As a prospective 19-year-old entrepreneur, the idea of building a company that creates freedom, financial security and generational wealth was exciting. As the father of a one-year-old son, I founded my first company this year.
my Business offered holiday relief services to independent bread sellers. No one else offered a similar service in Milwaukee, so my business quickly grew to six figures in its first year. Although it was a profitable business model, the business didn’t fit my passion and where I wanted to go in life. I sold the business to own and run it for 12 years.
The year 2011 brought podcasts into my life and I discovered how to make money selling digital information products and educational materials online. Since selling my first company, I have built an education business with several six-figure sums. My wife and I run this business from all over the world. I am writing this article for you from Nice, France. We’ve been touring Europe for the last 3 months, building our business and exploring the best of Europe. We’ve been to Rome, Lisbon, London and Nice.
Over the past 22 years of entrepreneurship, my children have seen firsthand the opportunities that entrepreneurship can offer. You’ve also seen the challenges of building a business – especially as a person of color. You saw racism alive when I was building my business.
If you’re a parent and a Black entrepreneur, here’s how to build a thriving business despite prejudice and racism. Here’s what I taught my kids about the challenges of black entrepreneurship:
Entrepreneurship can increase racism
There’s no denying the incredible freedom and financial growth that entrepreneurship can offer Black parents. However, visibility for entrepreneurs of color can reinforce racism and prejudice. YYou need to market your business as an entrepreneur. You will no doubt use social media and the internet to let consumers know what your business offers and how your services can add value.
As Black entrepreneurs create greater visibility on social media and online to build their business, they will be exposed to more people. More exposure means more opinions about race, color and who should be an entrepreneur. Racism is still a very real experience for entrepreneurs of color. As I grew my business, I was called everything under the sun. Random people on the internet have tried to make me feel less than human by using racist words.
Unfortunately, my children saw it. Through these experiences, I taught my children that you shouldn’t tie your identity to what others say or think about you. We are the only ones who determine who we are and how we perform. I taught my kids that people can say whatever they want, but that doesn’t have to be my truth.
Black entrepreneurs have to overcome so much to make it in a system that is not designed for us to thrive. We are strong. Don’t let the racism you experience as you build your business stop you from pursuing your goals. What someone else says doesn’t have to be your identity if you don’t let it be.
Despite prejudices, we can create generational wealth
One of the most important lessons I’ve taught my children is that we create opportunities that bring prosperity and a lasting legacy. The work we do to grow our business is our lottery ticket. The internet, social media and access to information are the great levellers. As black entrepreneurs, we have opportunities today that were not available to us before. We can seize these opportunities to create generational wealth despite institutional barriers.
There will always be those who won’t do business with us because of the color of our skin – that’s okay. Billions of possible consumers could be our customers. Your goal should be to show consumers why they should pay attention to your offer.
The key to building any business is focus and consistency. Ignore racism and prejudice and focus on your goal of creating a lasting legacy. Work daily and do it with your boss’ energy.
Leading by example helps to overcome generational trauma
Parents know that children imitate what they see. As parents, while we teach our children things, they tend to follow the example of our actions. One of the best ways I’ve taught my kids how to navigate the challenges of black entrepreneurship is through how I’ve responded to adversity. I’ve tried to lead by example and show my kids that we can’t control what happens to us, but we can and should control our reactions.
Entrepreneurs understand that sometimes you have to go beyond an emotional response. This is especially true for entrepreneurs of color, as racism and prejudice are incredibly emotional and frustrating.
Set a good example for your children. While not every child is meant to or will become an entrepreneur, it is still good for them to see the standards of black excellence personified.
Be the role model that inspires them not to put up with other people’s trash. My children are grown now. My wife and I have six children, three of whom are budding entrepreneurs. These are the lessons we have tried to convey about life, racism and overcoming the challenges. It can be a more difficult path to be a black entrepreneur, but not an impossible one. We need more representation in entrepreneurship. We need more entrepreneurs of color standing tall and supporting one another as our businesses grow.
It starts with the example we set. Let’s teach our children to be successful despite racism and prejudice.
Kimanzi Constable is a lifetime entrepreneur. He is the author of four books and an author whose articles have been published in Forbes, Entrepreneur Magazine, Business Insider, SUCCESS Magazine, NBC, CBS, FOX and 80 other publications and magazines.