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Black History month is a great time to celebrate the accomplishments of the nation’s most influential black business owners. As we wrap up Black History Month, let’s take a few moments to reflect on the following lessons we can learn from 3 of the most successful black entrepreneurs in America today.
Lesson: Where There Is No Struggle, There Is No Strength
Oprah became a household name in the 1980’s as the host of her own talk show, The Oprah Winfrey Show. With an immensely successful career that includes authoring books, starring in several movies, and creating businesses like her O Magazine, OWN TV network, and Harpo Inc., it’s easy to forget that Oprah had an extremely difficult upbringing. Born in rural Mississippi to a teenage unwed mother, Oprah experienced extreme hardship and poverty as a child. As an adolescent, she faced repeated abuse and turned to self-destructive behavior. After becoming pregnant at 13 and losing her child at 14, Oprah became suicidal.
Her father offered her a fresh start and asked her to come live with him. The decision proved to be a fruitful one and she quickly turned her life around. She gained confidence and began participating in beauty contests. At the age of 19, she became the first black female news anchor in Nashville.
Throughout her career, Oprah never let her past define her and instead used the hardships she experienced to motivate and strengthen her. Oprah has built quite the legacy and even became the first black female billionaire in 2003. As she once said, “Where there is no struggle, there is no strength.” Remember this lesson when you encounter difficult times in your entrepreneurial journey.
Lesson: Don’t Quit Your Day Job Until You’re Making Money
Daymond John boasts a pretty impressive résumé—entrepreneur, best-selling author, FUBU CEO, and Shark Tank investor. But John didn’t achieve his $300 Million success overnight. In fact, he worked at Red Lobster for 6 years and drove a delivery van during the day while he was working to get FUBU off the ground. As he explained in one interview, in the beginning, “it was 40 hours at Red Lobster and 6 hours at FUBU. Then it was 30 hours at Red Lobster and 20 hours at FUBU, because money started to come in.”
Although you may be tired of your day job and itching to quit, consider what you can learn from Daymond John’s perseverance and slow, but steady launch of FUBU (which has generated over $6 Billion in revenue). Once you’ve put in the hard work and started to bring in a constant flow of income, then consider quitting your day job.
As John puts it when asked about the secret to success, ““Work. Bust your butt. Get up before everybody, go to sleep after everybody, and bust your butt. That’s it.”
Lesson: Find Your Passion and What Makes You Unique. With That Anything Is Possible.
Andre Young, better known as Dr. Dre to most of us has had an astounding career. He was born in a tough neighborhood in Compton, California to teenage parents. Both of his parents were aspiring musicians. They divorced when he was a young child, and he spent much of his childhood living in housing projects.
Dr. Dre found a love for music and spent all of his free time writing and producing songs. He explains, “I always loved the way music made me feel. I did sports at school and all, but when I got home, it was just music. Everybody in my neighborhood loved music. I could jump the back fence and be in the park where there were ghetto blasters everywhere.”
He has had countless successes in rap groups and as a solo artist, as well as with Death Row Records and Aftermath Entertainment. And while he may be well-known for being a Grammy winning artist, it’s his business success outside of the recording studio which is most impressive. In 2006, Dr. Dre co-founded Beats Electronics which has now become famous for its Beats by Dr. Dre headphones line. They quickly became a household name and Dre put his passion and style into the product….and made some smart celebrity endorsement decisions.
As he says, “You just have to find that thing that’s special about you – that distinguishes you from all the others – and through true talent, hard work and passion, anything can happen.”
Resources for Black Entrepreneurs
At SBG Funding we are proud to work with minority-owned businesses providing access to the funding they need to continue to develop. For more information about how we can help your business, click here or call us at (844) 284–2725.
For more resources for black entrepreneurs, visit the following links:
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