Question: What do Motown Records, Soft Sheen and Johnson Products have in common?
Answer: Each one of these companies were Black companies that were sold after they had become successful.
Now I did not name these companies because I wanted to hold anyone in particular up for criticism. Indeed, as I did research for this article; I even found some things to compliment. For instance, Barry Gordy stayed on and took an active role in running Motown after he sold it.
I freely acknowledge that establishing a highly profitable company and selling it to establish another company or maybe just because you want to kick back and retire is a part of the American Dream. This has been detailed in numerous publications like the Wall Street Journal and Black Enterprise, and been described by authors like Robert T. Kiyosaki in You Can Choose to be Rich.
The thing that does concern me is the big picture. In the last few decades the American economy has opened many opportunities. Overall, Black Americans need more examples of successful businesses. Even though we have always owned businesses, Black Americans have tended to look for their security as employees and not as owners.
Even though there are many areas where long-term job security is still possible, job security in many fields is not what it once was. If you are a nurse or a plumber, your career may be looking great — but if you work in a shoe factory the fact that only 5 percent of America's shoes are made here is not in your long-term favor.
However if you decide to open up a small boutique that caters to people that appreciate custom-made shoes, and you find the right way to market them — you might just be on to something.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, we are more than 12 percent of the nation's population but own only 4 percent of the nation's non-farm businesses.
It seems to me that America has room for a few more Barry Gordys.