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These twin brothers grew their business within a year’s time

Marlon and Mark Whitfield made their dream a reality

According to information via Gallup in 2012, about half of all new businesses survive the first five years. But for black-owned businesses, chances of survival aren’t that good. In 2015, HBCU Buzz reported that 80 percent of black businesses close within the first year. Several different reasons surround this reality, including improper planning and insufficient funds. But brothers Marlon and Mark Whitfield are in the 20 percent of people who survive, grow and sustain their business beyond the first year.

When it comes to family ties, the pair holds a special bond that spans beyond brotherhood. The siblings capitalized off of resources to sustain their St. Louis-based marketing and consulting firm Hawk Time LLC, and are celebrating year one.

The Whitfield brothers devote their time to developing marketing, advertising and business strategies for small business owners with little to no budgets, known to them as the “little guy.” Accustomed to doing almost everything together, the twins specialize in sharing their unique approach to save or help business.

Within their first year, they’ve even developed some celebrity clients. According to their website, they have served artists and companies such as Lil Wayne, Roc Nation, Nelly, Microsoft, Jackie Joyner-Kersee, Bell Biv Devoe and more.

Hawk Time, LLC consists of a team of marketing professionals, graphic designers and other creative talent. To set up their clients for success, the team holds a one-hour brainstorming session to get the clients started. They refer to the sessions as “giving their dreams heartbeats.” According to their website, the sessions are designed to help their clients think outside the box and think about their business in a way that makes it come to life.

“Growing up in St. Louis, we saw a lot of people struggle to be great,” Marlon Whitfield said. “We’ve had several friends that share businesses, had great ideas but those businesses almost never realized their true potential. Some offered amazing services or products but, for some reason, it just never went beyond their immediate circle of influence. It was crazy. We started analyzing why, and a majority of the time it came down to marketing. The branding of their product or service never produced enough clients to sustain their business. Their competition would have these big beautiful signs printed with commercials and coupons that made you want to try it. Our friends would have a few T-shirts and use word of mouth to promote themselves. If they had fliers, it was something basic created printed from their home computer. This was heartbreaking for us.

“We decided to step in and help close that gap. We wanted to give the ‘little guy’ at least a fighting chance. The job of a great marketing company is to get people in the door or to try your product at least once. After that, it is up to the company to deliver on the quality of the product and the customer service behind it. Our slogan is, ‘When it’s time to go from good to great, it’s Hawk Time.’ This is our vision for companies and effective way possible, taking our own good ideas to great ones, with our expertise.”

Making it over the hump with just one year in the game is an inspiration to other business owners.

Kelley Evans is a general editor at The Undefeated. She is a food passionista, helicopter mom and an unapologetic southerner who spends every night with the cast of The Young and the Restless by way of her couch.