By Michelle Taylor
Entrepreneurship is, above all else—a journey. As CEO of BETAH Associates— a strategic communication and management consulting firm headquartered in Rockville, MD—my entrepreneurial journey has been marked by a commitment to progress—not perfection. In considering three tips to share with any aspiring or current business leaders, I start with priceless wisdom by Madam C. J. Walker, “There is no royal and flower-strewn road to success, and if there is, I have not found it for what the success I have obtained is the result of many sleepless nights and real hard work.” The “work” is very often—the work of the business: the vision, capabilities, strategy, and execution—but equally important is the work of becoming an authentic and inspired leader. Here are the three tips, to help you do so:
1. Step into Your Power (You Have Your Own Heels to Wear) – I was called to assume the mantle of leadership—as BETAH’s CEO after losing my mother—BETAH’s founder—to a long-fought battle with cancer. As a sudden CEO, I had to learn what it meant to be an authentic leader over time. It was about stepping into my power—taking my mother’s leadership lessons and mentoring—and learning that I could follow in her footsteps wearing my own heels. Learning to trust my decision-making processes, expanding my business acumen and networks, and trusting God along the way—have meant pressing into my growth and owning my power. I have leaned into my entrepreneurial journey by surrounding myself with competent, leadership-minded professionals—and being very intentional about my vision for the business—including strategy, goals, and objectives. Bonus Tip: While stepping into your power is essential, recharging your batteries is critical. Like a battery, sometimes power diminishes—and we must power up through self-care, balance, and sometimes a good old-fashioned nap. Rest is your friend.
2. Know Your Coins – As the saying goes, cash is king—but as a queen leading a business enterprise, you must know and understand what’s happening to your coins. Knowing your coins means understanding the financial health of your company. From reviewing your financial statements frequently, tracking accounts receivables and payables, and analyzing the profit and loss on contracts to monitoring your cash flow, you should know what is happening to the money coming in and going out of your company. It also means hiring competent and trustworthy accounting and finance professionals, and finally ensuring your finances and credit are optimized to support your business and personal goals and aspirations. Also, philanthropy and corporate giving have been integral to sowing into the causes and communities that have been important to me as the CEO of BETAH. I stand by my mother’s philosophy that you can “do well and do good.” In both my business and personal life, the formula of giving, investing, saving, and spending has yielded tremendous abundance and growth.
3. Mistakes Don’t Diminish Your Magic – Ahh, mistakes. Many women leaders and entrepreneurs, particularly Black women in business, are hyper-aware of how their errors can be professionally fatal in corporate America. While the ethos of Silicon Valley may be “fail fast”; break things” – Black women don’t always get the capacity to make mistakes, much less learn for them. Nevertheless, as humans, we will make mistakes, and part of learning and continuing to evolve is to accept that mistakes are part of the journey. Making mistakes and even failing is fundamental to our growth and pathway to success. When you do make mistakes, I remember the Japanese art of Kintsugi—putting broken pottery pieces back together with gold. It is built on the idea that in embracing flaws and imperfections, you can create an even stronger, more beautiful piece of art.
My entrepreneurship journey started with a call to lead and serve. And admittedly, I have met this call with a mix of courage and reluctance—but my trust in my purpose and the importance of this work has helped me put faith over my fears. I have faced many tests, ordeals, challenges, and roadblocks along this journey, but I have also met numerous mentors, champions, guides, resources—-and witnessed many miracles. I hope the tips I’ve provided will help you on your journey, as you turn your weaknesses into strengths and your adversities give way to future triumphs.
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Watch the complete episode here: https://www.linkedin.com/company/the-black-owner-and-women-s-collective-the-bow-collective/