Four secrets for breaking the seven figure ceiling

Million-dollar business coach shares tips for taking it to the next level on your terms

By Ginny Grimsley

Can both recent reports on the economic muscle of black women in the United States be correct?

On the one hand, businesses owned by women of color—42 percent of them African American—have skyrocketed since 1997, far surpassing even the impressive growth rate of businesses owned by all women. And they’ve grown far faster in terms of revenues and employees than the average for all women.

On the other hand, compared to other U.S. women, black women are less likely to be employed or insured, to hold college degrees or be represented in elected office – all indicators of prosperity.

“It appears to be a paradox, unless you understand black women,” says Dr. Venus Opal Reese, CEO of Defy Impossible, Inc. (www.DefyImpossible.com), a coaching business that helps black women — and men and women of all ethnicities — break the seven-figure ceiling.

“The survival strategies our ancestors learned from slavery are passed down to us and become our ‘normal.’ We’re taught that to feel good about ourselves, we have to work hard, sacrifice for others, prove ourselves, overcome; those are survival skills for which we’re socially rewarded. But when we allow society to dictate our inherent value, our self-worth, we will always come up short.”

That’s why so many smart, successful black women stay in jobs they hate—jobs that pay well but will never allow them to achieve their financial potential. That’s why they sacrifice for their children, their church, their community, but not for themselves. It’s why they can accomplish a great deal but still feel emotionally and financially impoverished.

“Our self-worth and our mindset around money are our biggest barriers to breaking the million-dollar mark,” Dr. Venus says.

What do black women millionaires do differently? Dr. Venus shares some of their secrets, which are lessons for men and women of every ethnicity:

  •  Make money from what you “know” instead of from what you “do.”

As employees, we rent out our behaviors for a certain number of hours each day. We’re paid to use our skills and accomplish tasks that benefit our employer. We all know how to make survival money from what we do.

Give up the working-class mentality of making money from what you “do” and start making money from what you “know.” Everyone has a skill, but not everyone has your story and your unique perspective on life – what you’ve learned from walking through fire. You have a million-dollar message that can be monetized to launch your entrepreneurial dream or take the dream you’ve launched to impossible new heights. First, you must identify it.

  •  DON’T leave your day job until you have replaced your income.

Keep the job that’s paying the bills while you work on the side to market your message and build your revenue stream.

If you’re panicking about keeping the lights on, you’re not going to have the enthusiasm and creativity necessary to give your entrepreneurial dream your full, amazing power. Plus, having the lights on makes it a lot easier to get things done!”

Once you’re making enough money to replace that salary or hourly wage, give up the day job!

  •  Don’t position yourself as a low-cost leader.

Imagine being a Kia and then trying to be a Bentley. The market won’t believe you. If you want to go high-end, you have to stop charging low. It takes clarity, trust and confidence to up your rates, but it also forces you to get crystal clear on why people should pay top dollar to work with you. If you start low with the intention of going high, you will attract all the people looking for a deal. These people will never want to pay more. So don’t build your business on low-end items.

  •  Trade on value instead of volume.

Another pitfall of charging low ticket is that it is dependent upon a high volume of people buying in order for you to earn a living. When you move into the world of high-end leadership, you don’t make your money from volume. You make your money from the value you bring your clients. The more value you provide, the more you can charge. Value can be tangible, emotional, prestige, exclusivity, or customization. When you build your business around value instead of volume, you naturally charge more—and get more—high-end clients.

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