What Black Hair Taught Me About Entrepreneurship

Four lessons our hair teaches us about entrepreneurship

Black hair is powerful.

It represents our lifestyles, personalities, and transitions. We style our hair for special occasions and cut it to break free of baggage or embrace a new change. If we look closer, our hair doesn’t just carry our stories, it also contains the wisdom to guide us through life.

I’ve been natural for 14 years, but when I decided to loc my hair three weeks ago, I felt an internal maturation. My hair transition is teaching me lessons about my mindset and entrepreneurial moves. By this time next month, I will be completely self-employed, and my loc journey is helping me process this transition. The following tidbits come from hours of binging on loc videos, tutorials and articles the night before locking my hair and one month before leaving my profession.

Give the present moment all of your attention.

When we aren’t careful, we overlook lessons of the present by focusing on the future. We have a vision of how we want our hair or business to look, and often resent the current moment for falling short. Mastering natural hair and growing locs take time. You have to find the right product, care for your hair properly, and keep up with maintenance. Our businesses work the same way. Everything is a process.

Businesses require systems, paperwork, and funding, all of which can be tedious endeavors. What makes the process of waiting a little easier is taking our eyes off the future and focusing on the present. Each day, there is something to be done, and that action needs our focus more than anything. The small daily actions prepare us for the biggest opportunities and success. Take your eyes off tomorrow and focus on today.

Embrace your uniqueness.

In a world saturated with Eurocentric images of beauty, we are forced to look at our natural selves and redefine standards. We have to unravel our internalized biases and embrace our curls, coils, and puffs. It’s humbling to walk into a room with a baby fro or starter locs and still feel confident about your presence. If it doesn’t look how we think it should, our insecurities heighten. These moments teach us to love ourselves from within. Confidence from the inside is a necessary ingredient in entrepreneurship. 

Starting out as an entrepreneur can be a balancing act of gaining experience and getting paid for services. When you don’t have a portfolio or massive exposure, it’s easy to feel like you aren’t established enough to charge, book a meeting or make demands. It’s okay to be honest about where you are, and still be confident about what you bring to the table. You may not have someone else’s platform, but there is something you offer that is unique to you. Embrace that. You didn’t get started to fit in; you’re meant to stand out. When you are confident about what you have, the world will respond to your energy. 

Accept that you aren’t in control.

If hair is supposed to be orderly and straight, Black hair missed the memo. It does what it wants. You can watch a youtube video, purchase the same products, follow the directions perfectly and still end up with a different outcome. That’s part of the journey, making what you have work. The sooner we accept that we don’t have the final say on how things turn out, the more effective we will be at capitalizing on what’s in front of us. That’s a key gem for entrepreneurs as well. 

No matter how much we plan and prepare, business takes its own journey. People will disappoint you, checks will come later than expected, responses will be delayed and everything has a ripple effect. When a situation doesn’t go according to plan, we can expend energy stressing about the mishap, or we can take a moment to regroup and process a solution. Expect the unexpected and prepare to enjoy the journey. Unplanned happenings always make for good stories. 

Expect your journey to be different.

The expansion of social media has made it easier for us to visualize what we want. We can find people in our field and watch their successes. While this is helpful for inspiration, it can be damaging to our expectations. We inadvertently begin to compare our beginning with someone’s middle and get easily overwhelmed when we don’t hit certain markers. While people who have been where we are can help guide and encourage us, the biggest difference between where they are, and our current place is time. 

In any life journey, whether hair or business, we rarely start at the same place. Our experiences, mindset, purpose and location, amongst other variables, factor into the time it will take us to develop, grow, and succeed. Don’t make anyone else the measuring stick. Trust that where you are is where you are supposed to be. If you don’t have something yet, there is more to be learned or gained. Unpack that. There’s no time limit or rush, just the journey. No two journeys are the same.

 Final Thought:

The next time you look at your hair with displeasure, think about what it’s telling you. Make adjustments, practice acceptance, and stop judgment and comparing. Apply those lessons to other aspect of your life, especially your business. Everything is a process; the best parts come when we engage in each moment. Release the box of how everything is supposed to be in order to appreciate and learn from what’s in front of you.

Written by Mizz Jasz

Jasmine “Mizz Jasz” Hawkins is a Philly-based educator, writer, and community organizer. Jasz serves as president and founder of the non-profit Urgent 365 Inc., author of Urgent Conversations: Race, Reality, and Responsiblity, and host of the Pecola Breedlove and the Freedom Party open mic. Her work and heart are grounded in the empowerment of women and the social climate of the Black community as a whole. When she isn’t working, Jasz loves watching romantic comedies, traveling, and working out. 
 

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