As a business owner, what are some of the things you saw as you went to apply for various grants and funding and loan options?
The main thing that I found out from people that didn’t have their papers is that they needed their EIN number (tax ID) documented – which was something that the PPP (Paycheck Protection Program) required – and trying to call the IRS and get through wasn’t happening.
Also, you had to have a business bank account. I heard from several people who always kept their personal accounts and never transferred over to a business account. So, that stopped them from moving ahead. You also needed some Articles of Organization. Obviously, your state paperwork had to be in order, and you had to have different business licenses. A lot of people didn’t have that paperwork together.
“Even as an established business, you want to make sure you have everything in order – so that if an emergency arises, you’re not scrambling to get things together.”
As a company that’s owned by two people of color, what things are affecting your business? What do you think businesses need to know from that perspective?
Everyone needs to be empathetic right now and consider what you’re posting. A lot of people have automatic posts going out. Sometimes you have to reconsider the climate in which you’re posting something. Something that could have been funny, may not be now.
If you’re going to stand in solidarity with either group, and again, I’m not telling you what side to choose, but people need to take a stance and be willing to own that space. If you are a person for Black Lives Matter, or if you are on the other side of All Lives Matter, then make that known – this way, people can spend their money accordingly.
I also think it’s important for us to realize that we have to diversify our companies across the board. Who are we? Who are we serving? Who’s on our boards? Who’s the head of the company? What do they stand for?
It’s also important to understand this when it comes to social media. Not everyone should be talking for the company. Just because you’re the owner of the company, you might not be the best voice to get your point across because sometimes people will say things in the moment.
For example, Drew Brees, who then saw how his words hurt his family and teammates. He had to come back and say something new. So, sometimes maybe running things by the internal office, your PR and media team to say, “We want to make this statement, but it doesn’t read the way we want to…” and I always go back to: A joke written down doesn’t always get a laugh when you say it out loud.
“The World Economic Forum says that “empathy is a sustainability tool that can help us create a far better environment in which to live and work. It is both something we can learn how to use and a resource that we can use to learn.”
What can companies be doing right now to assist college students?
You have the best opportunity right now as a business owner. Now you have thousands of high school students who are heading into college and regular current college students – at home. And you can do virtual internships for them.
So, maybe someone comes on to your PR and marketing team. You can allow them to come on via Slack and Google Hangouts and all of these other meetup opportunities and work with your PR team to get experience. You can have them join you and work on your website and your web design. It’s a great opportunity for established business owners.
You want to make sure to be fair – that you’re not really too much of a startup where they’re not going to get the information and the opportunity they would normally get. Because remember – it’s already skewed because they’re not in the office with you. Someone’s not sitting side by side with Nettie learning the ins and outs of your business. You want them to get the most exposure that they can, and make sure that you have someone that can handle that new task of managing. We have a great opportunity right now to bring on students and give them great exposure. We can help them through this process because their education just stopped.
“If you’re an established business, have you thought about the opportunity to offer someone an internship with you? What skills can you teach and share? What might an intern bring to you?”
3 Action Steps
- Ensure that you have established your business from a financial and legal perspective. (i.e., having your EIN number, opening a business bank account, etc.)
- Diversify your company on all levels to represent who you are, who you are serving, and what you stand for.
- Consider bringing on an intern that you can share your skills and knowledge with, in turn helping them further their education.
Be sure to connect with Keri Herndon-Brown on her website or LinkedIn.
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