Black Businesses

Why some black Tulsa businesses fail, and how we get back to Black Wall Street

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Courtesy of Wealth Artisan 

  • 80-percent of new businesses fail 
  • many black businesses don’t adapt to new target-marketing trends
  • leveraging the social capital of others to build your customer base 

Published 06/23/2019 | Reading Time 2:48

By Nehemiah D. Frank, founder & editor-in-chief

Black Tulsans have yet to experience another golden era to the likes of Black Wall Street’s heyday.

The adverse effects of racial integration and urban renewal served as damaging punches to the stomach of black entrepreneurship in the Greenwood District and neighboring black towns.

I am in no means supporting racial segregation; however, I believe a return to black entrepreneurship’s glory days is impossible without working closely with other black businesses.

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Moreover, there were multiple reasons why Black Wall Street began deteriorating after the fall of Jim Crow.

One cause for the collapse of black entrepreneurship ecosystem was that blacks didn’t encourage one another to support black businesses — upon the coming of, and — after racial integration.

Due to the trauma of white supremacy, most blacks had internalized this notion that whatever is created by black hands is of lesser value than if whites had made the product.

Hence, many black-owned businesses weren’t able to adapt to the cultural shock of white competition nor the rapidly changing advertising market.

During the height of Black Wall Street, the dollar turned plenty before exiting the community. To turn the black dollar once again, black people must invest in themselves, and by that, I mean in each other’s businesses. 

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For example, I am a black educator who teaches at a school that serves a majority black student population. While the staff is diverse, our superiors are black. The benefit comes in working as a collective for the greater good of all students and staff.  The school produces top scores annually. This is only possible because we all invest time and money in one another.

Secondly, I am also a black entrepreneur who owns a digital newspaper/media company with a readership population that’s approximately 70-percent black. 

Since conception in 2017, my company’s website has had over 420,000 visitors and counting. And since January of 2019, our website ads have served 779,000 people, which means that we have returning visitors. My prediction is that we will hit over half a million visitors by the end of summer and serve over 1 million Ad views. Our most shared article had over 48,000 Facebook shares. 

To put the cherry on top, between all of our social media pages, we’ve had over 1 million engagements since our beginning.

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There are other accomplishments we could brag about; however, it means nothing if your business can’t tap into this social capital. 

Imagine the amount of exposure and revenue that could have been leveraged had a black business, or any business, partnered with The Black Wall Street Times from its conception?

A percentage of the income I earn between being an educator and an entrepreneur is spent on black businesses in my community: the barber shop, black-owned restaurants, bookstores, clothing stores and more. The majority of my money, however, is still spent outside of the community due to the small amount of black-owned businesses. 

Although some people view encouraging people to buy black as racist, I see it differently. I recognize that catering to a particular cultural niche market is an opportunity to rebuild my community and simultaneously leverage our own buying power so we can all compete in today’s globally competitive market. 

I see Tulsa’s black niche market as an opportunity to showcase and buy into the beauty that our community has to offer. After all, no one ever complains about Little Italy, Ukrainian Village, or Chinatown. Other races go to those spaces for cultural experiences, and everyone, from across the city, benefits from it. 

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Starting Monday, June 24, 2019, through the end of July, I will host business meetings with interested business owners in the Tulsa market, and who can see an opportunity in leveraging the social capital that The Black Wall Street Times has to offer.

80-percent of new businesses fail because they either don’t set aside advertising dollars or they don’t know how to get the best bang for the buck when marketing towards their potential customers. This is especially true for black businesses. 

The HBCUBuzz reported that “the ability to reach a large target audience and potential customers all over the world are all reasons why black-owned businesses should market online more.” I don’t see enough black business owners, and new businesses in general, doing this. 

If you are a local business owner in the Tulsa area and interested in growing your business, consider advertising with The Black Wall Street Times — our subscription is free which is why we’re growing so fast. 

If your business is local, so are your customers.

Setup a meeting with Nehemiah D. Frank, the founder and editor-in-chief of The Black Wall Street Times, today to get started: nehemiah@bwstimes.com.


053A3706-b8e5cd3fNehemiah D. Frank is the founder and executive editor of The Black Wall Street Times. He graduated from Harold Washington College in Chicago, IL, and earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science from Oklahoma State University. A rising voice in America and an emerging leader in the education reform movement, Nehemiah frequently travels for speaking engagements, is a blogger for Education Post, and has been featured on NBC as well as in Blavity and Tulsa People. Nehemiah is also a teacher at Sankofa School of the Performing Arts in Tulsa, OK, a 2017 Terence Crutcher Foundation honoree, a recipient of the 2017 METCares Foundation Community Impact Award, and a 2018 Oluko Fellow. He gave a TED Talk at The University of Tulsa in the spring of 2018. 

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