Britney Winters acquired over $350K in venture capital to grow her Black woman–owned beauty empire, Upgrade Boutique, an e-commerce platform that offers wigs and hair extensions.

Because she’s been a recipient of so much generosity throughout her lifetime, the Harvard Business School alumna says she feels an immense responsibility to pay it forward. 

So in honor of National Black Business Month, the CEO and founder shared a few insider tips on establishing a business, and if you’re a beauty entrepreneur, you’re going to want to take notes. 

Here, you can check out her sage advice for pitching your business ideas, finding the right investors, networking and trusting your gut. 

On Creating a Pitch Deck

“Some people can get funding simply based on having a great idea. I know a lot of White male classmates who had an idea, and somebody gave them $5 million to go figure out if it’s a good idea or not. But for Black women, unfortunately, it rarely works like that. So I would encourage entrepreneurs to prove that there is a demand because that can take you a long way when pitching to a VC.  And it’s important not to market it as a business, but as a solution to a problem instead.

On Finding the Right Investor

A lot of firms are springing up that only invest in women entrepreneurs. And you can find them just by doing a Google search. I’ve gotten to the point now where I will cold e-mail people. I wouldn’t send my pitch deck because that’s confidential, but provide a blurb on your business and who you are. If they’re interested, they’ll respond. 

On Networking

It’s surprising how critical networking is. When I got to business school, I was really open-minded. I connected with everybody, made friends from all different backgrounds and walks of life, and that really served me well.

After graduating from business school, I went to work for a corporation, but I wasn’t fulfilled. I called one of my friends, who was a classmate at HBS. I vented to her about what was going on at work. And she knew that I had a business plan, and so she was like, ‘Well, how much do you need to get started?’ And I gave the amount, and she committed $50,000, which helped me get started. It’s crazy how things can happen sometimes.

On Trusting Your Gut

One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned is to trust my own intuition. I think when you’re starting a business, you want to ask everybody for their advice on XYZ. But ultimately, you have to live with the consequences of your decisions. And I think when you become an entrepreneur, that helps you to make the right decisions.”

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