In the words of the great philosopher Shawn Corey Carter, also known as Jay Z, “I’m not a businessman, I’m a business, man.” This lyric, though deduced to social media captions, PowerPoint presentations, and even tattoos, is so much more. Jay-Z was on to something when he wrote it. This lyric is revolutionary. What does it mean to be a businessman? A question I had to ask myself as a business. Is it having a large following? Or a lot of money? Is it getting many “likes” and “views”? or having a seat at many tables?  is it keeping a photographer on a retainer for lifestyle shoots? How about constructing a bomb email list with over a thousand people receiving updates about your business, brand, or idea? What does it mean to be this “business, man,” that Jay-Z so eloquently spoke of?

Considering that many small businesses and brands have to pivot due to the economic downturn because of the coronavirus, I could not help but recognize what it truly means to be a business. But more so, take your business seriously and remind others of the fact as well.  Even as cities begin to re-open in phases and businesses having to adjust to what is being called “the new normal,” every city has a small business and family business hero. This article is an ode to your city’s heroes whose capes are small businesses, long hours, small teams, yet big prayers.

Support goes both ways.

Being a business has nothing to do with the tangible things that society deems influential or exciting. However, a business has everything to do with stamina. Being a business owner or a brand is truly about earning every dollar you wish to get. As a business and brand, you learn that no one is obligated to support your product or service, consider your time and talent or even give grace when a pandemic has completely shifted your business plan. Yet business owners continue to lead with passion and speaks a lot to stamina. The stamina to show up, deliver on time, build a clientele and not stop, even amid a pandemic. Understanding that you are a business is support—your customers through action and consistency. Support your customers looks like excellence in your service. Supporting your customers “look” like consistency. Support to your customers looks like shifting amid this crisis and still being present. However, support goes both ways. It is essential for those supporting small businesses to keep this in mind too. As customers, buyers, and supporters, it is important to show up and show grace. Grace in understanding this pandemic caused delays in deliveries, a halt to hours, a stop to services, and in some cases, a cancellation to cost. So, as supporters, keep this in mind and show grace. Above all, grace is understanding that support goes both ways, and in being a business, every little bit helps. 

Stay put 9 to 5ers; this is for you too.

The truth is, this pandemic was very transformative for those with jobs too. It’s important for 9 to 5ers to remember they are businesses and brands; also, it is just their product and service look different. This time showed you the importance of supplemental income for some, showing you where your passion truly lies; for some, you realized you love your job. It edified that you are worthy of a promotion, and for some, this time was confirmation to start what makes your heart skip a beat. Wherever you fall on the spectrum, now is the time for those who work for someone else to tap n as well. Go after that promotion, build that brand, start that business, write that book, get your extra income from something you love. You’re a business, man. You’re a businesswoman. Show up for your passion amid this pandemic and witness it manifest.


You embody every title you call yourself, and you are at liberty to add and takeaway titles as life shifts.  Amid this pandemic, find your title, and thrive. So, success, a business, brand, and promotion have nothing to do with what is seen or shared, but how you committed to it – no matter what. It’s about keeping your energy on a retainer. It’s about YOU being proud of your product and service so much that you’ll commit to perfecting it for your customers. It’s about showing up in pandemic or perfect times. It’s about understanding your worth for promotion and more and not allowing negative self-talk to creep in. It is manifesting the unseen and showing up for the uncertain. It’s all about you. You’re not a business[WO]man; you’re a business, [WO]man. Boom.

This feature was submitted by Ohavia Phillips M.S., D.B.A

Ohavia (“Oh”) Phillips is an emcee in Charlotte, North Carolina and a thriving talk show host of her OWN show, The Oh Show. Ohavia loves serving and connecting with communities. This piece is inspired by the resilience of every community! Sending love! Stay strong!