The best business advice from black entrepreneurs

photo: 10,000 hours (Getty Images)

This year we spoke to some of the most influential black entrepreneurs in the game for our exclusive business series, Securing the bag. And while they shared too much good advice to list here, we thought we’d end the year by looking back at some of the wisdom they dropped that can help you no matter what industry you’re in.

So whether you’re looking to level up at work or in life in 2024, check out some of the best advice we got from black entrepreneurs this year.

“Know Why” (Parnell Cesar – CEO, BLK & Bold)

Business ideas are a dime a dozen, which is why, as BLK & Bold CEO Parnell Cesar told us, it’s important to know why yours is worth working on. In an august conversation, he said it’s important to be your own North Star and return to your purpose when times get tough.

“I think it’s really important, if you don’t know what your why is, to make sure you take inventory [whether] you are trying to find that. And it really comes from digging inside and maybe going deeper into your own journey to find what resonates with you the most.” he said.

“Listen to your customers” (Terry Johnson – CEO, Harlem Candle Co.)

Image for article titled The Best Black Business Advice We Received This Year

Screenshot: The root/SecuringTheBag

Since starting his business in 2014, Harlem Candle Company founder and CEO Terry Johnson has seen incredible growth. Her products are available at major retailers such as Macy’s, Nordstrom’s and Bloomingdale’s nationwide.

IN november conversation, Johnson told us that one of the biggest keys to her success is listening to her clients’ needs. Their feedback helped her make some important business decisions, including the decision to expand her product offering to include perfumes.

“Shut Up the Haters” (Nia DaCosta – Director/Writer)

LOS ANGELES, CA – NOVEMBER 09: Nia DaCosta attends THE MARVELS Fan Screening Surprise Talent Appearance at El Capitan Theater on November 09, 2023 in Hollywood, CA.

LOS ANGELES, CA – NOVEMBER 09: Nia DaCosta attends THE MARVELS Fan Screening Surprise Talent Appearance at El Capitan Theater on November 09, 2023 in Hollywood, CA.
photo: Jesse Grant (Getty Images)

On the road to success, sometimes you can be the biggest obstacle in your own way. Writer/director Nia DaCosta says the haters are gonna hate, but you have to know how to shut them up—even if the biggest hater is you.

“If you want to be a writer, write. If you want to be a director, find a way to direct. If you direct but don’t write, find a writer who doesn’t direct.” she said. “Find your collaborators and work, no matter what it looks like, because [work] it’s really what we want to do.”

She recommends finding ways to silence the voice in your head that tells you you don’t belong because it’s not real. And she adds that sometimes that voice can be even louder for women of color.

“Don’t forget to work on your relationships” (Married to real estate stars Egypt Sherrod and Mike Jackson)

If your business partner is also your life partner, it can be difficult to keep the two worlds apart. But like Married to real estate Egypt stars Sherrod and Mike Jackson told us that working on the relationship should be a priority.

“We say it all the time, if we don’t work, nothing else will,” Jackson said. “We keep seeing each other to make sure we keep liking each other so we don’t just become two adults who are partners and parents. We also continue to be lovers.” Sherrod adds that before they got too deep, they talked about limits and when they’d decide it was time to back off.

“Never forget where you started from” (Calvin Qualis – CEO, Scotch Porter)

Executive Director Calvin Qualis

Executive Director Calvin Qualis
photo: Scotch Porter

Scotch Porter CEO Calvin Qualis developed the idea for his men’s self-serve products in his New Jersey kitchen. These days, its products are sold in Target stores nationwide. But Qualis continues to use his experience and resources to help others.

As an entrepreneur in residence through The Target Accelerator Program, he has mentored other entrepreneurs with products in development. And last year the company was launched Scotch Porter Impact Fundwhich donates two percent of the company’s online sales to initiatives focused on underserved groups.

“People want more from brands than just great products, so our business is built around giving customers the chance to live their best, fullest lives.” he said.

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