Black CEO: Do More Than Save if You Want to Be Wealthy

Building Black Wealth: Successful Atlanta businessman Kermit Payne explains why you need to take an active role in planning your financial security.

Kermit Payne Bernie Saul Photography

“It certainly comes from being prudent and spending what’s necessary and saving where we could save,” he said of his business’ ability to weather the recession. “One of the things we’re most proud of is that we’ve never advertised. All of our business has been from referrals. We’ve maintained a referral-only business for 11 years.”

But maintaining a good reputation is not the only important element of Payne’s wealth-building plan. He also avoided sinking all of his personal money into the business. He borrowed from his parents at the outset, but he says he worked hard to repay the loan from his parents to avoid outsize debt.

And despite the initial influx of cash from his family, Payne says 1Joshua Group is not a family business. However, succession planning can be one of the major failures of astute planning principles for small businesses, especially in the early growth stages. 

He says that passion for the product or service propels the early development of the business and succession planning often takes a backseat to the long hours and sacrifices to become a profitable enterprise. 

“Would you saddle someone with your personal commitment to maintain your vision as a gift?” Payne said. “Probably not. My plan is to increase the valuation of the business, secure a buyer, and perhaps use the proceeds philanthropically to support the cause around which the business was created—improving the health and quality of life for vulnerable populations.”

Beyond that, avoiding debt is a key component of personal wealth building, he says. Additionally, other steps to wealth building involve networking. Church, clubs, fraternities and sororities all harbor good connections, he says. The divorced father of an adult son is a member of Impact United Methodist Church in Atlanta’s West End community. Founder and lead pastor Olu Brown encourages personal and professional wealth building in addition to faith leadership, Payne says.

“You need to be connected to people and places where people are wealthy and are willing to give advice,” he said. “Church is a good place to make healthy connections.”

Indeed, faith is an important part of Payne’s business. Its name, 1Joshua, is derived from the Bible.

“The premise of this organization is based on the first chapter of Joshua, where the Lord tells us he will never leave us,” Payne said. “Nor will he ever forsake us. He also talks about wealth building. He says we can have anything we want; we just have to work for it. Those are the important tenets on which our organization was built.”

Lynette Holloway is a contributing editor at The Root. The Chicago-based writer is a former New York Times reporter and associate editor for Ebony magazine.