Hanif Russell is the Founder, Chairman & C.E.O of Black Business Works. This organization assists business owners and business professionals to develop strategies to create new revenue streams by utilizing relationship marketing and proven networking techniques. He believes that in order to succeed in business, professionals need to embrace a “Networking” as the best way to grow their business.
Mr. Russell is also the Chairman/CEO of Signature Global Transportation Group (SGTG) based in New York City. (SGTG) is a luxury limousine service that provides a high level of ground transportation to its clients. With services such as concierge, armed security, suggestions on the best restaurants, theatre’s, night life, shopping and more SGTG provides a service that is different from your typical limousine services. SGTG’s clients are Fortune 500 business executives, athletes and entertainers. SGTG prides itself on be professional at all times.
In 1995 Hanif attended to York College after graduating from Far Rockaway high school in Queens, New York. While attending York College he majored in business management because of his passion to someday become an entrepreneur.
Before starting his own business Hanif worked as a hotel limousine coordinator from 1999 to 2005 at the St. Regis and Four Seasons hotels in New York City. His job there was to book limousines for hotel guest, inspect vehicles, and manage job assignments for chauffeurs. It is while working at the hotels that Hanif learned about the importantance of networking from the many guest would share with him how networking made them successful in their businesses.
Hanif is an active member of the Greater Allen Cathedral of New York. He currently serves on the Men’s ministry committee. Hanif also volunteers for a few non-profit organizations such as the African Center for Community Empowerment (ACCE) where he serves on the board and Crossroads Connection where he mentors and facilitates in their “Brother to Brother” program.
Q&A With Hanif Russell
BS: When did you first take your steps towards entrepreneurship? What inspired you? Where there any risks in doing so?
Hanif Russell: I took my first step towards entrepreneurship in 2001 starting a limousine company that caters to an elite clientele based in New York City. I was inspired because there was a void at the time for the high net worth company or individual to provide luxury ground transportation services especially for their client that was going to spend a lot of money with them which allowed me to launch Signature Global Transportation Group (SGTG). Yes there were risks. The first car I purchased was a new Mercedes S class which meant I used my credit and I was responsible for a large car note. The risk of no work meant I could not only lose the business, but risk losing much more.
BS: What is Black Business Works? How did you come up with the concept? How do you believe this is beneficial to the Black community?
Hanif Russell: Black Business Works founded in 2009 to introduce the concept of “Networking over Breakfast” to more minority business professionals. We wanted to provide a better alternative to building business contacts, quickly and efficiently by combining online networking with face-to-face meetings. I came up with the concept by networking through my limo business. Seeing how my clients invited me into their network, I then observed that most small businesses in the black community do little to no networking at all. Our networking group is beneficial to the black community because business owners and professionals need a place that they can come to grow their business with like-minded individuals. Networking is something that is critical to growing and sustaining any business so we facilitate that through BBW.
BS:How did you successfully attract your targeted market?
Hanif Russell: We first attracted our market by literally going door to door to local businesses in various parts of NYC. We introduced ourselves and what we do.After organizing a decent number of businesses, we held our first breakfast meeting. Today we use the power of social media to promote our services and it has allowed people in different cities nationwide to contact us about establishing Black Business Works where they live.
BS: How many branches do BBWs currently have? Where do you see BBW is 5 years?
Hanif Russell: We have our networking groups in Harlem and Queens in NYC. We have launches slated for 10 locations throughout the U.S. Our goal in 5 years is to be the leading business networking for minority business professionals.
Hanif Russell: What words of advice can you share with our aspiring entrepreneurs?
Hanif Russell: Do not give up no matter what! As long as you believe in what you are doing and most importantly if it will help someone else, stay the course. Seek help…. as the saying goes “no man is an island”.
BS: What other ventures will you work on?
Hanif Russell: In 2013 we are going to start investing in business in our network. We are seeing a lot of great businesses that need funding to grow, but due to funding challenges, they lack the necessary resources to start their business
BS: What motto(s) do you live by?
Hanif Russell: Without God nothing is possible.