Entrepreneurship is a Lifestyle: Tips for a Successful Life with Brian A.M. Williams of Purchase Black LLC.
Merriam-webster.com defines “entrepreneurship” as follows:
one who organizes, manages, and assumes the risks of a business or enterprise
But how does this definition set “entrepreneurship” apart from other careers in business? Doesn’t a business manager also manage businesses? Don’t managers evaluate the viability of different businesses and strategies with the aim to create or increase wealth—just like an entrepreneur? It turns out there is a distinct difference between the two. What sets an entrepreneur apart is that he has an insatiable appetite to make the world a better place through need identification and the desire to offer a more effective service or product. Brian A.M. Williams, founder of two businesses and co-founder of another (Purchase Black LLC, Rising Genius and Pitchproof.com, respectively), is one such entrepreneur. I sat down with him to get his unique insight on how to improve both management and general life skills through smart, strategic entrepreneurship.
Williams says his journey began at business school in 2011, when he created an MBA focused on African American Business Success at The University of Texas at Austin (UT). A self-proclaimed geek with a BA in Engineering, he set out to begin the positive change he wants to see in the black community and worldwide with rigorous study under John N. Doggett, award-winning Senior Lecturer at the McCombs School of Business at UT. Through his independent study, Williams identified a pattern within the black community:
- when purchasing quality goods, community members prefer to buy from other blacks
- however, the black community doesn’t inherently trust black-owned businesses
- owners of black-owned businesses generally have trouble finding funding
- black people have humongous collective buying power, projected at $1.1 Trillion in 2015. (If equated to a country’s GDP, that’d be the 16th most powerful country in the world!)
Upon discovering this pattern, Williams identified needs within the black community and saw there was an opportunity to help black-owned businesses build credibility, establish trust and secure the reliable business funding that ensures success. Williams founded Purchase Black LLC in 2012, the first internet marketplace of its kind. Think of Purchase Black as an eBay or Etsy for black-owned businesses. And the accomplishments don’t end there: Rising Genius (2014) disrupts the education market by connecting instructors directly with students on a learning platform engineered for the success of every kind of student, and Pitchproof.com (2015) helps you stand out from the crowd with an optimized pitch, win cash for your idea and make investors seek you.
Entrepreneurship is not a job. It’s a lifestyle
– Brian A.M. Williams
Viewing entrepreneurship as a way of life rather than sectioning it off to 8 distinct hours of the day has made all the difference for Williams, because the lifestyle of an entrepreneur is by no means conventional. I asked how he keeps things simple enough to avoid overwhelm while maintaining this lifestyle. After all, a founder can’t do it all alone, yet he must eat, breathe and drink the entrepreneurial life. Williams says that trusting others is integral to business expansion, as well as developing enough discipline to distinguish between what is important to him versus what is critical to customer value. These strategies help him keep his sights on the goal when resources are limited (a common characteristic of new businesses).
And when the going gets really rough, Williams says it’s important to confide in other entrepreneurs. While those who work more conventionally are incredibly valuable and have necessary insights, other entrepreneurs have the experience that allows them to give him entrepreneurial perspective when he feels like giving up—and entrepreneurs definitely aren’t the only ones who can relate to giving up on something. Entrepreneurs call it ‘being talked off the ledge’, and, if you’re serious about changing the world in any way, it is important to have someone you know you can call on to do this for you. Brian A.M. Williams uses these strategies to maintain sanity and success while dealing with the inevitable obstacles he encounters, and he credits Doggett as a major source of inspiration for his continual commitment to rise above mediocrity.
Purchase Black is the first internet marketplace of its kind. Other sites offer extensive directories to help consumers locate nearby black-owned businesses, but Purchase Black sets itself apart by supporting direct purchases from these high-quality, vetted, black-owned businesses through the Purchase Black site or app. Check out Purchase Black today and download the app, available on iOS and Android.