Coppin State Student Is A Girl With A Plan

Karissa Carson says leading one of the workshops at the recent PNC Bank, Times Community Services, and The Baltimore Times’ “Mind Your Business” Seminar gave her ego a boost.

“It kind of made my head a little big,” said Carson, a Coppin State University senior who in business management major. “Seeing all of the people there and knowing you’re going to come away even more empowered was great.”

Originally from New York, Carson has already made her mark in Baltimore. She was recently appointed vice president for the College of Business students for Ingepreneurial Impact. She is also the director of “Free Your Voice,” an organization dedicated to helping women find their voice by offering empowerment services.

“I have mastered the artistry of side hustles,” Carson said. “From doing hair, hosting workshops, and making handbags. When it comes to generating multiple streams of income, I am the girl with the plan.”

One of seven children, Carson says she was the dreamer in her family. She was also the one with the big heart.

“Now that I’m older, I started making these handbags that have these inspirational quotes on them,” Carson said, explaining that a portion of the proceeds from the sale of the bags is given to the homeless.

“When you drive down some areas of Baltimore city, you see a lot of homeless people. I look around, and I wonder what resources do I have that I can use to help these people,” Carson said. “So, I make and sell the bags, and I use half of the proceeds to purchase items like toiletries and other things for the homeless.”

Carson is also an advocate for women.

“I just want women always to be aware that they matter,” Carson said. “When I was growing up, I was so timid and I let people make decisions for me.

“But, I started to realize that my voice matters and that I was going to share my voice with the world. I’m not going to be quiet because society makes it hard for women who speak out.”

Ultimately, Carson says her goal is to start women organizations that will help ignite business opportunities for single mothers and other women. That’s the reason she got involved with “Free Your Voice.”

“Essentially, Free Your Voice is a bunch of college students who are dedicated. We have uplifting speeches, raffles, women empowerment exercises, food, mimosas and live entertainment. We have discussions about trauma and so many other things that affect us. It’s all about women empowering women,” she said.

Carson noted that attending the Mind Your Business seminar was essential to all that she aspires to accomplish.

Mind Your Business was an informative event designed for small business owners, entrepreneurs, creative industry organizations, and DIY businesses. In breakout sessions, the agenda included how to structure a business; how to finance your business; and when a CPA or legal expert should be consulted. Also included was an introduction to tax incentives that are available if a business is located in an arts district.

“I was inspired. There are so many talented people and the seminar was a great resource for everyone,” Carson said.

How You Feel About Money Impacts Your Spending

We all have a personal relationship with money, and it will often show in how we spend it. But our feelings about finance can sometimes lead to negative spending habits that can hurt us in the long run. To begin developing healthy spending habits, it can be helpful to start by identifying your emotional and psychological relationship with money.

Get to know your financial psychology

Being aware of your own psychological and emotional approach to money is the first step to developing healthy spending habits. Psychologists agree that these beliefs can start early. They may also come from other life experiences — whether you need to support a family, for example, or if you’ve had a negative history with unmanageable debt. It’s important to remember that your emotional outlook on money, regardless of where it comes from and what it may be, is not inherently right or wrong. Rather, it may influence you to make unwise decisions in certain financial areas, while setting you up to be great in others.

To understand your feelings toward money better, ask yourself:

  • How does being in debt make you feel?
  • How does disclosing your financial situation to others make you feel?
  • How willing are you to make bigger purchases (such as a car or a house)?
  • How willing are you to make smaller purchases (such as clothes or eating out)?
  • What purchases do you feel good about making? Which purchases do you not feel good about making?
  • How often do you make impulsive purchases?
  • How often do you feel compelled to check your bank statement?
  • How often do you find yourself thinking about money?
  • How does it make you feel to hear about the state of the larger economy?

This is the first step toward building a healthy relationship with money. Then carefully examine your responses.

Identifying your spending habits

Once you have a better sense of your feelings towards money, it can be useful to identify how these feelings have translated into spending behavior. Do this by taking stock of your bank statement from the last two months. If a bank statement isn’t available to you, start keeping tabs on your expenses moving forward with your receipts. Then begin looking for patterns. You might even consider working with a professional such as a financial coach, counselor, or advisor to help you identify your spending habits Ask yourself if your habits — frequently buying clothes, for example, or eating out multiple times in a week — make sense given the responses you gave to the questions above. This is the second step to developing healthy spending habits: moving beyond what you think your spending habits should be to which ones you actually practice. From here, you can begin focusing on ways you can improve your use of money.

Identify the spending habits that you can change

Think of ways you can make your financial habits healthier. This responsibility is twofold: not only should you focus on eliminating unnecessary purchases, but also on spending your money in ways that make you feel positive. For example, have you found that you too much of your paycheck goes towards clothes? That doesn’t mean you have to eliminate all of your shopping but maybe you can consider less expensive options such as your local thrift store. Does the thought of making a sizable purchase — such as a car — cause you stress, even if you know such a purchase will significantly improve your life? Set up automatic transfers from your checking account to a savings account so you can start working towards your goal in a way that doesn’t cause anxiety.

Cultivating awareness about your psychology surrounding money — and the kind of spending habits it promotes — can help you chart a financial path that works for you.

© 2019 Wells Fargo Bank, N.A All rights reserved.

6 Keys To Success In Business And Life

Family Features

6 Keys to Success in Business and Life

(Family Features) It’s not always easy staying organized. Life is busy, chaotic and fast-moving. Although it can be easy to get discouraged at times, there are ways to enhance organization and attitude through the peaks and pits life throws at you.

Carol Lavin Bernick, former executive chairman of beauty conglomerate Alberto Culver, published “Gather As You Go: Lessons Learned Along the Way,” a book sharing insights she’s learned through her many roles as a corporate leader, working mother, philanthropist and founder of the nonprofit organization Enchanted Backpack. Bernick offers these tips to be ready for the good times and difficult situations, highlighting the importance of loving what you are doing in both business and life.

  1. Attitude is Key
    A person who is passionately committed to the success of his or her business – who has an “I-can-do-it” attitude – is more likely to succeed. One person can make a difference, and it’s up to you to demonstrate you are one of those people.
     
  2. If You Never Fail, You Will Never Grow
    If it’s always comfortable and easy, you can’t know the big win. When challenged and stretched, you may have a greater chance to learn. Reach out, get involved and take a risk. Oftentimes, the best talent has multiple experiences to share and on which to reflect.
     
  3. Credibility is Everything
    Some of the most important career-saving words are “I don’t know.” Never fake it. If you’re wrong, admit it and correct it. If you’ve made a mistake, fix it and learn from it. If it’s going to take some time to find an answer, set a timetable and stick to it.
     
  4. Complaining Gets You Nowhere
    People, especially in business, simply do not want to hear complaints. If you are frustrated, it is probably best to keep quiet and figure out how you can fix whatever it is, and if you can’t change it, try changing how you think about it and alter your mindset.
     
  5. Give Back
    Communities are not perfect. They are the responsibility of business, government and citizens. If you don’t commit to making a difference, you’re instead leaving the burden to others.
     
  6. Nice Guys Don’t Finish Last; They Win
    Aggressive and passionate shouldn’t equate with unpleasant. The higher you rise, the more pleasant and understanding you typically need to be. Never underestimate the importance of being thankful and the value of recognition. Ego has no place in business. If you have one, try to lose it.

Find more tips and inspiration at gatherasyougo.com.

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

SOURCE:
Gather As You Go

You Had Better ‘Mind Your Business’ at Coppin on Saturday, October 5th

If someone told you to mind your business, you might think they were being smart. But if you are already an entrepreneur or are seeking to become one, a “smart” move would be to “Mind your Business.” That’s the title of an exciting, free event designed for small business owners, entrepreneurs, creative industry organizations and DIY (Do It Yourself) businesses.

Presented by PNC Bank and Times Community Services, Inc., Mind your Business: Building a Network of resources for business owners and entrepreneurs, will take place Saturday, October 5, 2019 from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. in Physical Education Complex at Coppin State University located at 2523 Gwynns Falls Pkwy. in Baltimore.

The free event will cover a wide range of topics including financial education; how to structure your business; when you should include a CPA or legal experts; as well as an introduction to tax incentives that are available if you are located in one of Baltimore’s Arts Districts.

“We are proud to partner with PNC Bank to offer this exciting event,” said Baltimore Times Publisher Joy Bramble. “You might not make a million dollars, but small businesses help people to support their families and provide jobs. Small businesses also help blacks and other minority communities to be more sustainable.

“Right now, we have a new, very robust economy. We have to take our place in that economy. There was a time when it was very difficult for minorities to get bank loans. Now banks are bending over backwards to teach you. This event will show entrepreneurs how to start a business and stay in business. This event will provide a wealth of information about the many resources that are available.”

Baltimore native Ramsey Harris is Vice President and Territory CRA Business Advisor in the Retail Lending Distribution Management division at PNC Bank. Harris is responsible for overseeing and executing strategic plans that enable the bank to achieve specific Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) focused goals, and measures of lending to businesses located within designated, inner-city/Low-to-Moderate Income (LMI) geographies.

“Baltimore has such a strong spirit of entrepreneurship,” said Harris who is also a minister. “One of my callings is to do all I can to educate and empower minority business owners. I am responsible for the achievement of our CRA goals for the entire East Coast and all points in between. That includes Maryland and Delaware, and from New York to Florida. Baltimore is the highest priority for me.

“I am always excited to partner with The Baltimore Times. I appreciate the paper as a media outlet in the community that gives out accurate information, to our folks via its online and hardcopy editions. The reputation of the paper is stellar. Joy Bramble has a passion for small businesses in the community, and that’s evident through events such as this forum.”

The event will also offer attendees an opportunity to network; learn about new products; find out how they can run their business more efficiently; position themselves more competitively; and how to protect their intellectual property more completely.

Harris will be facilitating a workshop geared towards educating small businesses about credit.

“My workshop will discuss the nuances of business credit and business finance,” he said. “Businesses have to be able to get the credit they need to sustain their business. I will be emphasizing PNC’s proactive approach and commitment to support minority enterprises under our CRA business, lending program. Obviously, Baltimore is home for me and my heart and soul. I have traveled to other cities to teach this forum.

I am excited to be able to teach it in my hometown.”

In addition to Harris, PNC Bank branch manager Sherry Curry will also be among the presenters. The other presenters are: Nicholas Cohen; Everett Sands; Chris Rockey; Carrisa Carson; Adam Holofscener; Paul E. Taylor; Cassandra Vincent; and Takia Ross.

“I will cover the credit part from a traditional banking standpoint, but we have all types of seminars on promoting your business,” said Harris. “We have something for everyone looking to start or grow their business. We handpicked these presenters. We selected individuals who are well informed in their various fields, and operate in excellence in their individual expertise, and who are passionate about their work.

“I am also excited about the partnerships we have with Morgan State University, and Coppin State University. I am particularly proud of the fact that we are utilizing and collaborating with our HBCUS in Baltimore to host these events. PNC has established really impactful and robust relationships with both schools. I am encouraging everyone to come out and take advantage of this empowering event.”

To see a short clip of PNC’s Harris and Curry discussing the Mind Your Business event, visit: www.baltimoretimes-online.com

To register for the event, visit: www.mindyourbusinesspnc.eventbrite.com.

Black Americans Urged Not To Defer their Dream Of Homeownership

— According to the National Association of Real Estate Brokers (NAREB) wealth building usually begins with that first investment in owning your own home.

Whether you purchase a first-time “starter” home or inherit a property or residence, you start down the road to building wealth. But something has changed in the black community. The U.S. Census Bureau’s latest statistics indicate that the black homeownership rate has dropped once again.

Now at 40.6 percent the rate starkly signals a continual loss of wealth for black Americans.

By comparison, the non-Hispanic white homeownership rate for the same period was reported to be 73.1 percent, a nearly 30 percent difference. There is a problem and NAREB is on point to stop the loss and return black Americans to wealth building through homeownership of real estate investment.

NAREB is aware that the black community, particularly its local and national leaders, may need a clear, strong wake-up call to reverse this daunting downward trend.

What are the causes? But more importantly, what are the solutions? What can the community of concern do to prompt home purchase and therefore, wealth building?

These and other questions were addressed at NAREB’s annual “State of Black America” forum to be convened at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s 2019 Annual Legislative Conference held on Thursday, September 12, 2019.

Expert panelists, steeped in the issues, the disparities and likely solutions to raising black homeownership are committed to working with NAREB on its mission to restore confidence in the real estate market, identify critical systemic blockages, and outline the concerted

advocacy strategies that lawmakers at every level of government need to keep in mind to improve black homeownership outcomes.

During the forum, Donnell Williams, the newly installed NAREB president announced an aggressive program to reach out and encourage black millennials to consider, or re-consider, homeownership as a wealth building tool.

“Statistics show that there are 1.7 million black millennials making $100,000 or more and could improve their financial futures with homeownership or participation in real estate investment opportunities. NAREB is determined to reach them with messages that rebut, yet improve, some of their current lifestyle choices,” Williams said, adding that homeownership is critical. “One clear message to millennials: Think about a house before you buy the car.”

As he explains, wealth building is all about smart choices. Dreams need not be deferred. Homeownership is possible and still desirable as a wealth building tool. NAREB, with its nationwide network of predominantly black American real estate professionals are here to help find the wealth building pathways that best suit lifestyles and incomes.

PNC Bank Prepares For Informative ‘Mind Your Business’ Workshop

Chris Rockey has worked for PNC for two decades and leads the PNC Community Development Banking team, which works to improve the quality of life for individuals, families, and businesses in low and moderate-income neighborhoods.

The team accomplishes its mission through affordable housing, community development lending, economic development, financial education, and customized business solutions.

They also assist groups working with governmental agencies and help locate other sources for technical, financial, or investment support.

When Rockey transferred to the Baltimore area, unrest had taken hold of the city in the aftermath of the tragic incident involving city police officers and Freddie Gray.

“That was a very profound moment for all of us. Being relatively new to the market, it hit hard,” said Rockey, PNC’s senior vice president, Territory Executive, National Expension Markets, Community Development Banking. “The day after the unrest, we contacted the Baltimore Development Corporation and provided them with seed capital for a small business recovery grant pool.

“You had to get the businesses opened back up so that people could access their services. So, we initiated a program that would provide capital and one where others could follow up.”

Following the unrest, Rockey says the PNC team spent a year listening to community members and leaders to understand better what was going on.

“What we heard was the [financial] cancer is the lack of access to capital, so we began as a team working with Baltimore to be the landing port for these financial needs,” Rockey said. “We’ve been intentional in trying to find partnerships and organizations that share the same values and vision that we do. That is bringing opportunities to marginalized communities.”

For example, in 2015, PNC partnered with T. Rowe Price to launch KIVA, which is the crowdsource social capital. This program doesn’t underwrite credit scores.

“These are underwritten by people who are supporting your business and business plans,” Rockey said. “The next challenge to address was creditworthiness of borrowers.

“When it comes down to applying for a loan there’s the denial issue, where people can’t get a loan to start a business or to run a business.

“So that led us to that whole concept of how do we create partnerships. Banks are limited and are governed based on regulations. You can’t make risky loans based on certain criteria from underwriting. We have community development financial institution partners and other organizations that we can provide investments and capital, that can in turn make the loans to borrowers who don’t qualify for bank loans.”

Another program PNC launched, “Mind Your Business,” has been a big success. It aligns the PNC with several organizations to provide financial education to creative business owners and entrepreneurs. The businesses are a part of what PNC identifies as the new economy that will produce jobs, goods, and services in the community.

Mind Your Business workshops are designed to help local business owners to navigate cash flow, income, expenses, profit and savings. Additionally, the workshops help businesses apply copyright law and consider insurance plans.

The next Mind Your Business workshop will be held on Saturday, October 5, 2019 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Coppin State University.

“We developed this format and provided access to capital in a very intentional way,” Rockey said.

The workshops quickly spun off into other programs.

PNC and Community Development Banking projects with direct ties to the Mind Your Business program include KIVA Zip Baltimore; Coppin State School of Business/Openworks; Baltimore Business Lending; Small Business Technical Assistance Fund; and PNC Women Business Advocates.

“PNC Women Business Advocates program also shows the bank’s huge commitment for women in business,” Rockey said. “We have a formal certification program for our bankers that they can be certified as women business advocates.

“We have an initiative in a department that focuses on helping women entrepreneurs and women in business to either start or grow their business.

“Through great partnerships and collaboration we see first-hand how the bank has become more than a service, but a trusted community partner.”

NAREB Urges Black Americans Not To Defer Their Dream Of Homeownership

According to the National Association of Real Estate Brokers (NAREB) wealth building usually begins with that first investment in owning your own home. Whether you purchase a first-time “starter” home or inherit a property or residence, you start down the road to building wealth. But something has changed in the Black community. The U.S. Census Bureau’s latest statistics indicate that the Black homeownership rate has dropped once again.

Now at 40.6%, the rate starkly signals a continual loss of wealth for Black Americans. By comparison, the non-Hispanic White homeownership rate for the same period was reported to be 73.1%, a nearly 30% difference. There’s a problem and NAREB is on point to stop the loss and return Black Americans to wealth building through homeownership of real estate investment.

NAREB is aware that the Black community, particularly its local and national leaders, may need a clear, strong wake-up call to reverse this daunting downward trend.

What are the causes? But more importantly, what are the solutions? What can the community of concern do to prompt home purchase and therefore, wealth building?

These and other questions are slated to be addressed at NAREB’s annual “State of Black America” forum to be convened at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s 2019 Annual Legislative Conference, Thursday, Sept. 12, 2019, 2:00p.m.- 4:00p.m.

Expert panelists, steeped in the issues, the disparities and likely solutions to raising Black homeownership are committed to working with NAREB on its mission to restore confidence in the real estate market, identify critical systemic blockages, and outline the concerted advocacy strategies that lawmakers at every level of government need to keep in mind to improve Black homeownership outcomes.

During the forum, Donnell Williams, the newly installed president of NAREB, will announce an aggressive program to reach out and encourage Black millennials to consider, or re-consider, homeownership as a wealth building tool.

“Statistics show that there are 1.7 million Black millennials making $100,000 or more and could improve their financial futures with homeownership or participation in real estate investment opportunities. NAREB is determined to reach them with messages that rebut, yet improve, some of their current lifestyle choices,” he says. What’s more, he adds, homeownership is critical. “One clear message to millennials: Think about a house before you buy the car.”

As he explains, wealth building is all about smart choices. Dreams need not be deferred. Homeownership is possible and still desirable as a wealth building tool. NAREB, with its nationwide network of predominantly Black American real estate professionals are here to help find the wealth building pathways that best suit lifestyles and incomes. “Join me at NAREB’s Forum for the answers,” Williams concluded.

Beware Of New IRS Impersonation Email Scam

Taxpayers reminded the IRS does not send unsolicited emails

The Internal Revenue Service and its Security Summit partners are warning taxpayers and tax professionals about a new IRS impersonation scam campaign spreading nationally on email. Remember: the IRS does not send unsolicited emails and never emails taxpayers about the status of refunds.

The IRS this week detected this new scam as taxpayers began notifying phishing@irs.gov about unsolicited emails from IRS imposters. The email subject line may vary, but recent examples use the phrase “Automatic Income Tax Reminder” or “Electronic Tax Return Reminder.”

The emails have links that show an IRS.gov-like website with details pretending to be about the taxpayer’s refund, electronic return or tax account. The emails contain a “temporary password” or “one-time password” to

“access” the files to submit the refund. However, when taxpayers try to access these, it turns out to be a malicious file.

“The IRS does not send emails about your tax refund or sensitive financial

information,” said IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig. “This latest scheme is yet another reminder that tax scams are a year-round business for thieves. We urge you to be on-guard at all times.”

This new scam uses dozens of compromised websites and web addresses that pose as IRS.gov, making it a challenge to shut down. By infecting computers with malware, these imposters may gain control of the taxpayer’s computer or secretly download software that tracks every keystroke, eventually giving them passwords to sensitive accounts, such as financial accounts.

The IRS, state tax agencies and the tax industry, which work together in the

Security Summit effort, have made progress in their efforts to fight stolen identity refund fraud. But people remain vulnerable to scams by IRS imposters sending fake emails or harrassing phone calls.

The IRS doesn’t initiate contact with taxpayers by email, text messages or

social media channels to request personal or financial information. This

includes requests for PIN numbers, passwords or similar access information for credit cards, banks or other financial accounts.

The IRS also doesn’t call to demand immediate payment using a specific payment method such as a prepaid debit card, gift card or wire transfer. Generally, the IRS will first mail a bill to any taxpayer who owes taxes.

We Need To Revitalize The Great 8a Business Development Program

According to the Small Business Administration (SBA): “The federal government’s goal is to award at least five percent of all federal contracting dollars to small disadvantaged businesses each year.” Here are the Program benefits: “To help provide a level playing field for small businesses owned by socially and economically disadvantaged people or entities, the government limits competition for certain contracts to businesses that participate in the 8(a) Business Development program.”

“Disadvantaged businesses in the 8(a) Program can: Compete for set-aside and sole-source contracts in the program. Form joint ventures with established businesses through the SBA’s mentor-protégé program. Receive management and technical assistance, including business training, counseling, market assistance, and high-level executive development programs, as they apply.”

The above program was the brainchild of the late, great Parren J. Mitchell while he was the Chair of the House Small Business Committee and his staff, led by NBCC Board Member Anthony W. Robinson. It is, without debate, the most successful minority business program in the history of federal procurement. No formal program has made more black millionaires than this program. Despite this, it needs to be updated and reinforced.

Having a five percent minority business goal for the federal government is pittance. The black population percentage of our nation is over 14.6 percent alone. Hispanics have a percentage of 17.0 percent. That amounts to 31.6 percent without other ethnicities. Racism and passive discrimination in this nation still exists and per the U.S. Supreme Court and Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 discrimination needs to be addressed according to the disparate impact placed on identified groups. President Bill Clinton had the answer to this after being encouraged or intimidated from the Million Man March of 1996. His plan to “Mend” affirmative action rather than “end” it included formal Disparity Studies for each of the 10 Federal Regions. Following that adjusted goals could be implemented. One big problem— he never did it. The Congressional Black Caucus should wake up and take the lead from its greatest Founder, Congressman Mitchell, and proceed with the above idea.

The great HUD Secretary Alphonso Jackson applied this logic and took black procurement at HUD to new heights— approaching 32 percent. President George W. Bush watched his “back” as democratic congressmen tried to have him indicted for whatever reason they could find. He eventually resigned to spend time protecting his name and future during various hearings and investigations. HUD does about four percent in black procurement today.

Updating the goals and returning to a serious aura can bring this program back to the effectiveness it once had.

The greatest challenge to the 8a Program came under the Barack Obama Administration. It is so ironic! This president had a mission to “repay”

white construction unions for raising over $600 million dollars in his first presidential campaign. His pay back to them was to require federal construction contracting over $1 million to become union only projects. As blacks and Hispanics are terribly underutilized by construction unions, this would cripple the 8a program. We went to the White House and pleaded on the effect this would have over our constituency (should have been his too). They ignored our efforts and quickly became adversarial towards us.

What quickly happened was devastating. The Obama Administration went “dark” over the 8a Program. Black procurement levels at the time George W. Bush left office were over eight percent. When Obama finished his two terms it had been reduced to a little over one percent. People, we are talking billions of dollars extracted from our communities. SBA Regional Administrator Ashley Bell spoke at our recent annual conference and emphasized the reduction in black procurement due to the reduction in active black 8a firms. The same can be said for SBA business loans. It was just devastating and most of the black community does not know what “hit” them.

What was particularly “salt in the wounds” was that the SBA under the Obama Administration became very hostile towards Black business. At one point, the SBA would reject our emails to them. They took their budgets for funding development grants away from black associations and tossed them around to non-black groups. There was pure hatred over there during those eight dark years. How could blacks do this to other blacks in the 21st century?

Let’s get busy with turning this atrocity around. We must encourage the White House and federal agencies to quickly “pick up the pieces” and bring the 8a Program back to life and with vigor and updated goals. If black firms could attain at least five percent in procurement contracting with the federal government that would mean $25 billion dollars annually infused into our economic base. There is a federal election coming in 2020 and we must make significant improvement while that environment exists. It is time for blacks to address each political candidate with that great quote from Chaka Khan: “What Cha’ Going to do for Me.”

Harry Alford is the Co-Founder, President/CEO of the National Black Chamber of Commerce ®. Kay DeBow is the Co-Founder, Executive Vice President of the Chamber.

Suncrest Financials CEO Helps Clients Save $25 Million

In the last year alone, Suncrest Financials CEO Folasade Ayegbusi has helped entrepreneurs and small business owners save more than $25 million in lost revenue, tax assessments, and penalties and interest.

Like so many black business owners, success hasn’t come easy for Ayegbusi.

She says she grew up in an impoverished section of Washington, D.C., where she experienced an eviction, a car repossession, home foreclosure, and even hunger and homelessness.

During those struggles, Ayegbusi says she realized that she had the power to be in control of her life.

She built her business on the desire for financial freedom and the ability to help others.

“My financially poor upbringing is what motivated me to become an accountant. I was around 14 years of age when I realized that I never wanted to be poor again,” Ayegbusi said. “At 16 years of age, I got obvious with my career and decided that I wanted to become an accountant to help black-owned businesses become financially free. I wanted to work with businesses specifically because, as I was growing up, I felt that it was rare to see a successful black business.

“I didn’t like that, and now, I want to encourage black-owned businesses and help them face any challenges that come their way.”

At Suncrest Financials, which has offices in Washington and Baltimore, Ayegbusi offers small business financial services, payroll, insurance, bookkeeping, tax preparation and personal coaching for business leaders.

Her background in insurance, real estate, and e-commerce industries had helped tremendously. That experience has allowed Ayegbusi to have a strong understanding of what entrepreneurs face and what lenders look for when working with small businesses.

“With one client, I streamlined and verified their bookkeeping, including calculating their tier product cost, payroll, and other general operating data,” Ayegbusi said. “Then, we used this data to review what they were doing and to make changes to their business. The results of this process were gratifying to the owner and made their business stronger.

“Within a year their revenue rose from $6,000 to $29,000 because of changes they made. By year two, they were bringing in $29,000. How? The process helped them both add to their revenue and save money in areas like tax overpayments.”

As a black business owner, one of Ayegbusi’s biggest obstacles remains being able to fund and identify the resources that she needs to expand.

“I’ve had every bank that I’ve applied for a loan send me a declination letter. I am not giving up. I am continuing to expand my businesses while I pursue the right funding opportunity that will help me expand,” she said.

Ayegbusi says she believes it is essential that everyone recognize National Black Business Month.

“As a community, we can pause to celebrate the fruits of our labor,” Ayegbusi said. “It’s easy for us to turn the TV on and see black celebrities, athletes, and public figures who are a success. But what about others? I want anything that brings more visibility to the success of our black accountants, lawyers and entrepreneurs.

“Our youth need to see role models for success beyond people like Lebron James and Cardi B. Highlighting black-owned, businesses during this month gives a spotlight to these kinds of success stories. It also encourages the next black business to continue through obstacles they face on their tough path to achievement.”