Entrepreneuring While Black: Accountability

Introduction

If we truly desire to effect change and increase the trajectory of Black entrepreneurship, we need to hold ourselves accountable through progressive, measurable actions by:

  1. devising and employing scorecards to monitor and measure performance; and
  2. encouraging organizations that support entrepreneurs to track entrance and retention rates of Black entrepreneurs.

Accountability promotes ownership. By holding individuals accountable for their actions, you’re teaching them to value and own their work and manage associated outcomes.

Develop and Employ Entrepreneurship Scorecards

When I think of accountability and employing scorecards, I am reminded of a conversation I had with one of my team members a while back. I was requiring all of our Agile development teams to keep scorecards to evaluate their efforts and monitor their progress. One of my managers questioned the purpose of the effort. I quickly replied, “Why do your kids have (school) report cards?” They nodded in understanding and we moved forward.

Scorecards enable us to evaluate our performance and monitor our progress in achieving a stated goal () while helping to identify areas for improvement.

To establish an effective set of metrics/key performance indicators (KPIs), set SMART goals. SMART stands for:
S — Specific
M — Measurable
A — Attainable
R — Relevant
T — Timely

Once the scorecard has been established, specify a threshold (high and low) for each metric/KPI, and assign (a) scorecard owner(s). Tweak as necessary and conduct regular reviews of your scorecard(s).

Here is a summary of the recommended metrics/KPIs I have highlighted in my earlier posts addressing each key area to impact Black entrepreneurship:

Awareness

  • Number of Black Entrepreneurs: Conduct a Year-over-Year (YoY) comparison to measure the entrance of Blacks as entrepreneurs and whether that number is growing.
  • Consideration of Black Venture-led Products/Services: Assess how many products/services are considered by your organization in your purchasing decisions and the frequency.
  • Readiness of Black Entrepreneurs: Evaluate the overall readiness of Black entrepreneurs to support the customer’s end requirements.
  • Customer awareness of Viable Black venture-led products/services: Conduct a YoY comparison to evaluate market awareness by customers.

Access

  • Sessions/Information Shared: Evaluate the frequency that sessions/information are shared outside of your usual target market.
  • New Credit Model CSAT/NPS: Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) measures short-term happiness of your clients while the Net Promoter Score (NPS) focuses on measuring long-term happiness. Assess the new credit model —
  • New Credit Model Efficacy: Solicit feedback from financing institutions on the efficacy of the new credit model on qualifying customer’s credit worthiness.
  • Usage of Public Subsidies: Evaluate the number of applicants and assess the overall usage of public subsidies to fund Black-led ventures.

Training Performance and Progress

  • Foundational Elements (i.e. Strategy, Business Summary, Financial Model) Available: Simply, determine if you have and understand them.
  • Talent Development Pipeline Size/Capacity: Measure the number of members in your pipeline for entrepreneurial opportunities and/or investment.
  • Talent Development Pipeline Velocity: Assess the pace and progress of members in your pipeline for entrepreneurial opportunities and/or investment.

Accountability

  • Scorecard Available?: Determine if a scorecard exists to capture and monitor performance. If one exists, evaluate how frequently it is used. If one does not exist, determine how this will be addressed.
  • Owner: Evaluate if an owner/single point of contact (SPOC) is responsible within your organization.
  • Periodic Reviews: Assess if you conduct periodic reviews to monitor performance and establish actions (with assigned owners).
  • Entrepreneurial Organizations Inclusivity: Monitor the composition of entrepreneurial organizations you or your organization are affiliated and/or have influence and whether it is improving.

Make Entrepreneurial Support Organizations More Inclusive

Throughout the country, local governments, community-based organizations, and programs are recognizing the need to invest time and resources into helping underserved entrepreneurs. Let us continue to encourage these organizations to be more inclusive of prospective Black entrepreneurs.

Here are some examples of community-based organizations and programs helping Black entrepreneurs:

  • The National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC) seeks to connect minority business enterprises with procurement opportunities within its network. NMSDC matches more than 12,000 certified minority-owned businesses to an extensive network of corporate members looking to purchase their products, services and solutions.
  • Techstars Foundation aims to increase representation of minority tech founders “by providing opportunities through grants, scholarships and sponsorships.”
  • CODE2040 is a nonprofit organization that is aggressively pursuing its goal of having “Blacks and Latinos proportionally represented in the leading edge of America’s innovation economy as technologists, investors, thought leaders and entrepreneurs.” In addition to a flagship Fellows Program, CODE2040 has a Residency Program designed to help Black and Latino entrepreneurs build companies and cultivate diversity in their own communities.
  • Black Founders is a national network that is dedicated to increasing the number of successful black entrepreneurs in tech. The organization creates networking events year round, as well as educational programs and a conference series in San Francisco, Atlanta, New York and Austin.

While entrepreneurial activities are increasing across the country, government, philanthropy, and above all, the private sector must step up their efforts to make the entrepreneur environment more inclusive and ensure everyone is welcomed. By building accessible and tangible on-ramps for Black entrepreneurs, we can break down barriers to entrepreneurship, and enable high-growth potential startups, thus unleashing their potential. Going back to my initial post, the overall intent is to enable both investors and entrepreneurs alike to turn the corner and unleash the potential that exists with the Black entrepreneurial community.

Conclusions/Next Steps

We need to hold ourselves accountable through progressive actions if we truly desire to effect change and increase the trajectory of Black entrepreneurship by:

  1. devising and employing scorecards to monitor and measure performance; and
  2. encouraging organizations that support entrepreneurship to track entrance and retention rates of Black entrepreneurs.

Ensure that your scorecard is not just a one-time exception but your organization makes it a standard practice to evaluate and address metric/KPI results should they fall outside desired thresholds. And, just as importantly, incent and recognize scorecard owners to reward their dedicated focus and your organization’s desired outcome.

Accountability means that all team members are responsible for their actions, behaviors, performance and decisions. And, accountability should lead to an increase in commitment and outcomes to address Black entrepreneur representation. To take it a step further, for those organizations that are truly serious about tracking and measuring efforts; release your scorecard publicly.

Here are some other suggestions on actions that can be beneficial in achieving our goal:

  1. Seek out and engage Black entrepreneurs
  2. Spotlight Black entrepreneurs in your ecosystem
  3. Make introductions to customers
  4. Make introductions to investors
  5. Be more intentional about the diversity of sponsored events and programs
  6. Be intentional about the narratives you create around Black entrepreneurs

As I close out this series, Entrepreneuring While Black, I especially wish to thank my friends from GreatRange, Mogility Capital, and Hoodline for all of their help. Your tireless and timely support and guidance were greatly appreciated.

About the author

Ronald (Ron) Berry is a senior-level executive with global experience and success in B2B and B2C digital commerce in a variety of industries and businesses. If you have any further questions or would like to provide additional insights, please contact him at ron@EastanConsulting.com.

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Ronald Berry

Ronald Berry is an executive with global experience and success in B2B and B2C digital transformation in a variety of industries and companies.