This past week Charles Barkley announced he would donate $1 million to Black women in Alabama Thursday night during the “NBA Tip-Off”. He then gave a bit of a disclaimer by stating he would not give money to women who want to open beauty salons or restaurants. His statement on December 14th was:

“I’m pledging $1 million to Black women in Alabama to do start-ups. That don’t mean hair salons and restaurants, Black women. That means start-ups.” (WATCH VIDEO)

The Alabama native then carried on by stating “We’re not gon’ do a weave shop. We’re going to do IT. IT. That doesn’t mean ‘it’ either.”

Black women took this statement as a complete disrespect. To offer such a great investment but shoot down a person’s dream at the same time was similar to giving them a double-edged sword.

Social media flew with multiples comments on the matter. Some women understood his standpoint but most disregarded his statement, grew furious, and began bashing him.

But there are some great lessons to learn as a business owner from the statement that Barkley made.


Barkley is only supporting businesses that he BELIEVES will give him an ROI and will do well in Alabama. Although he is trying to increase the revenue and business ownership statistics in Alabama, he is also being strategic in his approach to do so. The beauty and food industry are both billion dollar industries and some would call Barkley CRAZY for dismissing these two leading industries. For the black community, the food and beauty industries are the two most under-marketed. There is not enough representation of Black restaurants, foods, or advertisement with Black people in it. Some people may partake in the industry to change the standard. Especially in hair care and beauty industries, there is not enough representation of Black women and the proper way to take care of the type of hair they have in advertisements. Although both are highly profitable industries, it is extremely saturated. There are so many Black women who have noticed the downfall in Blacks being mispresented in the food and beauty industry and stand against it by starting their own business.

 Barkley’s standpoint was choosing to fund businesses that are extremely hard for Blacks to receive investments for. It also was unique in the sense of not many Blacks are in the technology industry flourishing. As a business owner, offer the customer a product that resolves a problem. Have a product that sells itself. There are many restaurants and beauty salons, but, who are actually approaching these endeavors with a different approach? Ask yourself with the business you have now:

 What problem does it solve?

 Can it stand alone without me having to sell it?

How many others do the SAME thing I do?

And if I am doing the same thing as my competitors, how do I approach my business differently to attract and draw customers to resolve a problem of theirs?

Offer solutions, not products.


Barkley created an ideal customer once he stated that he was only funding businesses in Alabama who were in IT. By having a certain customer segment to market to or invest in, Barkley narrowed down his inquiries and ultimately will receive more qualified applicants. As a business owner, it is important to know what customers you market to and what sector your business falls under as a functioning entity. The best strategy to implement is creating a buyer persona for your brand. The issue of why Charles Barkley message was seen as disrespectful was in its delivery. Know your audience, do not have a broad target audience (i.e Only Black Women), and cater to your audience in a respectful way to attract them. Things to ask yourself when creating your buyer's persons are:

What would my customer look for when shopping or buying from me?

What are their interest and how do I advertise their every need?

What are the common problems my customer's face and how can my product assist them?

What would they like in a brand like mine?

What is their age, ethnic background, educational background, gender, income, and general life choices like?

Most of this can come from the demographics and analytics from your social media or website.


In the beginning of the conversation, Barkley spoke about how he was so proud of the state of Alabama for the recent election and how the state voted for Doug Jones. After mentioning this, he then pops up with his statement of investing $1.M. This is all about perfect brand placement. Barkley knew this was the perfect time to mention a business endeavor such as this and knew that it had a huge level of viewers for publicity.

Know when to launch new moves in your business or to even start your business. When there are trends or common issues in the world or your segmented industry, offer or do what people are not going to expect but WANT! Pay attention to the times and also the new wave in the industry. Find ways for your brand to be placed in that realm. You want to make sure you get as much exposure as possible so that when you are ready to launch or introduce something new, it is at the perfect time and place. Ask yourself:

When are the best times to post or introduce new things during the week for social media?

Is it beneficial for me to mention this at a certain time in the year?

What common or world-wide trend is going on that my business can join in on to gain more exposure?

How can the brand become better at increasing engagement and impressions by mentioning something at an ideal time?


Personally, Charles Barkley may not be the BEST investor. The deliverance of his marketing was not up to par and quite frankly he didn’t sound too convincing of this business move. He did know what he wanted to do, but, tailoring a sells pitch to your customers is extremely important. The way the customer feels and the customer's experience with your brand make all the difference. If the company doesn’t align with what you want, don’t waste your time.

Know who to seek as key partners or investors for your brand. If Charles Barkley is openly stating what he is NOT going to invest in, it wouldn’t be smart for you to pursue him as a possible lender for your business. Seek people who already are buying or investing in similar businesses as yours. This will make it easier for you to close on a deal and also keep your lending options in alignment with your industry.


Do not get discouraged by a ‘Charles Barkley’ type of investor. Know that your time will come for your business and to continue to push through with all your business goals. Do not let money or someone who discriminates or eliminates your industry as a means that you will not succeed.

Failure is nothing more than a chance to revise your strategy