Fast Company

Successful Minority Micro-Business Incubators

The objective of a minority micro-business incubator is support and growth of successful minority micro-businesses resulting in decreased welfare, increased tax base, decreased crime, increased pride of accomplishment. It's a win-win. People who grew up - and likely still live - in the lower regions of the U.S. economic heap have little or no concept of such things as bookkeeping, figuring taxes and supply chains - even less of finding an appropriate CPA or attorney. Sad though it is, that includes large numbers of women, and all minorities. They have not been oriented to concepts such as WIN - What's Important Now - although they have grown up listening to WIIFM - everyone's personal radio station (What's In It For Me); despite exposure to "education" for roughly 12 years at the least. The old concepts of doing things for the greatest good for the largest number have been seriously downplayed for at least the past 30 years, and we've seen the results everywhere. They aren't good, but among minorities, the results are horrendus. This shouts of deficiencies and defects in the majority culture and its educational system, of course, but not enough "professionals" in the M.C. educational system are going to pay attention, let alone, act to improve it. Too many of them are listening to WIIFM, too. Yet, many minority people dream of getting out of their economic stratum. While a few make it, I believe that many more could make it if there were incubators set up specifically to assist them. Such incubators must interface between the majority culture in general and the culture of the minority involved, so these businesses can interact successfully with those parts of it that they must, such as suppliers, CPAs, attorneys and The World Wide Web. This sounds like a bigger job than it is, which is probably why so little attention has been given to the concept. That and it will require people from the m.c. to 'walk their talk' and put their actions where their mouths have been. Among us ITI alone, there are over 550 "federally-recognized" nations, and another 1,000 or so which are not federally recognized for whatever reason or excuse. There never was "an" Indn culture, and the m.c. has used this as an excuse to try to dodge responsibility for most of the past 516 years. And of course, we have Treaties. Treaty Rights and Obligations have kept the Supreme Court busy since the U.S. came into being on our ITI lands. The m.c. wants to duck its contractual obligations; the Supreme Court and the World Court (the Hague, the Netherlands) has generally held that it can't; the result has been a mishmash of "programs" designed to try to get us ITI to trade our sovereignty as nations and Treaty Rights as nations and individuals for money. It has not worked; but the result has been greater stress than ever for us ITI, as evidenced by much higher death rates than for other races in the U.S. Many of us believe that there is a plan even today to bring about our extinction while crying crocodile tears for our demises. If the shoe fits... After all, if something walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, and looks like a duck, chances are better than even it's a duck. Among Latin people, there is far less cultural diversity (Puerto Rican is not Mexican, for example, but they are very similar), there are no Treaty Obligations and Treaty Rights to deal with, and there has been no "Custer Effect", wherein the m.c. and its government have systematically worked to destroy the People and their cultures for whomping the snot out of Custer and his thugs at the Greasy Grass ("Little Bighorn") in June of 1876, so economic assistance programs among Latin peoples have done better in the U.S. The same is true for blacks and Asians. In order to successfully promote micro-business among minorities a business incubator must: (1) not encourage Indn People to deal in anything that is held sacred by any Native Nation. That means, for example, that Pomo baskets are not for sale, because the Pomo dream their basket designs; and sage, cedar, sweet grass, tobacco, and Channunpa (Prayer Pipes) of the Lakota are not either, because they are holy in the Lakota Way. Success in this requires effort to acquire accurate knowledge, and "showing" respect to each Nation's Ways, not merely claiming it and then saying "but" as another effort is made to get us to sell out our cultures and our Traditions and our spirituality. (2) This micro-business incubator must be set up so that simple day-book / single-entry bookkeeping is a matter of determining what records are needed for each business, since no two are alike. My first "large" (i.e., for me) business ran for 20 years with a simple day book and a large collection of receipts. The columns were: Money In, Money Out, Why (what for), sales tax if any, Daily Total. If the day ended with a (+) before the amount, we made money. If it ended with a (-), it didn't. I am a firm believer in the KISS! system of running a business. KISS! means Keep It Stupidly Simple! The m.c. definition is insulting and demeaning and I'm not into that as a lifeway. (3) Every business assisted by such an incubator must contract with the incubator for a minimum of one year of mentoring so that records are kept up to date and the new business owner(s) understand how to do this and learn to do it faithfully. This mentoring will also then make sure the new entrepreneurs understand such things as "funding from within", "collateral", and "Keeping Annotated Receipts". Keeping Annotated Receipts = KAR, I've told people I've helped start micro-businesses. It is their "kar" that takes them where they need and want to go. The receipts need simple notes regarding what category the money goes into - tools, office, materials, etc. Be sure each has date on it. If I paid for something with a credit or debit card, I circle the 'total' area so I know immediately that it wasn't a cash purchase. The incubator would be paid a small percentage of the business's gross income, with a sliding scale between 1% - 5%, on the premise that a fee makes people appreciate a thing more and it keeps everyone involved in knowing where the money and effort went. It isn't meant to make a profit for the incubator or necessarily provide it's entire support; although it is hoped the amount would come close. States fund some pretty hefty departments with small taxes, after all.. If a business wanted to stay with the incubator after the year contract expired, it could, to a maximum of three years, contracted annually. By then, it should be doing well enough to stand on its own and the owners should know enough to have found their own CPAs, attorneys, suppliers, and webmasters. (4) Internet sites being as important to business today as they are, the incubator would also provide development of a simple site and maintainance of it for the life of the contract. Owners would be taught about site development and maintainance, as well as how to add, edit, or remove some parts of it - maybe all, for simple sites. The objective of a minority micro-business incubator is support and growth of successful minority micro-businesses resulting in decreased welfare, increased tax base, decreased crime, increased pride of accomplishment. It's a win-win.

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