Business 30 June 2018
We don't have a choice of how we are brought into this world. We can't choose what sex we'll be, what race, our size, our economic status or sexual orientation etc. Life is truly what you make of it and how you decide to deal with each situation is up to you.
When you're born an African American woman, and have aspirations to become an entrepreneur, you must prepare yourself for an uphill battle. It's a tedious aspiration, however, the rewards are great as you persevere by staying focused, determined, and fueled by passion.
There are so many factors that prevent you from receiving funding or finding investors when you start a business, especially being a WOC (woman of color). There was a lack of knowledge on my end – I had no idea about business plans, banking, business credit, or really anything business related. When you don't have the knowledge, you spend tons of money on items that you don't need, could have gotten for free or done yourself. People will take advantage of you and your money instead of giving you proper guidance. People do this when they see that you're a woman of color or even just seeing that your email address sounds ethnic– I've even changed my email to T. Anderson so that people will just open my messages.
With my first business, I was out in the open – my face was everywhere and the social media photos posted were of me with with celebrities and customers. I was the brand, but I couldn't get financial help from anywhere. I recall a time when I was being pitched to an alcohol brand to give alternative marketing for a new brand – they loved my products (desserts), but as soon as we meet in person, the deal got shut down. I didn't want to blame it on color, but a few months later, on their social media, they located a baker who created a dessert with their brand, but she was not a WOC.
With my second business, I decided to take a different approach. I didn't share photos of myself on any social media, I abbreviated my name in emails, and I even changed the tone of my voice when speaking on the phone to sound less ethnic. Perception is everything because, after that, I had no trouble finding support financially – it was as if people believed in me and what I was telling them, and didn't even ask as many questions as they had with my first business. I noticed that advice was given freely, people volunteered to educate me on the things I didn't know or understand, and support came from every direction. Both of my businesses are creative and very outside of the box, so it wasn't the type of business that people were drawn to. The fact that they didn't know what color or ethnicity I was seemed to open their ears to listen to me and actually want to see this business flourish.
The change begins with education in our communities for young women by making them aware of their options.
They deserve to be prepared for any road block that comes their way, have doors open for them, be progressive in business, and create a line for the next generation to follow so we don't have to depend on men to teach us how to operate a successful, profitable business with upward growth.
You would think in this day and age, sex and race wouldn't play such a major role in business, or maybe I was naive. I know having a good idea and concept is not enough and that you have to learn how to play the corporate game to get to the top.
As women, we should support each other and create a community to help us advance in every aspect of business. We need to instill in the next generation the importance of encouraging and empowering each other. This is specifically important for POC (people of color) to advance in society so we can change the world by becoming a major influence on both the business and political aspect. We can't help transform the world if we are not represented on the panels that make those decisions.
The choices I make today will affect the decisions my daughter can make in the future. I lay the groundwork for her to play in, so I am beyond determined to break stereotypes and change perception in order to be heard and validated as a true female entrepreneur of color.
Through all the challenges I faced as a woman of color, I can say I am proud of everything that I have gone through because now I am able to help the next generation. Currently, my second business is in the cannabis industry and has become the most lucrative. Now I am in a position to teach and mentor people of color in an industry that has a lack of representation of people of color. By being an industry leader as a head executive of the Cannabis Diversity Council, which is a global education business platform for POC who are interested in getting into the cannabis industry, we provide educational mentoring classes. My experience and growth has empowered me to embrace my color and femininity. Being a woman of color in 2018 is a gift and reward once you ignore the negativity and focus on the positive aspects manifesting all things in life, both personally and professionally.
I am what I think I am, are you?
Why don't women support each other? A question that I often ask myself, and is not easily answered. I keep reading articles about why women should support one another; and I'm sure many do, but more than likely, not enough. I have typically not had that experience, I wish I did more, because I enjoy the banter between women; I have a lot of female friends, and four sisters. I relish in supporting other women; I have mentored teen girls, and loved doing it; to the point where some of the teens I have mentored, to this day, still keep in touch with me. It makes me feel really good, and this is why it is so vital to everyone concerned.
A few women bosses I have had in the past, seemed to have their own agenda. I had seen, of course, bullying. And other behaviors such as being set up to fail, and as in my previous article; being followed to the bathroom, constant monitoring, given unreasonable expectations, belittled, and treated as a subservient. One former boss even suggested I take former convicts in my car, to help me move boxes; was that for real? These behaviors have lasting effects on a person's psyche; not at all fun! Why do other women want you to feel inadequate and incapable? It makes me sad when I think about these things. It's really a win-win situation to support one another. Working as a team promotes healthy work relationships and is conducive to work being accomplished in the workplace.
I may come across as biased, but it seems to me in my experience that is is easier to work for a male. Just about every single male boss I have had, was upfront, approachable, and did not have a hidden agenda. I tend to think with a man, "what you see, is what you get" (but as with everything else, not 100% of the time; because I was told by someone close to me that her boss ( a man was "the devil"). However, I can honestly say, that I did have the pleasure of working for some wonderful female bosses who possessed the same qualities. But in considering the length of my career, not too many. When I think back, I only have fond memories of these women.
I enjoy it when friends, acquaintances, or one of my sister's tells me that she has a good woman boss; it am so happy to hear this. I say to myself that they are fortunate and to embrace it. Today's women have so many expectations on them, and working a full time job as a boss, can be intimidating I guess in several ways. They feel they have to work harder, longer, and have more to prove; they want to look good for their boss, and the company they work for. I have felt that as well.
As I feel as with bullying, employees who bully (in general; or in the workplace), must not feel very good about themselves. I feel secure enough in myself, (I genuinely like myself as a person), so I would not engage in these tactics. I have seen so much "nonsense", as I call it in my working career thus far. Game playing, you name it. It really makes me wonder what is going on? One former boss in particular, would weasel their way out of doing just about anything. They were paid enormously well, knew just how to manipulate people working them to somehow do their job, and make themselves look good in the process. They took pleasure in holding you back; not letting you ever get ahead. Gave their staff a hard time when it came to time off, but they would take a month off to travel overseas.
As I said before, there was an agenda. They were all about themselves. But the good news is, that after they left the company, all was discovered, along with many other infractions, and they would not be allowed to return to the company. I have said this before, and truly, truly, believe it, "what goes around, comes around", This person was very much disliked and consistently used big words to make everyone around them, seem as if they were stupid; and they were superior - please! What a way to go through life!.
When I had a 'not so nice' boss (in general), I actually felt like I didn't want to do my work, and well while I had to, didn't care because I wasn't being supported or heard. Which is not good for the company you work for, or for yourself especially if you are one who takes pride in their work. You often end up leaving your position (transferring to another department), getting another job, etc...what a hassle. When I've had bosses who actually listened, cared, and supported me I did better work and in general felt good about myself and the work I was doing. Makes sense, right? I wish more women would think about the way they act and treat others. It would be so much easier, and more pleasant. Working is hard in itself, and to go to work everyday, and not be listened to or supported really stinks. So, after all is said and done, it really is better to be kind, understanding, and actually listen to your co-workers. So much good and so much more can come of it. I know when I was in charge of being the boss of other women, I always paid attention, cared for them, and was understanding and never set them up for failure. I hope again in the future, I do have a women boss, and I hope she will show me the same respect as I would show her.