Before we begin, let's set the stage. The purpose of this interview series is to inspire and encourage millennials to take the leap into entrepreneurship or give advice to those currently on the journey.
This series will highlight millennial entrepreneurs in a wide range of industries who are offering services, products and resources to their audiences.
Throughout the next couple of weeks you will have the chance to read the stories of millennial trailblazers who are designers, social ambassadors, photographers, and more. I hope you are inspired!
In this Mindshift Interview, I have Henderson of TheBlackBurdell. During this interview, we deep dived into all things business, influencing the future and more. Henderson is simply an all around amazing person. There's guaranteed good vibes and a ton of laughter, if he's around. He's one of the hardest working guys I know, managing a degree in a 'by-no-means-easy' field, super involved on campus, yet is always down for a good time with friends. How does he do it? Let's take a look at his journey...
Behind the Person
Tell a little bit about yourself and what you do.
My name is Henderson Johnson, II and I am a recent Georgia Tech graduate in aerospace engineering, and now a PhD student in the same field. I was born in Atlanta, and raised in South DeKalb although most of my family is from New Orleans. I enjoy singing, and having conversations about solutions to issues plaguing the Black community.
What is one quote you live by? Give an example of how you’ve applied this quote in your journey.
This is my favorite Scripture because this is my personality. No matter how much I care about something, I don’t worry, because I know God’s got me, and He has a plan. Learning to trust in God is the reason I know that I’ve been so successful.
All things Business.
How did The Black Burdell come to form? What was the idea that started it all?
Originally, it started off as a program to help high school students develop as leaders in their communities to empower the younger generation to address problems in the community. However, that got shelved when Brandon and Darren graduated. My senior year of college, we made the decision to really go after it and redirected our focus to entrepreneurs, and specifically Young Black Entrepreneurs. This refocus was because we saw an opportunity to support a specific group of people in a unique way. Furthermore, this refocus still allows us to work with high school students as well, which is fantastic.
What does The Black Burdell do? What problems or pain points are you looking to solve through The Black Burdell?
One of the biggest issues facing the Black community is money not staying in our community. We preach “buy Black”, but how do I buy Black when there is no place to buy Black. By helping promoting entrepreneurship we make it easier for people to buy Black, which keeps money in our community.
There are a lot of misconceptions about running a non profit based business, like lack of funding or difficulty obtaining partnerships. What’s the biggest myth you’ve learned to be untrue?
There are SO many places to get funding, you need only ask. If you’ve got a cool nonprofit or idea, it isn’t hard to sell to people. You just have to make sure to ASK. The worst answer you can get is no.
What tools or systems are a necessity for running your business smoothly?
- Communication system for our team.
- Clearly defined roles.
- Motivated team members.
In order for a business to thrive there must be clientele. What marketing strategies have you used to attract and find new leads for business growth?
Much of our success thus far has been based on leveraging our network. Being GT graduates, we have an extensive alumni network that we have been leveraging to help grow our business. Furthermore, with the work we’ve done to get publicity this year, there have been ample opportunities to reach out and work with new people.
Influencing the Future
What are some accomplishments of The Black Burdell? And where do you see its future?
This past April, we gave out our first scholarship, and that was just an amazing achievement.
The Black Burdell is really centered around a win-win scholarship application, where you get the opportunity to build a business plan and pitch.
I describe a Mindshift as a moment in time, where one realizes, there is more to life than what society has told. Can you describe your Mindshift moment?
For me, it was making the decision to step out on faith. When I realized that I had the business acumen and the leadership experience to make this venture successful, I went for it. Like anything, I just needed to commit the time to it, because I was more than capable of making it happen.
What advice can you give to other entrepreneurs?
You are not the first person to start a business, so don’t let your fear get in the way of you taking that first step.
When you start off, you will make a lot of mistakes. Learn from those mistakes quickly. Don’t make the mistake again (or at least try not to. We are human after all). Failure is not a bad thing, it is simply a lesson you needed to learn.
It is so important to be around people who are driven and motivated like you. It is even better if your partners are overachievers because you’ll be driven to work tirelessly to do even better.
Lastly, think about what living life own your own terms means to you. Describe your ideal situation.
For me, it’s letting God’s purpose shine through my actions. I’ve learned that at least a portion of my role here is to serve as a vehicle to take people higher. When I became Mr. Georgia Tech, I wasn’t as much excited about the position as I was as the image that it portrayed. Namely, I showed other Black students that they could come into this place called Georgia Tech and thrive. I want to use The Black Burdell, Inc. to show them that they can thrive in the entrepreneurship space.
Additional Gems from Henderson:
Seek God. Better the community. Lead the way.
Exclusive content, free downloads + entrepreneurial tips direct to your inbox!
Let's create the biz + life you want on your own terms!
Your FREE resource guide is waiting for you.