Founders Share Some Advice on the Good, Bad, and Ugly of Running a Business

black business woman

Whether you are seeking to launch a new business or investigating options for spending more time in your side hustle, your greatest time commitment likely involves gathering and consuming all types of information to gain perspective and gather ideas.

Every aspect of building and running a successful business presents a challenge; whether it’s raising funds, budgeting and finances, product development, marketing, pitching to other brands for collaboration, or simply developing a business plan, nothing comes easy or intuitively simple. 

Melanation went straight to the source, to gain solid business advice from female entrepreneurs. We got the good, the bad, and at times the extremely ugly of managing a new business, growing an established business, and what it takes to just survive in a tough competitive business environment!

Read on to discover what these business founders have to say about making it in their industry as well as gain their advice on starting and growing your business.

Lisette Scott, Founder of Jam+Rico 

black owned businesses

“Owning a business is one of the hardest things you can do and most minority black women start with their own savings and an idea. Funding for small businesses in our community is not readily available and most women work extremely hard to get their business running. Currently, social media is a great outlet for businesses to scale and grow at a faster rate. You can connect with customers and offer your product with one click. Having a strong social presence is necessary for all brands.”

Nadine Joseph, Founder of Peak and Valley (Formerly Pretty Mushroom)

black business woman

“We are in the minority. And when you’re in the minority of something, you tend to feel isolated, ‘less than’, and unwelcome. I want other women founders to realize that they are not alone and that we are a fierce and growing community. We as women may only be dotting the field of business right now, but I know that with our inherent tenacity and strength, we will be dominating the landscape in time.”

Alicia Scott, Founder of Range Beauty

successful black business woman

“My life changed significantly and immediately once I started my own business. For the first time, I could physically see, touch, and experience the benefits of being in business for myself vs what I thought was a benefit when constantly focused on working for someone else. The good is you are responsible for everything, your own schedule, pay, team, a company. The bad and ugly is you are responsible for everything, your own schedule, pay, team, and a company! It takes adjusting if you’re used to working in corporate America with a set schedule and set take home pay and date. You day doesn’t really differ too much, you know what to expect. Being an entrepreneur is the opposite, especially in the beginning when you’re wearing every hat, you don’t have a team yet, and now you need to budget based on savings and any remaining profit you may or may not have. There will be struggle moments, even large business owners will tell you there are still some bad moments that pop-up, but I strongly believe there is no monetary value you can place on being your own boss, especially as a Black woman.”

Trinity Mouzon-Wofford, Founder of Golde

articles about black women

“I always sort of knew growing up that I wanted to do something entrepreneurial. Originally, I thought I wanted to be a physician. I would own my own practice blah, blah, blah. It was always something that I was really excited about. I actually have made the transition to doing Golde full-time pretty recently maybe three or four months ago. So, it’s a bit of a wild ride!So, the good is everything that anyone can imagine. That it’s great to be able to work on your own time. It’s great to finally be able to focus on my business fully as opposed to what I was doing in the past a year before that. Which was just trying to find a couple of hours in the day on a weekend or after work or before work to answer emails, design packaging, or do photoshoots. So, it’s really beautiful to have all that time. I think that what comes along with that though and I actually was just talking to like another young female entrepreneur about is there is a lot of anxiety that comes along once you get to that point of running it yourself.

There is a lot of not knowing if you are working hard enough, if you are working yourself too hard, or if you are focusing on the correct things. Is it okay that I took this day off or should I really just be in it every hour of every day? It gets different and then, of course, there is the additional anxiety point of having to start thinking about paying yourself a salary out of your business when previously it was treated as your baby that you just put more and more money into. I think there is a lot of really wonderful stuff there but there is definitely a level of anxiety that comes along with it.”

Keisha Jeremie-Smith, Founder of Sanaia Applesauce

successful black women entrepreneurs

“I would say for me I think it really has been all good, and that doesn’t mean that everything has worked out as I planned. I’ve already had loads of setbacks but I love learning. So I think about who I was as a kid. I was definitely a self-proclaimed nerd that loved to read, absorb, and learn about new things. I feel like I’m back in that childhood phase again of nothing is known to me. I’ve never done any of this before. I’m not even a chef. I actually don’t even cook anything else. So literally every aspect of building this business is new to me.The great part of [being an entrepreneur] is being in that state where you’re just so intellectually challenged and stimulated and forced to learn these things and learn new skills. I had to do my first pitch to get into a local vendor program and so that’s the first time I had to do a formal pitch for a business. I’ve done presentations before with my HR job but now this is my business that I’m pitching. Also, another example of good is I just got a package today which has our new branding for when we go into supermarkets.

So there are so many times for an entrepreneur where something is an idea and then you get to physically see your idea in the world. Whether people react positively or negatively, but that’s my baby, like if it wasn’t for me that would not be out in the world and so that’s a great feeling as well.

You have to be looking at every single part of your business and making sure that it’s meticulously representing you in the way that you want your customers to experience it. Maybe they would see those things as bad but you’ve gotta be 10,000% hands-on, more so than you probably would have imagined and then every time you step away from a certain part of the business and hand it over to somebody else, you still have to be really hands-on and checking to make sure that it works. Those are what some of the new aspects that are very different from a corporate job where even if it’s an intense corporate job at some point you just check out because it’s not yours. But there’s no such thing as checking out when you’re an entrepreneur.”

Tavia Forbes + Monet Masters, Founders of Forbes-Masters

black girl empowerment

“The good is the ability to create your own schedule. To have the freedom to do what you love to do. The bad is that you are pretty much by yourself. There is no walking into a building with a ton of support. So in my case, it’s me and my business partner. We do everything together and figure all problems out together but we are not backed by anyone else, just us.

The ugly is honestly the run-ins that you can have with others that you are not expecting and not protected from. The biggest challenges are discerning what personality types would work with you and being able to say no to do business with. You have to learn how to do that to know when someone is not for you. When you are not fit for a client and they are not a fit for you. So that was a huge challenge and something that we are still learning but very proud that we are working on it.”

Alexis Eke, Illustrator-Digital Artist

black color girl

“Challenges I face as an artist is being consistent with my work. I’m always going through periods of art blocks or just simply being too busy, but I still manage to make time to create something if that means staying up all night. A major concern I have about the art industry is specificallythe lack of black women represented in the art industry in Toronto. While in high school, I was never taught about black artists in Canada which I think is a problem.”

Featured photo: @golde

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