Although black-owned businesses continue to grow, black entrepreneurs still face significant challenges. As an African American woman entrepreneur, I frequently attend events to expand my knowledge base and network to overcome business challenges. During the B.O.S.S. (Business Owner Success Strategies) Brunch, a conference for women business owners, I met a young lady who changed my entire life as an entrepreneur by reminding me what was necessary to be successful. Her name is Artelia “Tilly” Shegog and she is the 10-year-old CEO of Boss Baby Enterprises.
The kidpreneur’s confidence and composed excitement in a room full of women entrepreneurs intrigued me. As I observed her throughout the day, she reminded me of what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur, at any age.
Use What You Got
I had the pleasure of meeting and sitting with Tilly’s mother, Aisha Bigstaff. I asked Aisha how Tilly was able to get her business started so fast and she said, “It takes a village! Tilly wanted to create a team to help her.” Aisha explained, “As we started this entrepreneurial venture with Tilly, we did not have the money to hire people.” Aisha went on to share that “It was Tilly’s idea to include the entire family.”
Tilly hired her mother as chief operating officer; little brother Triston is vice president, in charge of merchandise production; her stepfather Andy is president of sales and operations.
Her “bonus sister,” Promises, is her executive assistant. “Bonus brother,” Christian, is the director of advertising and marketing, and older sister Jalisa heads up her Glam Squad for events and photo shoots as her personal hair stylist and makeup artist.
The way Tilly leveraged her resources reminded me of Lyn Collins’ song “Think (About It)” when she says, “We got to use what we got to get what we want.” Sometimes our starting team members may include family members, friends, or even strangers that believe in our vision. Including people that believe in the business on the team helps new entrepreneurs be more successful.
Problems … Ain’t Got Time For That!
During the conference, select entrepreneurs were given an opportunity to share their business concerns and problems so the experts in the room could give them advice to “fix their business.” The moderator asked Tilly to share her business concerns or problems. Tilly stood up from her seat and confidently said, “I don’t want to talk about any problems. I would like to share my 2019 business goals that I need help achieving.” After a gasp of amazement, the room exploded in applause for the kid CEO.
This 10-year-old reminded everyone of the fundamentals of the “Law of Attraction,” which states that whatever we focus on the most is what we will receive. Tilly reminded me to focus on my business goals to attract what I needed to achieve them, instead of focusing on the problems. After the conference, I reviewed and updated my 2019 business goals.
Tilly wasn’t just an attendee of the conference, she was also an exhibitor. Right before the first conference break, exhibitors were offered a chance to voluntarily go on stage and give their elevator pitch about their business’ products and services. Tilly’s confident presence and witty personality amazed and excited the audience, as well as the other exhibitors. She also made a point to introduce herself to as many people she could. She sold all of her Boss Baby haircare products and merchandise for girls.
The young entrepreneur reminded me that as business owners, we must always be ready because we never know when an opportunity to share our business will present itself. Most importantly, she reminded everyone in the room that showing up doesn’t just mean being present. Showing up also means establishing new business connections and letting the world know who you are.
Teamwork Makes the Dream Work
Tilly was selected to sit at a VIP table with conference expert speakers. During breaks, she would come to the table where her mother and I were seated to compare notes with her mother and conduct mini business meetings with her team.
She reminded me, not only the value of having a team but the power of communicating with the team to get different perspectives quickly and efficiently. Communication and collaboration with a team is an essential part of being a successful business owner. When everyone on the team is able to share ideas and recommendations, it produces excitement for the businesses overall success.
Black Enterprise Contributors Network