10 Tips to Become a Successful Entrepreneur (#8 May Surprise You!)

Black women entrepreneurs are among the fastest growing group of startup business owners in America. Part of the BWHM’s mission is to help Black women who are interested in becoming entrepreneurs or give a boost to those who already have a business and are looking to expand and grow it. That’s why we’ve outlined the following 10 tips about how to become a successful entrepreneur.

1.      Don’t Just Talk About Your Passion and Life’s Purpose — Live It

If you have a dream, make it a goal. You are passionate about something for a reason and only you can live out your desire and enthusiasm for life. Ask yourself, am I fulfilling my dreams and desires, and/or am I doing my life’s work? If not, why or why not? How can you align your business plans with your visions and wishes? Even if you have done something totally opposite previously, knowledge and experience are transferable, use them wisely in some way to follow your dreams.

2.      Know Thyself with Honest On-Going Self Evaluations

Focus on your needs, skills, goals, and life expectations. Contrast your understanding of your generational history and past experiences.

Are you willing to consistently and persistently take the necessary steps to become an entrepreneur or grow your business as an entrepreneur?  Will you develop a business plan (that includes 1-, 2- and 5-year activities as well as day-to-day activities) and work the plan? If necessary, are you willing to make the appropriate adjustments along the way? Will you find experts to manage areas that aren’t your strengths to ensure successful business achievements? Briefly analyze your life patterns and experiences to see if you can apply your awareness of self to future growth and business solutions.

3.      Create a Circle of Trust 

Plan regular business meetings with loved ones, partners, sponsors, team players, mentors, and anyone you trust who is also willing to take part in the creation of your business legacy — not just for you or themselves but for community growth, too. 

Business success is rarely created overnight and is often based on knowledge and specific skills and talents. Capital, resources, and the knowledge to create wealth are often passed down through generations. Therefore, when our youth grow up learning about business growth and success from their parents or mentors, they are more likely to become entrepreneurs.

Don’t let the lack of generational experience stop you though! Follow your dreams and stick to your plan. Use what you have and work it, whether you are using your mother’s recipes in a coffee shop or your dad’s talents with numbers to shape financial portfolios for your clients. The BWHM is here to support you. We care about your growth. Consider listing your business or service in the BWHM Community Guidebook.

4.      Know Your Business Market

Unless you have extensive resources, finding your niche in markets that have already begun to flourish could be a challenge. Identifying flaws and/or inconsistencies to fulfill unmet and untapped needs in the marketplace establishes a great formula for success. Take some well-needed time to study your market before starting your business and continue to analyze it once you are in business to fine-tune your specialty/differentiator(s).

5.      Make Use of All Available Tools and Resources

Take advantage of resources and support organizations that exist for both startups and current businesses. These kinds of sources often require a business plan and financial, banking, and tax statements. These records are, in many ways, like money in the bank so treat them as such. SCORE and ECDI are two options you may find helpful. You can also use the BWHM Event Calendar to find events and resources from ECDI and other organizations. The Event Calendar often lists grant opportunities that may be of interest.

6.      Create your Business Processes and Business Health Strategies

Understand your market, customers, services, and operations. What are the costs of doing business and the returns on your investments? What is your break-even point? MORTAR and The African American Chamber of Commerce are both programs that will assist new and existing business owners with good answers to those questions. As a small note, if your expenses are more than a third of your total return, you might tweak your business strategy.

Collect potential customers and customer/sales data whenever possible — even before starting your business. That information will eventually fuel your business projects, sales, income, and market strategies. You can also host fundraisers and business campaigns to drive startup income. Consider using internet-based forums to create income streams with e-commerce and/or affiliate marketing.

Once your business grows you may consider becoming a public corporation by freely trading the stock of your business in the open market.

7.      Your Word Should Be as Good as Gold

Be a businesswoman of your word. If you announce your opening date or operating hours, stick to them though proper, planning and preparation are required. If you quote your customer a price, honor that quote and clearly communicate new costs before they’re incurred if possible. If you describe a product in one way, ensure that’s the case. If you make a mistake or need to change what you originally promised, do it in a professional manner without blaming others. When issues arise, choose to be assertive with your customers and associates rather than aggressive. Being assertive means speaking openly and frankly without hostility or anger. Remain considerate and direct without being disrespectful. Even if you are in the right, remain professional.

8.      Do Not Live on Your Gross Earnings

Add your salary to your budget. Save for the future and plan beyond month to month. Pay your taxes and expenses as you go. All the money your company makes is not your profit. You cannot determine your profit before you pay all your bills, including your savings and salaries. However, money made above your breakeven point is profit. Don’t forget healthcare and retirement costs. Working with a lawyer, tax consultant, and accountant is highly recommended.

9.       Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff

Always take good care of yourself, carefully plan and follow through. As the saying goes, accept the things you cannot change and find the wisdom to know the difference.

As a business owner, you will make mistakes. Save time and energy by simply owning them. You will find tremendous growth and opportunity by doing so. You will also often find a better way of doing what you set out to do. As part of your business plan, incorporate exit and contingency strategies, especially if you have a corporation, partners, or associates. If you are in business and you do not have such plans, develop them. By doing that, you’ll ultimately minimize all kinds of stress in your business life.

Taking good care of yourself means always having a reserve and not operating on overload. Never use all of your personal— mental, physical, community, and financial health resources. The BWHM will continue to provide you with support and information. When encountering stressful situations, avoid acting unprofessionally, document the issues, and provide that documentation to the necessary persons or organizations to handle. You are not alone. Trust that help is available. You just may need to ask.

10.   Don’t Limit Your Success

The best time to start a business is when you are working and the best time to grow the business is when you have achieved some business success. Always look for opportunities to make a passive and residual income that aligns with the business you have or want to start. Consider working with a non-profit or a heartfelt cause that you are passionate about supporting and growing with. while helping others The relationship will incentivize your business growth aligning with your life goals.

Believe that it is very possible for you to become a successful business owner. Ignore negative thoughts like people won’t want to do business with an African American woman.

Enter each business relationship and experience with the mindset that most people are in some way generally good. If you find they are otherwise, make a note of the experience. You will move beyond the experience. Sometimes the issue is not what we may think. Whatever the case, take time to reflect.

Find joy and inspiration in life one issue, one experience at a time. As you move forward to find your next customer, take good care of the customers and relationships you already have! The sky does not have to be your limit.

If you want to learn more about how BWHM can help you start or enhance your business, click here to join us!