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Hidden Gems: Meet Nicole Murphy of Barter Black

Today we’d like to introduce you to Nicole Murphy.

Hi Nicole, thanks for sharing your story with us. To start, maybe you can tell our readers some of your backstories.
I am a Washington, DC native, mom of two boys, Cameron Lee and Jaxson Lee and I am the CEO of Barter Black. I started my entrepreneurial journey in 2017 when I launched a short-term property management company called HomeShare 365.

My business thrived very quickly and I scaled it from cleaning properties and other concierge tasks up to full Airbnb listing and property management all across Washington DC and the surrounding DMV area. My business was doing so well that I was in the process of continuing to scale it and was looking to grow it with larger staffing, acquiring personal properties to manage, and even considering some creative solutions to prevalent challenges that I saw as barriers to my hosting clientele.

My role transitioned from a hired service into a guide, where I could use my intel from all of my clients to advise on market changes, remind hosts to market local events, and made connections between my clients to support one another’s Airbnb needs, finding spaces for guests to transition to when unforeseen circumstances led to guest displacement for example.

When the COVID pandemic struck the DMV area in March 2020, all travel shut down. Airbnb canceled all guest bookings and my thriving business was catapulted from between 5-10 cleanings per day to zero overnight. With such unprecedented action from Airbnb and no end to the pandemic in sight, many of my clients sold their listings in a panic or shut down their businesses altogether.

This is when I realized not only was my business suffering, but other Black-owned businesses were suffering, as usual, at a higher rate than our counterparts. My struggles and the need to address the glaring, but often ignored market gap led to the creation of Barter Black.

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
There is no smooth road in business. If it was easy, everyone would be doing it. The reason behind Barter Black is that the road is not easy for Black Entrepreneurs and business owners. Funding is one of the biggest issues we face when trying to build generational wealth for our own families.

My road has been a rollercoaster. I started a tech company with no background in tech! I’m a non-technical tech founder and I’m proud to hold the title because I’m a changemaker and my company is changing how black-owned businesses do business today. Some might wonder what makes me qualified to be in this space, but my vision, unblogged down by rigid X’s and O’s in tech, allows me to see the gaps and create a Barter Black to meet those needs.

I’ve struggled with funding my idea, investing all I have in it, putting people in place that can help me achieve my goal, and overall learning how to be a great businesswoman. There is no roadmap and I have created my own path. And with every roadblock has come a lesson learned.

Thanks – so what else should our readers know about Barter Black?
Barter Back is a platform that connects conscious Black Entrepreneurs, allowing them to exchange goods and services with each other in order to scale their business. Similar to Uber and Airbnb, Barter Black’s product is the platform. Through this platform, we build connections that allow our clients to achieve their business goals without using money.

Before money was a premium currency, bartering was the way of life. We are bringing it back in a way that not only empowers Black-Entrepreneurs to scale their business but also provides a community where people are choosing to build and exchange wealth with each other. We are creating our own ecosystem and dismantling the funding obstacles faced by black business owners in this country today.

I am most proud that together, we ensure and give people the space where their business and business ideas won’t die on the altar of no funds. Instead, we’re building a sense of community where all are involved and dedicated to contributing to each other’s success. This is going to make us better and stronger as a community.

Business owners can join our community by registering at www.iBarterBlack.com.

Before we let you go, we’ve got to ask if you have any advice for those who are just starting out?
To those who want to start their own business, I have two words; investments and proximity. To be a successful business owner, you must be willing to invest in yourself.

So many times we try to grow our businesses on our own and wonder why we are not succeeding as fast as we thought we would. It’s because we are spending too much time trying to learn what to do instead of getting help from someone like a coach or hiring someone who specializes in something you don’t. No successful business owner is successful without some sort of team so invest in one.

Proximity is everything! How many times have you shared an idea with a friend or family member and they shot it down or didn’t believe in it? Let’s face it, the majority of us grew up thinking a job was the only route. I personally never saw or knew any business owners growing up and it takes a special type of mindset to know that entrepreneurship is possible.

Strategically put yourself in rooms with like-minded people who are smarter than you and learn from them constantly. Building relationships is and will be one of the most valuable assets to starting a business.

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Image Credits

Gisele Bonds, Adrian Slappy, and Aisha Jackson

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