Cristal: Re-thinking Black business
So I read an interesting article that was on Blackelectorate discussing the implications of Jay-Z and other artists boycotting of Cristal after its Managing Director stated in the Economist, “What can we do? We can’t forbid people from buying it. I’m sure Dom Perignon or Krug would be delighted to have their business.” And while I won’t discuss hip-hop, this little scuffle highlights a larger issue within the Black community as it relates to how we think about and do business.
For starters, from Cristal to Courvousier to Patron, hip-hop artists have been pushing alcoholic drinks like freedom was in each and every bottle. Now imagine if major hip-hop stars pooled their money (money they have after the record company loan is paid off) and created a high class champagne called, “Urbane.” And if every artist mentioned it in their song where they would normally freely promote another drink, I foresee a Black business to be reckoned with.
The problem I see is that generally speaking, Black folks are so anxious to get access to exclusive luxury products, that once access is granted, we get drunk off the high-life, instead of creating opportunities for ourselves and our communities. And when we do, we think pennies not dollars. Take for example, energy drinks by Little John and Nelly, or fruit water by 50 cent.
A much bigger problem I see is that Black folks are generally concerned with selling other people’s products rather than creating and selling our own products. Now I understand that marketing is an important component of business, but I think Black folks have pretty much saturated the marketing field in terms of entrepreneurship and working in marketing departments.
So where do we go from here?
1) Before you boycott, ask yourself how you can provide a better product/service because if you have a problem, then a whole lot of other people are probably having the same experience.
2) Having a Black-owned business does not mean that all of your clientele must also be Black.
3) We need to get into obscure businesses like selling specially-made screws to construction companies or finding new ways to make cotton last longer. I think too often we limit our opportunities to the ideas that do the most good for Black folk. But this is a double-edged sword because while I applaud the concern for Black folks, we need to realize that having businesses not based in the Black community will make a world of difference if we invest our community service dollars wisely. Black folks give our money to everyone, everywhere, all the time. So let’s reverse this cycle and not be apologetic about it.
4) Less is more. I hate when some Black folks get a little bit of money and lose their minds. And even though I can’t tell people how to spend their money, most Black folk who get caught up in the bling lifestyle are really living on short money, not long money. When you have short money, you can’t afford to just stop working and live comfortably on your investments/savings and still have enough to pass on to your children. When you have long money, you have money that you will never ever think about spending. The difference comes from
5) Quiet wealth. You will know when Black folks have truly overcome economic misfortune when you are 1) surprised when you find out a business is Black owned and when 2) you have quiet millionaires and billionaires. The sad part is that when many of us think rich, we think Forbes lists of the richest people in the world. If you only knew of the quiet wealth that doesn’t get reported, you would go slap somebody’s Mama.
6) Owning your own business does not mean you have to be broke for 15 years before you see a profit. Though it requires a lot of work, many people work full-time jobs and have businesses on the side until it is clear that more profit will be had by quitting their job.
7) Like I stated before, think outside the box and think of ideas that will benefit ALL people. While Black folks have some nuanced preferences, our wants and desires are not dramatically different from those of other groups. We all want better lives for ourselves and for our children. And if a product/service comes along to make that process better, it will be successful. It’s never too late, so act now. In the end unfortunately, the American system of governance requires you to pay to play. There are instances where this is moot, like during the Civil Rights Movement, but until we stop looking for a Black savior, we need to get our money right.
The main reason why Blacks are so pre-occupied with politics is because bureaucracies have become our own businesses in terms of being in charge of massive budgets and being able to dole out thousands of jobs for those that are loyal to the political machine.
The problem now is that there is a huge push to cut the budgets of cities and school districts across the nation. There is a reason why it is political suicide for a politician to push for tax hikes. Less taxes, less revenue, less government. Therefore, we need to get ahead of this process and get into the market so that we can pay the necessary fees in order to make sure our interests are served.
And when we celebrate increased profit margins or the success of a preferred candidate, we can all sip on Urbane. Yes sir!!!
Stay up fam,