Ron Busby Sr. is president and CEO of the U.S. Black Chambers Inc. The Oakland, California, native is a proud graduate of Florida A&M and Clark Atlanta universities. Prior to becoming president of the USBC, he was at the helm of USA Superclean, growing the janitorial company’s revenues from $150,000 to more than $15 million over a 10-year span.
Busby brings business management skills and a lifetime of community development experience to the USBC.
Rolling out had the opportunity to sit down with the CEO to discuss his leadership style and focus on Black community and business growth.
Please describe your role as the president of USBC.
As president and CEO of the U.S. Black Chambers Inc., my obligation and commitment is to serve Black business owners. As the voice of the nation’s Black business owners, the U.S. Black Chambers is tasked with cultivating opportunities to increase the growth and sustainability of Black-owned businesses. As president, I serve our nation’s Black entrepreneurs through the USBC’s Five Pillars of Service:
Advocacy: The USBC fights for legislation that promotes small business growth.
Access to capital: Remains the most important factor limiting the establishment, expansion and growth of Black-owned businesses. The USBC creates funding sources and partners with organizations that focus on providing funding to Black entrepreneurs.
Contracting: The USBC’s goal is to level the playing field to help Black contractors gain access to business opportunities in the private and public sectors.
Entrepreneur training: The USBC produces educational opportunities for Black entrepreneurs to achieve scalable success through entrepreneur and business management training, including the USBC’s partnership with the University of Phoenix and the USBC’s annual National Business Conference.
Chamber development: The growth and development of Black Chambers of Commerce is a core focus of our efforts in assisting with the establishment of new Black chambers.
What is the mission of your organization?
The mission of the U.S. Black Chambers is to provide committed, visionary leadership and advocacy in the realization of economic empowerment. Through the creation of resources and initiatives, we support African American Chambers of Commerce and business organizations in their work of developing and growing Black enterprises.
How would you describe your leadership style?
I consider myself a servant leader, one who serves the Black business community by leading a network of more than 116 self-sustaining Black chambers, numerous small business associations, and serving close to 250,000 small businesses nationwide — all with the goal of cultivating more Black business owners. I always say in order for there to be a great America, we must have a great Black America; in order for there to be a great Black America, we must have great Black businesses; and in order for there to be great Black businesses, we must have great Black Chambers of Commerce.
What is the single most important characteristic a leader must possess?
Humility. Too many Black leaders and leaders across the board have failed to reach their fullest leadership potential because of ego and a lack of humility — the ability to remove themselves from the equation and work towards a common goal.
How do you approach business challenges?
I see business challenges as necessary learning opportunities. To be in business and succeed, one must have a sharp learning curve and be willing to fail in order to win. Challenges make you grow. If you’re not facing challenges, chances are you’re not growing.
How do you inspire your staff?
The great Zig Ziglar said it best: “Gratitude is the healthiest of all human emotions. The more you express gratitude for what you have, the more likely you will have even more to express gratitude for.” I appreciate my staff and keep them inspired by my gratitude for them and their efforts.
What is the key to your productivity?
Time management has always been the key to my productivity. No matter who you are, everyone gets 24 hours in a day. It’s up to you how you spend it. I stay productive by effectively managing my time.
How have you utilized technology to give your business a competitive advantage?
We currently have a mobile app that serves Black businesses. It has a directory with over 100,000 Black businesses, Black organizations and Black media outlets in the U.S., Canada, the United Kingdom, the Caribbean Islands and in Africa. You can find just about any Black-owned business through our app, including African American museums, HBCUs, Black-owned banks, Black churches, Black doctors and much more.
How do you encourage a team under stress?
Stress is inevitable, and in most cases, stress is the result of an issue left untreated. I keep my team encouraged by being as proactive as possible and being attentive to handling challenges upfront until the issue is resolved.
Have you made a mistake that has ultimately helped shape you?
I’ve made several mistakes in life and business and now with age and wisdom, I view them all as valuable mistakes that have contributed to who I am today.
Name your top three business books to reference for insight and inspiration.
PowerNomics: The National Plan to Empower Black America by Claud Anderson
Why Should White Guys Have All the Fun? by Blair S. Walker and Reginald F. Lewis
Think & Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill
What are the two key factors for business success?
Persistence and determination. You can do, be and overcome anything with persistence and determination. Persistence requires the willpower to not give up when doors are closed in your face, and determination is a driving force that keeps you going when all else fails.