All Articles Tagged "entrepreneurship"

Rags To Riches Baby! Most Wealthy Business Owners Are Self-Made

September 19th, 2013 - By Kimberly Gedeon
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Most fortunes aren’t inherited at all. In fact, 66 percent of America’s wealthiest citizens earned their own riches from scratch. Among wealthy business owners, about seven in 10 have acquired affluent status from their own self-made entrepreneurial endeavors, Fox Business reports.

Less than 10 percent of business owners, according to a survey conducted by the U.S. Trust, inherited ownership of their company. A solid 78 percent of respondents claimed that they have founded or co-founded their business. Another 70 percent say they’ve accumulated a large percentage of their wealth from that business. Twenty-eight percent of respondents even admitted that they would not bequeath their business to their children. They would rather sell or close the company.

A vast majority of rich business owners revealed that motivation to start their own enterprise stemmed from refusal to work beneath someone else. Sixty-percent said “they wanted to be in the driver’s seat when it came to their future,” Fox Business adds. Nearly 70 percent believe that entrepreneurship is the best way to achieve a life of luxury.

Fifty-seven percent of respondents are quite selective who they help with their cash, willing to jump in if their adult children need them, but less keen on financially supporting their extended family members.

“Business ownership is alive and well in the U.S. economy, and new innovation is fueling entrepreneurship that knows no age limits,” says Keith Banks, president of U.S. Trust.

The study also found that generosity is a generational thing. Nearly 80 percent of Millennials want to use the success of their entrepreneurial endeavors to give back to the community, a statement only repeated by 50 percent of Gen X business owners.

This survey urveyed 711 high net worth adults with at least $3 million in assets that can be invested.

American Women Are Slipping In Business Endeavors Compared To Women Around The World

August 5th, 2013 - By Kimberly Gedeon
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Women in America, a study finds, have little faith in their entrepreneurial prowess. Seven countries were examined and researchers discovered that although businesswomen were a minority in each nation, women in Latin America and Sub-Saharan Africa were more active in business than American women, reports Entrepreneur.

Many women expressed a sense of doubt in their ability to launch their own business, according to a new survey released by the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor. As a result, male entrepreneurs have been consistently taking the lead in the economy. “Women report being more afraid of failure on average than their male counterparts,” adds Entrepreneur. However, the study’s author, Donna Kelley, says that these convictions come from very real challenges.

In the U.S. “studies […] show that women are less likely to receive venture capital funding,” Entrepreneur says. Kelley also points out that more men are involved high-tech careers—which boosts entrepreneurial activity — and women are less likely to engage in the field of science or engineering. Although there are fewer observable barriers preventing women from starting their own business in America, the expectation that a businesswoman will be overridden by the male-dominated industry still lurks.

Surprisingly, in contrast to American women, sub-Saharan African women showed the most confidence in their entrepreneurship skills. “Part of the higher levels of confidence in sub-Saharan Africa is because almost 60 percent of women know other women entrepreneurs,” says the story. According to Kelley, this provided the women in Zambia, Malawi, Ghana, Uganda, and Nigeria with role models to emulate.

Researchers discovered that women living in developed regions of Asia showed the least amount of confidence; only five percent of Japanese women expressed any trust in their ability to start a business. The report notes that the culture’s gender roles can contribute to this deficiency in confidence.

Some of the common factors discovered in all seven economies was that businesswomen are more likely to work directly with consumers rather than pursue “capital intensive manufacturing businesses and knowledge-intensive business services,” the survey finds.  Women in the study are unified in the belief that it’s riskier for them than it is for a man to forgo being an employee and pursue entrepreneurship.

The countries that were found to have nearly as many female entrepreneurs as there are businessmen are Panama, Thailand, Ghana, Ecuador, Nigeria, Mexico, and Uganda. The countries with the least amount of female businesswomen are living in developed regions of Asia, Israel, and Europe.

This study surveyed 198,000 people in 69 countries.

Employee or Entrepreneur? Not Everyone Is Cut Out To Be A Business Owner

August 1st, 2013 - By Ann Brown
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You may dream of owning your own business one day but not everyone is meant to be an entrepreneur. Certain personality types are suited to the  risks involved in being a small business owner. And there are personalities that are not meant to be their own boss. Let’s take a closer look:

People who avoid risks. If you are afraid of taking a risk, then entrepreneurship is not for you. Just because you have a business plan and map out every detail of your new business, there will be unforeseen obstacles and a high chance of failure. “Risk-averse individuals that take any level risk will often… be paralyzed by the stress of the day-to-day tidings of what’s needed to grow a business,” Scott Gerber, founder of the Young Entrepreneur Council, told Yahoo.

People without passion. Entrepreneurs must have an undying passion for what they want to do and achieve. If there is no passion, how will you convince people to invest in your idea? How will you pull in the right people to work with you?

People don’t want to change their lifestyle. Being an entrepreneur may change your lifestyle for the negative. You will be called upon to cut back and sacrifice luxuries just to get your business off the ground. This means your resources my shrink. “Examples of shrinking resources could include moving into a smaller apartment, delaying having children or even something as simple as cooking more instead of eating meals out. If you’re not willing to make sacrifices, working for yourself may cause more pain than pleasure,” writes Yahoo.

People who give in easily.  If you are not the type of person to stick out the hard times, then being a small business owner is something you should avoid. There will be plenty of times you may want to call it quits, but with all your resources invested in your idea you will have to have the courage to see the plan through.

People who depend on a bi-weekly paycheck. If you must have a steady income it will be tough for you to strike out on your own. “It may take months to earn your first paycheck,” Gerber said. And once you do have enough money to pay yourself it may not be steady.  “You may earn all of your annual income within two months out of the year and have to use spread out your payment disbursements to maintain your monthly cash flow needs.”

People who need direction. If you are not a self-starter or someone who can think fast on her feet, being in business for yourself is not the best ideas. “Some great employees make terrible entrepreneurs. A prime example are those folks who can execute someone else’s vision perfectly, but lack their own ideas or self-starter attitude,” writes Yahoo.

Do you think you have the personality to be an entrepreneur?

More Than Getting Your ‘Do Done, Black Hair Salons Are A Thriving Marketplace

July 29th, 2013 - By Kimberly Gedeon
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Everything from freshly baked pies, fragrant body oils, tennis shoes, and even cars are sold at African-American hair salons, creating a flourishing atmosphere for both buyers and sellers. And the owner of one barbershop, James Gilliam, does not mind the hustlers selling merchandise to his customers one bit, reports Marketplace.

Gilliam does not dare hold a “no soliciting” sign on his store window. He believes that keeping out the sellers only financially stunts those who peddle for a living. “They’re not in touch with their community,” he says of shop owners who reject sellers. Gilliam explains that the community, which is inner-city Cleveland, is made-up of small business owners that should be supported.

One seller would come in and say, “Anyone want to buy some tennis shoes? Anyone want to come in and buy a car? I got one outside, got a price on it,” said Small, a managing cosmetologist at Coco’s Hair Extraordinaire.

“Booststrap entrepreneurs” Donald Graham, a Cleveland resident, calls these sellers. “We all have money in our pockets when we walk into the barbershop…” he says, “Men are getting their cut and we want to support the community so we buy their products.”

Ronald Muhammad, a strategic bootstrap entrepreneur, makes apple and bean pies on Monday through Thursday. He sells the delicious pies sliced and wrapped so stylists can munch on them during work.  He says that the bean pie is his biggest seller and he pulls in $300 a day.

Gilliam says that “Beats by Dre” headphones is a hot ticket at his barbershop. While they retail nearly $300 at the store, marketers sell the headphones at a discount of $200. Gilliam, although he does not mind the entrepreneurship at his shop, he has one rule: no bogus or stolen merchandise.

The most noble, in Gilliam’s case, is that he does not expect a single dime from the bootstrap entrepreneurs that enter his shop.

This creates a beautiful symbiotic business relationship between the shop owners and bootstrap entrepreneurs; consumers are enticed to enter these hair salons to get discounted deals while sellers are collecting wads of cash to make a living.

What do you think about this business partnership at African-American hair salons?

Hair Is “The Hustle”: A Mother Turns A Transition Into A Business Plan

June 17th, 2013 - By C. Cleveland
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Welcome our latest installment of “The Hustle” where we profile African-American women who are turning their passion into a little something on the side, and turning that little something into a big business. Know someone who should be in “The Hustle”? Email

Akira "Jael" Byrd, Owner of Natural Hair Community

Akira “Jael” Byrd, Owner of Natural Hair Community

When a child is going through a hard time, it is a mother’s instinct to comfort them. To protect them. To find a way to make their life easier. Akira “Jael” Byrd of Birmingham, Alabama turned her maternal instinct into a business plan. After helping her young daughter navigate the difficult terrain of transitioning from relaxed to natural hair, Jael realized many grown women needed that same support. And Natural Hair Box was born.

Natural Hair Box is an exclusive monthly subscription service that delivers natural hair and beauty products. The service is offered by Jael’s company, Natural Hair Company, and focuses on providing products that contain gentle natural ingredients.

The company released their first subscription in April 2013. Getting her venture off the ground required more than a little multi-tasking. Jael still works full-time as an auditor, and is a mother and wife. We caught up with the entrepreneur to find out what inspires her hustle and how she manages to do it all.

Madame Noire: Describe Natural Hair Box for those unfamiliar with the product.

Akira “Jael” Byrd: Natural Hair Box is a new service offered by Natural Hair Community. Each month members receive a sturdy craft box with our logo cloaked over the top. Inside you find a minimum of five products that are all natural hair goodies from brands that mirror our mission in providing amazing products that contain amazing ingredients. Our featured products do not contain parabans, sulfates, silicones, mineral oil or petroleum. We are a huge supporter of small businesses so our features are not local finds.

Our goal is to deliver an incomparable experience each month and we understand that it starts with providing beyond expected customer service and quality products.

MN: Your professional background is in auditing. How did that prepare you to run this business?

AB: Being an auditor is about the details, organization, processes, timeliness, open communication, accountability, balancing and resolution. These are all huge aspects of the basic make-up that shapes how I manage Natural Hair Box.

MN: What inspired you to get involved in the natural hair industry?

AB: My oldest daughter was relaxed for about four years, and her once thick coily hair, became lifeless and limp. After months of transitioning with braids, she began wearing her natural hair out at school and that is when it all went downhill. She’d come home upset and crying. The kids teased her because she didn’t have a relaxer anymore.

As a mother, I comforted her as much as I possibly could. As time went on, the more she became comfortable with her hair, the less she paid attention to her classmates. After months of reassuring her, helping her mentally transition, I found that there were grown women going through the exact same thing. Only, they were transitioning at work, dealing with natural hair issues alone or didn’t have the support from family. This is why Natural Hair Community was founded. We began filling in the gaps and providing the information and support virtually through articles and my personal natural hair experience.

MN: What difficulties did you and your daughter run into transitioning to natural hair? How did they inform your business plan for Natural Hair Box?

Jael: Putting things into perspective, I stopped relaxing my daughter’s hair in 2005. It felt as if I broke a commandment. “Thou shalt not stop getting relaxers.” Some kids are so cruel and so were some adults. My daughter was dealing with constant teasing and name calling all because I stop relaxing her hair. But the funny thing is, when she became confident with her hair, the teasing turned into compliments. Go figure.

New Website,, Focuses on Funding for Black-Owned Companies

April 22nd, 2013 - By Kimberly Maul
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A new crowdfunding site, currently in beta, is focusing on getting funding and capital for African-American entrepreneurs. was started by a group of Morehouse College alumni, all Omega Psi Phi fraternity brothers, and is accepting applications from companies and organizations founded by African Americans.

The companies will use the site as a crowdfunding platform, and also has resources and a blog to support business owners. CEO Nate Bennett Fleming, who is an adjunct professor of law at the University of the District of Columbia’s School of Law, researched crowdfunding and African-American business, determining that while African Americans have a lot of business ideas, they often lack the access to capital to get the ideas off the ground.

“I wanted to create a solution to address that problem,” he said. “At this point, we do the crowdfunding and address increasing access to capital and as we expand, we’ll create partnerships with on-ground organizations that look to encouraging entrepreneurship and support entrepreneurs to help with mentoring.”

So far, the for-profit has received more than 10 applications over the past couple weeks from businesses ranging from technology companies to nonprofits to artistic endeavors.

Be Not Afraid: How To Defeat Entrepreneurial Fears

February 22nd, 2013 - By Ann Brown
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Do you have  dreams of starting your own company but just can’t get going? Maybe it’s fear that is holding you back. According to Inc, the number one factor that prevents entrepreneurs from starting a new company or meeting goals is fear.

“Throughout the years I’ve had many dreams and aspirations yet at times it’s been scary and sometimes extremely fearful,” says entrepreneur Chantay Bridges. Real estate agent Bridges, who has the website Los Angeles Real Estate Now, went into business for herself after working for others. During the process of striking out on her own, she experienced a variety of fears — from whether customers would want her services to finding employees that reflected her work ethic and integrity. But she says she got the courage to start her business by facing her fears and by “self talk.”

“I encouraged myself not on the things I did see but on what was unseen,” she explains.  “I changed my thoughts to be fearless and not fearful.”

There are various kinds of entrepreneurial fears.

  • Fear of Failing: This is common for many times in life, but when it comes to pursuing your entrepreneurial dreams it can stop you before you get started. Of course you can fail, but what about thinking about “What if I succeed”?  Make sure you are well prepared; this will also help alleviate this fear of failing. “You never learn to swim without getting in the water. There may be sharks in there at times but you do your homework beforehand in case one shows up, get in the water and swim upstream until you make it,” advises Inc.
  • Fear of Success: “Success brings the requirement to perform, to fulfill the obligation, and to manage scarce resources in an attempt to satisfy demands. Many companies fail because they simply can’t service the demand, and their customers move on to a competitor,” notes the magazine. If you are growing too fast, be scared. Partner with another entrepreneur in the similar business—ask for help with resources, equipment, personnel, whatever you need to embrace your success. “Never confuse a temporary setback with a permanent condition. Know that fear is putting energy in something that may never be,” offers Bridges.
  • Fear of Starting: If you are overwhelmed with all the aspects of starting a business, take it one step at a time—literally. Don’t try to do everything at once or by yourself.
  • Fear of Loss: Got the company started but it’s not working? Many entrepreneurs fear change of direction. But don’t be afraid to tweak. “By learning from my mistakes  I succeeded,” says Bridges. “You keep getting up and pressing on.  If at first you don’t succeed, try until you win.”

What’s your biggest entrepreneurial fear?

They’re Coming Up! 10 Tech Startups to Watch from the NewME Accelerator

February 15th, 2013 - By Kimberly Maul
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NewMe announcing that SewLoveStyle was the winnder of the accelerator's November pop up. via Facebook

NewMe announcing that SewLoveStyle was the winnder of the accelerator’s November pop up. via Facebook

NewME Accelerator (short for New Media Entrepreneurship) started in 2011 as a 12-week program for startups founded by minority entrepreneurs. Each session, eight startups participate in the program, where they work on their business, network with others in the technology industry, and eventually demo their company for investors and others in the startup community.

Since its inception, 25 companies have “graduated,” with seven more in the Spring 2013 class. Here are 10 of these graduates that have gone on to receive media attention and funding. Learn more about these companies, and what is getting attention from the investment world.

Ayo Ogun-McCants, Founder of Soultanicals, Creates Products for the Body & Soul

February 12th, 2013 - By Sakita Holley
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Ayo Ogun-McCants, Founder of Soultanicals

Ayo Ogun-McCants, Founder of Soultanicals

As a teenager, Ayo Ogun-McCants spent a lot of time dabbling in natural DIY beauty treatments. Through that experience she learned how to take care of herself and discovered that having a personalized self-care regimen was “one of the best things one can do for their spirit.”

Over time, Ogun-McCants found that the reality of maintaining a full-time job while taking care of her husband and four children meant that sometimes, her pampering rituals would have to take a back seat.

It was this challenge of “never having enough time,” that formed the seeds of Soultanicals, the toxin-free, vegan hair and body product company she launched this past November.

Now, at 34, Ogun-McCants has finally gone back to her roots and prides herself on embracing her passion for taking high-quality botanical ingredients and turning them into a business that produces products that are good for the mind, body, and spirit.

Here, she talks about the inspiration behind the line, how it’s different from other products currently on the market and where she hopes to take the company over the next five years.

Madame Noire: How would you describe your Soultanicals line to someone who is hearing about it for the first time?

Ayo Ogun-McCants: Soultanicals is an Afro-vegan, hair, body, soul lovin’ brand. Our goodies are not just another body lotion or hair cream in the marketplace; we’re all about producing handmade [products] that awaken the spirit.

MN: What made you want to create a hair and skincare line?

AOM: I’ve always been a DIY beauty girl. [Since I was a teen], I’ve dabbled in at-home facial scrubs, hair care preparations and played with natural and organic herbs and ingredients. Self-love in the form of pampering myself became a ritual that I didn’t even know I was creating! The result was beautiful skin, healthy hair and an unintentional sensation of confidence that people seemed to notice about me growing up. After years of allowing the rigors of life to overwhelm me, I got back to [the basics] aligned my childhood passions with creating a brand that complemented what I love, which is celebrating my me-time!

MN: What makes Soultanicals different from all of the other hair and skincare lines that already exist?

AOM: Soultanicals is truly a new generation of products that speak to the beauty conscious, self-loving  and playful spirits who like to stand out with timeless, soul-centric originality. And because we believe that beauty is skin deep, we honor everyone’s inner beauty with a “Soulffirmation”: positive declarations that awaken the beauty within your body, mind & soul, which are included with each order!

Small Business Spotlight: Curly Girl Collective Takes A Community on the “Natural Hair Journey”

January 31st, 2013 - By C. Cleveland
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The women of CGC (L to R): Tracey Coleman, Charisse Higgins, Simone Mair, Gia Lowe, Melody Henderson,  Julienne Brown

The women of CGC (L to R): Tracey Coleman, Charisse Higgins, Simone Mair, Gia Lowe, Melody Henderson, Julienne Brown

Behind the scenes and at the forefront of their events, the Curly Girl Collective celebrates diversity. CGC is the brainchild of six women from an array of backgrounds – their professions range from advertising to computer science, and their ages range eight years – who’ve come together under the common goal of honoring the diversity of natural hair.

“I think of our diversity is what makes us work so well together,” says Simone Mair, Director of Business Strategy. “It makes us who we are.”

In the summer of 2010, Tracey Coleman (Director of Events), Charisse Higgins (Director of Public Relations), Simone Mair, Gia Lowe (Strategic Partnerships Director), Melody Henderson (Creative Director), and Julienne Brown (Marketing & Promotions Director), couldn’t stop talking about their natural hair journeys. Their mutual obsession led to small get-togethers in Tracey’s apartment. The face-to-face gatherings gave them an irreplaceable sense of connection that the online natural hair community, while overflowing with information, just couldn’t compete with.

Determined to make this sense of community available to a larger audience, the Curly Girl Collective was born. I caught up with the ladies behind the brand to learn how they’re bringing online connections to the real world.

MADAME NOIRE (MN): How does CGC carry out its mission?

CHARISSE: Curly Girl Collective is centered around events with a focus on empowering women. Our mission is to create experiences that celebrate natural beauty and creatively inspire and educate women in and outside of the natural hair community. CGC celebrates diversity and creates experiences that give women the freedom to be their natural selves.

MN: What was the catalyst that gave you the confidence to jump into entrepreneurship?

SIMONE: Our launch event was in May of 2011.  To be honest, we really weren’t 100% confident that anyone would be interested in our event or even attend.  Although a few of us had experience hosting smaller parties/events, we were jumping in head first with this endeavor.  We had confidence in our skillsets and used our personal experiences to create what turned out to be a very successful event.  It was scary.  It was anxiety-driven.  It was exhilarating. And at the end of it all, though exhausted, it was so rewarding!

MN: The natural hair phenomenon has spawned many new businesses and blogs. Why is an organization like CGC needed?

CHARISSE: A lot of businesses and blogs were founded for the purpose of promoting, creating and/or reviewing products to help women navigate the landscape of the natural hair community. And that’s great! But our goal is a little different. We aim to truly create environments that speak to specific moments in the natural hair journey, with the goal of leaving our guests empowered, inspired and truly in love with their natural beauty. From coveting another woman’s curls (which is a very real feeling), to the issues one encounters when a love interest doesn’t embrace natural textures, our events seek to speak to the spectrum of topics in the natural hair journey.

MN: The main goals of CGC are issue-based (acceptance; providing a platform). How do you monetize your initiatives?

GIA: We’ve spent the past two years creating the groundwork – valuable experiences that women look forward to attending. From here, we hope to attract sponsors that are aligned with our vision and in return we can introduce their brands to consumers in an intimate way tailored to their business needs.

MN: What are the main issues your target audience is dealing with? How are you addressing them?

SIMONE: Some of the more common issues we hear from our audience are frustrations with hair health, regimens, textures, etc.  We also hear about frustrations with the perceptions of natural hair among loved ones, family, friends, business peers, etc.  None of us are experts in any of the topics aforementioned but we listen to our fans and we do our best to create events that address those issues such as our last co-ed event, Mane Attraction, where we provided an open judge-free platform to express how natural hair has affected their relationships with their mates.  Sometimes the resolution to a lot of issues is just communication.

MN: What’s the key to putting on a great event? How do you make CGC events memorable?

CHARISSE: It’s interesting, we really treat it like an advertising agency. We approach each event with the lens of a creative department, making sure our ideas are grounded in something innovative. With so many brands creating experiences now in the natural hair space, it’s imperative that we break through the landscape of meet ups, launches and seminars with events that push it a little further. And above all, our events are memorable because we make them fun–that’s really all that matters. At the end of the day, ladies just want to come out and celebrate the movement!

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