Block Advisors doubles down on its commitment to support Black-owned businesses

By Ian Hardman

I’m new to H&R Block, having joined the company in September 2020. While I’ve always known Block to be a trusted “brand” just around the corner, I’ve since learned more about the company’s long-standing commitment to hard-working Americans—to help individuals, neighborhoods, and local small businesses thrive through financial confidence.

This ambition may sound lofty, but helping people thrive is deeply rooted in the passions of founders, Henry and Richard Bloch, and continues today as the life-blood of the company’s nearly 70,000 associates. It was this passion, drive, and commitment that drew me to my current role within the organization, leading the growth of our Small Business imperative.

Through H&R Block’s Block Advisors team, we have the unique opportunity to serve millions of small business owners each year. By working in close partnership with them, we understand and have deep knowledge of the unique needs of business owners. We know even the slightest changes in the economy or consumer behavior can translate into significant financial challenges for our clients. We also know that our clients, including restaurateurs, builders and shop owners, started their businesses to be innovators of their craft—not to be tax experts and bookkeepers.

Bringing Black-owned business support to life

And more importantly, our Block Advisors team across America is keenly aware of the unprecedented challenges business owners continue to face as the impact of the pandemic and uncertainty rages on, with Black-owned businesses experiencing an oversized brunt of the impact. New data from our “Small Business Recovery Series” study revealed that nearly half (47%) of small business owners are not optimistic about their businesses’ success in 2021. And as it relates to Black-owned businesses, more than half experienced a 50% decrease in revenue during the pandemic, with 41% of all Black-owned businesses closing their doors for good between February and April during 2020.

Here’s where we at Block Advisors can do more—we are doubling down on our efforts to support small business recovery and specifically Black-owned small business owners in two key areas:

  • Expanded Portfolio of Small Business Services:
    • We’re expanding our portfolio of small business services, easing the burden of back-end bookkeeping, payroll, and taxes. We aim to be true year-round partners to help our small business clients grow. And this year especially, our small business certified tax pros can help clients navigate the complicated tax implications from stimulus aid related to the pandemic.
  • Listening and Providing Personalized Support:
    • We’re stepping up to make sure more Black-owned businesses survive and thrive because they play a critical role in improving local economies and uplifting communities. Specifically, we’re excited to pilot a new program in partnership with the Urban League of Greater Kansas City, to help reach our goal of reaching and supporting 500,000 small business owners by 2025. Block Advisors small business certified tax pros will provide free personalized coaching designed to improve financial management, tax compliance, and bookkeeping and payroll, ultimately increasing business owners’ awareness and readiness when trying to gain access to capital.

I’m excited about the future, thrilled to find new ways to support local Black-owned businesses, and ultimately, I’m hopeful for our small business clients to once again drive the growth of our economy. I look forward our journey, our lessons, and our shared successes.

Our small business tax professional certification is awarded by Block Advisors, a part of H&R Block, based upon successful completion of proprietary training. Our Block Advisors small business services are available at participating Block Advisors and H&R Block offices nationwide.

About the Author

Ian Hardman serves as vice president and general manager, small business at H&R Block.  Prior to joining H&R Block, Ian served as chief strategy officer at 1-800Flowers.com as well as led P&Ls at Fab, GE, and Reebok International.  With deep experience in commercializing new operating models and driving impressive growth results across numerous platforms, Ian brings a passion for building businesses to reach their full potential. He holds a bachelor’s degree in finance from Howard University and an MBA from Harvard University.

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