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Financial literacy is imperative for entrepreneurs’ success

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Parents in the African American community routinely push education on their children, which is a great thing. One aspect of that education that is usually left out is financial literacy. For Antonio McCoy, he aims to impart as much financial wisdom into his clients as possible.

McCoy is a business growth strategist and executive coach that is a native of Winston-Salem. He has an extensive background in marketing that stretches over two decades.

“I was voicing for radio and TV commercials and I sold direct mail for the postal service for almost 21 years, so marketing is something that I’ve always had an affinity for,” said McCoy. “When I worked at the postal service, I would have clients and they knew that I could speak to them about every aspect of their marketing mix and at this time social media was not as prevalent as it is now.

“I had people that wanted to pay me after I helped them get their marketing straight and then, of course, dealt with their direct mail. I knew nothing about consulting and once I realized that people were willing to pay for it, I decided it was something I wanted to pursue.

“I actually was with a coaching firm for about five months and that didn’t work out, so I branched out on my own in 2012. I left the postal service in August of 2012 and that’s when I started MC Howard Business Coaching.”

McCoy was confident about stepping away from the postal service because he had his 401k to lean on after leaving. He recommends that everyone should take advantage of their employer’s retirement plans if possible.

“What I did was use my 401k, and for the postal service it’s called DSP, to fund me until I was profitable,” he said. “So that bought me time.”

Over the last nine years, McCoy’s business has grown by leaps and bounds. He has grown to the point where he has separated himself from other business growth coaches.

“I’ve kind of went from focusing on helping businesses grow, as it relates to marketing in a lot of cases, and of course, as I grew from an educational standpoint, I really began to look at business growth from a financial standpoint, because there is risk when it comes to marketing and there is also cost,” he stated. “When I started looking at it from a financial standpoint, it really helped me evolve.

“I was certified as an executive coach in 2013, because that’s when I started doing my doctorate work. So, I have kind of gone from doing businesses so much now, to really coaching a lot of executives. I have also coached principals and people in the central office.”

McCoy says it’s very fulfilling for him to be that guiding light to lead people down the correct path to either build themselves or their business. “It’s very rewarding to see the lightbulb come on for folks,” he said. “As a coach, and I am a master coach so I can certify people to become coaches, and one of the things that coaching does is it’s about helping your clients arrive at the insights on their own. It’s not about you giving advice.

“A lot of times, they don’t have this type of individual in their lives, so to have someone who is 100% committed to their success is something that they always want there. In a lot of cases they find themselves in a position where they don’t want to have to live without it.”

McCoy has seen it all when it comes to marketing for a business. He has seen the good and the bad when it comes to decision-making that business owners make.

“They don’t understand the fundamentals of marketing, they don’t understand the fundamentals of finance, and they don’t understand the fundamentals of self,” said McCoy about the mistakes business owners make.  “The biggest thing that I have to overcome now with business owners is them understanding that social media is not the silver bullet.

“Just because you run a Facebook ad or you advertise on Instagram or you do a video, it doesn’t mean somebody is going to buy your product or service. It’s still going to be a sales process where you’re going to have to convince them that either you can do everything you said you can do, or your product can do everything you said it could do, and you may have to take on some of the risk.”

One of the issues that McCoy aims to fix with his business is addressing financial literacy for African American business owners. He says it’s not that Black people are totally lacking in the area, but many times they don’t have the in-depth knowledge as compared to other ethnicities.

“The things, as it relates to personal finance, there are some intricacies to that, but when you start talking about business finance, it gets really complex, because there are so many variables that have to come into play,” he said.  “Running your house is a business and most people don’t approach it like a business in that you should do everything you can to keep your cost as low as possible.

“A lot of us don’t approach it that way. Everybody likes to look at the top number on their financial statement or their income, but the top number feeds your ego, but the bottom line is what feeds your family and that’s what matters.”

Ideally, McCoy recommends that every entrepreneur obtain a business coach before launching their brand to grasp the necessary concepts and to give their business the best opportunity to succeed.

“I would say you would probably want to get a coach ahead of time to understand the things you need to do and not do before spending any money,” he said. “If you spend some money, first thing you need to do if you’re thinking about starting a business is invest in yourself. A business growth coach is going to help expand your knowledge.

“I am not going to say that any coach will do, I am just going to be honest. You have to do your due diligence just like anything else. The whole thing that a business growth coach will do for you is to help you recognize the things that you haven’t thought about. For instance, the biggest thing that I see business owners screw up or overlook is their pricing, like what’s the cheapest way to grow and how you should pursue that.”

McCoy preaches patience when starting out as a new entrepreneur. He says the profits may not roll in right away, but if you have a viable business and a model for that business, the profits will eventually come if marketed the right way.

“Just because you made a little money, don’t go out here and buy a car or buy a boat,” he said. “When I started my voiceover business, if I wanted to upgrade my equipment, I ate peanut butter sandwiches every day for lunch for a month. I tallied up what I spent a month on lunch eating out, so I ate peanut butter sandwiches and saved my money to buy a voice processor to sound like the big boys.  

“By all means, if you make a sale, celebrate, but sacrifice. You can’t go out with your friends, out to dinner. You need to invest as much of your money in the beginning back into your business. And I’ll be honest, a business growth coach is part of that. A business only ends when it runs out of money. As long as you have cash flow, you’re in business.”

Another common mistake many new entrepreneurs make according to McCoy is not keeping a record of those who have made a purchase or ordered services from them. He says when cash is low, the best thing to do is to reach out to those who know your product or service and offer them some sort of discount. He says they are more likely to use your product or service again because you’re a known commodity to them.

“Most business owners don’t know that their database is their most valuable asset,” he continued.  

To contact McCoy for more information about his services, please visit www.growthstartup.com or text him at 336-575-9920.