The COVID-19 pandemic and the 2020 Black Lives Matter movement put a focus on Black businesses and led to a boom of new Black businesses and entrepreneurs, especially young ones.
The number of young Black men and women who have started their own businesses has skyrocketed and many have become successful entrepreneurs. CNBC talked with three Black entrepreneurs, Gabby Goodwin, Rachel Holmes, and Christon Jones, all under the age of 20, on keys to early success and dealing with challenges.
Goodwin was seven years old when she noticed she was constantly losing her barrettes. So she invented the first patented, double-face, double-snap barrette and turned it into GaBBY Bows in 2014. Eight years later, Goodwin, now 15, is also the CEO of Confidence, which sells natural hair care products.
Goodwin told CNBC that to be a successful business, you want to solve a problem and, from there, continue to solve the needs of your customers.
“We noticed that a lot of our customers were not only having issues with losing barrettes but also with the tangling and having a product that helps their children’s scalp or that helps maintain moisture in their child’s hair,” Goodwin said.
Goodwin, with her mother Rozalynn, started the Mommy and Me Entrepreneurship Academy to help young girls and moms start their own businesses. Goodwin added that finding a support network early on is paramount to a successful business.
Rachel Holmes, 18, is juggling a social life, being an artistic swimmer, and being the CEO of Black Girls Mean Business, a virtual, free, nationwide summer business program for Black girls in high school. The program includes six Zoom workshops to improve business and career skills, and prepare girls for life after high school.
Holmes told CNBC that Black female entrepreneurs have to overcome the double-edged sword of sexism and racism to thrive, and her goal is to help Black girls overcome those obstacles.
“Black women face an incredible amount of discrimination in business coming from both racism and sexism,” Holmes said. “They are generally underestimated, denying them the respect, positions, and funding they deserve. I wanted to provide equity to help girls overcome these obstacles. By giving them the tools they need to be successful early on and empowering them, I hope to see more representation in executive positions and entrepreneurship.”
Holmes added that being a young Black entrepreneur has not only set her up for success, but others as well. One of the biggest tips she gave is to stay vigilant in the face of adversity.
“It can be daunting at times knowing that you will face barriers and knowing that people are watching what you do. But it’s amazing knowing I can make a difference and set an example. Representation matters!”
Christon Jones, a 15-year-old entrepreneur, is already a CEO, day trader, investor, and author. At the age of 10, Jones launched his business Return On Investment, which has three programs for Black entrepreneurs to learn about the stock market in general, as well as investing, trading, and how to create short- and long-term passive income.
The teenager told CNBC his biggest challenges were age and race discrimination, which Jones noticed early on when seeking advice. Jones added that he was able to overcome the two obstacles by being consistent, using self-discipline, and being patient.
“Patience is probably one of the biggest things I know,” Jones added. “When you first start entrepreneurship, you kind of want to rush everything, you want to get your money, you want to be famous. You want to get all these connections, but really your journey is a lot slower.”