenla is the Founder and CEO of YSYS (Your Startup, Your Story), a diverse startup community for founders, developers, creatives, and investors on a mission to make a difference. YSYS design and deliver entrepreneurial and employment programmes for diverse talent.


Ashleigh Ainsley

Twitter: @AKAINSLEY

Website: www.colorintech.org

Bio: Ainsley is the Co-founder of Colorintech a UK non profit improving access, awareness and opportunities for ethnic minorities to enter the tech industry. Colorintech works with a number of the world’s leading tech companies such as Google, Facebook and Microsoft.



Charmaine Hayden

Twitter: @ChamsFace4music

Website: www.goodsoilvc.com

Bio: Hayden is a Co-Founder of GOODsoil VC, an early stage venture capital firm focused on underrepresented founders in Europe and Africa. Prior to founding GOODsoil VC Hayden co-founded award-winning modelling agency, Face4music.


Abadesi Osunsade

Twitter: @Abadesi

Website: www.hustlecrew.co

Bio: Osunsade is the founder of Hustle Crew, a company focused on making tech more inclusive by consulting and designing training solutions for corporate partners. She is also the co-host of “Techish” a podast ranked in the top 20 tech list on Apple podcasts.


Bola Sol

Twitter: @Bola_Sol

Website: www.refinedcurrency.co.uk

Bio: Sol is the creator of platform Refined Currency which provides information on debt, budgeting, saving and making money. She has also founded sister company Rich Girl Chronicles, a money accountability group for women looking to be empowered by their finances and hosts podcast “The Last Three Digits”.


Dr Tunde Okewale MBE

Twitter: @UrbnLawyer

Website: www.tundeokewale.com

Bio: Okewale is the founder of charity Urban Lawyers, a multi-media education and information centre designed to educate, engage and stimulate discussion amongst young people about their attitudes towards criminal law. He is also a barrister at Doughty Street Chambers with a practice focusing on general and serious crime.


Rocky Friday

Twitter: @RFriday26

Website: www.healu.io

Bio: Friday is the founder of Healu, a health tech company based in Trinidad whose vision is to bridge the gap between healthcare professionals and patients via personalised care, powered by data in emerging markets. He previously worked in medical insurance and also eCcommerce with Net-A-Porter.


Trevor Johnson

Twitter: @UKTrevor

Bio: Johnson is the Head of Marketing, Global Business Solutions for Europe at TikTok leading a function that consists of a Creative Lab, B2B Marketing and Comms, Brand Strategy and Creator Monetisation.

Trevor joined TikTok from Facebook which he joined in 2008 as one of their first employees outside of the US and most recently held the role of Director of Instagram, EMEA.


Courtney Daniella

Twitter: @cdboateng

Website: www.cdblondon.com

Bio: Daniella is a 22 year old Cambridge graduate and outspoken beauty entrepreneur who runs a YouTube blog discussing topical issues around equality and how to excel academically. She has been featured in a number of publications such as Channel 4 News and The Guardian and has been credited with making a significant contribution to black applicants to Cambridge University rising by 50% between 2018 and 2019.


Timothy Armoo

Twitter: @TimArmoo

Website: www.fanbytes.com

Bio: Armoo is the CEO of Fanbytes a multi-award winning influencer marketing agency that helps the world’s most innovative brands win Gen Z customers on social media through TikTok, Snapchat, Instagram and YouTube.


This article is part of a series featuring underrepresented people making a difference. You can find more articles (click here) and if you have a story to tell or want to be updated as soon as new features are released get in touch via Twitter @TommyASC91

Follow me on Twitter.

The purpose of this blog is to share honest stories of diverse, underrepresented people doing great work which can hopefully inspire others to take action. Outside of writing I have started and help build eCommerce businesses for which I was included in Forbes 30 Under 30 in 2017. Prior to this I worked in Investment Banking at Goldman Sachs and graduated from Oxford University where I studied Economics & Management.

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5 Ways Family Businesses Can Adapt To Covid-19

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There are “unique challenges with a family business, particularly when it comes to making tough decisions in difficult times,” a friend of mine who runs a leisure and hospitality business with her siblings, wrote me this week.

I had sent her a note asking how things were going since the coronavirus shuttered the doors on a myriad of enterprises and I knew her industry was particularly slammed. She thanked me and said the question was a little “close to the bone.” But, she added, “Having a strong brand identity established by our parents has frankly been a beacon of light and inspiration during a very dark period.”

I decided not to press her about what the company has been faced with, knowing that the situation is very personal for family business owners. The repercussions of making tough professional decisions can have a lasting impact on family relationships. (For more on this and other advice for family business owners, check out Familybusiness.org, from the University of St. Thomas’ EIX, Entrepreneur & Innovation Exchange; full disclosure: EIX and the Richard M. Schulze Family Foundation are Next Avenue funders.)

“There is always this pressure in a family business to not be the one to screw it up.”

“This crisis is forcing family businesses to make trade-offs among objectives that would have previously been unimaginable — all while dealing with the complex dynamics of a family,” wrote Josh Baron (a partner and co-founder of BanyanGlobal Family Business Advisors) and Ben Francois (a principal there) in their Harvard Business Review article, A Crisis Playbook for Family Businesses. “But family businesses differ from other companies in that their form of ownership gives them the ability to take critical actions that could help them through these difficult times.”

A recent BanyanGlobal survey of family businesses found that 82% had seen a negative impact on their business from the Covid-19 pandemic at and about half of those said the impact has been significant.

(Read all of Next Avenue’s Covid-19 coverage geared toward keeping older generations informed, safe and prepared.)

During crisis times for family businesses, “family members tend to come together and do whatever it takes to promote the family’s health and prosperity,” says Kimberly A. Eddleston, a professor of entrepreneurship and innovation at Northeastern University and a senior editor on the EIX Editorial Board. “Opportunities for a family to come together and work towards a common purpose make the family stronger.”

The Advantage Family Business Owners Have

And that’s a distinct advantage that other entrepreneurs don’t have.

“Being a family business can be a real strength, because they can rely on family members to chip in where needed,” according to Eddleston. To harness the lessons of this crisis, Eddleston is gathering information through a survey of family business owners.

For more about how the pandemic is affecting family business owners and how these entrepreneurs can best adapt to it, I interviewed BanyanGlobal’s Josh Baron. Highlights:

Kerry Hannon: How do things look out there for family business owners?

Josh Baron: Most family businesses are stressed and filled with anxiety.

There is always this pressure in a family business to not be the one to screw it up. If you are the one running the business, you are feeling that pressure in a time when, through no fault of your own, it could go away.

What surprised you about your survey’s findings about family business owners and Covid-19?

You see examples of businesses with revenues dropping fifty percent or ninety percent. No one builds a plan with revenue going away to such an extent overnight.

How has the pandemic impacted family relations at family businesses?

Our survey shows a split between those reactions: twenty-nine percent have seen some negative impact on family relationships, while twenty-six percent have seen a positive impact (the rest have seen no change).

It’s understandable for those having negative reactions, because this is a stressful moment. If the decisions you are having to make are about laying people off and cutting salaries and cutting dividends, stopping projects — these have a real emotional impact.

But we also saw that this is a moment when members of family businesses come together, a rally around the flag effect, where it’s a sense of let’s put aside our differences and focus on saving the business.

How does having a mission or purpose help?

This does offer that kind of opportunity as a silver lining. We are seeing a lot of families coming together around the need to save the business, to save the employees, rescue as many careers as they can, to continue this legacy as something they really value and to come out the other side as strong as possible.

If you have a sense of purpose and here’s this mountain that we are trying to climb, here’s what we are trying to accomplish together, it helps you deal with all of the daily challenges, issues and stresses that come with working together as a family.

If you have something you value in the business beyond the financial results — maybe it is the impact on your community — you can create something that motivates and brings people together.

The Opportunity Offered by the Pandemic

Why is this an opportune time for family business owners to have conversations with other family members in the company that may have been pushed aside in the good times?

A real advantage of a family business is you are naturally thinking ahead.

‘I really want this business to last beyond me for the next generations, for my children and my grandchildren.’ That can be a very motivating effect.

Why are family businesses well-positioned to survive this business shock?

As a general rule, family business owners are making decisions not on ways that rely on results this quarter or maybe next year, but in being able to make investments that might not pay off for a year or two or even longer.

That generational approach and mindset can be really valuable in a time like this.

Unlike public companies, which typically focus on maximizing shareholder value, family owners value objectives that usually go well beyond financial returns — such as family legacy and reputation.

This period is an example of that ability to think over the long-term and realize that this year is going to be tough. We have to tighten our belts, cut our costs, cut our dividends, cut our salaries, but it will pay off in the long term.

We have also found that family businesses are able to make big decisions very quickly. That nimbleness is proving to be a real asset now.

How has Covid-19 helped get family members more involved in the businesses?

It is creating a fertile ground for bringing people into discussions that might otherwise not have been asked to participate.

For those who have been around twenty years and have been through other crisis points, they look at this as an opportunity to bring the next generation into the conversation and explain to them: ‘We made it through previous ones, here’s what you can learn.’

What are the obstacles in navigating Covid-19 that a family business might face?

When things go bad for a family business, it is not just in a professional sense, but in a personal sense. It intermingles and spreads over and there are no boundaries.

It can be very stressful. The business is on the line, careers are on the line. It can spiral out of control.

You need to press the pause button. Go back to the question: Why are we doing this? Hopefully, turn the moment into a positive way of improving relationships.

But the pandemic has the potential of making things a lot worse. It puts things on the table you never would have had to worry about, like that brother or cousin who is making a lot of money and not really doing anything. You might have looked at that as a cost of doing business. Now you aren’t able to afford that. Now, you have to deal with them in an environment when people are feeling really tense.

5 Tips for Family Business Owners During Covid-19

What are your five key pieces of advice for family business owners now?

Number one: focus on innovation. Don’t waste this opportunity to have a hard look at the way things are working. One retail firm we have worked with has always talked about having a more direct to consumer approach, but never gotten their eyes to focus on it. By necessity, a lot of the retail stores they have sold through have been closed, so they have had to focus on it.

Number two: start thinking about what your company will look like after this. How do we keep things going right now but put more energy on when we come out of this?

Number three: preserve cash. Cash is never more important than when you are in a crisis. Make sure you are taking steps you can to strengthen the balance sheet, so you can navigate through what is to come.

Around sixty percent of our survey respondents say they have reduced or shifted operating expenses to preserve cash.

Number four: live your values. Who you are as a company, and as people, comes out in the decisions you make in a crisis. As a family business, you want to make sure that you anchor yourself in that conversation of who you are as a family and what are the values we bring to this business?

Make sure the decisions you are making, if possible, are really reflective of those values.

I see in the families we are working with that they are making choices to keep employees or being generous in severance or helping employees find other jobs or repurposing them to other positions within the company rather than lay them off. It’s a more human approach.

Investing in people and communities is so much a part of who they are.

And number five: Communication is the most important part of making a family business work. Trusted relationships are one of the most valuable assets of a family business. In the absence of communication, people will draw their own conclusions — which are often negative.

A dialogue gives people a chance to share concerns and ask questions. It’s amazing how many family businesses that didn’t have any sort of platform like Zoom or Microsoft Teams became very adept at using it, due to necessity. Across the board, the comfort level has gone up and opened up communication better than before.

This will be a beneficial leftover of this crisis. Some of the comments we received from those participating in our survey include: ‘Covid-19 has brought us closer together for the time being, and we have put aside differences.’ And ‘We have seen greater family unity, with more concern for each other.’

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Next Avenue is public media’s first and only national journalism service for America’s booming older population. Our daily content delivers vital ideas, context and perspectives on issues that matter most as we age.

Source: https://www.forbes.com

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On this episode of The Family Business Voice, Alfredo De Massis and Farida F El Agamy speak with Ramia about the global pandemic and its unprecedented impact on family enterprises around the world. Alfredo De Massis, Professor of Entrepreneurship & Family Business, Free University of Bolzano in Italy, and Lancaster University Management School UK, is an organisation and management scientist who specialises in family enterprise. Based in Italy, Alfredo is at the epicentre of the outbreak currently.
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