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Balancing Act: I Was a CEO at 17

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Every day I'm juggling. School. Family. Red carpets. Budget sheets. You know, the normal stuff... well, for some. About six years ago -- when I was 14 -- I decided to be an entrepreneur. It wasn't a phase. At 20, I'm looking forward to never working for anyone -- except myself. I come from a family of entrepreneurs. My grandfather was the first Black man to own a real estate company in Grand Rapids, Michigan. My parents continued that legacy by owning a string of small businesses, such as a weight-loss program and other service-oriented companies. Business always interested me, and like most teens, I valued having the ability to purchase the things I wanted. So did those who surrounded me. Whenever discussions turned to the topic of money and careers, my family's message was more simple and repetitive than a hook on a Drake song: learn how to bring in income on your own. That tune stuck in my head. I got my first chance to dance to that beat when I was a freshman in high school. My mother -- a life coach and author -- and I co-wrote a book ("Teen Girls Living the Fabulous Life") and the experience pulled me off the sidelines. Soon I was at a crossroads; did I want to work at the local mall or collect an allowance? Or did I want to spend my time promoting my book and building my career. The choice was simple. With that same tune -- you know, get your own -- drumming in the back of my head, I chose the latter. Truthfully, I knew I had to be an entrepreneur. I always wanted to have something I owned. I also knew where to get help... my parents. So when I turned 17 I asked my mom and dad for a birthday gift that kept giving: funds for a start-up. In  2008, I launched my first company, The Billion Heir Club, which included a t-shirt company, jewelry line and a website where young women could connect and get advice on how to be successful. The mission of the company was to help girls around the country start their own businesses. Over the last few years, my customer base and business portfolio have expanded. I understood the appeal of access to celebrity lifestyle and expanded the BHC brand to meet that need. Today my site includes a blog, celebrity interviews and access to my products, such as Superstar Nail Laquer, my own nail polish line, and Phone Candi, blinged-out phone cases. But I'm not just a CEO; I'm also a business student. With both duties as a priority each day -- sometimes moment -- I rock a different pair of stilettos. For example, Mondays and Wednesdays, 7am to 7pm are school hours, but every other second of every other day is dedicated to my brands. My duties range from traveling to different cities for speaking engagements to running the daily operation of my brands. Today I am balancing life as a student and a business owner. Three things have helped me keep my life in check. First, doing the research needed to understand each business I started. Second, creating story or vision boards to keep me on track. Looking at them daily helps me meditate and focus on my future. Last, having great mentors, which has proven to be priceless. Identifying people who've achieved what I'm striving to do helps me learn from their successes and mistakes. If I follow the course I've charted, I'll never have to work for anyone else a day in my life. Now that's what I call fabulous.
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