February 26, 2019
February 26, 2019

By Farrah Gray

You read in the newspapers, you see on the news broadcast, you hear on the radio that Congress was considering amnesty for millions of illegal foreign workers.

I began to wonder how many of us can read the faces, see on the news or hear on talk radio shows Black Americans that have lost their jobs or could not get jobs due conditions created by those being considered for amnesty.

In the context of tremendous change in the economy and labor market, many people are deciding that self-employment is the right choice for them. People work for themselves when there are too few jobs, or not the right kinds of jobs. They work for themselves because they want to have more control over their working hours or their working conditions. People become self-employed when employer discrimination stifles their potential. In short, people work for them selves when they want and need what self-employment can offer that other employment cannot.

Being self-employed is a way of life radically different from anything you’ve ever done before. To be successful at it you will have to make a real turn-about in how you both think and act.

Entrepreneurship has become a viable alternative in our history when economic self-sufficiency and independence has gained popularity.

Throughout the ages the maverick approach of being one’s own boss and shaping one’s destiny has appealed too many at various stages of their lives. Quite often, it is precisely that segment of the population which has limited economic mobility that selects entrepreneurship as a means of family survival and financial growth.

The Black American tradition of self-employment is back. My great great-grandmother financially secured and fed her children by running “Ma Bird’s Blue Plate Special Restaurant” after making ends meet with her home based laundry service.  In past times and today the economic emergency solution to “no employment” is “self-employment/entrepreneurship”.

If you should choose self-employment, the more you learn about it, the more convinced you are that it offers many of the things you appreciate: independence, personal satisfaction, unlimited earning power.

Start with a sideline business that will allow you to grow gradually make the transition, but if you go full blast into a business of your own you will be quickly pressed to making sweeping changes in how you do things.

You will find out soon enough that in running your own business there’s no waiting for the go-ahead. In a job you wait for the next assignment, the next instruction, the next permission, the next applause. In your own business you make all happen from start to finish.

In deliberating over whether to seek self-employment or another job, you will likely suffer great doubt and apprehension. Your first impulse may be to seek outside counsel. However, if you are trying to decide whether to start a business of your own, you are probably not ready for the plunge. It’s like asking outsiders whether you should marry.  They may be able to offer some help regarding some of the details of what you are proposing, but they don’t know enough about your personal feelings and intentions. If you can’t depend on your own convictions, you will fall short in being able to do all the things that go into making either a successful marriage or a successful business.

People are told that it is important to have “purpose” in their lives-a direction, a set of goals. The direction and goals of most people’s lives are extensions, direct reflections of the context in which they live. A real purpose for doing something must come from within you. You can be forced, cajoled, even humored into doing things, but you are the only one who can determine the purpose of your actions.

The first step to do list is as follows:

  • Set some realistic money goals to achieve with your business
  • What will be the biggest challenges and how will you overcome them?
  • Create a spending plan and stick to it
  • Identify your household monthly spending habits
  • Find ways to save money to use for your business
  • Make a list of who you owe
  • Determine what your debt terms are and what your repayment status is
  • Consider credit counseling to build up personal credit

It’s time to rediscover latent skills and reactive old interests!


Entrepreneur, philanthropist and bestselling author and award-winning fashion designer Farrah Gray has inspired millions around the world through motivational speaking, economic evangelism and the strength of his example. Gray is also an agent of social change. His partnerships include the Kauffman Foundation, the Floyd Mayweather Jr. Foundation, National Coalition for the Homeless and the National Marrow Donor Program, among others.