ESSENCE is proud to celebrate extraordinary Black women who are breaking glass ceilings as flourishing entrepreneurs with compelling back stories. Join us as we highlight 8 of the 50 women featured in our November 2017 issue and chat with them to find out more about how they got to where they are now and what advice they have for other young women looking to follow in their footsteps.
First up is Rhonesha Byng, founder of 'Her Agenda.'
Q: Tell us about your company.
Her Agenda is a digital media platform that works to bridge the gap between ambition and achievement for millennial women. Through our content, events and subscription community we're a media company that empowers women with the information and inspiration they need to achieve their goals.
Q: What advice do you have for anyone dreaming of having their own business?
Test and validate your idea immediately. Do the research necessary to ensure you're not unknowingly creating a copycat company. Be clear about the pain point or problem you're solving for the customer and how you solve it. This process helps you craft a clear value proposition, which you can use as part of your elevator pitch.
Q: As an entrepreneur, what is the smartest decision you’ve ever made for yourself?
The smartest decision I've made for myself was to stop feeling guilty about taking time off. You need that time for yourself to recharge and refuel to bring your best self to your business and continue to operate on a high level.
Q: When it came to launching your business what kind of support system did you have in place?
When it came to launching Her Agenda, my first line of support were my friends. My next line of support were my mentors. I started my career at 16 so, by the time I launched the platform, I already had strong contacts in the industry. I called my mentors for advice and insight on the direction of the company and to be among the first women interviewed on the website. Then, when I finally took the leap to run my business full time in 2015, I was among 10 companies selected to participate in an accelerator program called Points of Light Civic Accelerator. This is where I learned to refine my business model and put seeds in place to become a scalable investible startup.
Q: Black women are America’s fastest-growing group of entrepreneurs. However, we remain the most underserved, receiving less than 1 percent of all venture funding for our businesses. In what ways can our community better support one another?
More of our community needs to invest in startups. We need to have more people like us at the investment table and creating our own funds. As Black women continue to acquire more wealth, I hope that we as a community grow to take on more risk and invest in startups based on their potential to succeed. Too often, Black women have to prove the impossible before they are able to secure an investment whereas there are many other startups that secure a check simply based on an idea (with no proof), or simply based on the reputation of the founder. Don't dismiss us, don't just give us advice, set us up to win. Invest in us, and help position us so that billion dollar companies helmed by Black women become the norm.
Be sure to check out the full ESSENCE 50 List HERE and in our November 2017 issue, on newsstands now!