I was just sitting back and thinking about the “Taking Care of Business” summit held in July at Austin Town Hall. The event was the brainchild of our state representative, Deborah Graham. As a business owner and someone who is very concerned with the African-American business community, I was very pleased.
The event was a success by any measure. I was amazed by the fact that at 10 a.m. when the event started, I took a head count, and there were 113 people sitting with pen and paper, ready to embark on the road to entrepreneurship. The total count ended up at 140. Maybe I’m an optimist or maybe it’s the researcher in me, but I have noticed a definite trend of African Americans going into business. I also was listening to the Bloomberg Urban Report, which stated that African-American women are the largest group going into business right now, far above any other racial group.
Walking into the room and seeing so many of Austin’s African Americans interested in business (and, by extension, self-sufficiency) made me feel really good, but just like I see a trend in starting businesses, there are also those unscrupulous individuals”white and black”who are all too eager to take advantage of our naiveté.
Case in point: I had a young lady in my office telling me about a business “seminar” that she had attended with her sister. The cost was $1,000, and she told me that there were all these people in suits walking back and forth. She said there were bells and whistles going off, and a laser power-point presentation and a lot of handouts. The biggest thing that struck me was when I was told that there were 100 people in the room and at least fifty signed up at a thousand dollars!
Remember, starting a business is not a get-rich-quick type of thing. You will only get out of it what you put into it. Time + Hard Work = Perseverance.
So back to State Rep. Graham’s “Taking Cares of Business” summit. In January of 2005, Rep. Graham told me that God had placed on her heart to work cultivating businesses, and I was glad to see that she did not just let it stay in her heart, but put some action behind her God-given vision.
I said to her at the end of the summit that I thought it was a success, and she said to me that this was only the beginning. To see the SBA, city and state business agencies, Oak Park Chamber of Commerce, Austin Chamber of Commerce, the African American Business Networking Association and our local banking institutions working together to give Austinites good solid information at no cost lets me know that at least some of those who where placed in a position of authority still believe that their first and most important obligation is to serve.