8 Entrepreneurs Reveal the African-American/Black Entrepreneur (even historical) That Inspires Them

Many African-American/Black Entrepreneur stand out as an inspiration or mentors due to their accomplishments in various fields. A mentor is someone who is more knowledgeable in your area of expertise and he/she may help you through various ways such as in career guidance. It's from this that many entrepreneurs draw their inspiration from them. We asked entrepreneurs and business owners which African-American/Black Entrepreneur inspires them.

#1- Cathy Hughes (Radio One)

Photo Credit: Steven Burton

Cathy's story is so inspiring to me. When all her family was telling her she needed to get a job, she went against that advice and chased her dream. As a single mother, having her son sleep in sleeping bags inside a radio station so that she could work and build her company, really describes her tenacity and drive to be successful. She was also the first African-American woman to head a publicly traded corporation.

Thanks to Steven Burton, Perfect Tux!

#2- Daymond John

Photo Credit: Nadine Russell

The African-American entrepreneur that I look up to is Daymond John. I'm reading his book The Power of Broke it's really inspiring! I love the fact that he created a brand that was authentic and true to who he was. He didn't have it easy, and he wasn't given any handouts. He had to work hard to achieve success, and he kept pushing despite the obstacles that he faced. And once he became successful he remained humble and willing to help others who are also striving for greatness. Seeing a young black man beat all the odds that were against him inspires me as a young black woman to keep pushing on my entrepreneurial journey, especially on the rough days!

Thanks to Nadine Russell, Luxe XO!

#3- Magic Johnson

Photo Credit: Robby Thomas

I believe Magic Johnson is more than just an inspirational figure, he has emerged and evolved as a very relevant and transcendent voice for African American Entrepreneurship in this country. My first recollections of Magic Johnson were during those heated regular season and playoff games in the 80s between the Boston Celtics and the LA Lakers. He was the rival I loved to hate. The one who once delivered a heart-breaking loss to my Boston Celtics with his baby sky hook on June 9th 1987. Then at the height of his successful playing career, (five NBA championships, three finals MVPs and being arguably the best player on the planet) Magic announced to the world that he had contracted the HIV virus and sadly, his retirement from the game of basketball. That was more than 25 years ago. In 2018, Magic Johnson not only survived the darkest moment of his life. He has thrived and morphed into a transcendent icon and transformational economic empowerment enterprise. Magic Johnson Enterprise/MJE, now a billion-dollar brand with a mission which seeks to empower diverse Urban communities. He has built a legacy which includes, ownership of some of the most impressive business brands in the country and the world. By showing the purchasing power of Urban communities, Magic was able to leverage the economic value of the Urban market in creating unique sustainable win-win partnerships that creates employment opportunities and changes lives.

Thanks to Robby Thomas, GenRise!

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#4- Suzanne Shank

Photo Credit: Robyn Mancell

As a woman working in the world of finance, I am most inspired by Suzanne Shank who is one of the most powerful women on Wall Street. She is the first black woman to be in charge of a publicly traded financial organization. As the co-founder and CEO of Siebert Branford, Suzanne is often called the 2 trillion businesswomen. She is a huge proponent of  mentorship and has supported a number of programs in the inner city to help improve opportunities for youth. Her advice Be an expert at something rather than a generalist at everything She is an inspiration to all women across the globe.

Thanks to Robyn Mancell, Girls Gone Forex!

#5- Shonda Rhimes

Photo Credit: Jacqueline Miller

Shonda Rhimes is an unstoppable, no-nonsense powerhouse, taking Hollywood by storm. Her voice and her influence especially during this #metoo, #timesup era is undeniable. Motherhood is not where dreams go to die ® is my company tagline. High-achieving women recognize this and yet also acknowledge that there is no such thing as balance. I prefer to call it healthy harmony instead. Shonda confirmed this when answering the age-old How do you do it all? “I don't. … If I am at home sewing my kids' Halloween costumes, I'm probably blowing off a rewrite I was supposed to turn in. If I am accepting a prestigious award, I am missing my baby's first swim lesson. If I am at my daughter's debut in her school musical, I am missing Sandra Oh's last scene ever being filmed at Grey's Anatomy. If I am succeeding at one, I am inevitably failing at the other.” That is the trade-off. Her authenticity, her candor, all while being a BOSS, inspires me to keep persevering along my challenging entrepreneurial journey. Like Shonda, I’m committed to normalizing this mindset by continuing to write about it, speak about it and coach women who refute mediocrity. Being a woman with goals, while being a great Mom is not and should not be out of the ordinary. Not in 2018. Not ever.

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Thanks to Jacqueline Miller, Jacqueline DuJour Enterprises, LLC!

#6- Jonathan Morris

Photo Credit: Jerry Snider

I started my journey as an entrepreneur just over a year ago. While I had no doubt what my business would be, there was a ton of unknowns about going out on my own. My cousin-in-law Jonathan Morris has been a huge inspiration. He opened Fort Worth Barber Shop in October of 2014. Not only has the shop been successful, he's opened other locations. He has made the barbershop experience truly unique, including an online booking app. The only true contact we have is via social media as we see each other in person about every other year. Being 10 years older than Jonathan, he has shown me how to be bold about doing what I love. His barber shop is full service for men of all races and hair types. While he is African American and I'm Caucasian it doesn't matter, he runs a great business and caters to all. His focus is providing the best service possible, taking care of his employees, and he does not take any of the credit for the success. A true inspiration for all business owners of all ages.

Thanks to Jerry Snider, All In Health and Wellness!

#7- Ursula Burns

Photo Credit: Nate Masterson

I have a tremendous amount of respect for Ursula Burns, the current CEO of Xerox simply because what she managed to achieve defied a lot of the cultural norms that tend to exist in the business world – especially at that level of management.  She is currently ranked as the 14th most powerful women in the world and considering that she came from a housing project in New York, the fact that she didn’t wind up merely scraping by or becoming the victim of cultural stereotyping, but instead rose above all of this to not only succeed, but excel above and beyond the levels that many who came from more privileged backgrounds is really a testament to the human power of will and the amazing ability that anyone has to achieve when they put their mind to it. I think she’s an ideal example of how African Americans and women, for that matter, can really make things happen for themselves if they’re dedicated and hardworking, and that you should never limit your dreams because of where you were born, or the color of your skin.

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Thanks to Nate Masterson, Maple Holistics!

#8- Sean “P Diddy” Combs

Photo Credit: Katie Kern

When it comes to having a vision, and executing your plan at an undeniable level of excellence, Sean “P Diddy” Combs comes to mind. When Diddy initially launched his fashion line, he was met with skeptical criticism and was not fully supported by industry peers and colleagues. They would soon realize his vision and acute business acumen would change the industry for good. Not only did Diddy set out to build a successful fashion and lifestyle brand, he ultimately built a legacy. Diddy has inspired me to be consistent, strategic and innovative in everything I am involved in. I believe his attributes and accomplishments are not only admirable but attainable as well.  Beyond your taste in music or fashion, he is a true inspiration to entrepreneurs and CEO’s, regardless of the industry they take part in. His tenacity and zest for not only greatness, but for life, is a page we should all take from his book of success.

Thanks to Katie Kern, Media Frenzy Global!

Which African-American/Black entrepreneur (even historical) inspires you? Tell us in the comments below. Don't forget to join our #IamCEO Community.

Mercy - CBNation Team

This is a post from a CBNation team member. CBNation is a Business to Business (B2B) Brand. We are focused on increasing the success rate. We create content and information focusing on increasing the visibility of and providing resources for CEOs, entrepreneurs and business owners. CBNation consists of blogs(, podcasts, ( and videos ( CBNation is proudly powered by Blue16 Media.

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