September , 2018

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By Sheila Thomas

Nationwide (BlackNews.com) — Slavery – that wretched, inhumane experience that had Africans uprooted form their native lands, packed like sardines in slave ships, and brought to America to be sold to the highest bidder – was abolished in America in 1865. Nevertheless, for almost another hundred years, African-Americans were subjected to Jim Crow laws, which perpetuated the ideal of separate but equal facilities. Finally, with the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, African-Americans, in writing at least, were given the freedoms we deserved.

Now we are in a new millennium, celebrating Black History Month for the 38th year in this country. And while we have so much to be thankful for – our first African-American president, improved race relations and improved career opportunities, the question arises – “Are we really taking advantage of the American dream?” Are we really honoring the sacrifices of our forefathers who suffered on slave ships, cotton fields and in the streets of America, being sprayed with fire hoses and attacked by police dogs? Are we really taking advantage of our ability to pursue life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness?

I would like to think that we still have a long way to go in that arena. Yes we have an African-American president, and yes, we have advanced in our racial relations since the civil rights movement, but are we as individual Americans – black, white, yellow and red – truly taking advantage of the freedom and liberty that is bestowed upon us in this great nation in which we live? I think we are not. I believe that the path to true freedom for most Americans is the path of entrepreneurship, and for that reason, I would like to propose, in this all-inclusive message, that you pull up your entrepreneurial bootstraps.

Yes, pull up your entrepreneurial bootstraps. I believe that during our short time on planet earth, we owe it to our Creator and ourselves to uncover the gifts, talents and skills that may lie dormant within, and to use them to create enterprises that will catapult us to higher levels both socially and economically. As an entrepreneur and a May 2014 MBA candidate, I read a lot of business and entrepreneurial books. I recently found myself reading three books that I highly recommend to anyone thinking about creating a new enterprise and/or helping to promote a culture of entrepreneurship in your own city or region. They are The Wealth Choice: Success Secrets of Black Millionaires by Dennis Kimbro, The Unstoppables: Tapping Your Entrepreneurial Power by Bill Schley, and Startup Nation – The Story of Israel’s Economic Miracle by Dan Senor and Saul Singer.

These books further strengthened my entrepreneurial spirit with words that should cause any human being to be inspired and motivated to become an entrepreneur. While I certainly do not intend to provide full summaries of these books, I do have three take-aways, and they are as follows: 1) You must be a risk-taker who is confident in yourself, and confident in your business ideas. 2) You must develop and utilize sales skills. 3) You must work hard.

Being a risk-taker is a necessary part of becoming an entrepreneur. In The Anatomy of an Entrepreneur, a report published by the Kauffman Foundation in 2009, researchers discovered that the most commonly-named hindrance to entrepreneurial success was a lack of ability or willingness to take risks. In addition, Bill Schley, in The Unstoppables, writes that “risk doesn’t go with the territory – it is the territory, if we plan to build, create, innovate, experience, achieve or win at anything.” According to Dennis Kimbro, in The Wealth Choice, “Self-made millionaires are realistic enough to expect challenges and setbacks. Further, they do not become discouraged or depressed by difficulties or temporary defeat. Mention the word risk to a millionaire, and he or she will only hear the term money. As a result, they find promise where others find pessimism.” Kimbro also states that “Over the course of seven years, I have found the Black wealthy to be constant learners and calculated risk takers unafraid to attempt new ideas, even at the risk of appearing foolish to their peers.”

In Start-Up Nation, the authors make it clear that the reason that Israel has the largest concentration of entrepreneurs in the world (relative to its size), is because Israelis have a lot of chutzpah, which is a Yiddish word meaning “audacity.” Yes, if you study Israeli entrepreneurship, you will find that there is a culture of risk-taking in the atmosphere. According to Senor and Singer, “In Israel, if you haven’t tried and failed to start a business two or three times, people wonder what’s the matter with you. You must be a slacker or something.” While some people have a natural audacity about themselves, it is an element that I believe, can be developed in every individual.

Another skill that can be developed is the ability to sell goods and services. Although many individuals do not consider themselves salespeople, Kimbro, in The Wealth Choice, states that “sell is not a four-letter word. “ He goes on to say that “the selling process is the most effective and efficient way to increase your earnings and reach your financial goals. The Black financial elite are thoroughly prepared, completely engaged sales professionals tough enough to deal with any rejection, resilient enough to overcome any objection and caring enough to help customers and clients achieve their goals.” He also states that “the wealthy know that selling is not just a business skill, but an essential life skill.”

Last, but not least, all three books touch on the element of hard work. You won’t excel in business if you are not willing to dig in the trenches while wearing many hats, in order to fulfill your entrepreneurial goals. In The Wealth Choice, Kimbro highlights the successes of Madame C.J. Walker, the nation’s first self-made female entrepreneur, who built a hair-care enterprise with a small, yet successful team of female sales representatives called “Walker Agents.” In his book, Kimball states that “with her million dollar fortune – a rarity for her race and gender – Walker gave as lavishly as she lived. ‘There is no royal flower-strewn path to success,’ this entrepreneurial wizard admonished. ‘And if there is, I have yet to find it. For if I have accomplished anything, it is because I have been willing to work hard. I was raised at a time when everybody had something to do, and they did it. Don’t sit down and wait for opportunities to come – get up and make them!’”

To add to this powerful idea of hard work, I would simply say that regardless of your race or economic status, I encourage you to pull up your entrepreneurial bootstraps. It may require a lot of risk, confidence, prayer , creativity and hard work, but it is well worth the experience. And if you fail, yes – if you fail, then get right back up, dump your pride in the trash can, increase your faith in self and God, and in the right timing, after much preparation, pull up your entrepreneurial bootstraps again. You will never know your possibilities if you just sit there and stare.

Sheila Thomas, a graduate of the University of Illinois School of Journalism, is editor and publisher of Prayer and Praise Magazine (www.prayerandpraisemagazine.com), an online magazine designed to transform live through the power of prayer and praise. A Detroit native, her mission is to help others emerge from darkness into the Light of God, through prayer, agreement and the discovery of their God-given purpose. She will graduate with her MBA in May of 2014. She can be reached at prayerandpraisemagazine@gmail.com.

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Welcome to CopyLine Magazine! The first issue of CopyLine Magazine was published in November, 1990, by Editor & Publisher Juanita Bratcher. CopyLine’s main focus is on the political arena – to inform our readers and analyze many of the pressing issues of the day - controversial or otherwise. Our objectives are clear – to keep you abreast of political happenings and maneuvering in the political arena, by reporting and providing provocative commentaries on various issues. For more about CopyLine Magazine, CopyLine Blog, and CopyLine Television/Video, please visit juanitabratcher.com, copylinemagazine.com, and oneononetelevision.com. Bratcher has been a News/Reporter, Author, Publisher, and Journalist for 33 years. She is the author of six books, including “Harold: The Making of a Big City Mayor” (Harold Washington), Chicago’s first African-American mayor; and “Beyond the Boardroom: Empowering a New Generation of Leaders,” about John Herman Stroger, Jr., the first African-American elected President of the Cook County Board. Bratcher is also a Poet/Songwriter, with 17 records – produced by HillTop Records of Hollywood, California. Juanita Bratcher Publisher

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