As you can probably imagine, when I first pitched the concept of Minority Biz Report to In Business magazine, my editors and I had to engage in some rather delicate negotiations about how to integrate my image and my ideas into their blog universe.

During my initial discussions with the magazine, I knew that I would be joining the team as not only its youngest blogger, but also as its only black contributor. Unless you’re an attention-seeker, or a masochist, very few people actually relish the thought of being the lone representative voice of a demographic. It’s a burden that is not for the timid or the fainthearted; then again, neither is entrepreneurship.

My pitch to the magazine was pretty straightforward: let’s look to increase reader engagement and diversity by telling a populistic story of black business in Madison. My editors and I agreed that the plight of the local black business was an tale worth telling. In particular, the tale that we were most eager to capture was that of the mortality rate of local black businesses. That narrative has been our metaphorical “white whale,” so to speak.

Thus, I began what I believed would be a pedestrian journey of writing the Madison chapter of the contemporary black business story. I figured that I could casually draw plot points from my personal experience, quickly piece together a monthly submission within a couple of hours, then segue back to my 70+ hour work-week. I imagined that if I just told my truths about the people, systems, and institutions that I found to be toxic, then the narrative of black business in Madison would essentially write itself.

However, the Minority Biz Report journey proved far more arduous than this protagonist ever anticipated — yielding increasingly more antagonism and/or indifference toward the concept that black businesses matter in Madison. “Disruption,” indeed. “Progress,” maybe. Was all of the sweat equity that I put into this blog really worth it?

My industry requires me to obsess over my utilization of time because, quite literally for me, time is money. Nevertheless, I found myself investing several hours per month in drafting and editing content, for the sake of making this subject matter more easily digestible to our average reader. Although I began this journey with a sincere interest in donating my time toward this awareness-building campaign, I soon realized that maybe I was the only person in Madison who actually believed that black businesses matter to our local economy.



I had undertaken a herculean task and I had no real allies to help me carry the weight. The Madison Black Chamber of Commerce (MBCC) seemed stuck in old thinking and appeared off-putting to young entrepreneurs. Its approach demonstrated a disinterest in adopting any sort of innovative marketing strategies to boost the local black business brand. Meanwhile, the Cap Times-anointed “black leaders” were too busy shilling for their nonprofits to meaningfully invest financial or social capital toward black private sector development.

Could I turn to the mainstream chambers of commerce or the Visitors & Convention Bureau? Probably not. Despite the economic and opportunity disparities, they were committed to externally marketing Madison as “one of the best cities to/for [insert relatively privileged lifestyle here].”

I began to wonder how much longer I could justify utilizing my business resources to subsidize Greater Madison’s education on business and economic development. With my market rates ranging from $175–$350 per hour, shouldn’t I spend those additional hours working in (and on) my own business? Besides, if I could capture increasingly more revenue, then I’d be able to hire employees and scale up, which would truly defy the market trend for black businesses in Madison.

That’s when I decided that I’d rather be an economic actor than a preacher. I resolved to simply be a demonstrative model of an optimal business. I no longer desired to spend my personal or business resources to preach a pro bono gospel that nobody wanted to accept — that black businesses do matter to Madison’s future.

I have given up that burden, to be the voice of a demographic. For the religiously inclined, you could say that I laid my burdens down and gave them up to the Lord.

I decided to go full Gandhi and to be the change that I wanted to see in the world. I wasn’t going to wait for others to buy in or to follow suit. I knew that by simply being a black entrepreneur my pursuits would lead me toward a community of like-minded people willing to share in both the burdens of change-making and the fruits of collaborative labor.

After completing my acts of defiance, shrewdness, and self-preservation, I found myself at peace with the culture of doing business in Madison (and perhaps in Anywhere, USA).

I found myself truly independent and free to enjoy the richness and opportunities that Madison has to offer the young and ambitious.

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