In Spring 2023, when I was working 10-hour days to fill thousands of “half off” orders, I’d signed up for a business accelerator program.
The timing, it seems, could not have been more perfect. I had pulled the plug on my discount pricing (and subsequently experienced a 50% sales drop) in late June. My accelerator program started in early July. A bit of providence.
The accelerator was a part of the Perry Marshall suite of business education products. Perry Marshall is an unassuming Midwestern man who is one of the world’s highest paid business consultants. I’d come across his writings in 2022 and fell in love with his philosophy of entrepreneurship as a spiritual discipline and a manifestation of creativity. The business world is full of people happy to make a buck off of others’ pain, distraction and ignorance. Perry’s approach felt like a breath of fresh air.
The accelerator was a thirteen-week program for owners in the $1 million to $5 million revenue range, who were “stuck” on a particular aspect of their business.
I was one of 15 participants. The program was digital, so we were from all over the country and world. There was a man who owned a slate of rental properties in Mexico, another who owned a high end hair salon, a woman who’d left a corporate HR career to start a marriage therapy practice… and me, lol.
I was the only black woman in the group, and one of the only people under the age of 40. So basically I was in a room of (mostly) older white men. I hadn’t felt so conspicuous in a while.
I expected to hear a lot of stories like mine — business owners struggling to pay the bills, constantly frazzled, swinging between bliss and despair — but I didn’t. From what I could tell, I was the only one with a business struggling hard to pay its bills.
I suddenly realized that I didn’t just stand out for being a black woman who didn’t lean libertarian — I stood out as the person in the room who’d devalued her labor so severely she’d pushed her business into crisis.
Over the years I’ve tended to view BGLH Marketplace as part business, part non profit. (Evidence: the many years I’ve openly sold products at a loss.)
I don’t know exactly why this is… Maybe because I come from an economically disadvantaged background, I tend to price products according to the world I came from, not where I need to go, or even who my ideal customer actually is. As a girl who grew up washing and re-using Ziploc bags and buying entire wardrobes at Goodwill, pricing my products according to what it actually costs to make them has always, ALWAYS, been a psychological battle. Because, frankly, it’s beyond what my family could have afforded when I was a child.
And no, it doesn’t help that over the years I’ve heard retorts from women — women who look like me — that have cut to the quick,
“Your products are cute, but they’re not worth all that.”
And once a literal, “Who do you think you are?”
The deeper question was, why did I listen? Why did I choose to believe them when there were other women — women who also looked like me — rushing into my store with cell phone pictures of their babies’ soft, peachy skin — cleared of eczema due to my products. Cancer survivors whose fragile skin came alive with daily application of my butters. Customers who prayed with me over the phone, so grateful they were for how the products had soothed them.
We learned in that first accelerator session that any chaos we were encountering in our business, any struggles, were 100% our fault. Because, as entrepreneurs, we set the rules we lived and worked by. I was facing a sinking realization — the emotional and psychological rules I’d been living by had to change — and fast. (Click here to read Part 4.)