James Parker of black-owned GoBlackBiz.com, knows the problems facing African-Americans when trying to start their own businesses.
It can be a daunting task to compete with larger and more established companies, he said. However, Parker said that location and advertising are vital for any business to prosper.
“‘I’m in the phone book’ is no longer all it takes for a business to survive, or even become successful,” said Parker, whose company has recently hosted workshops in advertising for black-owned businesses in Chicago. GoBlackBiz, an online site that offers advertising space for businesses, hosted a workshop Friday at the Austin YMCA.
“In the information age, you must position your business everywhere consumers are,” Parker said. “The Internet and all other uses of information technology has already become the most affordable and fastest way to do it, but for many small black-owned businesses, using the Internet or other forms of advertising isn’t even considered when it comes to marketing.”
Many smaller black business owners use very little adverting, said Parker, either because they don’t see the importance of it or they feel they can’t afford it. However, learning as much as you can about the community you want to provide a service for is key to success, he said.
Austin, for instance, is essentially a middle-class community with an average household income of roughly $34,000, and with a black population of more than 90 percent.
But businesses in such communities fly under the raider of residents.
“Many times the people simply didn’t know they were there,” said Parker. “And if they are unsuccessful that will make it that much harder for the next black business to get started.”
Knowing the market and creating a strategy to reach that market is key, Park said.
“I once read a book “Buzz Marketing, and the author described how he used post-its to create a buzz for the business he was starting. They were placed everywhere, from car windshields to bathrooms. Only $40 for the pack of post-its and it resulted in a very successful start to his new business.”
But there are thriving businesses on the West Side, he said. Kings Hardware, Macarthur’s Restaurant and Active Auto Parts, for instance.
However, the recent closing of Cream and Sugar Cafe on Madison and Leamington, is a reminder of the difficulty businesses face.
GoBlackBiz.com, a division of P.M. Ideas, Inc, a black owned and operated advertising and consulting firm based in Chicago, was created to allow black businesses to advertise on its website site. But few take advantage of it.
“It allows people to just go to the site and see where the business is in their area,” said Parker. “It’s cost efficient and effective.”
GoBlackBiz charges only $50 to post the business on their site for one year, along with offering free business training programs, such as the advertising workshops. The next of its training classes in on May 6, and June 3.
For more information contact James Parker at jparker