If you are a member of the Black Conscious community, you understand the importance of group economics.
You understand that a job cant be passed on to your children, and that in the white economy Black employees are the last hired and first fired.
You understand that nations cannot be built on charity, donations, or by depending on other groups to provide your community with the necessities of life.
You know what needs to be done, but putting practical group economics into action can be a challenge. To solve this problem, this list offers 27 ways that you can practice group economics, build a Black owned business, and create generational wealth.
These are tried and true tips that have the power to transform the Black community. By putting just one of these tips into action, you are creating the future of Black history!
Produce A Product
Group economics starts by buying from your Sister or Brother before you buy from another. We cant do that without products.
A product is any physical item that you create to sell. Look around you: everything you see is a product that someone else has created. You can do the same. The best products are those that solve a pressing need. Think toilet paper, books that teach readers to solve a problem or understand an important subject, or items that help customers express themselves.
You can also improve on an existing product. Create a better faucet. Create a better toilet. Create a better way to change your oil. Will it be hard? Sure. Will it be worth it? Hell yea.
Case study: I knew a Sister that worked at a well-known coffee shop. She hated her job, but would make special custom drinks for customers that weren’t on the menu. When the job didn’t work out, she remembered her recipes, bottled them, and now sells them in the city she lives in to the same customers. Instead of the company getting the lions share of the product profit, it goes straight to her. That’s how you create a product.
Produce A Service
A service is any skill that you possess that the market needs and is willing to pay for. Plumbers, mechanics, HVAC, barbers, tattoo artists, computer programmers, and painters all have skills the market is willing to pay lots of money for.
In today’s world, time is the most valuable commodity on Earth, so you can even provide time saving services like grocery shopping and errand running.
I am not paying you to do those things for me. But can I give myself a haircut? Can I fix my own car? Can I program my computer (hell naw). These are services that people are willing to pay for. If you have skills that the average person doesn’t, there is your opportunity.
Think about all of the services you use on a weekly basis. Find a Black service provider to perform all of those same services for you.
* With so many Baby Boomers entering retirement, the need for personal services will skyrocket. Many elders can no longer do their own shopping, so there may be a market there.
Outsource Tasks To a Member of the Community
In business, outsourcing is the contracting out of a business process to another party. If you are in business, you cant do everything yourself. Outsourcing is like hiring a mercenary to take care of one-time tasks. Outsourcing is not as expensive as it may sound. If you have $5, you can outsource web design, computer programing, accounting, and almost anything else you need done.
Even if you cant find a Black service provider, use someone from outside of the community to get you into business. Here are a few:
Open An Online Store
Once you have created products to sell, or you have found someone who is willing to wholesale the product to you, open an online store.
By opening an online store, you will have access to the entire world of customers. You will need to package and ship the products in a timely manner when orders roll in, but if other people have done it and make a living at it, you can too!
In order to open an online store, you will need to buy a domain name (for example, www.yournamehere.com) and hosting (the place where all of your words, pictures, and videos are stored online).
You may also want to purchase a domain name from Godaddy. Domain names can cost anywhere from $1 to $13 per year. Buying your domain name ensures no one steals your idea, and is an important first step in getting started. Click here to register your Godaddy domain name.
Open A Brick And Mortar Store
While it may be more expensive to open a physical store versus an online store, there are many benefits. First, when discussing group economics, physical stores provide “anchors” in the community. Many people consider the businesses around them as a benefit of living in a particular area.Think popular barber shops or convenience stores.
If the businesses are Black owned and providing quality goods or services, that can have a positive impact on the entire community. There is also less competition, since anyone can open an online business, but everyone is not willing to physically open doors!
Host Community Events
Host community pot lucks, local group economic seminars, community yard sales, and other events that teach the rest of the community to put these tips into practice. Find a community center, boys and girls club, or a school with an auditorium or gym and get to work. The more people see their community coming together, the more they will be willing to participate.
Schools are particularly receptive to farmers markets setting up on school grounds on the weekend, so turn it into an event and an opportunity to make things happen.
Use Black Business Directories
There are seriously thousands of Black Business directories in existence. These directories range from the local to the global, and feature literally hundreds of thousands of businesses. Why aren’t you using them? Many of these directories have mobile device apps, or are mobile friendly, and let you search using your zip code to find the closest Black business to you.
If you are a business owner, add your listing to ALL OF THESE directories. If you are a consumer, use these directories to keep Black dollars in Black hands.
- Buy Black NYC – Headed by my friends Michael Bell and Andre Hatchett. Beautifully designed with a very informative blog
- Black Owned Biz – featured on BET, the directory has a growing list of 10,000 Black Businesses from all over the United States
Create Community Gardens
Start planning and gathering everything you will need for planting in the springtime during the fall and winter months. If you are getting started in the spring, there are fall and winter crops that you can grow and either eat, sell, or turn into a product to other members of the community.
My grandmother had a fig tree, a pecan tree, and a small garden in her back yard. She could make dozens of products from these few resources, including fig preserves and jams, deserts, pecans for sale by the pound (and pecan trees produce a shit ton of nuts), pies, etc. What we couldn’t eat, she would sell. What she couldn’t sell, she would give to the church or the homeless.
Community gardens also create opportunities to get the kids and the elderly in your community engaged. The mothers in nursing homes would appreciate being able to get back outside, or the opportunity to create products with fresh ingredients. Cleveland is an example of for-profit community gardens that we should be following. Check out what they are doing.
Start Making And Selling Your Own Clothes And Accessories
I wrote a full guide that will take you through the entire process I used to start my clothing line so you have no excuse! Check out the article here
Source Black Produced Products
Find low priced products from Black vendors and sell them for market value. If you can find a vendor in Liberia selling wood carvings for $10 and the store around the corner is selling them for $50, you have found an opportunity. Buy low and sell high. Use sites like Alibaba.com, Aliexpress and use Google searches to find suppliers.
Start Or Join A Black Investment Club
An investment club is a group of family members, friends, co-workers, or like-minded individuals who pool a regularly invested dollar amount into a common banking account for the purpose of purchasing stocks, bonds, mutual funds, businesses, property, or other assets.
There is no limit to the number of members your group can have, but as the African saying goes; “many hands make light work”. The more capital that is pooled, the bigger the ventures that your group is able to involve itself in.
To learn how to start your own investment group, read our article, Solutions For Black America: Investment Clubs
Find And Join A Black Bank
We have created a list of 21 Black banks still in business. These Black banks control a combined 4.7 Billion in assets. Banking with Black businesses is the very foundation of group economics! Check out the list here.
Crowdfund To Raise Capital
Many of us have mistaken soliciting online donations for crowd-funding. Crowd-funding is the practice of funding a project or venture by raising many small amounts of money from a large number of people. In exchange for contributing to a cause, you must be willing to give the donors something. Again, you dont get away with just collecting up donations.
Case in point: When Tariq Nasheed wanted to fund his documentary, Hidden Colors, he offered donors anything from a complete DVD to your name listed as an Associate Producer on the film credits. The result? He raised more than $25,000 and is now on his fourth installment of the nationwide theater release.
Do A Weekly Group Economics Sou-Sou
The concept of Sou-Sou is new to Black Americans, but sou-sou have served as a community savings plan for Blacks in the diaspora for generations.
Read up on Sou-Sou in the article we published on the subject: Sou-Sou and the Path to Economic Empowerment
Build A Barter System Within Your Community
Money isn’t always necessary to make an economy work. In fact, the definition of an economy is the wealth and resources of a country or region, especially in terms of the production and consumption of goods and services. If you have a product or a service to trade for other things you need, dont be afraid to negotiate.
Trade hairstyling for babysitting. Trade web programming for car repair. Trade a free apartment in your building for 24 hour maintenance.
Change Your Buying Habits
It can be inconvenient to track down Black businesses that provide the goods and services that you are looking for. Practicing group economics means changing some of your buying habits to benefit your community. For instance, rather than using Google to find a business that has what you want nearby, use a Black business directory.
Rather than shopping in physical stores, use the internet to find Black producers and shop for items before you need them.This reduces the need to run out and buy toilet paper at the last minute. You may have to drive a little further, or spend a little more, but the return on our community investment can outweigh the inconvenience.
Vote With Your Dollars
In his book, Powernomics, Dr. Claude Anderson discusses the link between group economics and politics. Politicians have the power to write economic zones into policy, giving the protection of law to Black operations and economic zones.
Put politicians and councilmen on notice: either take care of Black dollars, or we will take away your dollars. It worked in Ferguson, it can work anywhere.
Create Trust Funds For Your Children Or Endowments For Organizations
A trust fund is assets belonging to a trust (an arrangement that allows a third party, or trustee, to hold assets on behalf of a beneficiary or beneficiaries) held in a Black Bank (!) that can be distributed to your children. If you dont have any children, or you wish to give your wealth to an organization after you ascend, use an endowment.
We discuss this topic at length in our post Building Black Wealth – 5 Lessons You Must Master To Achieve Financial Sovereignty that you can read below.
Endowments represent money or other financial assets that are donated to universities or colleges. The sole intention of the endowment is to invest it, so that the total asset value will yield an inflation-adjusted principal amount, along with additional income for further investments and supplementary expenditures. Typically, endowment funds follow a fairly strict policy allocation, which is a set of long-term guidelines that dictates the asset allocation that will yield the targeted return requirement without taking on too much risk. – Source
This is how we perpetuate group economics beyond our lifespans.
Fight For Reparations
Some may not see reparations as practicing group economics. But the fact is that Belgium is still earning interest on the money made from slave labor in the Congo under King Leopold III. The United States owes its economic success to Black slave labor.
If the TRILLIONS of dollars that have been given to other races, or that remains locked in the bank accounts of white nations were released back into our possession, that money could be used to regain control over the sources of production, land, and manufacturing. That alone could change our economic position for generations.
This article, written by Ta-Nehisi Coates is one of the best written cases for reparations. You owe it to him and to yourself to read it. His article will clarify your perspective on reparations once and for all. Click here to read the article.
Build A Cooperative
A Cooperative is the professional title for a group of people working together for mutual benefit. A cooperative business belongs to the people who use it – people who have organized to provide themselves with the goods and services they need, while making money at the same time.
Member-owners meet regularly, present and hear reports on their business and investment activities, and hire General Managers to handle day-to-day affairs in their companies. Members practice group economics by providing the capital for a strong and efficient operation, and once the businesses start making money, the profits are returned to co-op members.
There are over 100 million people involved in 47,000 U.S. cooperatives that are in every sector of our economy. If they can do it, we can as well.
In her book The New Jim Crow, Michelle Alexander teaches us that one of the aims of this new era of mass incarceration is to prevent Blacks from entering the job market. By hiring your own people, you can give an opportunity to a member of the community that may not have had the chance to prove their talents in the job market.
While its not easy to train and retain employees, if you are willing to put forth the effort it will pay off in an expanding business and an overall improvement in the conditions of our people.
Learn The Fundamentals of Economics, Entrepreneurship, and Finance
This should go without saying, but if you dont understand economics, you are less able to “come up” and make economics work for you.
You dont need to go back to college to understand how economic systems work. You can create your own curriculum by learning from those who understand the subject and have achieved great things. Here are a few that should be on your bookshelf.
Join Or Create A Black Buying Cooperative
A Black Buying Cooperative is different from other cooperatives mentioned above. Members of a buying cooperative work together to secure lower prices on items the group uses regularly. Creating a cooperative gives you the buying power to negotiate less than wholesale rates by buying in bulk at lower prices, or by splitting the cost across as many people as possible.
Refer A Black Business To Someone Else
Marketing a business is expensive and time consuming. Word of mouth has proven to be the most effective way of giving some shine to a Black business, so actively and consciously make an effort to recommend and exceptional barber shop, restaurant, retailer, or service provider!
Use social media to re-share their content, and engage with others who use the products and services of a company that you like. If you own a business, let us know and we will give you some shine.
Buy Black But Sell To Anyone
A self-explanatory statement, but create businesses that cater to everyone. Everyone eats Chinese food. You can find a German BMW in every inhabited country on Earth. Tommy Hilfiger hates Blacks, but will happily sell his clothing to them.
Improve Your Financial IQ
Knowing how macroeconomic systems work is half the battle. The stronger your ability to invest and manage your personal finances, the more of an asset you will be. There are 5 key areas that you should become familiar with:
Understanding these areas will help you make the most the money that you make.
Approach Group Economics With Hustle And Persistence
Being Black and “in business” doesn’t mean you will succeed. Nobody owes you anything. Money is hard to come by, particularly in the Black community. To get customers to part with their hard earned dollars, you will need a heavy dose of hustle, business savvy, and a willingness to over-deliver.
Entrepreneurship is hard work. There will be setbacks. Blood will be drawn. Friends and family will set you up for failure. Maybe even steal or destroy your ideas. Things will break down. That’s the fog of war.
If you cant persist through challenges (and there WILL be challenges) you dont deserve survival. In this world, only the strong survive. This is a harsh truth, but truth nonetheless.