Thursday, October 13, 2016

Dear Black Enterprising Women: When "No" Shouldn't Be "No"

There are two questions that I'll almost always say no to:
  1. Random barter requests
  2. An overly-generous amount of complementary products for an event
I will not say no for being paid for my work.

"Who would?!"  Many women in business are replying with that word often, and at one time, that woman was me.  By denying compensated opportunities, I missed out on the resource to sow back into my business, I neglected my purpose, and I risked not having relationships with other enterprising black women.  So why did I say no?  Ugh!  I don't know.  But I did, and had to face it, fight it, and go through to overcome it.  Fear.

Consistently saying no comes from a place of fear, and usually in a form of false objections.

At the core of the vast majority of the black community, lies some form of fear - planted, cultivated, flourished and flourishing.  It is the hinderance that tries to prevent overall growth.  How do we get it?  Oftentimes, it is generational and each individual transfers the haunting feeling through the home, and out the door fear goes to befriend those in the community, locally and remotely.  Be it through  a frightening artistic scene depicted by Dante, heavily spoon-fed into the consciousness of many, who pay or do good deeds to avoid that scene, a seed is planted. Through interpersonal interactions in adult-child relationships, a seed is planted. For example, the other night I was watching Blackish, and my husband and I took note of this scene: Diane, a very expressive, matter-of-fact child, intelligently explained to her grandmother the reasons she (grandmother) was more of a Republican and not a Democrat.  'I will slap the taste out of your mouth', was the retort.  It was laughable, and in many black viewers' homes it was laughable, because it was gravely familiar.  Likewise, through the societal situations many are put into/choose, and the "I'm doing this because I love you" preventive measures that are thrust upon others to comply with "You better not do it!", seeds are planted.  I like how brother Coates speaks on this matter,

     "The crews, the young men who'd transmuted their fear into rage, were the greatest danger.  The crews walked the blocks of their neighborhood, loud, and rude, because it was only through their loud rudeness that they might feel any sense of security and power."  "...And I knew mothers who belted their girls, but the belt could not save these girls from the drug dealers twice their age. ...cracked jokes on the boy whose mother wore him out with a beating in front of his entire fifth-grade class. ...some girl whose mother was known to reach for anything-- cable wires, extension cords, pots, pans. We were laughing, but I know that we were afraid of those who loved us most...." (Ta-Nehisi Coates - Between the World and Me). 
Furthermore, let-downs and the insecurities from rejection generates fear. Fear-nurturing seeds have a way of springing up when least expected, and at times, many of us unknowingly nurtured those seeds, varing in degrees within each of us.  Wheather affected directly or indirectly, a part of the grim flower wants to choke out the growth that has a desire to bloom.


A woman entrepreneur who limits her reach by not building business relationships with other women producers, stunts the growth of her business.  When new in business, she has the attention of many consumers, so she might feel quite comfortable and confident in that merchant-customer relationship.  Enters the season of slow business (it comes, and quite often for ALL levels of business, but the micro-producer feels it to the bones), and as a creator, her idle hands causes a feeling of despondency.  She might have never considered that consumers cannot always be counted on.

When "Yes" Left My Mouth

Consider the rich, amber, ooey-gooey sweet treat called honey.  The flowers that call out to the bees are not directly located by the hives, they have to be sought.  The gathered pollen does not miraculously turn into honey, the bees have to put in the work.

During an interview, I was asked, "When did you begin seeing more and better growth in your business?" When I started saying yes. Sure, not every good decision yielded a lucrative outcome, because variances do exist.  But saying no certainly did not make room for my gifts/work either.  Yes made it possible for me to learn how to understand my work's value more, instead of flatly turning down opportunities out of fear, I learned how to negotiate, and I gained understanding of how to say no smartly.  I am gratefully aligned with women producers, and we make money together, to keep our creative endeavors and priorities (family, business, community) in motion.

You can't make it to the sweet-spot without the work.  Success is not found in the comfort-zone of fear.

Why This Post

I recently saw my past reflection in another sister entrepreneur.  I reached out to her proposing a collaboration - offering compensation for her work and a creator's fee.  The proposal was written in detail (questions, etc.), therefore, it required a detailed response.  Although she replied with, "Yes", the details were not filled in.  From my experience and observation of others, an "I changed my mind" was coming.  After asking her if more time was needed to reach a firm decision, and to reply to me by the afternoon to come to an agreement, she answered yes to both.  Well, I heard from her at eleven o'clock PM (LOL), and her answer wasn't a flat out no, it was (what did I mention up top?) a false objection.  I saw it.  I understood it.  So instead of closing the door (we really need to stop counting each other out, and cutting each other off so quickly), I gave her another option (giving her no immediate monetary gain) that would fit better in the comfort-zone.  We are moving forward.  I love you sista.

We are all at different stages, and we are ALL still learning, growing, and healing.

Circulation Of The Almighty BLACK Dollar

The Buy Black and Support Black Business, geared towards black consumers, are very good movements, overall.  However, many black women who are producers are depending solely on the dollar coming in from that direction.  "Well, can't we count on our people?!"  We absolutely can.  A black consumer is a consumer, and consumers consume from everyone - some are more loyal than others, and you can most certainly count on them, but not necessarily when you need them, and black merchants need them pretty much all the time (consider the season(s) of slow business).

"In the morning sow your seed, And in the evening do not withhold your hand; For you do not know which will prosper, Either this or that, Or whether both alike will be good." (King Solomon - Ecclesiastes 11:6)

Connecting with other black women producers, circulating money with other black women  producers, and nurturing other black women producers, will help you, us, and the community thrive.

Discipline the mind to see the big picture of growth within all your endeavors, without fear.

Let me hear you out
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Be Whole,