BY SHANEDRA J SMITH | STAFF WRITER
FEBRUARY 5, 2023
Hailing from a small town in California, Cecelia Hegamin-Younger PhD., has always been interested in observing and discovering things about people. As someone who specializes in statistics, her love for working with numbers and academia was the inspiration behind her educational book entitled Being Bold and Driven, which is about how anyone can create and maintain a business that caters to their specific personality and capacity. The book spans the different elements of entrepreneurship and how a beginning entrepreneur can build a successful business.
Host of the wisdom-filled and successful podcast Being Bold and author of two books on Caribbean adolescents, Younger is a leading expert on financial health due to her 20+ years in the financial industry. “It was a project,” Younger began. One of her clients was a fortune 500 financial institution, and they wanted to find out why their black financial agents were not succeeding, what was the difference between the successful and unsuccessful ones, and how they could change the results. What Younger found was that the discrepancies were not based in racial undertones as many experts would like to report, but based on a lack of knowledge on how to start and maintain a business.
During the writing process of her book, she focused on identifying financial agents who started their businesses within five years, and compared their work to new starters and if they were meeting their company’s goals and expectations. She noted those that remained unsuccessful and compared the financial agents who were not meeting expectations to those who were meeting expectations at the firm. “By the end of the project, I can actually tell the businesses what they were doing wrong,” she commented. She then interviewed successful financial agents and talked to the owners. After travelling around, she conducted more interviews with other entrepreneurs around the world. Her book included research on businesses not just started and maintained by black entrepreneurs but white entrepreneurs as well.
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Her book, written in 2021, also stressed the importance of keeping genuine care for the clientele at the center of starting or maintaining a business. She explained that an entrepreneur should always want to connect with people. She explained that you should get clients from the connections you make, and that people should be referred to a business. “You can’t do that if you’re not out there connecting with other people in a way that they see you’re authentic and genuine,” she commented. Younger proposes that having servanthood as a standing pillar will leverage any business owner, and clients won’t think that a business owner is just networking for clients, as they can identify as consumers when someone is being genuine or not.
Younger shared that customers can feel when an entrepreneur is not being genuine, and when customers see that a business is genuine, then they want to bring their friends. And then even if they don’t come to the business themselves, they are more likely to refer their friends. She shared that as consumers, clients like going to places that welcome them and acknowledge them. When a business owner personally meets and talks with their customers, he/she is building a relationship with them and the customers are sure to come back. “When that owner remembers a customer, talks to a customer, and they’re like, ‘oh, I haven’t seen you in a while,’ then the client feels like, ‘oh, wow, this is a nice connection’. And it’s all about the connection,” she shared.
Younger discussed three terms she referenced in the first chapter of her book: posers, amateurs and professionals. An entrepreneur should always be in the professional phase, according to Younger, but not the posers phase. “The posers are just there. They just got there and they are doing the work, but they don’t really care.” Younger suggested that a business owner never presents themselves as a poser, but that they start as an amateur, as an amateur will always get better. “With being an amateur, there’s this imposter phenomenon, where they’re not quite sure if they are doing something right but they’re doing it.” However, Younger advises entrepreneurs not to stay in the amateur phase too long, because this can also lead to loss of customers. Amateurs can have lots of doubts and unanswered questions and must be dedicated to learning about their business everyday, because things surrounding entrepreneurship changes daily.
Before long, Younger was able to walk into offices and could immediately tell who was successful and who was not successful based on the decoration in their office. Potential customers get to know the owner through their environment, and when there is nothing to see in their environment, then they have no reason to do work with the business. “It’s good to showcase yourself,” Younger shared.
Younger suggests that more black business owners find themselves mentors or sponsors who can help guide them into creating a successful businesses. Throughout her years of research, she learned that most of the failures in black entrepreneurial circles resulted from black people not knowing how to run a business, and how to pass on generational wealth. Younger believes that more black entrepreneurs need to keep mentors and sponsors to help them gain opportunities they wouldn’t be getting on their own. She shared that black entrepreneurs need to find a mentor or sponsor who will guide them and open a door for them that they wouldn’t have been able to open on their own. Older business owners need to help younger business owners thrive and improve so that they are not repeating the same mistakes.
Younger currently works in mediation (specifically in conflict resolution) and her job is very taxing and strenuous. She tells herself “I can do this, I am strong” while she goes in and does her work, and also translates her findings with conflict resolution with her students as a professor.
Cecelia Hegamin-Younger can be reached here at her email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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