The Wisdom of Black Business Leaders: What They’ve Learned About Leading a Black-Owned Business


Leading a business is no easy task, but leading a Black-owned business often comes with its own unique challenges and opportunities. In this article, we’ll explore the lessons and insights of Black business leaders from various industries. From knowing your numbers to building emotional intelligence, these leaders have valuable advice that can inspire and inform your own leadership journey. So let’s dive in and learn from their experiences.

1. Know Your Numbers

One of the key lessons emphasized by Kimberly Bryant, Founder & CEO of Black Girls Code, is the importance of knowing your numbers. Understanding your business’s financial metrics is vital for measuring growth and securing investments. By deeply understanding your reach, customer conversion metrics, revenues, and expenses, you can make informed decisions and drive your organization forward. Hiring a professional is helpful, but leaders must take responsibility for understanding the intricacies of their business finances.

2. Strengthen Emotional Intelligence

Sherrell Dorsey, founder of TP Insights, highlights the significance of emotional intelligence in a leader’s journey. As Black business owners, they often face additional challenges due to racism and sexism. Managing emotions becomes crucial during such difficult times. Developing emotional intelligence allows leaders to navigate challenging situations, both with their team and clients. Studies have shown that emotional intelligence sets high performers apart and accounts for nearly 90 percent of their success. So, investing in EQ is essential for effective leadership.

3. Practice Self-Care

Wayne Sutton, a serial entrepreneur and industry leader, emphasizes the importance of self-care for leaders. It’s challenging to show up for others when you’re struggling to show up for yourself. Self-care helps maintain emotional balance and prevents stress, exhaustion, and burnout. Leaders need to prioritize their well-being to excel in their roles. Remember, you can’t pour from an empty cup. Take the time to recharge and take care of yourself first.

4. Be Relentless … With Your Calendar

André Blackman, Founder & CEO of Onboard Health, advises leaders to be relentless with their calendars. Creating buffer and space for thinking is crucial. Time is a limited resource that leaders must use wisely. It’s essential to make time for reflection, deep thinking, and strategic planning. While attending to daily tasks and responsibilities is important, having dedicated time for yourself is equally vital. Don’t let a full schedule prevent you from making sound decisions and shaping the future of your business.

5. Demonstrate Your Expertise, Always

Black entrepreneurs often face challenges in finding opportunities in a competitive business landscape. Gerald J. Leonard, author of Culture Is The Bass, emphasizes the need to showcase skills and expertise. Building a track record based on merit is essential to overcome obstacles related to race. Furthermore, actively networking and partnering with others can help create opportunities for connection and collaboration. Through continuous demonstration of expertise, Black entrepreneurs can pave their own path to success.

6. Build Your Business Case, No Matter What

Donald Thompson, the CEO and co-founder of The Diversity Movement, stresses the importance of articulating your vision when seeking support for long-term entrepreneurship efforts. Building a fundamental business case is essential for capturing the attention and support of others. Whether it’s a brief elevator pitch or an hour-long business presentation, clearly communicating your vision is crucial. By consistently refining and building upon your vision, you can navigate the path to success with confidence.

7. Be The Change You Want To See

Ronell Smith, CEO and founder of RS Strategic Solutions, highlights the need for Black business leaders to create their own representation. The lack of networking spaces, mentoring opportunities, and support for Black-owned businesses necessitates taking initiative. By being the change they want to see, leaders can cultivate a supportive and sustainable ecosystem for minority-owned businesses. Ronell himself dedicates time to mentoring young minority entrepreneurs, fostering relationships, and creating a better future for all.

8. Ask Big, Bold & Expansive Questions

Felecia Hatcher, co-founder of the Center for Black Innovation, encourages Black business leaders to ask big, bold, and expansive questions. Just as Tony Robbins said, the quality of your questions determines the quality of your life and business. By asking thought-provoking questions, leaders can gain insights that inform their best next moves. Leadership is not about having all the answers but exploring possibilities with your team. Engage in meaningful conversations and encourage your team to think outside the box.

Closing Summary

Leadership is an ongoing journey, and these lessons from Black business leaders provide valuable guidance for aspiring leaders. From knowing your numbers and strengthening emotional intelligence to practicing self-care and being relentless with your calendar, these tips can help improve your leadership skills. Additionally, demonstrating expertise, building a strong business case, being the change you want to see, and asking big, bold, and expansive questions are essential for success. Incorporate these lessons into your leadership style and continue to learn and grow. By doing so, you can thrive as a leader and inspire others along the way.