It Happened Again.
And it only happened because I’m a Black Woman (I am sure of it!!!)….which sucks even more because this is Black History Month.
So, for the 3rd time, I put on a reasonable outfit (I like clothes and fashion but I also wanted to be taken seriously as a Black Woman…which again, is sad that I have to think like this), loaded all the pertinent documentation in my bag, jumped in my car, prayed during the commute - from start to finish, got to the parking lot, jumped out of the car, checked in at the facility...and met with a business banker.
She was kind. She asked questions. She typed in the answers. She looked up and smiled. She asked more questions. She pressed “send” and told me that she is hoping for the best. She assured me that she would call me within the month…and she did.
Except, the things that she said during that call were substandard and I know, because I studied the standard and know the formulas. See, she was just the messenger in a larger system and I was prepared for her words because something similar happened before, twice.
Being a Black Woman in business, often means that I have less access to venture capital, angel investments, business loans, and business lines of credit. That day, at the bank, I was attempting to increase my business line of credit so that I could have “just in case I need it” funds for the “just in case someone’s company doesn’t pay their invoices before payroll” situations that can arise. All of this is normal practice.
With over 30 individuals and companies calculated in my payroll, I need to make sure I always have money to pay them…even if other companies don’t pay me on time. So, the business line of credit is a payroll cushion, not an actual need (not now at least…but boy, it came in handy in the past few years…especially during the pandemic).
Anyways, because I believe in “hoping for the best and preparing for the worst” AND I am a business owner, I wanted to increase our business line of credit. And, because I am an informed Black Woman, I knew that I couldn’t rely on the bank so I would have to have my own “back up money,” in savings and investments.
Nonetheless, I asked for an extraordinary amount (negotiation strategy) and hoped to get at least 50% of the requested amount. The substandard response was 10%. Only 10%. Based on the formulas, I should have gotten a $80,000 increase and I had the documents to prove it. Yet, they gave an $8,000 increase.
Was I upset? No, not really. I expected it and since I didn’t need it, I kept it pushing.
However, I am writing this blog, during Black History Month, to highlight the fact that most Black businesses don’t get the financial support to be successful. We have to use our own money, slow down supply until we can afford it, have abbreviated work days (the store may be open from 11am-3pm not 9am-5pm) so we can manage our utility bills, say no to “pro bono” work in lieu of “free marketing” because we need every dollar to make sure operation costs are covered…not just payroll…and sometimes we might just be tired. The truth is, most Black business owners are the “talent” and the “operations” and that’s a lot to manage and even more to compete against, when we are compared to non-black business. Remember that whole “wealth divide”….well it affects businesses too.
We are doing our best while facing systems, annual/monthly/daily/hourly….just so we can stay afloat and dream/manifest financial stability and prosperity.
So, next time you see a small business owner, just give her/him a word of encouragement…and maybe even a financial or time-based donation…because generally, we are trying our best but fighting an uphill battle.
And, big banks suck. So, within the next month, I will be transferring ALL my accounts to make sure me and my team is set up for success AND so I can continue to dream for mental health in the Black and LBGTQ communities. Watch me. 😊
Happy Black History y’all, and keep on striving.