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13 Black Business Owners Share Their Success Secrets

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Mar. 2 2022, Published 8:05 a.m. ET

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As a Black business owner, what is one of your secrets to success? To help our community learn from successful Black business owners, we asked CEOs and entrepreneurs for their best insights. Read on for tips from Black business owners that helped pave the way to their success.

Be excellent at your craft.

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You have to be excellent at your craft to break through the noise. I think that's the case for most business owners because many services and products are commoditized. It's even more of the case as a Black business owner. As minorities, we often hear the phrase "working twice as hard to get half as far," and I think we should use that as evidence of our resilience and grit. It's needed now more than ever.

Your network will determine your altitude. Whether it's networking groups, masterminds groups, other organizations, and even things you consume (listen, read and watch) and watch, you want to make sure you surround yourself with success to be successful. It doesn't always have to be other business owners. I believe success breeds success, and it leaves clues. -Gresham Harkless Jr., Blue 16 Media

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Strategic partnerships are key.

As a sole proprietor, I manage marketing, sales and fulfillment, so I'm under-resourced. Finding strategic partners that publish my content, refer qualified leads, or provide support as a subcontractor helps accomplish a lot. Most of these arrangements also solve a problem for the partners, keeping the value-added relationship alive.-Jasmine Powers, Jasmine Powers Multimedia LLC

Master the Art of Connecting

As a Black business owner, one of my secrets to success is the art of connecting. Making content that resonates with my clients and relieves their pain points is essential. If they know that you care, like the service you provide and trust that they are in good hands, then success is automatic. Learn to leverage what makes you great as a person to help you succeed in business. Making the connections that create a community for your business is an example of this in action.-Aikyna Finch, Finch and Associates, LLC

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Buy Online Courses to Gain Access to Communities

One of my secrets to success is that you should purchase a course for education and to access their Community. It doesn't matter what industry you are in; there are thousands of courses and hundreds of conferences you can attend in your field.

Unfortunately, when my husband and I first started, there wasn't any college or school we could go to that would teach us how to grow an online business. However, there were many online courses, so we narrowed them down and purchased a few. We were able to meet some fantastic people in the groups. Through these relationships, we found out about an annual conference held every year (focusing specifically on our industry.) We purchased the tickets immediately, and it also came with a private Facebook group. We attend this conference almost every year and have been able to gain strong relationships with huge brands and grow a successful online business.-Sa El, Simply Insurance

Be Coachable

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After I got a coach, I quadrupled my business in my first full year of full-time entrepreneurship. I was no longer winging it and had a strategy to implement. Having advice from someone who looks like me and understands nuances that I'm currently going through and can help me navigate them while growing my business was a game-changer. -Atiya Brown, The Savvy Accountant®

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You Need Clear Values

While there are many well-known "secrets" to success in business, the one that has had the biggest impact on my 10-year old business is to lean into organizational values. Having an authentic set of values (I have five at Jumpstart:HR) helps us project the right energy, attract the right clients and team members and deepen our corporate brand. In business, your reputation is everything - not what you pretend to be or think you are - but rather who you show up as day in and day out, whether times are good or bad. Our five core values have been an anchor on bad days and a rallying cry on great ones. Want to know what mine are? Let's connect!-Joey Price, Jumpstart:HR, LLC

Learn to Leverage Your Professional Assets

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Learning to leverage your professional assets can be the differentiator between remaining where you are and becoming an authority in your industry. This concept includes taking inventory of the knowledge, skills, experiences and relationships you have acquired along your personal and professional journey. Here's an exercise: Grab a blank sheet of printer paper. Draw two lines on the paper where they intersect through the center of the page. You should have four quadrants. Begin thinking of your first, second, and third-degree connections from your personal and professional network. Now, you're going to make a list of 3-5 people in each of the quadrants using the titles: 1. Who you know? 2. Who knows you? 3. Who SHOULD you know? 4. Who SHOULD know you? This is where you leverage your professional assets to reconnect with existing connections, request introductions and establish new relationships. I recommend that you expand your network beyond people who look like you.-A. Margot Blair, AMB Consulting & Co.

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Have In-industry Mentors

Finding great mentors in your industry is the key to success. This will provide you with invaluable insights into the market, which will help with your business success and growth. The easiest way to find mentors is through SCORE, LinkedIn, or just do a quick google search to find their email addresses. Tell them about the industry you're going into and your interest in getting advice from them and learning from them.-Crystal King, Amazing Baby

Nurture Your Network

One of the keys to our business success is investing in and nurturing our network. Often people think networking stops after the initial meeting or exchange of contact information. The follow-up is how we maximize the value of networking and develop relationships. Regular and consistent updates that include industry information, news stories, opportunities and success stories create engagement. It also keeps us top-of-mind and strengthens our position as marketing experts. Nurturing our network provides the next lead, client referral or recommendation. I believe that “Your network provides your NEXT work.”-Nicole A. Thomas, Nicallyss Creative Group

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Act In Service To Others

A business dynasty begins when a visionary founder desires to create things that move down the generational chain to benefit others. To reach dynastic status, a family must either control the business or the wealth for at least three consecutive generations. Structural racism and systemic oppression prevented many of my ancestors from building and transferring wealth to me. My dynasty will be built by breaking that chain.

To be sure, financial wealth is the bedrock of generational wealth, but there is an approach to wealth building that is three times more powerful than that. Dynastic Wealth™ not only considers the next three generations but builds four more forms of wealth that other groups have had a 400–year headstart on.

The desire to create spiritual wealth, record the wealth of knowledge, invest in intellectual wealth and build relational wealth, so my grandchildren’s grandchildren don’t have to worry about money is at the core of my identity and the secret to my success.-LaTanya White, Ph.D., M.B.A., Concept Creative Group

Connect With Great Collaborators

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One of the fastest ways to succeed is collaborating with other business owners. Working with other like-minded leaders allows the growth of one's company and future success as different ideas and processes flow between groups.-Michelle Lenore, LENS Consulting Firm

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Know or Learn your Value

You have to get to a point that someone devaluing you for any reason (especially race) means you letting them know immediately "you're not a good fit together". Any amount of you giving in to their doubt will only breed more doubt. This is, even more, the case when you're sensing they don't know their doubt is because of race. You can not and should not take on the burden of owning or helping with their biases, conscious or not. So know your value above all else. -Rai-mon Nemar Barnes, Consciously

Allow Yourself to Say “No”

Say no to clients that do not align with the mission and vision of my company. Saying No is often hard for the modern entrepreneur. This is primarily because sometimes you may feel like you need to network with every single person that comes along your path. In business, the old saying quality over quantity is what you should be seeking to obtain. The quality is what sells you to the next client that can afford your quote because your reputation proceeds you. You have to think of it like this; When you put all of your creativity and positive energy into a project a client remembers more of how you made them feel, and that is the experience that they publicly share. So say no to things that are just aligned to a dollar because you will feel like a slave to the project in lieu of being proud of the project inside and out.-Shana Sanders, Bold Creative Brand

This article was written by Brett Farmiloe and originally appeared on Score.

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Since 1964, SCORE has helped more than 10 million aspiring entrepreneurs. Each year, SCORE’s 10,000 volunteer business experts provide 350,000+ free small business mentoring sessions, workshops and educational services to clients in 300 chapters nationwide. In 2016, SCORE volunteers provided 2.2+ million hours to help create more than 55,000 small businesses and 130,000 jobs. For more information about starting or operating a small business, visit SCORE at www.score.org. Follow @SCOREMentors on Facebook and Twitter for the latest small business news and updates.

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