Brandon Armant President and CEO of BAMM, a Communications Company
Black entrepreneurs are starting businesses at higher rates than other groups. In the face of systemic barriers, we’ve built businesses from the ground up, transformed our communities and contributed meaningfully to the economy. In the words of physician Sydney Labat, “We are truly our ancestors’ wildest dreams.”
There are countless stories of Black businesses who found ways to pivot in the worst of circumstances–and it appears we have more hills to climb. Headlines are filled with economic challenges facing small businesses: inflation, workforce shortages and disrupted supply chains. A new survey of graduates of Goldman Sachs’ business education program, 10,000 Small Businesses, recently found that 78% of small business owners say the economy has gotten worse in the past three months. It also found that 93% are worried about the US economy experiencing a recession in the next 12 months.
But there is some good news. Sixty-five percent say they are optimistic about the financial trajectory of their business this year.
Although the economic forecast may not be bright, I know Black-owned small businesses are a collective sign of hope for the economy.
Entrepreneurs are the first to face economic headwinds and the first to creatively maneuver around them, signaling to the rest of the country what’s to come. Often Black businesses are disproportionately affected, and at times we must think on our feet and adapt faster than our counterparts.
I am living proof of what it means to be battle-tested. My perseverance has paid off, and I’ve seen my impact resonate within New Orleans and beyond.
Although the path to success for many Black-owned small businesses is not smooth, outside intervention and investments in our businesses have proven to be profound. One of the resources that allowed me to future-proof my company, BAMM Communications, was Goldman Sachs’ 10,000 Small Businesses program.
This program was demanding, and it was causing me to take time away from working in my business. I would often wonder why I was taking time away from my deteriorating business to sit in a class and plan for greater success when, at that time, the business wasn’t showing signs of success at all. What I would eventually realize was that my growth opportunity was what would allow my business to overcome the challenges it was facing.
In December 2016, I graduated from the Goldman Sachs 10KSB program, and my business was still alive and running. I’d come out of the program with a growth opportunity and a plan to effectively implement it, as well as a greater skill set for how to run my business.
While programs like 10,000 Small Businesses are helping small business owners, there is still more work to be done. We must make our voices heard because our businesses are key to economic recovery locally and nationwide.
This week, I joined 2,500 other small business owners at Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Business Summit. The event will be the largest gathering of small businesses in the U.S., celebrating hometown innovators like me. We are also calling on lawmakers for better public policies. Top on our agenda is a call to modernize the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), which has not been reauthorized since 2000.
Doing business in the U.S. changes every day, and the SBA mission and policies need to reflect today’s market, not that of 22 years ago.
As we met with policymakers, we voiced our concerns and hope they hear our call to further assist our employees in obtaining safe and affordable childcare, and to make sure the government is living up to its promises of opening its federal contracting opportunities to more women- and minority-owned small businesses.
When we ensure the prosperity of Black businesses, we can ensure the health and wealth of the country, as well as local communities. And while we often hear about the plight of Black businesses, let’s tell a different story moving forward. A story which reclaims what our ancestors knew to be true: with great trials comes the chance to be triumphant. A story that believes our best is yet to come.