August is National Black Business Month, so now is an even more critical occasion to recognize Black entrepreneurs. This month, we’re featuring Danilo Batson, founder of Spicy Green Book, a nonprofit organization that provides a free directory of Black-owned businesses in the food and beverage industry and helps Black-owned businesses get discovered by customers. Spicy Green Book also has a team of volunteers who help Black-owned businesses with free creative marketing services to amplify their brands.
Learn more about Danilo Batson and the important mission of Spicy Green Book, and see how you can get involved as a Black business owner or as someone who wants to support more Black-owned businesses.
Time for Change: Supporting Black-Owned Businesses
It’s been more than a year since the murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police sparked the biggest movement for racial justice in modern American history. One of the areas of impact that many corporations and business leaders are now talking about to improve racial equity is by confronting and fixing the racial wealth gap.
Due to longstanding systemic racism, racist discrimination and its harmful economic effects, Black people in America own significantly less wealth than white people. The racial wealth gap is a legacy of slavery, segregation and the various ways that generations of Black people have not been allowed to fully participate, innovate and succeed in American economic life. Black entrepreneurship and support for Black-owned businesses could be a big part of the solution in closing the racial wealth gap and generating economic growth in the Black community and beyond.
Spicy Green Book is supporting Black-owned businesses, focusing on the food and beverage world, by helping these businesses get discovered by customers. The name “Spicy Green Book” was inspired by “The Green Book,” a travel guide for Black people that was published during the decades of Jim Crow and legal segregation. In the era of “whites only” hotels, segregated restaurants and widespread hate crimes and lynchings, Black travelers used to rely on the Green Book to find businesses that were safe and that treated Black people with respect.
Spicy Green Book is carrying on that tradition by helping people find Black-owned businesses to support. The site serves as a directory where you can find Black-owned restaurants and other Black-owned food and beverage businesses, searching by location.
“Right after the George Floyd murder, I noticed more people were interested in finding Black-owned businesses to support but weren't necessarily sure how to find them. I wanted to make it easier for these businesses to get the exposure they need and allow new audiences to support them,” said Danilo Batson, founder of Spicy Green Book.
Generating More Customers and Income for Black-Owned Businesses
Spicy Green Book is more than a business directory; it’s a registered nonprofit organization that also supports Black-owned businesses with free marketing help. “Our goal is to help Black-owned businesses in the food and beverage industry by offering free creative services, such as professional photography, videography and design,” said Danilo.
If you’re a Black business owner, you can sign up for a free listing on Spicy Green Book, and when you sign up to add your listing, they will also match you with a local professional photographer for a free photo session to promote your business. Additional creative marketing services and promotional support will be provided to Spicy Green Book’s listed businesses as these resources become available.
“Helping people is the most rewarding thing about running Spicy Green Book,” said Danilo. “When I hear the stories from business owners who have seen that jump in business after signing up with Spicy Green Book, it is further validation that I made the right decision to start this service, and that this is something that is needed.”
Getting found by customers and having a steady stream of new business opportunities is one of the most important and constant challenges for any small business owner. Spicy Green Book is filling this gap with help boosting business owners' brands and generating new revenue opportunities.
Connecting to a Wider Audience with a Sense of Mission
Danilo said that one of the biggest challenges he overcame in starting Spicy Green Book was dealing with his own sense of doubt. “Taking that first step to get started has to be the scariest,” Danilo said. “You may have doubts that creep into your head during that time.”
But once he decided to start his nonprofit organization, Danilo was able to quickly generate forward momentum. He found a larger community to unite around a shared sense of mission to support Black-owned businesses and abolish racial disparities. “Fortunately, after deciding that this was where I wanted to go, we were able to receive a tremendous amount of support,” he said.
If you want to support the mission of Spicy Green Book, they have options available to donate, sponsor or volunteer your professional services in marketing and business development.
Incfile’s Business Formation Services: Save Time and Money While Making an Impact
Danilo used Incfile’s business formation services to set up Spicy Green Book as an official registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. If you want to start a for-profit business or establish a nonprofit organization, Incfile’s professional services can help.
One of the biggest challenges for new business owners or nonprofit founders is not having enough time in the day and having to quickly learn to manage the various tasks and areas of expertise needed to build a successful business. The old saying that “time is money” is especially true for founders.
Incfile can help you save time and have peace of mind in filing documents and managing the process of making your new venture “official” in the eyes of government authorities. By getting some extra help to save time with business formation services, you can often save money as well. And by taking these items off your to-do list, you also free up bandwidth and energy to focus on your business, your organization and your mission.
Adapting to Challenges, Pivoting for Growth
Like so many other business owners, Danilo has been running his nonprofit organization during the challenging times of the pandemic, which has made it hard to host in-person events or carry on with normal everyday activities. Danilo said that one big lesson of his experience as an entrepreneur is the importance of adapting to uncertainty.
“The saying is 'pivot or perish,'” Danilo said. “There will be so many things that will happen on this journey and you always need to be prepared for the next steps despite any hurdles that may come your way. Being adaptable is priceless quality to have.”
Fortunately, Spicy Green Book is seeing signs of new growth and big momentum for the future.
“We have already achieved so many goals in our businesses since we first started that I am so proud of, and I would like to see us continue to expand our reach and add more businesses on to our site,” Danilo said. “We are just now starting to host in-person events, with the first one happening this August in Manhattan Beach, California. I would like to see that continue as we travel to host more events featuring these Black-owned businesses.”
Spicy Green Book has a national directory of hundreds of Black-owned businesses, supported by a national network of hundreds of committed volunteers. Follow Spicy Green Book on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
Ben Gran is a freelance writer from Des Moines, Iowa. Ben has written for Fortune 500 companies, the Governor of Iowa (who now serves as U.S. Secretary of Agriculture), the U.S. Secretary of the Navy, and many corporate clients. He writes about entrepreneurship, technology, food and other areas of great personal interest.