There’s cash waiting out there to be made by enterprising black entrepreneurs, but only for those willing to venture out and connect with the world beyond our shores. And that means being willing to travel.
For awhile now, I’ve been saying that black America needs to get in the game — and when it comes to economic opportunity, the game these days is global. That means we need to lose our fears of The Great Unfamiliar and start looking beyond our cultural comfort zones to seek that opportunity.
And apparently, the Obama administration agrees with me.
Teresa Cox, an official with the US Commerce Department, made that very point recently in San Francisco to an audience of black business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs.
“President Obama has an international export initiative over the next three years that we’re going to pass $1.3 trillion in international business,” she told the audience. “We need to get involved in international trade. [Think] How do we get our products overseas.
“You need to make sure you get your share of that business and know how to drive that.”
If you business-minded black folks out there have been waiting for your engraved invitation, it’s just been delivered.
You can read the rest of what she had to say on the rollingout.com site here.
The days of passing up profits for the sake of cultural timidity are long over for everyone, it seems, but “us.”
The Chinese have no cultural ties to Africa. None. And yet in the commercial sense, China is all over Africa like the proverbial cheap suit, mot only with large-scale government ventures, but with individuals traveling from China to operate businesses on the Mother Continent.
And just as Chinese entrepreneurs are reaching into Africa, so too are ambitious, innovative, hard-working Africans returning the favor, setting up shop around the world, pursuing their own dreams their own ways — not only in the former colonizing nations of Europe, but here in the United States — and even in China.
So what are we waiting for?
While the United States remains mired in a stubborn recession, economic opportunities are popping up elsewhere in the world. But they aren’t going to come to us. We have to go after them.
For a lot of people, this means a great leap into places, cultures, worlds with which we’re totally unfamiliar. Not an easy thing to do.
Just one more reason why we need to travel.
The more familiar we become with the rest of the world, the more comfortable and confident we can become functioning away from home. And the easier it becomes to launch that business venture and make it work.
So why not take a few trips outside the United States, outside your cultural comfort zones? Think of it as fact-finding, scouting, reconnaissance. Don’t just see the sights or get your buzz on in some club. Get to know some folks. Learn how their societies work, how their cultures work.
More to the point, what are people buying and selling there? What needs or wants do they have that you could fill — and get paid for?
Come back with the beginnings of a “feel” for the place — and just maybe, the seeds of what could grow into a business plan. And then hook up people like Teresa Cox in the Commerce Department or the Small Business Administration, government officials who get paid to help you succeed in business, at home or abroad.
After that, it’s all about putting in the work, and sticking with it. A handful of us are already doing it and some are well on their way to success.
Others, like Khari and Selena Cuffe, are already there.
But there could and should be more, a lot more.
Once you get past that fear of the unknown, the unfamiliar, anything becomes possible. And that knowledge, that understanding that anything truly is possible, will enable to you to launch your business, whatever it is, take it international and, in the words of Ms. Cox, “get your share.”
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