Business of the Week

BUSINESS SPOTLIGHT: MEET FINANCIAL SERVICES PROFESSIONAL AISHA BLACKSHEAR

Growing up Aisha Blackshear knew exactly what she wanted to do in life–teach. After a brief stint in the United States Air Force, she became a teacher in the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania school district. As an educator, she knew she had found her calling; family, friends and the community agreed. However, despite daily confirmations that teaching was her God-given gift, she decided to leave the classroom in order to teach a different kind of education–financial independence.

Today Blackshear is a full-time Financial Advisor Representative, with Primerica Financial Services. Since 2010, she has been educating her community on what it takes to position oneself for financial independence, something she hopes will position the Black community as a whole for a better financial future.

For many, the name Primerica Financial Services (PFS), might be new or unfamiliar. However, with a history that extends back to 1977, when it was founded by A. L. Williams, it is a very familiar name to those within the financial services industry. For those not familiar, PFS offers various financial services and products such as mutual funds, Roth IRAs, college funds and life insurance. Financial Advisor Representatives like Blackshear provide free advice to clients and potential clients regarding the health of their finances through what is a called a financial needs analysis. After a detailed session, the representatives provide a recommendation of what is needed to assist people in protecting their money and working to become financially independent, including the opportunity to join PFS as a representative.

Since PFS representatives work through a larger entity, many people don’t view them as business owners. Blackshear balks at the notion. Though she is considered a contract employee of the company she states, “I do consider myself a business owner. After all I must manage my time, my people and my own taxes.”

Why PFS? Why would someone forgo other entrepreneurial endeavors to join PFS and still be attached to a larger organization? For Blackshear, the opportunity that PFS presented was undeniable. Those in the financial services industry must become fully licensed in the state where they live for each product or service that they provide. That process is made just a little bit easier with PFS, because “the company pays for all of your licenses” , says Blackshear. For her it was an even easier decision, because of the ease of transition. While still working as an elementary school teacher, she became licensed and was able to start her financial services business part time. “You’re not in business by yourself with PFS.”, she exclaims and “I really love the structure of the company: God, family and then your business.”

So how did she go from the classroom to the living room–where many of her client meetings take place? The Rule of 72. (The Rule of what..?) In short–if you invest $100 today, the Rule of 72 calculates how long will it take before it doubles? Learning about how long it takes for one’s money to multiply in simple savings accounts was eye opening for her. Blackshear, adds to that the story of her grandparents. After her grandfather died in 1987, her grandmother received and faithfully saved all of the money from his social security benefits. When her grandmother past 20 years later, Blackshear was astounded to learn that the money that her grandmother had dutifully saved for a decade, in a traditional savings account, had barely amassed to anything. “The bank made more on that money than my grandmother did.”, adds Blackshear. It was then that she realized that she needed to first educate herself and then her family and community.

While her bucket list looks similar to many of our own–travel and retiring when she’s ready and not when social security dictates–Blackshear has another list that is much more important to her. ” I must create a scholarship fund, start a school and pay for the last class that I taught to go to college.” The goal is to leave a legacy of self-sufficiency for as many as she can.

“My team isn’t big enough for all that I want to do”, says Blackshear. Success in PFS is about creating teams. For her that means teams of like-minded individuals–those who are on a similar mission to educate families, friends and neighbors. Her target market for both clients and potential team members are America’s middle class, who has been forgotten when it comes to any type of assistance programs. Her goal is to capture that forgotten sect of the population. From there she believes that much more can be done to help the extreme poverty stricken.

Even in the midst of such altruistic plans, she is not exempt from her own difficulties in business. Growing her team is a must, but while many are excited in theory, it is hard to get them to become licensed. Life and time get in the way. “People will go through the class, but never take the exam.” She adds, that within the Black community it has been particularly difficult to get people to see the value in the products and services. She admits that even some of those closest to her have not been as supportive as she would have thought. However, she remains positive. She says that her Aunt has been her greatest supporter. “She has let me borrow the car, provided for me in the tough times and is always referring someone to me. She is my cheerleader!”

For those who might consider a similar route as Blackshear, her advice is, “Listen to those who have brought you into the business. They have a vested interest in your success and remember that success will not be overnight.”

When it comes to Minding Your Black Business, Blackshear shares her own lesson learned and her advice is simple, yet effective: “Don’t take things personally.” Regardless of your business or industry, not everyone will want what you have. Just remember that, “they are not saying no to you, rather the product or service.”

To learn more about Aisha Blackshear as a Financial Advisor Representative visit her website.

 

Do you know of a Black business or entrepreneur that gets it right? If so, we want to know! Get all the details here, including how to nominate your favorite Black-owned business.

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Louiseza Sanderson

Louiseza Sanderson

Louiseza Sanderson is a business consultant, writer and the founder of www.MindYourBlackBusiness.com. She is also a veteran of the United States Air Force. It was during her time in the military that she learned the value of hard work, community and serving the needs of others. Following her military service she earned a bachelor's degree in business and an MBA in business communications.

She began consulting with the explicit goal of providing affordable business consultation and guidance to those who might not otherwise have access. "I started consulting by 'inherent accident'. I've spent my whole life gathering information, in hopes that it would benefit someone," says Sanderson. When it comes to working with her clients, she believes that the key is to find the human factor. By doing so, she helps her clients to find the best solution for their business, by first figuring out what is best for the person. Her hope is to help such entrepreneurs, small businesses and non-profits who share her vision of giving back-- be it through job creation, innovation or a cause.

As a consultant and business owner herself, Sanderson came to realize that while there are many resources for small business owners, there were very few that provided a platform for micro and small Black owned businesses, as well as the information germane to them. These are the mom and pops, solo-preneurs and other businesses and organizations that are really the heart and soul of the local (Black) community. She shares, "The vision of Mind Your Black Business is the culmination of what I am most passionate about and what I do best--helping others to achieve their dreams and helping small businesses grow."

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