aunkh_aakhu.jpgDid you know that black businesses make up about 12 percent of all businesses in America and yet control only about .4 percent of the total $18 trillion American economy?

Did you know that black businesses account for only about 6 to 7 percent of the $900 billion buying power in the African-American community?

Most black entrepreneurs are not up to speed on this information, and this lack of knowledge adversely affects their business decisions.  The good news is that there is light at the end of the tunnel. Just a few adjustments can make a dramatic difference in the influence an African-American business can wield, and this can improve the quality of life in our communities.

If we are to create more abundant communities, our business people will play a critical role.  Here are 10 new year’s marketing resolutions that can help you thrive as a black entrepreneur facing these difficult times.

1) Learn more about the science of marketing
It is amazing to me how many of our business people lack a comprehensive understanding of marketing.  If you are in business without a good knowledge of marketing, it’s like sitting in a car without an engine.

2) Learn more about your market.
Here is a recipe for small business failure:  Try to market to everybody.  Companies that do this successfully often have marketing budgets in the multi-millions of dollars.  People say to me that marketing is very expensive, but that is true only if you are trying to follow the Joneses. Small businesses have a natural advantage in that they can meet the needs of niche markets by specializing.

3) Master low-cost and no-cost methods of marketing.
Many people confuse marketing with advertising, and are not aware of the many marketing tools and weapons that are available to them.  Look them up on the web.  Many of them won’t cost you anything.

4) Practice marketing as a science, not just an art.
Many people believe the illusion that marketing is just pure creativity, catchy ads, colorful designs etc. Marketing is a science.  If you have no real data on the potential success of your marketing campaign, you should probably rethink it.

5) Focus on creating higher value.
In times of recession when there is less money in circulation, people’s values begin to change. The extra money they would have spent on your product a year or two ago now does not find its way to your business. The battle is on to prove the value of what you are offering. At this point, everything you do in marketing terms should reflect an increase in the value of your products and services. There are two major ways to increase value.  The one everyone knows is to lower price.  The other is to offer a higher-valued package than before, an extended warranty, bonuses, other services included, etc. 

6) Manage stress better.
One of our successful businessmen, Jerry “the rhino’ Clark once said that the key to success is related to how high you’re FQ (Frustration quotient) is. He says that successful people have an uncanny ability to handle and manage more stress. This destroys the myth that successful people have it easier. It suggests that rather than having it easier, they actually have the ability to take on more and be more calm in times of high challenge. Are you the kind of person who is calm when everyone panics? Don’t worry. If you are not a natural stress master, take a class in yoga or chi-gong: You’ll be surprised to discover these secret weapons of the successful.

7) Be healthier.
Have you ever looked closely at the words health and wealth? Have you ever realized that they are practically the same word? You have heard it said many times your health is your wealth. Healthy people are more productive than unhealthy people.  They are more energetic, more creative and better problem solvers.

8) Learn more about black business in America.
Many people underestimate the value of history, but the truth is that the easiest way to get somewhere is to follow the path of those who know.  Any successful black business owner has war stories of what it takes to succeed. Reading books that showcase this information can give you a heads up about what you face in the competitive business world.

9) Plan meticulously.
Master the art of effective planning, and you have an upper hand on the 97 percent of Americans who don’t plan regularly.  It takes some time to plan, but it saves you much more in avoiding unnecessary mistakes that come with a lack of planning.

10) Be patient.
I know we live in a society that has deemed immediate gratification supreme. Convenience reigns over all other virtues, and nobody understands the art of growing anything anymore.  We have a whole generation that thinks mangoes come from the grocery store because they have never seen an actual tree or witnessed the miracle of nature bringing forth new growth and fruit.

Many of us fail in business for the very same reason.  Actually, we don’t really fail; we stop watering the tree before it bears fruit.

When it comes to trying times, the African-American entrepreneur is suited to stay calm and exude confidence. Our road has never been a box of chocolates, but the most successful among us have shown beyond a shadow of a doubt that we can thrive in any environment.

Follow these principles and make this your year.

Aunkh Aakhu is a freelance marketing consultant.