The message was clear at the Austin African American Business Networking Association’s networking and recruiting breakfast last week: Existing business owners need to be brought to the table when discussions for improving or bringing in new business happen.
About a dozen local business owners turned out to the Sankofa Cultural Arts and Business Center, 5820 W. Chicago Ave., Jan. 23rd to hear guest speaker Douglas K. Johnson of SCORE talk about ways the Austin community should work with existing business owners to help draw in new business and support already existing ones.
SCORE is a non-profit organization that helps small business get started, grow and operate effectively through mentoring programs, workshops and consulting.
Johnson spoke about his own frustrations when people come together to discuss expanding business opportunities for local communities.
“Who’s in the room (when those discussions take place)? It’s community groups, city government, clergy and what I’ll call ‘dreamers,’” Johnson said. “Dreamers” are those without any prior or current business experience, Johnson said.
“Who’s not in the room? Existing business owners. Ever,” Johnson said.
“And I thought that was interesting because most places where you go to talk business, the most credible people in the room are existing business owners. Somehow, in our communities when we talk about how to create businesses, they’re never in the room.”
Johnson said his goals for Austin are to get business owners more focused on what he said are the keys to successful, sustainable businesses: educating business owners on how to be better prepared for dealing with their own financial responsibilities with their business and with the government.
There is too much focus on trying to create non-profit businesses when the focus should be on creating value through building equity in a for-profit business, even if that business does not turn a profit for several years, Johnson said.
Planned upcoming events for the AAABNA include a March Madness membership mixer, a three-day business summit in April and a retreat in Montego Bay, Jamaica, in August.
For more information or to become a member, contact Malcolm Crawford, executive director, at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call (773) 626-4497.