Millions of Americans are affected by mental health conditions every year. NAMI, the National Alliance of Mental Illness, found that approximately 1 in 5 adults in the U.S. (46.6 million) experiences mental illness in a given year. The stress levels of mental health can heighten for founders or entrepreneurs. Having to deal with a business, customers, family, and personal needs can combine to create a lethal dose of mental health issues if not dealt with accordingly and in a healthy manner. The Mogul Millennial sat down with budding entrepreneur, Chauncey Davis of GenFi, to get his take on mental health awareness and remedies that have successfully helped him succeed in the world of entrepreneurship.
Name: Chauncey Jeremiah Davis
What industry do you work in and what’s the mission of your company?
We are in the financial service industry. Here at GenFi, we specialize in tax preparation for small businesses and individuals. We also help people put together an adequate budget for their income. Our mission is to help people build their financial future.
How has your mental health been challenged while building your brand?
As an entrepreneur building your brand can be the most stressful component. In 2011 when I got married to my beautiful wife Alison Davis, I decided to leave Memphis, Tennessee, my hometown of 26 years and move to Murfreesboro, Tennessee. In 2015 after years of not finding fulfillment in the sales industry, I decided to leave corporate America and figure out what I wanted to do in life. And that is helping people. So, after leaving a six-figure sales job, we went from two incomes to one income. I started selling insurance with Farmers Insurance, but that got off to a really slow start. This was very hard because I had only been in Murfreesboro for only four years and in that time my main focus was home. I didn’t have any friends nor tried to build any network in that time frame. So, the stress of starting a business and venturing into a whole new industry was quite nerve-wracking.
During this same time, my wife was pregnant, and shortly after the pregnancy, she decided to leave corporate America as well due to us having issues with various childcare providers. This took us from one income to surviving on our 401k. Who wouldn’t have mental health issues after all of that?! One of the things that many people don’t understand about mental health is that mental breakdowns are not something that happens overnight. But it comes from an accumulation of stresses or pressures that arise in a person’s life that they don’t know how to deal with. This transition had a significant effect on our marriage. It disrupted our finances and intimacy. Many would have gotten a divorce or returned to the workforce.
These were not options for us. Because of our faith in Yahuwah (God), we were not giving up. You will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on thee (Isaiah 26:3). In the midst of this, I found a love for tax preparation. This is an area in which most working-class citizens need help and don’t know it. And that’s how GenFi was born. If you want to build a successful business, you have to create a brand. This means that you will have to overcome your inadequacies and step into some uncharted waters if you’re going to maintain your mental health.
What are some challenges you’ve overcome?
Being an African-American entrepreneur in the financial services industry can be highly stressful, especially in my area of expertise [Business and Financial Management]. With the presence of popular tax companies like H&R Block and Turbo Tax, I continuously have to prove why people should make GenFi their choice when considering who will be their tax specialist. I have learned that many people could care less who does their taxes as long as they get them done and for cheap. This can be very stressful when it comes to building a business. When offering a service that people can get elsewhere, you have to have something that will set you apart from the rest.
What sets me apart from others is that I have my clients’ best interests at heart. I make sure that I maximize my clients’ tax return by keeping up with the tax laws. By knowing the laws, I can minimize their tax liabilities. Some of the same laws the wealthy use to reduce their tax liability also apply to the rest of society. My challenge is educating people about laws that benefit them. Trying to help people who don’t want it will drive you crazy. I have overcome this by realizing that everyone will not receive help when it is offered. You have to make a choice to help those who want it.
What successes have you celebrated in your pursuit of achievement?
One of the major successes I celebrate is completing five tax seasons and am looking forward to number six. Statistics show that most businesses fail within the first three years. Some do not even get started. Some of the most celebrated times in the business are when my clients’ tax liabilities are minimized, and their refunds are maximized. The most celebrated success is my family. Wanting to spend more time with my family pushed me to become an entrepreneur.
What challenges, if any, do you still face? And what are some of your goals?
The challenge is staying focused and maintaining momentum. [I tell myself], ‘You are in control. You can either succeed or fail based on how you handle the issues of life’. My daughter Adi is four years old and very smart. We were talking about challenges, and she said, “I don’t want challenges, I want hard challenges.” My goal is to provide employment to people where they can work in a fun, friendly, and family environment. And also empower people to be entrepreneurs and take control of their lives. Being an entrepreneur has afforded my wife and me to spend the maximum amount of time with our daughter and as a family. This is something that every child needs.
What advice would you give to other business professionals and entrepreneurs?
As a business professional or an entrepreneur, it is imperative that you keep an eye on your mental health. We continuously have to make major decisions, solve problems, deal with clients, run a business, etc. all while handling the day-to-day stresses of life. It is very easy to get burnt out. The key to maintaining your mental health is to keep Yahuwah (God) first, be confident in what you do, and provide the best customer service. Challenges are a part of life, and you will not succeed unless you overcome them. Be an overcomer!