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Business » 11 inspiring tips from successful Black business leaders in history

11 inspiring tips from successful Black business leaders in history

Photo credit: Andrii Kobryn /

Photo credit: Andrii Kobryn /

Black History Month is here and it truly gives the country a chance to recognize and admire all the contributions African Americans have made over the years. From bank presidents to music label owners, these pioneers have laid the foundation for what it takes to persevere despite obstacles.

When building a business, entrepreneurs can often compare their beginning to someone else’s year 10. These quotes below prove that if you stay diligent, have faith and clear goals, then there will be nothing you can’t achieve. If you are looking for inspiration during your business journey, here is advice from some of the most successful Black leaders in history:

  1. There is no royal flower-strewn path to success. And if there is, I have not found it for if I have accomplished anything in life it is because I have been willing to work hard.Madam C.J. Walker, first female self-made millionaire
  2. God is on your side. We already at the finish line. Anything you put your mind to, anything you want to accomplish, [if] you put your faith in God’s hands you can do it.Sean Combs; Bad Boy Records founder and business mogul
  3. When you do common things in life in an uncommon way, you will command the attention of the world.George Washington Carver; prominent chemist and inventor, devising many uses for the peanut.
  4. You don’t make progress by standing on the sidelines, whimpering and complaining. You make progress by implementing ideas. – Shirley Chisholm;  first African American Women elected to the U.S. Congress
  5. All business is personal. Make your friends before you need them.Robert L. Johnson; first African American billionaire and founder of BET
  6. Money had never been the main thing for me. It’s the legacy that was important.Berry Gordy; founder of Motown Records,  the most successful Black-owned music company in the United States
  7. If you can somehow think and dream of success in small steps, every time you make a step, every time you accomplish a small goal, it gives you confidence to go on from there. –John H. Johnson; founder of Johnson Publishing Company
  8. I didn’t learn to be quiet when I had an opinion. The reason they knew who I was is because I told them. –Ursula Burns; chairman and former CEO of Xerox, first African American women to head a Fortune 500 company
  9. Leadership is all about people. It is not about organizations. It is not about plans. It is not about strategies. It is all about people, motivating people to get the job done. You have to be people-centered.Colin Powell, first African American U.S. Secretary of State
  10. I’ve always believed that if you put in the work, the results will come.Michael Jordan; Highest paid athlete of all time and business mogul
  11. If you wake up deciding what you want to give versus what you’re going to get, you become a more successful person. –Russell Simmons; Def Jam Records co-founder and entreprenuer