Celebrating Black Business Month: Stories of Success

Every August, we have the opportunity to celebrate entrepreneurs in the African American community through Black Business Month.

By: Bailey Gerber & Jake Hreha

Every August, we have the opportunity to celebrate entrepreneurs in the African American community through Black Business Month. The movement began in 2004 as an effort to recognize Black business owners and raise awareness of their work. Black owned business month is an opportunity to not only recognize but also support black businesses.

National Black Business Month helps bring awareness to businesses owned by black entrepreneurs. The impact of these businesses goes beyond the owners and influences the communities where they operate. Supporting black owned businesses and more specifically small businesses is a great way to have a positive impact on minority owned businesses and celebrate black business month. When you support black owned businesses your choices directly impact the black business owner, have a ripple effect for other black small business owners, and help support black entrepreneurs who want to pursue starting a business.

Today, there are more than two million Black-owned businesses in the United States – and several of our talented alumni are part of that group. We sat down with three of them to learn about the challenges and victories of building a business from the ground up. Here’s what they had to say:

Thresette Briggs, Master of Business Administration Chief Performance Officer of Performance 3, LLC

Q: Can you share a little about your business, Performance 3?

Performance 3 is a national leadership development firm that is certified as a minority and women’s business enterprise headquartered in Indianapolis, IN, with offices in Roanoke, VA.

After 20+ years of experience in corporate America I was inspired to launch my business because I believe every leader can be high performing with the right opportunity and the right culture. My company focuses on inspiring leaders to create both by building the necessary competencies through keynotes and training and facilitation services, then providing longer-term coaching and consulting services to sustain those competencies for individual and organization success. We deliver our services through conferences, leadership meetings, learning series, retreats, and strategic planning, and we have worked with diverse small businesses and global companies with up to 10,000 employees and more than $20 billion in revenue.

Q: What motivated you to branch out on your own to launch a company?

Performance 3 was born from my desire to live out God’s purpose in my life and the entrepreneurial spirit I learned from my dad. When I first started the company, I kept thinking about my faith and how important it was to incorporate it in a meaningful, purposeful way. The “3” in Performance 3 reflects our services, and every time I say the name of my business I am reminded of the Trinity – and how faith is one of the core values of my company.

As an African American woman in primarily male-dominated industries it was sometimes difficult to fit in some of the cultures and find a true sense of belonging. I often felt like I was leaving 70% of myself at the door just to fit in. I designed my company so I could bring 100% of my authentic self to work, and effectively equip clients to create environments so their leaders could do the same. A key component for higher performance is a culture that is diverse, equitable, inclusive, and belonging. Our services help clients assess their culture and design strategies for more effective intercultural interactions, ultimately creating higher-performing leaders and organizations

Jamyce Curtis BanksDoctorate in Organizational Leadership President & CEO of Whatever It Takes Consulting, Inc.

Q: What is the mission behind Whatever It Takes Consulting?

I have a background in education, and my goal in the schools where I worked was to give every student a quality education, regardless of zip code. I began to notice a pattern in the lack of equity across all types of schools, but I wasn’t in a position to initiate the fundamental changes that needed to happen. Whatever It Takes Consulting was designed for that purpose, and I initially intended it to be a consulting service to better equip schools with customized solutions for supporting diversity, equity, and inclusion. Today, it’s much broader than that – because the need exists everywhere. In addition to serving schools, I also serve both non-profit and for-profit clients. I chose the name “Whatever It Takes” because I knew from the start that I wanted to do whatever was necessary to improve outcomes for my clients – including providing personalized, custom solutions to meet their unique needs.

Q: How did your experience at IWU impact the foundation of your business?

I knew I wanted to start my own company, but I needed the credentials to do it. I had a praxis-based master’s degree, and I knew I’d thrive in a doctoral program like that. IWU was a perfect fit because not only was it praxis-based, but it was also faith-based – which meant I was truly cared for and prayed over during my entire program.

Sometimes people underestimate the relational side of a doctoral degree. Yes, it’s an academic pursuit, but IWU really pushed beyond that. I still have friendships from my program, and my dissertation chair, Dr. Johnson, became a mentor and friend as well. IWU made sure I could defend my scholarly work against anyone – but they also challenged me to become a better person and live out my faith. That is the foundation of my business. I want the world to be better, one business at a time.

Deborah Oatts, Bachelor of Science in Organizational Leadership Owner of Nubian Construction Group

Q: What inspired you to begin Nubian Construction Group?

At the time I was supporting my husband with our family business, Oatts Trucking, and I really wanted to diversify the work we were doing. Over the years, my knowledge and experience had grown, and I could see opportunities for us to expand our service offerings. I envisioned launching a woman-owned business that would focus on transport management, construction management, and project management. Today, Nubian Construction Group does everything from providing materials or personnel for small scale projects, to coordinating entire construction projects from beginning to end. We are particularly excited when minorities and women join the industry, and we have a particular passion for helping women succeed in this male-dominated discipline. Nubian has offered supplier diversity services for over 17 years, so we are actively engaged in promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion across the construction industry.

Q: What advice or wisdom would you give to other young women who dream of starting their own businesses one day?

Impeccable character is paramount. An entrepreneur must decide who she will be when she stands in the room alone. This is a critical decision she must make before she starts her business. However, she must also understand her “why,” i.e., “Why do I want to start a business?” Every entrepreneur must evaluate their motives for starting a business and they must have confidence that they are introducing valuable products and services to the marketplace. Profitability is the required outcome for any business to thrive, however, a business owner must have something other than money to motivate their business interests. A person’s character will help them carve out their “why” and it will help them establish a genuine, honest motivation for building a business that is destined to succeed.

Thank you to Thresette Briggs, Dr. Jamyce Curtis Banks, and Deborah Oatts for sharing their passions and stories in these interviews. If you haven’t celebrated Black Business Month yet, now is a great time to find Black-owned businesses near you.

Bailey Gerber

Content Creator, IWU-National and Global

Bailey Gerber is a vocabulary geek and grammar enthusiast at IWU – National and Global, so she spends most of her time writing and reviewing webpages, video scripts, flyers, and – of course – blog articles. She loves all things involving words, and in her spare time you’ll find her buried in a book (probably with a cup of coffee in hand).

Jake Hreha

SEO Copywriter, IWU

Jake Hreha is a graduate of Ball State University, where he majored in advertising with a concentration in media presentation and design. He is passionate about design, and in his free time he enjoys cycling, traveling, and reading.

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