We asked 11 black entrepreneurs from a variety of industries—including technology, finance, advertising and human resources—to give us their best pro tips on how to build wealth. Here’s what they had to say.
Aaron Walton, Walton Isaacson
Walton is co-founder of Walton Isaacson, a full-service advertising agency with offices in Los Angeles, Chicago, New York, Miami and Tokyo.
“No matter how financially literate you think you are, it’s best to immediately align yourself with someone whose full-time job is to take money seriously. Equally important is to find someone who truly understands the rules, customs and eccentricities of your profession as well as an understanding of the lifestyle that you want to live.”
Myleik Teele, CurlBox
Teele is founder of CurlBox, an exclusive monthly subscription plan for natural hair-care products.
“It is important to carefully manage your emotions about money. Love and money are two topics that we typically allow to have the ‘loosest meanings’ in our lives. I like to be straightforward with the stickiest of topics. Stop looking around at who has what. The way you will feel when you aren’t late or short will always trump the small inadequacy you may have by not carrying the latest handbag.”
Jason Panda, b condoms
Panda is the CEO and founder of b condoms, a socially responsible condom company that caters to the unique experience of a diverse youth culture around sexual health.
“The best piece of advice that I could provide is to always live below your means. Life is very unpredictable, and having a nest egg to fall back on is critical.”
Trinity Manning, OnceLogix
Manning is the CEO of OnceLogix, one of the world’s largest providers of customized, Web-based electronic health care records.
“1) You must have clear and concise financial goals. 2) You have to save and invest as much money as you possibly can for as long as you possibly can. Saving has to become a habit. 3) Whether you become a part-time or full-time entrepreneur, entrepreneurship will afford you another stream of income. Turn that hobby into a business and make additional income to help you reach your wealth goals. Make a decision today to become wealthy.”
Jason Young, MindBlown Labs and the Hidden Genius Project
Young is co-founder of MindBlown Labs, an education-technology company, and the Hidden Genius Project, a program that teaches technology to young people. He’s a serial entrepreneur with a passion for empowering young people through technology.
“Learn to budget early and well. It doesn’t matter how much money you make if you can’t budget effectively. Just as importantly, even someone of modest means can accumulate substantial wealth if he or she prioritizes their resources correctly.”
Tabatha Turman, IFAS
Turman is president and CEO of Integrated Finance & Accounting Solutions, an accounting and financial-services firm that helps companies maintain a profitable business model.
“Building wealth as a business owner requires putting initial profits back into your company in the form of developing the best-possible internal infrastructure. It’s vital to build a team that rounds out your professional weaknesses and allows you to offer a 360-degree service approach to your clients. This has allowed me to win competitive contracts, build my company’s reputation to attract new business, and maintain existing clientele.”
Miko Branch, Miss Jessie’s
Branch is the co-founder and CEO of Miss Jessie’s products for curly hair.
“The best way that I know to grow personal wealth is first to understand the value and importance of investing in yourself and saving for your future. Without this firm understanding, it is virtually impossible to maintain the discipline required to succeed. We all work hard, and we deserve to be paid, too. This is different than paying the bills that everyone must pay—mortgage, student loans, utilities. So while I always pay all my bills, I also make sure to pay myself—first. It just never made any sense to me to pay all my bills but not pay myself. Over time, these investments add up and grow personal wealth.”
Janine Hausif, Around the Way
Hausif is an award-winning social entrepreneur and communications consultant best known for creating Around the Way, a mobile application that locates the nearest black-owned business.
“Personal wealth is amassed over time, and it takes diligence, discipline and patience. It’s a healthy balance of saving, spending [wisely], investing and giving back. It’s also helpful to have a goal in mind when you’re proactively building personal wealth. Very much like a business plan, your goal can be dynamic, because life happens. It may not go exactly as planned, but having that carrot in front of you is better than nothing at all.”
Ngozi Opara, Heat Free Hair
Opara is the founder of Heat Free Hair, a company that provides 100 percent virgin-hair extensions designed to match a woman’s natural hair texture.
“One of the keys to wealth creation is to have a plan. Figure out what your ideal financial scenario would be for the future and write it all down. Once you have it all written down, you really have to believe that you can have it and be ready to receive that great idea when it comes! You don’t have to reinvent the wheel, but tweak it so that you are bringing something different to the table. If what you have is unique but not too foreign of a concept, it’s bound to be successful. Plan, save money, believe, and it will happen.”
Brian Williams, PurchaseBlack.com
Williams is the founder of PurchaseBlack.com, a website he likes to call the “black Amazon,” which was created to help African Americans find goods and services made for and/or by other African Americans.
“1) Start diverse. Diversify your streams of income so that you can produce earnings from multiple sources. A job should be your first stream of income, not your only stream. 2) Start intelligently. When you are saving, a savings account isn’t typically the best place to put your hard-earned money. Consider buying bonds. It’s your money. Make the banks work for it just like you did! 3) Start now. Growing wealth starts with the first dollar. Commit yourself to starting right where you are with what you have, and it will not take long before you have much more.”
Kat Calvin, Michelle in Training
Calvin is the founder of Michelle in Training, a mentorship nonprofit in Washington, D.C., that helps turn girls into leaders. She also founded Blerdology.
“Spend less than you make and seek advice, whether from books, financial advisers, Twitter chats or whatever. The knowledge is out there—find it and use it!”