Black, Female, and Crushing It: Three Successful Business Owners Discuss Their Journeys to the Top
February is Black History Month, and as we remember those who helped make history in the past, we should also to take some time to applaud those who are making history right now. Historically, black women have had it harder than most when it comes to gaining equality in the working world, and there are still many challenges to overcome, even in 2017. Everyone can make a difference, and these three women are doing just that.
Vernessa Hopkins, Littie Brown and Rhonda Rivers are just three examples of the many black women who have taken charge of their careers and become their own bosses as franchise owners. After giving up the corporate America grind, all three women have seen huge success in just a few short years, and are excited to see what they can accomplish next. Read on for their expert advice on what it takes to launch and lead a successful business:
Owner of The Entrepreneur’s Source of Telford, PA
At 45 years old, Vernessa Hopkins suddenly found herself without work. The Fortune 500 company she had worked at for more than 25 years decided on a corporate downsizing in January of 2016, leaving Vernessa wondering what she would do next. But she didn’t have to wonder long after receiving a phone call from a franchise coach at The Entrepreneur’s Source — a call that would change her future.
Vernessa started thinking about owning her own business and if she had what it takes. Her background in management, operations and planning made for a perfect fit as a business owner, and Vernessa determined that becoming a franchise coach with The Entrepreneur’s Source was the path she wanted to take. The path was hard, but worth it in the end. After four months of due diligence, Vernessa began The Entrepreneur’s Source application process — and by summertime, Vernessa was the owner of her very own franchise location.
Now, Vernessa is a thriving business owner, comfortable with creating business plans and bringing them to fruition — something she wouldn’t have dreamed she was capable of just a little over one year ago. She’s healthier and happier than she’s ever been, all thanks to betting on herself through franchising.
“Don’t underestimate how powerful you are when you bet on yourself. It’s challenging to be a black female in a leadership position in corporate America. If you can be successful in corporate America, just think how much more powerful you could be when owning your own business. I’m so happy that I was educated and can now spend more time with my family and on myself than ever before while I build my franchise businesses. And if I can do it, so can you!”
Co-Owner of SpeedPro Imaging of Marietta, GA
Much like Vernessa Hopkins, Littie Brown had been moving up the corporate ladder for years — 35, to be exact — but she always felt like she could be doing more with her career. That’s when she received a call from a franchise consultant who helped her realize it was time to consider becoming a business owner. Together with Littie’s business partner and now co-owner, Karen Brown, they determined what kind of business would be a good fit. They found a SpeedPro Imaging owner who was looking to sell his business, and they took over his location in Marietta, GA.
It’s been four years since they bought the business and Littie is loving her work. She’s learned a lot about running a business, and is glad she had the solid foundation of an established franchise to help her get started. Littie is thrilled to own a business with a close friend and they expect 2017 to be their best year yet for business growth and profits.]
“Three things: 1) Gain a full understanding of the business you are buying. Know that it is up to you to grow the business not the franchisor. 2) Make sure you have a good grasp of your finances. Get out of as much personal debt as possible and know that you will have to contribute to your business until it begins to turn a profit. We have taken very little out of our business after three years. 3) Last and most important, you cannot be afraid to network and sell. You are the best salesperson for your business and you have to get out there often and consistently.”
Owner of sweetFrog of Fayetteville, GA and East Coast Wings of Atlanta
Rhonda left the corporate world in 2012 to become a business owner and hasn’t looked back. In fact, she is now the proud owner of two franchise locations: sweetFrog of Fayetteville, GA, and East Coast Wings in downtown Atlanta.
After working for Dow Jones since 1999, Rhonda decided it was time to make her own destiny with business ownership. She began looking for casual dining concepts that didn’t exist in the greater Atlanta area. In 2014, her brother happened to meet Patrick Galleher, the CEO of sweetFrog, and loved the concept and product. Rhonda loved it too, and she decided to launch the first sweetFrog in Fayetteville, GA. Loving her life as a business owner, Rhonda quickly decided one franchise was not enough and bought East Coast Wings in Atlanta as well.
Determined to make it on her own, Rhonda self-financed both franchise locations, with only the help of her brother as her financial partner. From day one, Rhonda was running her locations expertly, and getting her hands dirty right alongside her employees — whatever it took to keep her businesses running smoothly. Owning two businesses at once is a demanding endeavor, but Rhonda feels certain she can bring both her franchise locations to the next level. And after less than two years of business, both franchises are turning a profit – a rare achievement certainly worth bragging about. Rhonda is enjoying the huge financial boost for her family, and excited to see what 2017 brings for her two businesses.
“Go for something that you love! The work as a franchise owner is difficult and endless, so you better love what you’re doing and what the brand stands for. Thankfully, that means sweetFrog is perfect for me because it’s cute and focuses on kids and community. My kids are my everything to me and I wanted to launch a brand and product that my family and I personally enjoy. sweetFrog fit the bill!”