By CHARITY CHUKWU
The Dallas Examiner
“Texas has the largest Black population among the 50 states. Texas has led the nation in the rate for the business formation among African Americans for at least 30 years,” according to Texas Association of African American Chamber of Commerce president Charles O’Neal. “We want businesses that can compete in the market.”
The first of a two-part Money Matters event, presented by The Dallas Examiner in partnership with JP Morgan Chase, was held Feb. 22 at UNT Dallas. The program was created to help people reach their financial goals. It gathered community business owners and entrepreneurs to speak about valuable skills necessary to ensure smart money management and financial security.
O’Neal hoped the program would improve outcomes for young entrepreneurs to create generational wealth and to help make their businesses profitable.
“The biggest challenge for Black-owned businesses is access to capital,” he said. “Without the kind of relationships that are fostered by events like this with institutions like JP Morgan Chase that ease access to capital, we’ll continue to be bumping our heads up against this brick wall.”
Matt Houston, CEO of Collaborative Culture LLC and a professor of Entrepreneurship & Leadership at the UNT Dallas, moderated the event. He weighed in on what he considers are the biggest pros and cons of starting a business.
He informed the audience that for people who want to start their own business, it can come at a cost.
“Some of the challenges in entrepreneurship is that it’s a higher risk for you professionally,” Houston said.
He stated it could be highly volatile because the burden usually falls on the owner in terms of liability, product effectiveness and deliver.
Philip Washington Jr., a financial advisor at Stone Hill Wealth Management, got his start selling insurance and mutual funds in college as a finance major. He gave advice on how younger generations can accumulate wealth by building on four basic principles.
The first and most important is having a positive perspective. He encouraged the audience to create for the future and think of that mindset as the same as having faith in future investments.
His second principle was to use intuition when it comes to motivating others.
“Intuition is your ability to feel what somebody else feels, to understand their perspective,” Washington said. “You have to be able to inspire people to work with you – inspire your team.”
The last two principals were momentum and having an open mind. He described momentum as a form of discipline accomplished with steady hard work. Meanwhile, with an open mind, people have more flexibly to see what’s ahead and adapt to the market.
“An open mind is where I see the biggest opportunity in the marketplace today and the biggest deterrent,” Washington concluded. Since an open mind is always growing and learning, more can be gained with less judgement from different generations.
On the small business side, the series continued with Jessica Taylor the CEO of EZRA Coffee. She talked about her journey into coffee and the importance of communicating with her consumers from the beginning. Her unique coffee blends came after surveying her social media network to find out which was most popular.
“When you’re going into business, you don’t do what you want to do, you need to make sure you’re doing what your costumer supports,” Taylor said.
Her next bit of advice for those starting a business was to make sure they get their personal finances in order. She spoke about adjusting her lifestyle before jumping headfirst into the coffee company. Taylor also kept her corporate job until she reached her selling goals and then devised a business plan.
With a growing demand, Taylor looked to associates and used online resources to find grants. She was also accepted into Target’s accelerator program. That’s when she knew she need to expand her reach even further.
“I found every program I could be a part of that could help me grow my business,” she said. “I didn’t join all of them, I joined the ones with what I’m looking for. I needed one to help me with my finances, I needed someone to help me learn how to scale.”
In addition to planning future company growth, Taylor made sure to note the importance of saving for any unforeseen difficulties. She told a story about weathering an incident that left her with the wrong inventory during a crucial turning point in her business.
“When you’re a small business, literally one cough can send your business in a completely different direction,” Taylor noted as she explained the lessons learned early in the rise of her business.
Along with making sure her business was bankable and her paperwork was in order, Taylor spent time discussing the viable relationships she made with people who both understood the coffee business and also believe in it too.
The evening ended with Terri Thomas, a community manager for Chase, who explained how to utilize the resources offered by the bank.
“When we’re doing these financial empowerment sessions, we’ll talk about credit – what are the components to credit, what impacts your credit?” Thomas advised.
She also shared what grants are available for minority business owners, free information sessions for senior business owners and how to find help regarding personal banking as well.
“These are the tools and resources that are free whether you’re a Chase customer or not,” Thomas said.
The Dallas Examiner will host the second Money Matters event March 21 at 6 p.m. at UNT Dallas, located at 7400 University Hills Blvd. in Founders Hall, room 138.