Black Business Owners Under 20 on Early Success Lessons
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According to certified financial planner and CNBC contributor Lazzeta Braxton, now is the time for African Americans to start their own businesses. Braxton, co-founder and co-CEO of 2050 Wealth Partners, says aspiring young black entrepreneurs should step out of their comfort zone, expand their network, enter pitch competitions to win funding, hire people who understand the numbers and, most importantly, always be passionate about their business.
Gabby Goodwin, Rachel Holmes and Christon Jones are good examples, and they all have several things in common: they’re young, they’re black, and they’ve all been business owners before the age of 20.
To thank Juneteenth, CNBC + Tassels Invest in yourself: Ready. Adjust. Growing up. highlights black entrepreneurship as a path to financial freedom. Here’s advice from these three young black entrepreneurs on the keys to early success and the challenges ahead.
Find a problem to solve, keep finding new ones
Gabby Goodwin, creator of GaBBY Bows
At just seven years old, Gabby Goodwin was determined to solve the age-old problem of constantly losing barrettes. She invented the first patented double-sided double-snap barrette and quickly turned into a business in 2014: GaBBY Bows. Now 15, Goodwin has gone from simply selling GaBBY Bows to becoming the CEO of Confidence, which sells natural hair care products.
“We’ve noticed that many of our customers not only have issues with barrettes shedding, but with tangling and having a product that helps their kids’ scalp or helps maintain moisture in their kids’ hair. their child,” Goodwin said. “With businesses, you want to make sure you’re solving a problem and continuing to solve a need. So we made sure we listened to our customers, and that’s how the business went from simple bow to trust.”
The parameters of his business have also evolved. In 2021, after seven years in business away from home, Gabby and her family opened a retail store and hair salon in Columbia, SC, which sells all of her company’s products.
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“We wanted to make sure there was a full 360 degree experience for the girls coming in and not only getting their hair done and feeling confident in themselves, but they could also see behind the scenes and the inventory of the businesses that have us,” Gabby said.
The road to success has not been easy.
“We have a double whammy because we’re two different minorities. We’re African American and we’re women. When I was trying to get funding for my business, they weren’t really listening to me because a , my age , but also because of my race and gender. I’d be in a room talking about my hair products for curly haired black girls, in front of bald white men. It’s so hard to explain to them what exactly my business does, how it works and how they can help my business grow,” she said.
Gabby, who together with her mother set up the Mommy and Me Entrepreneurship Academy to help young girls and their mothers start their own business under the Gabby brand, says finding a support network early is key.
“Find a village around you. … I have had great support from the mayor of my town and everyone else who has been around this type of government area or just people who live in my town as well. Find a village around you, your family, your friends, you never know how you can involve someone in your business,” she said.
Don’t be afraid of setbacks
Rachel Holmes, Founder and Director, Black Girls Mean Business
In addition to managing school, a social life and competing as an artistic swimmer, 18-year-old Rachel Holmes is the CEO of Black Girls Mean Business, a nationwide free virtual summer business program for black high school girls. The program offers six Zoom workshops to help improve business and career skills, expand a network, and prepare girls for life after high school.
“As an aspiring businesswoman myself, I understood the barriers Black women face in getting started in business and wanted to make sure Black girls in my community had the support and resources to reach their full potential,” Holmes said.
“Black women face an incredible amount of discrimination in business stemming from both racism and sexism. They are generally undervalued, denying them the respect, positions and funding they deserve. I wanted to bring equity to help girls overcome these barriers. By giving them the tools they need to be successful early on and empowering them, I hope to see greater representation in leadership positions and entrepreneurship,” a- she declared.
Holmes says being a black entrepreneur at a young age not only sets her up for success, but others as well. “It can sometimes be intimidating knowing that you will face obstacles and knowing that people are watching what you do. But it’s amazing to know that I can make a difference and lead by example. Representation matters! ” she says.
His advice to budding young black entrepreneurs: don’t be afraid of setbacks.
“Use them as opportunities to improve next time. Ask for help, even if you think you don’t need it. You get it! People will support what you do, you just have to to have the courage to start,” she added. said.
Patience is essential to business success
Antoine Duane Jones Media
CEO, day trader, investor and author are just a few of the titles held by Christon “The Truth” Jones at age 15. When he was just 10 years old, Jones started his business, Return On Investment. Through the company’s three programs, $tocks 101, Black Wealth Matters, and The Truth Success Series, Black entrepreneurs can learn how to start investing and trading, learn about the stock market, and create short- and long-term passive income. term.
More recently, Jones has discovered an interest in real estate investing. He currently owns two properties and hopes to own 10 or more over the next five years.
“I was always looking for a new avenue to make money,” Jones said. “I got really interested in the subject. I started asking my mentors and people around me who could really teach me and explain to me how the business works,” he added.
Jones says overcoming discrimination based on age and race is one of the toughest challenges he has faced.
“Going to networking events, being discriminated against, not really being able to meet the people I wanted to meet because they don’t want to talk to me because, you know, they’re like ‘you’re a little black kid’ . Yeah. Alright. Move to the side,” Jones said.
Key ingredients to his success and overcoming obstacles include consistency, creativity, self-discipline, action, and most importantly, patience.
“Patience is probably one of the most important things I know,” Jones said. “When you start entrepreneurship, you kind of want to rush everything, you want to get your money, you want to be famous. You want to get all these connections, but your journey is really a lot slower,” he added. .
—By Jaala Brown, CNBC Talent Development Intern
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Disclosure: NBCUniversal and Comcast Ventures are investors in Tassels.