Approaching BRANDING and MARKETING as a Black, Indigenous, or Person of Color (POC) owned business is different, and you might run into mindset blocks.
Visibility is different. Business is different. Marketing and branding are different.
This is applied and true to visibility. POC-Owned Businesses often struggle with 5 common mindset blocks that stop them from ‘putting themselves out there.’
Not only do we struggle with mindset blocks, we often bear the weight of trying to “convince” someone we are worthy of investment or more experienced and qualified than our white colleagues and fellow entrepreneurs.
RELATED ARTICLE: The Real Reason Minority-Owned Businesses Aren’t Getting Funded (Forbes article written by Maggie Germano)
In this post, we’ll walk through the 5 common mindset blocks stopping POC-Owned Businesses from visibility and how to reframe those blocks.
What are POC business mindset blocks?
Mindset blocks within the POC community have LAYERS. There are layers to our identity and our experiences. Heck, there are shades to the spectrum, and many Black, Indigenous, and POC-Owned Businesses are often lumped together and tokenized.
This type of ‘tokenization’ and generalization overlooks the multi-faceted experiences we hold and how we approach business and marketing. To understand the mindset blocks POC-owned businesses face, we need to understand the layers this carries – things that come from:
- Immigrant mindset
- Survival mode
- And Acceptance
Many of these layers are rooted in White Supremacy and Patriarchy, which means Black, Indigenous, and POC-owned businesses (BIPOC) have already been disadvantaged from the start. Below are the most common mindset blocks stopping you from visibility and how to shift them.
A collective mindset vs. individual mindset
The collective vs. the individual.
They’re worried about looking ‘selfish’ when it comes to their brand and business because they don’t want to be seen as self-serving. When this mindset block comes up, a lot of BIPOC-owned businesses would rather “hide” in the background and let someone else take the spotlight than call attention to themselves. This is a mindset block around visibility.
Instead of sharing THEIR story and core values, they hope that by highlighting their community, clients, or others, it will be enough to get them the visibility they need.
Unfortunately, that’s not the case with business. If you are a BIPOC-owned business, YOU are the leader. You are also the CEO, Founder, and Visionary for your brand. Someone needs to step forward and lead the community, and there’s no better person than you.
How to shift this mindset: Take a moment to see where your story connects to your audience and communities. Why do they feel called to join YOUR community and business, when they could have supported others?
Use this to your advantage because when you share your story more with the world, your clients (especially if you cater to the BIPOC community) will feel seen and heard. This is also a moment for you to claim your power and story, besides letting someone else share it for you.
Comparison to others and white excellence
We learned this from Nicole Cruz, Life Coach for 1st, and 2nd Generation Immigrant Women of Color…
“Comparison is the tool of the oppressor”
And AIN’T IT TRUE.
As a WOC and immigrant-run business, we often see how many of our POC clients have mindset blocks that are caused by white excellence. The fear of putting ourselves out there and creating visibility for our businesses is often seen through the lens of “white excellence” so our stories and impact are often ‘white-washed’ and watered down.
Mindset blocks stopping visibility caused by white excellence are:
- Looking at your work and feeling like it ‘isn’t good enough’ because it doesn’t fit a specific “standard”
- Worried that what you share “isn’t enough” as it is, you must PROVE to others that you are excellent
- Your ‘excellence’ is tainted by white supremacy and not seen as the norm and thus not as important or successful
How to shift this mindset: Take a good hard look at where your standards of excellence and achievement are built from. Are they YOUR definitions of success or things that you’ve unconsciously adapted from your surroundings?
Once you’ve identified that, look back at your own identities, experiences, and story. What parts resonate with your audience and potential clients? Where can you empathize with your community and lead them through the services you provide?
For example – as a WOC and immigrant-run business, we can see where marketing and visibility strategies can truly help our community, through this very lens.
The “achievements” ceiling of POC Businesses
If you are a POC-owned business, chances are you’ve felt this imaginary ceiling that holds you back from achieving ‘more’. Some common blocks could be thinking:
- We need to make the most out of this situation before it goes away
- This is a one-time achievement/success and it won’t happen again
- Wow, we got lucky, didn’t we…
Those thoughts create the belief that we are only able to ‘achieve’ certain things and most of them were through sheer luck and happenstance.
WRONG. It was through consistency, being an expert in your field, and laying the foundation for a sustainable and profitable business!
Here’s how to shift this mindset: Write down a list of all your accomplishments and experiences. We like to group them into categories, years, or ‘job positions’ / ‘projects’ so we can see how each experience was shaped!
Keep this as a running document internally so every time you feel like you can’t ‘achieve’ something grandeur, you have a list of all the things your business has already done – so, up is the only way to go!
Feeling ‘undeserving’ and you need to ‘work’ for visibility
In a traditional content marketing setting, we hear the phrase:
- “Add value!”
- “Provide additional value!”
- “Give to your community!”
Yes, this is important to marketing, but let’s dig deeper into how this hurts BIPOC-owned businesses.
Oftentimes, the BIPOC community struggles with mindset blocks around worthiness. When we hear “give more”, “show your value”, and the like, it subconsciously triggers these sentiments, reminding us that we need to ‘work’ harder to be deserving of something. This goes for visibility!
So what happens when we ‘give more’ to ‘show our value’? Boundaries get pushed and holding our boundaries feels like we’re doing something bad.
How to shift this mindset: BIPOC-owned businesses are already worthy and deserving of visibility! You do not need to ‘work harder’ to gain visibility or put yourself out there.
The practical step is to LEARN how to effectively communicate the value your business and services provide. This is why we believe in brand messaging, especially for BIPOC and immigrant-run businesses. It’s time to learn the tools to share your value and communicate it clearly to attract your clients!
White acceptance and being a model minority
Similar to white excellence, BIPOC-owned businesses sometimes fall into the trap of white acceptance and being a model minority.
The model minority myth is often applied to Asian Americans, believing that they are more successful than non-Asians and other minority groups. This breeds ‘white acceptance’ within the Asian-American community and again places our values and definitions of success through someone else’s lens.
Common mindset block associated with white acceptance and the ‘model minority myth’ are:
- Sharing only parts of your story that fit into the white narrative
- Hiding your failures and troubles because you want your business to be seen as the best
- Afraid that if you do anything outside of the lines of ‘white acceptance’ your success will be quickly taken away from you
This ultimately HURTS BIPOC-owned businesses. We ‘play it safe’ within the confines of what was given to us by White Supremacy and the Patriarchy. We need to keep it plain, simple, and not ‘too much of something’ with our brand and businesses, hurting our visibility and truly connecting with our audience.
How to shift this mindset: Define what success looks like to us, for us, and by us. Create our own lanes without falling into the trap of “doing marketing or business” like usual. Marketing and business ‘as usual’ was created through the white and patriarchal lens.
It’s time we smashed that and built up something for ourselves!
Conclusion & TL;DR
POC-owned businesses can approach branding and marketing differently. We need to start our own conversations around how to shift these mindset blocks around visibility! By doing so, we lead the conversations around how we increase our income, impact, and influence on a global level.
These are the 5 mindset blocks stopping POC-owned businesses from visibility:
- Collective mindset vs. individual mindset
- Comparison to others and white excellence
- The ‘achievements’ ceiling of POC businesses
- Feeling ‘undeserving’ and you need to ‘work hard’ for visibility
- White acceptance and being a model minority
And to shift these mindsets, you can start by:
- Understand your story and how that connects to your audience
- Define your own standards of excellence
- Write down a list of all your company’s achievements and successes
- Learn to effectively communicate your value (without feeling the need to convince someone of it)
- Define what success looks like for your brand and business
*Want a more hands-off approach on brand message and content? Let’s have a call to see how you can hand off your content marketing to us!
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