Raising the Future: Success Tips from Black Entrepreneurs

How four Black serial entrepreneurs are inspiring their kids to succeed and what you can learn from them.

raising-the-future

My dad would tell you I didn’t listen to anything he had to say about being an entrepreneur as he ran his own contracting company. It’s not true. I remember what he told me about being on time, making thoughtful decisions and utilizing my God-given talents to feed a need.

I didn’t realize it then, but it was clear that he was purposeful about raising a business owner. He might not have realized that was what he was doing but in the end, he carved out a solid foundation for what would become my education into ownership.

The idea of going to college to secure employment has become a thing of folklore for some metro Detroit families: now parents are actively raising their kids to be entrepreneurs through tried and true measures.

I talked with four Detroit serial entrepreneurs raising entrepreneurial children for their advice for other parents as we head into the new year. They share a few things in common: every mom communicates consistently with her children, all are purposeful about teaching their kids to be independent, they involve their kids in everything they do and they never separate parenting from managing.

Tatiana Grant is the mom of 2-year-old Giana Bibbs, co-founder and CEO of 2050 Partners, CEO and owner of Cultivate Michigan Solutions and Holiday Helpers 2 You.

Tatiana’s tip: Do the hard work with excellence and humility

What are your daily practices with your child that involve business?

I actively involve my daughter in my daily practice of self-care (meditation, stretching and exercising). My mother was over the other day, and I heard her ask my daughter what I was doing, and she told my mom “meditating” in the best toddler version of the word.

Beyond that, she is involved in my business on a regular basis; conference calls that I lead with my team at 2050 Partners and in-person meetings as I prepare for the holiday season with Holiday Helpers 2 You. Before the pandemic, she was a regular at our events; during site visits, planning meetings and buildouts, witnessing her mom work from her stroller. We are gearing up for the holiday season, with our Holiday pop-up shop, Holiday Helpers 2 You. I involve her in the decisions on wrapping supplies and things that sparkle. She gets to make decisions and feel comfortable with them.

What have you taught your daughter about your business?

My daughter is 2, so the teaching is largely by being an example to her. She knows what the word “work” implicates taking a pause to let me do what I need to before what she wants me to. Beyond that, Zoom calls are all she knows about my business right now. She has lots to learn and I have lots to teach, as she gets older.

What are some of the things your family taught you or showed you about being a business owner and raising a family?

My grandparents showed me a lot about being a business owner. They owned residential properties and daycare centers. So, I learned about “picking up rent” on the weekends, making bank deposits at NBD. As I got older, I worked at the daycare centers and eventually interned for my uncle in doing accounting and auditing in the summer for his apartment complexes. I learned that business is a family affair, which is true to my businesses.

What skills do you use now as a mother and as an entrepreneur?

Hard work, excellence, humility and being driven. The biggest one that was not (from either of my parents), but what I work on daily is patience. Patience is a necessity for both being a mother and entrepreneur. Last, but really first, is my faith. I was raised with a foundation of God and faith that I have leaned on the path of fertility, pregnancy, raising a daughter and being a leader and entrepreneur.

Mom of three, owner of HP Snap Investments.

Tarita’s tip: Reach for the stars

What are your daily practices with your children that involve business?

I have a graduating senior this year. He has become a part of my business. We discuss sales, profits and loss. Having him a part of my business has allowed us to be able to talk more in depth on the daily business pros and cons. It opens up the conversation to explore ideas and things that he may not have first understood. The goal is to try to keep him engaged and try and push him towards a great work ethic.

What have you taught your children about your business?

The economy isn’t always stable. You have to learn how to be creative with your ideas and money, and not one idea is ever too small! I use the example of the simple cardboard cup slides for hot beverages. I teach them that you have to learn to be flexible. The times are forever going to change. You need to keep your eyes open and your ears to the ground for change. Sometimes your greatest investment may not be your idea, but one that is presented to you. We have to make investments! I think as entrepreneurial parents you can also learn from your children. They can keep you abreast to what is happening in their generation. They are the next wave of economic success.

What are some of the things your parents taught you or showed you about being a business owner and raising a family?

My parents were not business owners. They were hard-working blue-collar parents. They taught me that you always work hard and keep your eye on the prize. I knew watching them work as hard as they did and all hours that they did I wanted to work as hard, but for something I loved to do and for myself! I wanted to sign my check along with others. My mother taught me to always look out for my little sister because we were all we had! I watched and learned that no matter how exhausted she was, we had to push through. She had to keep a roof over our head, the lights on, clothes on our backs and food on the table. If we stayed tight, we could move mountains.

What skills do you use now as a mother and as an entrepreneur?

I wanted my kids to see me working hard and diligently. I have passed on the cliché, Hard Work Pays Off! I wanted them to see with my startup businesses that, even if they did not work out, you have to keep going until something sticks. I remember having my first hair extension delivery company in the early 2000s. What I learned from the failure of that business is … you can’t do all the work yourself. My children have watched me create and brainstorm economic growth and potential. I am reaching for the stars and beyond.

Vetra Stephens is mom to 19-year-old Lauren, owner and operator of 1st Quality Medz, Wayne County’s first recreational dispensary in River Rouge, founder of the V-Affect THC and CBD product line and Purelife Garden.

Vetra’s tip: Put good into the universe

What are your daily practices with your child that involve business?

I discuss daily business challenges with my daughter, things that come up that aren’t typically taught in school; how to strategically handle a situation that may not be of the norm. I ask her questions about how she would handle a situation, then share my opinion with her. This allows her to first think on her own, then consider a different point of view. I would often have her take out her phone to complete a few calculations for me, something that I could very easily do myself, this would help her to understand some of the important things to consider in a business when she doesn’t even know she’s learning.

What have you taught your daughter about your business?

I’ve taught her that she has to understand the flow of the dollar and my business is no different. Once you understand accounting, payroll, paying taxes, etc., you will have the foundation of any business. I teach her that people around you must succeed as you do. No successful business will operate well as a one-man team. Make sure you seek like-minded people to be a part of your workforce, being firm with staff is only helpful when it’s respectful and it grows a team member. Take care of them and they will take care of you and to only put “good” out into the universe, “karma” will bring you your return.

What are some of the things your parents taught you or showed you about being a business owner and raising a family?

My mother was an entrepreneur for as long as I can remember, she worked a 9-to-5 to put food on the table, but that did not deter her from finding a way to own her own business. I witnessed one small business after the next, her determination to make something work is what stuck with me. A woman with two children by the age of 17 with that much passion and drive gave me no excuse to not master entrepreneurship for myself.

What skills do you use now as a mother and as an entrepreneur?

The things my mother learned from watching my grandfather, she taught me, which trickled down to my daughter, were to always put God first in everything you do, make sacrifices for what you believe in, be resourceful at every brick wall you reach, keep your mind focused on what you want and don’t step on any toes to get to your destination. Your mind will only allow you to achieve what you believe you can accomplish. You must be willing to put in the work that others are not. And lastly be a better YOU every single day!

Yolanda Williams is a mom of two, co-founder of Distinct Life and Cream Blends.

Yolanda’s tip: Do what you love

What are your daily practices with your children that involve business?

Our lifestyle as entrepreneurs is always about business. Our children see us working within our businesses, working with our clients and customers on a daily basis. There isn’t a separate “OK, now let’s learn about business session” or anything because it is included in everything that we do. If we are shipping products for Cream Blends, working on a project for a client for Distinct Life, attending an interview on the Breakfast Club in New York for both companies, our children are a part of the process. They understand supply and demand, marketing, value proposition statements, etc. Our children actually Google us often and let us know what they are finding on our businesses. Technology allows them to see what we are building in-house and then the response received from the world.

What have you taught your children about your business?

We teach them about the importance of doing what you love. If that involves working for someone else, that’s OK, too. You have to see a need and fill that need. When they started their company Cool Juice (a lemonade stand) and they wanted to do it in our driveway, we discussed location, how would the customers find them, etc. When they said, it had to be lemonade we asked, “OK, what makes your lemonade different than the rest (key differentiator)?” We decided on using our retail location at Cream Blends due to the foot traffic and we came up with a proprietary Lavender Lemonade formula, which was different than most kids’ lemonade stands. We used our retail location and explained that our customer base would be similar to who they were looking to target. They had color-changing cups with their logo on them so when a customer bought the lavender lemonade one time, they could keep and re-use their cups so the Cool Juice brand would stay in their face. We teach them the real business principles and that whatever they do represents our Williams family brand.

What are some of the things your parents taught you or showed you about being a business owner and raising a family?

My parents showed me the struggle of working for someone else, and I knew that was something that I would do for a little while until I found my own stride and developed my own company. My husband, Rick Williams, came from an entrepreneur family and when we got married 16 years ago he sparked something in me that helped fuel my desire to eventually start Cream Blends. Rick is co-owner of a sneaker boutique in Royal Oak called Burn Rubber, and we are co-owners of our brand development agency, Distinct Life.

What skills do you use now as a mother and as an entrepreneur?

I support my children wholeheartedly in everything that they do. My mom did the same thing for me. Even if she didn’t understand the business side or principles, her encouraging me to be whoever I wanted was key in giving me the confidence to go after it. There is no wrong answer, our children will blaze their own paths and we’ll be right there with them setting the fire and also have the extinguisher when they start one that may not have been the right one.

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