Canadian Black Business Week
Interview with Kyle Kalloo, Change My Life/Business Coaching
Canadian Black Business Week is a time to highlight the importance of Black or Brown-owned businesses for their significant contributions to the local community and national economy. We encourage ourselves and you to celebrate their achievements, support, and advocate for them not only this month – but year-round.
Kyle Kalloo, co-founder of Change My Business Coaching and CEO and Business Coach of Change My Life Coaching, was kind enough to join us for an interview. As a tenacious entrepreneur that helps small and mid-sized businesses, we wanted to learn more about his business, his advice to business owners, and his experience.
Andrea (Collis Insurance): Tell us about Change My Life Coaching.
Kyle: Change My Life Coaching is a parent company, with three partner coaching groups that specialize in life, business, and leadership coaching. Change My Business Coaching is where I work with small and medium-sized businesses. Then we have Strategic Leader, which is really about leadership in teams that looks at an overview of the organization. Why I really wanted to join my business partner, Christopher Lawrence, who started this business way before I came on board, was the opportunity to work with multiple businesses in the same realm of bringing clarity to their business, profession, or whatever they need help with.
We recently just celebrated nine years of doing business and in your discovery, I’m sure you probably saw some statistics that really talks about businesses as a whole, and there’s some interesting stuff that’s out there. For example, 20% of small businesses fail by the first year, 30% of those fail by the second year, and 50% fail by the fifth year. Here’s the most staggering statistic: by the 10th year, a staggering amount of 70% of businesses have shut off their lights and that’s just small businesses! Interestingly, of that, eight out of ten Black-owned businesses will fail in 18 months.
Andrea (Collis Insurance): Why do you think these stats are so staggering?
Kyle: Overall, I think there are three factors contributing to this: Minority-owned business’s relationship with banking (money isn’t easily accessible), the location, and people’s implicit bias.
I find a lot of times; Black-owned businesses don’t have a good relationship with banking. Even with COVID, some businesses had relationships with their bankers, and they could say “hey, extend my line of credit” and they could do that because you learn to do business with people you know, like, and trust. A lot of Black-owned businesses don’t have that relationship with the bank. They had to save their money, there was no investment. They didn’t get all this money, for the most part, I’m not saying everyone.
Our saving grace, especially in Canada was that the government really stepped in at the local provincial, and national levels. We would have been under if we had not had that financial support. That’s a given. Getting the money directly allowed us to reinvest and pivot quite easily.
The second factor is Black-owned businesses’ location. A lot of businesses are opening up locally in their own community, which may not have a lot of resources. I don’t know about you but I don’t know many people that would leave certain fluid areas, and go into lower middle-class areas to go grocery shopping, or to get a certain service, right?
The third factor is people’s implicit bias influence. Sometimes we aren’t even aware of it. It is an unconscious association, belief or attitude towards any social group. Due to implicit bias, people may often contribute certain qualities or characteristics of members of a particular group. Now here’s what’s interesting about this. It’s at an unconscious level, so it’s not as deliberate as, “I’m not going to go support a Black-owned business.” It’s that people aren’t even aware it’s happening, right? And so, we all want to do business with people we know, like and trust, as I said earlier, but it’s also their community. Unless you’re like my mother who’s willing to drive from one end of the city to go to the other end because she has a relationship with her favorite Italian butcher. We’re just going to go local and stay in our own community.
Andrea (Collis Insurance): Pertaining to Canadian Black Business Week, then why is this important and what ways can we as a community, show up for Black-owned businesses.
Kyle: If you want to support minority businesses, you’re going to have to be where the minorities are, because a majority aren’t going to go downtown in any city and get a floor in a high-rise business. They’re not there and it’s not because they don’t want to be there, it’s because they can’t afford to be there.
I think the number one thing is that highlighting it in any given month or week is just to let people know that there’s other businesses out there, and although you may have your relationship with your local grocery store or mechanic or who you go to for floors, maybe try out something different. We do this sometimes with food right?, Trying something new?. Interesting enough, when the whole George Floyd situation happened, there was an alarming uptake on Google of people searching ‘Local Black Business Near Me’. People were mindful of saying “how do I actually go and support Black entrepreneurs” and they didn’t even know where to go. So, Black Business Week is about awareness to say “Do you even know other Black-owned businesses in an industry that perform that certain service” Giving them a shot is a great way to support them.
Andrea (Collis Insurance): What’s your response to business owners who feel threatened by support for minority businesses?
Kyle: There are white business owners who are struggling too and so of course when they hear people want to support minority businesses, they’re like, “Oh, great… so now there’s nothing for me”. That’s not necessarily true. I think there’s an opportunity to share the wealth because there’s so much. If you think about it, if a quarter of the city wanted your service, you can’t even do all of it. There’s so much to really go around.
Andrea (Collis Insurance): How do we know if we have an implicit bias and how do we overcome it?
Kyle: If you’re able to make a decision quickly, it’s usually coming from your implicit bias, because that means it’s an association. Our brain is hardwired to want simplicity, it recognizes pattern. If you feel hungry, you’re going to go and not think about it. Someone’s not going to say “I’ll go through 17 different restaurants and look at the pros and cons.” You end up at a McDonald’s. But if I’m in that moment and ask “Do I always have McDonald’s? Why don’t I just try something different?” That’s how you’re able to be mindful of your bias. If I think it through and then end up at McDonald’s… it’s not because of my implicit bias. So I think if we can just slow it down and just say, “Am I choosing this business because I’ve always done business with this person? Have I actually tried something different?” I know this is like a taboo thing for a lot of females when I say go try new hair stylists, I know that’s not going to happen. I hear you, one step at a time, maybe not with your hair stylists, maybe with someone else. But I get it, I get it.
Andrea (Collis Insurance): On a personal level Kyle if you don’t mind sharing with us, how has your identity shaped your entrepreneurial journey so far?
Kyle: You know, that’s an interesting question that I get asked a lot. I have to thank my mom for this because growing up, she taught me that I just have to do it that much better. I just have to do more! I thought everyone else got that lesson until I went through school and early on development. You’ll hear a lot of minority parents say this to their kids. I learned very quickly that I cannot compare myself to my white counterpart. One day I said to my mom “But Johnny didn’t have to do that”. And she’s like, “You’re not Johnny” right? It’s not always the competition I need to outdo, I just have to know that my effort, my contribution is that much better. I often say even in my own leadership, I’ve worked with people who may not like me as an individual… I know, Andrea, it’s shocking to hear! But there are some people out there that do not like me as an individual! Whatever, But they cannot say “he does mediocre work”. They may say I’m not their cup of tea, but they can’t say he’s half assing anything. And that’s because of my contribution.
Andrea (Collis Insurance): What advice would you give other black or non-black entrepreneurs navigating entrepreneurship? If the stats are so staggering, what kind of tips or advice would you give at this point?
Kyle: So many small to medium businesses and entrepreneurs I work with didn’t even know what they’re getting into. I can tell you from a lot of my clients that if they knew what they were responsible for now back then, they would not have started the business. You know from your own business, you’re like “oh my god I don’t know how to do payroll, now this human resource thing?” We like that they didn’t know all that stuff because they wouldn’t have started the business and we need them to start a business, right?
Now to answer your question, once you’re in the business, if you know your target, meaning the client/customer you want to target, measuring your target market and having metrics to measure it is going to give you an opportunity to be responsive. If you have no target market, you’re going to have inconsistency. Someone way smarter than me said that you cannot manage what you don’t measure. I would say to any businesses, especially small and medium businesses, you got to be clear with the target. I have a lot of businesses that think they can help anybody and everybody. That’s the thing, a lot of entrepreneurs are overachievers and so, therefore, it’s hard to get them to narrow down. But if you can just have a clear idea of your target and then measure it, that really cascades into their marketing, sales force, into everything they do.
I would also say to businesses, find where your clients are coming from. Find out what type of services, they want more of. Find out what you enjoy providing. And then I’d say if you focus in that area, you can really see some opportunities open up!
Andrea (Collis Insurance): How do you define success?
Kyle: Our implicit bias has been taught that success is a small little dot on a map, and around it is failure, failure, failure. Sometimes when I ask a client, “what has been most successful for you last week” They think they have to come up with this big grand thing like, “I solved world hunger” or “I’m in a master’s program”… and it’s not those things!
Success is taking the little steps. I woke up this morning, success. I actually made my bed, success. I got out of the house to get here, success. It’s all these little things. All the successful people that we admire, that we want to be one day… none of them said “oh I woke up and I created this thing called KFC” and “Oh, I started this airline.” Right? All of these things are just steps, and as much as business owners want to constantly look at step number six which is what they think success is, you cannot see step six from step one. So, you must go one step at a time, then you will realize by going through those steps, that step six is not even your destination. For some people, it’s step 15. Some make it to step 55 and they had no idea that step 55 even existed. So, success is taking imperfect, inspired action to say “I know enough to take the step, I know enough to start this business, I know enough that I want to do better”. So, if you want to be successful, I will say, you must go through those steps and little successes.
Entrepreneurs will work the hardest they’ve ever worked before, they will sacrifice, they will do all these things. So, the underlying current is there’s got to be some fulfillment. It’s not always passion, it’s not always about being happy all the time. It’s a fulfillment of enjoying the process, the ups and downs of what that is. And if you are not enjoying that, there’s no fulfillment…your days are numbered or you should find something else to do.
Andrea (Collis Insurance): That’s a lovely way to end it. I think that’s completely true. Well, thank you so much my friend. I want to thank Kyle profusely for going on this journey for me. Kyle serves small and medium sized businesses, and many in leadership roles, and if you’d like to reach out to Kyle, please click here. Thank you so much again, Kyle for spreading your wisdom and sharing your journey with us. I think you’re fantastic, love talking to you always!
Kyle: And you as well, thank you. You and I, Andrea, have been doing business together a long time. It started with my business partner and then just kind of fell into my wheelhouse. Insurance, in general, is complicated and some people make it more complicated than it needs to be. What we really come to depend on is that Collis Insurance keeps it really simple. This is the first year I think that you and your team haven’t dealt with me directly because there’s someone on my team that does that now and he’s like “these guys are just so easy to work with”, and I say, thank you for doing that.
If people are not sure about the complexity of their business insurance, I definitely want them to connect with you. Thank you for your years of service to us.
Andrea (Collis Insurance): Thank you, Kyle. Thanks everybody for tuning in!
This blog was a scaled down version of full interview, to view or listen hear the full interview, click here:
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