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According to certified financial planner and CNBC contributor Lazetta Braxton, now is a good time for African Americans to start their own business. Braxton, co-founder and co-CEO of 2050 Wealth Partners, says young black entrepreneurs need to step out of their comfort zone, expand their network, enter pitch competitions to win funding, hire people who understand numbers and most importantly. always be passionate about their business.
Gabby Goodwin, Rachel Holmes, and Christon Jones are good examples, and they all have a few things in common: they’re young, they’re black, and they’ve all been business owners before the age of 20.
To recognize Juneteenth, CNBC + Acorns Invest in You: Ready. Set. Grow up. is highlighting black entrepreneurship as a path to financial freedom. Here are tips from these three young black entrepreneurs on the keys to early success and overcoming challenges.
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 her barrettes. She invented the first, and patented, double-faced double bow and quickly turned it into a business in 2014: GaBBY Bows. Now 15, Goodwin went from simply selling GaBBY Bows to becoming the CEO of Confidence, which sells natural hair care products.
“We noticed that many of our customers not only had issues with losing barrettes, but also with tangling and having a product that helps their children’s scalp or helps retain moisture in their children’s hair, Goodwin said. “With businesses, you want to make sure you solve a problem and continue to solve the need. So we made sure we were listening to our customers, and that’s how the business grew from just leaning into trust.”
Its business parameters have also increased. In 2021, after seven years of business out of her home, Gabby and her family opened a retail store and hair salon in Columbia, South Carolina that sells all of her business’ products.
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“We wanted to make sure that the girls coming in had a full 360 experience and not only got their hair done and felt confident in themselves, but they were also able to see behind the scenes and the inventory of the businesses that we have,” said Gabby.
The road to success was not easy.
“We have a double whammy because we’re two different minorities. We’re African-American and we’re female. When I was trying to get funding for my business, they wouldn’t listen to me because one was my age, but also because of race. and my gender. I’d be in a room talking about my hair products for curly black girls in front of white, bald men. It’s very difficult to explain to them exactly what my business does, how it works and how they can help my business grow,” she said.
Gabby, who with her mother created the Mommy and Me Entrepreneurship Academy to help young women and their mothers start their own businesses under the Gabby brand, says finding a support network early on is key.
“Find a village around you… I’ve had a lot of support from the mayor of my town and everyone else who’s been around in that kind 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 might involve someone in your business,” she said.
Don’t be afraid of obstacles
Rachel Holmes, founder and director, Black Girls Mean Business
In addition to managing school, social life and competing as a figure swimmer, Rachel Holmes, 18, is the CEO of Black Girls Mean Business, a nationwide 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 entering business and wanted to ensure that girls of color in my community had the support and resources they needed to reach their full potential,” Holmes said. .
“Black women face an incredible amount of discrimination in business that comes from both racism and sexism. They are generally undervalued, denied the respect, positions and funding they deserve. I wanted to provide equality 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 more representation in executive positions and entrepreneurship,” she said.
Holmes says being a black entrepreneur at a young age doesn’t just mean she succeeds, but others do too. “Sometimes it can be scary 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 set an example. Representation matters!” she said.
Her advice to aspiring young entrepreneurs of color: Don’t be afraid of obstacles.
“Use them as opportunities to improve next time. Ask for help, even if you don’t think you need it. You have it! People will support what you’re doing, you just have to have the courage to start,” she said.
Patience is critical to business success
Antoine Duane Jones Media
A CEO, day trader, investor and author are just a few of the titles held by Christon “The Truth” Jones at the age of 15. When he was just 10 years old, Jones started his own 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, about the stock market, and how to create short-term and long-term passive income.
Recently, Jones discovered an interest in real estate investing. He currently owns two properties and hopes to own 10 or more in the next five years.
“I was always looking for a new way to make money,” Jones said. “I really just got interested in this 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 age and race discrimination are among the toughest challenges he has faced.
“Going to networking events, being discriminated against, not 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. Yes. Good. Step aside,” Jones said.
Key ingredients to his success and overcoming obstacles include being consistent, being creative, having self-discipline, taking action, and most importantly, having patience.
“Patience is probably one of the biggest things I know,” Jones said. “When you first start entrepreneurship, you want to rush everything, you want to get your money, you want to be famous. You want to get all these connections, but actually your journey is much slower,” he added .
–By Jala Brown, Talent Development Intern at CNBC
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Disclosure: NBCUniversal and Comcast Ventures are investors in oaks.