By now y’all know I love reading. I also love getting free books. So when I was contacted and given an opportunity to read another book and write a review on it, I jumped at the chance. Thus, I got this book free, no strings attached as to what I might say; that’s always appreciated.
In this case the book is titled 50 Billion Dollar Boss, and it’s a compilation of biographies of black women (African-American is too long to keep writing or saying lol) who have achieved business success and added to the nearly $50 billion a year in revenue generated by black female entrepreneurs every year. That’s just the first astounding figure reported in the book, and definitely outside the belief of many who believe that black people in general, and women in particular, don’t have the skills, acumen or temerity to not only create their own businesses but become successful at it.
A few more stats from the book show that the fastest growing segment of business owners since 1997 are black women, up 296% since then. Also, out of 2.9 million firms owned by women of color, black women account for 1.28 million of them; that’s a pretty fantastic number. The firms might be smaller than many others, but the financial impact is much greater.
Why the growth? Two main reasons cropped up over and over in the book. The first was finding traditional companies not marketing themselves to the needs and wishes of either black women or women “like them”.
For instance, in reading the biography of Monif Clarke, the founder of Monif C Plus Sizes, her complaint was there were no stylish clothes for plus sized women. Every store she tried to interact with kept telling her plus sized women didn’t care about looking stylish; how does one tell someone who’s in the demographic what she doesn’t want? So she became the designer and marketer of those clothes, using plus sized models to show them off. Even after showing how big the market was, consultants and other businesses kept trying to tell her to give it up. It showed her that she had to be the champion for her brand, that one has to believe in their vision and persevere.
Someone else highlighted in the book is actually someone I’ve talked to on Twitter named Melinda Emerson. She’s known as the Small Biz Lady, has been on many national TV shows and travels all over the country giving speeches and training on how to run a small business. She had a larger business, found that when she was bedridden by a pregnancy others didn’t pick up the slack to keep it running well, and realized that not only did she want to downsize but she wanted to help others achieve their dreams of business ownership.
I love reading stories about people who found a way to become successful when others were telling them what they were doing was a waste of their time. The book highlights 12 black women, all very intelligent, all of whom decided to take chances in their lives and were able to overcome challenges. At the end of each biography there a list of words of wisdom that each entrepreneur gives, based on their experiences, that they believe are important for anyone to know, and not just women.
Truthfully, I think that’s the best part of this book for me. Although it highlighted successful black women, it wasn’t geared towards only them. I’ve read books like that and, though I might have gotten value out of it, was sometimes put off by it being geared towards only one audience. I understand in business it’s all about finding a niche market as opposed to trying to sell to everyone, yet I’ve also been one of those people who believes that if something you’re teaching isn’t something that only one market needs to know that it behooves the writer to be a bit more expansive.
The last chapter of the book offers many resources to get business information and assistance and information as a minority or woman owned business, as well resources specifically for women. It’s the smallest chapter in the book, yet will prove valuable to anyone who needs it.
The other ladies featured in the book are:
Dr. Lisa Williams, EPI & Positively Perfect
Yolanda H. Caraway, The Caraway Group
Dana Hill, Cocotique
Twyla Garrett, IME Inc
Ricki Fairley, Dove Marketing
Lola C West, WestFuller Advisors LLC
Dr. Michele Hoskins, Michele Foods
Laura Weidman-Powers, CODE2040
Joy Rohadfox, Rohadfox Construction
Lisa Lambert, Intel Capital
The two women who put this book together, Kathey Porter and Andrea Hoffman, did a good job. If there’s a gripe with the book, and it’s a small one, is that it’s not edited as tightly as one might hope. There were many sentences with words left out or extra words added that, luckily, didn’t take away from the ease of reading the book. However, at its price point, I hope that when they go into second or more printings of it that they catch those errors.
I can easily recommend this book to anyone, and I do mean anyone, who likes stories of successful business owners, what they went through to succeed, and the recommendations they give to help keep you on a positive course of action. They also have a Facebook page you can check out.