Secrets to Sustained Success: Interviews with Small Business Owners Who’ve Survived and Thrived for Decades

Kenyatta Forbes never planned to start a business, but after teaching middle school in Chicago, she realized that the traditional Black History curriculum was lacking in some important aspects. She felt that it focused too much on only a few historical figures and didn’t cover the cultural and historical impact of Black history adequately. To enhance her lessons and bring in more insights, she created a unique deck of index cards. The game, called “Trading Races,” had each player dealt five cards, and the goal was to convince everyone else that the person on their card was the “blackest.”

After testing the game with friends who encouraged her to create a business, Forbes launched a crowd-funding campaign and raised $5,500 to start her new venture. She sold the game at Black culture festivals for a few years until the pandemic halted all in-person events. Forbes wondered if this was the end for her business as she worked on it out of her Oakland, Calif., home.

However, Kenyatta lacked professional marketing experience and being the sole person behind her business, she needed help to develop her marketing ideas. When she heard about Verizon Small Business Digital Ready, she signed up for live 1:1 reviews to discuss social media marketing and strategy. The one-on-one sessions proved incredibly helpful as they allowed her to focus on actionable goals and get into the details of what needed to be done.

With expert advice from Verizon Small Business Digital Ready, Kenyatta refined her promotional ideas into a marketing calendar with a coherent social media strategy tailored to her target audience. With better understanding of what she needed to do – creating content and scheduling it out – Trading Races began to see a surge in followers and sales. Today, the business has several thousand followers on social media and has formed partnerships with influencers due to its success online presence through social media platforms like Instagram

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