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Business & Career, Uncategorized

Successful Women Entrepreneurs Share the Business Rules They Didn’t Follow

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In business, there are those who follow traditional rules for success—and those who prefer to reject them outright, trust their instincts, and forge their own career path. In a nod to this past Women’s Entrepreneurship Day (November 19), Black Enterprise caught up with a couple of trailblazers to learn about the career advice they didn’t follow and a few secrets to their success.

Latham Thomas is a celebrity wellness/lifestyle maven and the founder of Mama Glow, a lifestyle brand and website offering inspiration, education, and holistic services for expectant and new ‘mamas.’ For over 10 years, she’s served as a doula and lifestyle guru for celebrity clients including Alicia Keys, Rebecca Minkoff, Tamera Mowry, Venus and Serena Williams, and more.

The traditional career or business rule you’re glad you didn’t follow.
Thomas: I’m not even sure what traditional business advice consists of because I created my own path and blazed a trail that I am still following. I didn’t craft an airtight formal business plan or even really evaluate the traditional business metrics prior to diving into business with Mama Glow. I think in some instances a healthy dose of naiveté helps to jumpstart you along your course before you have time to start second-guessing yourself and whether you’re capable of such a feat. I saw a need and was called to do this work. I’m glad I didn’t wait for the “right moment” to start. It was and has been a learning process the entire journey.

When you first started in the business, what was your biggest challenge and how did you overcome it?
Thomas: I am a single mom raising a son in NYC and growing a business in tandem. There are always so many balls in the air when you’re an entrepreneur and the biggest challenge for me was and still is “time management.” I have learned the value of my time and the necessity of delegating tasks and surrounding myself with a trustworthy and exceptional support team. I come from a legacy of women who do it all and take care of everyone, so rewiring myself to create more space for brilliance was key.

Many trailblazers find themselves making their own rules. What rules or guiding principles have you defined for yourself?
Thomas: I am risk-friendly when it comes to business, which is why I’ve seen an arc of growth. The universe rewards courage. I’ve put my imprint on everything I do, always elegant and inspired. I tell the truth and share my story and my work to inspire and help others. And thankfully the work we do at Mama Glow is changing the world, one womb at a time.

Karen Mitchell is a serial entrepreneur, operating five brick-and-mortar businesses including True Indian Hair (three locations throughout New York), the Brooklyn Wine Yard, and a wine and spirits store.

The traditional career or business rule you’re glad you didn’t follow.
Mitchell: I did not follow the rule of writing a professional business plan or getting one written for any of my businesses. I kept a journal of what I wanted to achieve and the resources I would need to get there, but I have never written an extensive business plan, which in itself can sometimes take weeks/months to formulate. I used that time to execute my dreams and I’ve never regretted it.

When you first started in the business, what was your biggest challenge and how did you overcome it?
Mitchell: My biggest challenge was finding funding to start the business. I was laid off from my job, which at the time was paying me 60K yearly. I had only 15K in savings and no real investments, but I was determined to start my own business and not go back to working for “the man.” I cashed in my 401(k) retirement fund. Although it was heavily taxed, I used that money and my savings along with loans from friends and family as my seed money. I basically starved the first three months and ate lots of canned soup for dinner. It was a huge risk, but I was determined to be successful. I believed I would be successful.

Many trailblazers find themselves making their own rules. What rules or guiding principles have you set for yourself?
Mitchell: As my own boss and a leader for many, my business moves are watched and sometimes copied. Being an entrepreneur suits my personality and I had to let my personality be very involved in my business. Because I didn’t have prior experience in any of the businesses I own or any inkling as to how they should be run, I had to create my own rules every step of the way. I had to learn to challenge convention and to be creative and take advantage of unexpected opportunities.

by Kandia Johnson

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