‘You don’t have to do everything yourself’: 5 growth strategies for Black-owned Atlanta small businesses
Two successful local entrepreneurs tell Atlanta Daily World their secrets to surviving and thriving as your own boss.
Eboni Bowman and Shiana White are two lifelong foodies who’ve each turned their passion into profits.
White hatched the idea for luxury cookie boutique A Haute Cookie back in 2012, when her then 10-year-old son, Cory, told his mom that her home-baked treats tasted good enough to sell.
Bowman devised Flavor Atlanta in 2018 as a multi-service business that would allow her to offer catering and meal prep as well as cooking classes.
But having an idea for a business is one thing. Turning it into a successful venture like Bowman and White have done is quite another, with one in two small businesses not surviving their first five years.
Here are Bowman and White’s top 5 strategies for beating the small business odds:
Start small, with minimal debt
Access to capital is often cited as the biggest challenge for Black-owned startups. But Bowman and White say that not all businesses need a lot of initial capital. They recommend starting small, with minimal debt, then growing a business slowly and sustainably.
White, for example, will soon move A Haute Cookie to a new, bigger shop in Inman Park. But before she opened her current shop in 2018, she’d spent four years working out of a food truck and, before that, two years selling her gourmet treats at various pop-up locations.
Bowman reminds aspiring entrepreneurs that they can also keep their day job while testing out their business idea as a side hustle.
“Flavor Atlanta didn’t become my full-time job until two years after I started it,” she recalls.
Find the right help
White says the key to freeing up more time to grow your business is “holding on but also letting go – you don’t have to do everything yourself.”
She suggests that business owners hire staff for, or outsource, tasks for which they don’t have the time or expertise.
White and Bowman, for example, both now outsource their customer deliveries using Atlanta-based nationwide crowdsourced delivery platform Roadie.
“As my business grew, I couldn’t be in the car making deliveries and in the kitchen making cookies,” says White.
“Outsourcing delivery also led to more sales,” adds Bowman. “Roadie enables same-day delivery up to 100 miles, which lets me deliver to a lot more customers than I was able to drive to myself.”
Study successful business owners
Bowman’s grandmother was a professional caterer, and Bowman began helping her out and learning the trade when she was just five years old.
White, too, recognized the value in studying successful business owners, including cookie queen Mrs. Fields.
“She wanted to get her name out there and she stood in front of her shop and handed out free samples,” says White. “I didn’t have a shop for a while, but I was implementing that strategy.”
Network, network, network
White says you never know who you’re going to meet, as she discovered when she gave some cookies to the man standing in line behind her at a local store. He turned out to be a president at Delta Air Lines.
“Literally, when he got back to his office he gave me a call, and I’ve been working with Delta for the last seven years,” shares White.
Bowman suggests that business owners also consider volunteering their professional services in the community.
“I started running farm-to-table cooking experiences for an organization that supports Black-owned farms in Georgia,” explains Bowman. “Farmers I met through volunteering liked what I did and ended up hiring me for paid catering jobs.”
Make sure you love it
Because being your own boss can be a hard job, White advises aspiring entrepreneurs to only start a business for which they have enough passion to sustain them through the tough times.
“Really just put your heart into it as well, because you can tell when a business has love entwined in it,” she says. “If you don’t love what you do, do not do it.”
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