(NNPA)—Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma—which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.”—Steve Jobs
When you were growing up, were the conversations at your house centered on concepts about business, or more along the line of “go get a job?”
Entrepreneurship is not a subject that is discussed regularly around the dinner table in African-American homes. There’s a lack of business traditions among African-Americans and a paltry record of entrepreneurial successes. Smaller probabilities of having self-employed parents, demographic trends and discrimination are primary reasons for the limited level of entrepreneurship in contemporary African-American communities.
American Blacks must cultivate an entrepreneurial spirit independent of politics and who occupies the White House. The low historical rate of African-American entrepreneurship is a well-known fact. The 100-year-old, discrepancy between Black and White entrepreneurship levels could be eradicated within a few generations if more African-Americans embraced and practiced entrepreneurship. More Blacks have to get a better grasp of concepts such as capitalism and entrepreneurship.
Some Blacks equate capitalism with racism, but the truth is the free market system isn’t racist and is the best provider for Americans of all races. Capitalism is the social system in which the American economy operates. Under this structure, the means for producing and distributing goods (the land, factories, technology, transport system etc.) are owned by a small minority of people with a motive to make a profit.
Entrepreneurship is an employment strategy that can lead to economic self-sufficiency. Self-employment is a vital facet of the United States economy.
Entrepreneurship has been a means for the economic advancement of numerous ethnic groups. Take note of most of the merchants in areas populated by Blacks. Ninety-nine times out of 100, Blacks patronize merchants who are not members of our race. Entrepreneurs drive America’s economy and account for the majority of our nation’s new job creation and innovations. America’s 25.8 million small businesses employ more than 50 percent of the private workforce, generate more than half of the nation’s gross domestic product, and are the principal source of new jobs in the U.S. economy.
An entrepreneur is a person who organizes, operates, and assumes the risk for a business venture. Although forms of business ownership vary by jurisdiction, several common forms exist: A sole proprietorship is a business owned by one person for-profit. A partnership is a business owned by two or more people. The three typical classifications of for-profit partnerships are general partnerships, limited partnerships, and limited liability partnerships. A corporation is a limited liability business that has a separate legal personality from its members. Corporations can be government owned or privately owned, and corporations can organize either for-profit or not-for-profit.
Starting a business is a lot of work. The hours are long, sacrifices are great and you are confronted with new problems and challenges every day. The nature of being an entrepreneur means that you fully embrace uncertainty and are comfortable following your heart and intuition. Those who succeed do so because of their unwavering belief in the endeavor they have initiated.
What are you leaving your children?
More Black parents need to be in a position that they can “leave the business” to their children. If we concentrated and worked hard, the 100-year-old discrepancy between Black and White entrepreneurship levels that many call “racist” could be eradicated. More of us must embrace “Black Capitalism” to build wealth through the ownership and development of businesses. Prominent Black capitalists include: Booker T. Washington, the founder of Tuskegee Institute, Marcus Garvey and the Universal Negro Improvement Association, Elijah Muhammad and the Nation of Islam. Robert Reed Church, a wealthy African-American and founder the nation’s first Black-owned bank in 1906, Solvent Savings.
(William Reed is head of the Business Exchange Network and available for speaking/seminar projects through the Bailey Group.org.)
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