While we love to laugh and boy do we at FIG, we take our culture and client-centric attitude to the extreme. Today I want to address the many disadvantaged businesses that are at risk of unknowingly being a part of a “April Fools” joke. Small businesses have this intense pride about their products and services. For many, it’s their “baby,” leaving them vulnerable and ill equipped to advocate on their own behalf. We see it all the time. They fall for the okie doke of a bigger company giving them praise and promises and neglect to ask questions. Now that DEI is the corporate issue of the year, (possibly the decade) these small businesses are being approached left and right with new opportunities.
In normal circumstances this would be great - also in normal circumstances, these offers wouldn’t exist. The key here is to be diligent in the process while being pursued and ask questions. How does your brand fit into the organization and the overall mission? What is the company’s vision? Why do they feel your brand fits their culture? Do they have a solid culture? How will partnering help advance your business? It is perfectly ok to ask these questions, it’s also ok to walk away if the answers don’t align with your company vision and values.
The truth is that while many companies are actively trying to do better on the DEI front, there are still an alarming number of companies that don’t see it as an issue and are “using” others to avoid dealing with it internally. We’re seeing a lot of that in the beverage industry and retail stores. “Check out our black-owned section” or “Try one of our woman-owned wines.” All the more reason why you need to ask questions.
Put a one-sheet together. One sheet outlining who you are as a business leader, what your company stands for, the mission and vision of your company and what you’re looking for in a partner. Do not deviate from that sheet. No matter how good it looks on paper. Or how enticing the “offer.” If it doesn’t line up with who you are: walk away. But, if it does. Then high-fives all around! You can start planning the partnership rollout, setting goals and focus on growing your business with like-minded leaders. Anything less that that will set you back more that you realize.
April Fools is no joke when it comes to your business, so be a savage! Demand answers. Set milestones and hold them accountable.