Did you see that article about successful women entrepreneurs in Oprah’s Magazine? I was perusing a past issue and an amazing lady jumped out at me.
Madam CJ Walker—the first and only black millionaire of her day
Oprah’s article mentioned that Madam Walker became extremely successful selling hair products door-to-door. Having once sold door-to-door myself, I decided to learn more about her.
Here’s what I found:
First, CJ Walker was born in 1865 on a farm in Louisiana. A tough time and place to live if you’re a woman. An African American woman.
And those weren’t her only challenges. At age 7 she became an orphan. She got married at 15, became a mother at 17, and a widow at age 20. To support herself and her daughter, she picked cotton, washed other people’s laundry, and worked in a barbershop. The most she ever made in a day was $1.50 (less than $40 in today’s money).
And It Got Tougher
When she turned 25 years, she developed a scalp condition that caused her to start going bald. Can you imagine that? As if she didn’t already have enough problems. Now the unfortunate lady’s hair was falling out.
Now For The Turn Around
Madam Walker got busy and studied everything she could find about how to fix her embarrassing balding problem. She discovered that sulfur could clear up the scalp disease that was causing a lot of people to lose their hair back then.
So she took a huge leap of faith. She started her own business selling her hair product, which she named “Madam Walker’s Wonderful Hair Grower”. Since she was just starting out with no budget for marketing, she had no other option but to sell door-to-door.
She Went Out, Took Action, And Made It Happen!
But imagine for a moment what it must have been like for Madam Walker at the turn of the 19th Century in the deep south. Do you think she got rejected? Do you think doors were slammed in her face? Do you think she got insulted, even threatened?
But did that stop her?
Not only did she survive, she prospered.
Madam Walker sold her hair product, developed new ones, and eventually opened up a factory in Indianapolis. She traveled around the world and trained other women to sell her products. By the time she died in 1919 at age 51, she had become…
The World’s First Female Self-Made Millionaire!
Against incredible odds, wouldn’t you say? Wow – what a story. Did I mention her parents were former slaves?
Her amazing success is largely due to one critical factor: Her astounding ability to get started and keep going. The real secret to success is the ability to make a decision, get started, and blast past any obstacles that stand in your way.
Madam C.J. Walker makes it painfully obvious that we have NO Excuse for holding ourselves back.
You know, when you’re starting out, failures are inevitable.
But the thing is, when setbacks happen, you have to get up, brush yourself off, keep moving toward your ultimate goal.
That is the One Most Powerful Magic Power of the successful entrepreneur and successful salon owners. That magic power is present in every successful person I’ve met, worked with or studied.
I’ve been with Salon Plaza for three years now, and the biggest thing I see holding back hairstylists, barbers, nail techs and estheticians who want to become successful salon owners but are still working in someone else’s space, is the fear of getting started. People get stuck on what to name their salon, how to tell their clients, and the commitment thing…
And I’ve been stuck, so I can relate.
But here’s the truth. Most of the preparation, procrastination, and making sure everything is “perfect”, is secret code for…
Scared it’s not gonna work.
Scared to make a mistake.
Scared to lose clients.
Scared you’ll be judged…
So let me tell you right up front that for sure, some of your friends will talk behind your back about how foolish you are for trying to make it on your own. At least one of them will fear you having to step out of your comfort zone.
So, don’t worry about it. To become successful salon owners you need to be true to yourself and do what your gut tells you.
And when you get started (which is a huge feat by itself) don’t get floored by the first setback. You can’t let it take you by surprise and make you want to quit.
I suppose it’s common.
But what’s not common, and what really leads to becoming successful salon owners, is that ability to brush yourself off and keep making it happen. If you do that enough times, you’ll start winning. And it doesn’t take too many wins before it all starts to add up.
Taking the first step is hard, but worth it.
If an orphaned daughter of former slaves can work her way up through the hardships of the economically depressed deep south and become the world’s first self-made female millionaire, then what possible excuse do WE have?
Was it easy for this lady to just walk outside and start going door to door? Heck no! Was it easy for her to keep going after being insulted and rejected every day? Of course not.
But she did it anyway, despite the tough times. Because that’s what it takes.
To find out if you’re ready to get started and be your own boss…
Take our Salon Owner’s Success Quiz. Find out if you have what it takes right now to become successful salon owners.
Special thanks to A’Lelia Bundles, for sharing her great grandmother’s story with the world and for giving permission to reference her work at www.madamcjwalker.com. You can get A’Lelia’s new book about Madam Walker’s life here.