March 13, 2021

Finding ‘financial allies’ helped me start a successful business

I learned about what I call “financial allyship” when I first started out as an…

  • I learned about what I call “financial allyship” when I first started out as an entrepreneur.
  • A financial ally is someone who helps you earn more by sharing opportunities and resources.
  • Financial allies have helped me, so I make it a point to give back as my business grows.
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When I started my professional career, there was so much I didn’t know about getting what I needed financially. I didn’t know how to navigate the secret areas behind the scenes that would affect my earnings and my ability to grow professionally. Things like how to navigate conversations connected to negotiating my wage, building professional allies, and what to look out for in terms of financial roadblocks that were outside of my control.

Then, I decided to take the professional leap and become an entrepreneur. It was a humbling, scary, and nerve-wracking experience. Through that process, I discovered one of the most significant financial relationships that everyone must cultivate but doesn’t discuss enough — your financial allies. 

For those of you wondering what in the heck is a “financial ally,” I’ll give you my personal definition.

A financial ally is a person who connects you with opportunities to grow your business, earn more money, or connect with a new position or organization. Basically, they are the person who spills the tea on all you need to know to have equitable financial conversations and negotiations in professional settings. Financial allies are people who uplift and elevate you professionally and personally, and grow your income through advocating on your behalf. 

For women and people of color, in particular, having these financial conversations and getting this insight into the unseen aspects of growing your wealth can be life-changing.

I thought it would be helpful to share what financial allyship has looked like in my life and how I’ve returned the favor. 

Finding financial allies in higher ed

When I worked at a university, I had several supervisors who connected me with professional growth opportunities. One opportunity was offered to about 25 staff members a year out of thousands and was a year-long professional development experience. It allowed me to more deeply explore what I wanted to do professionally and my role in the organization, on campus, and how I supported the students and staff I worked with. I also enjoyed a subsidized trip to beautiful Bozeman, Montana to a professional conference where I could share my professional expertise with colleagues representing different regions across the United States. 

I had substantive conversations with other professionals about job opportunities on other campuses, how to navigate the system, and how to recognize who holds the most power in any office. In case you’re wondering, the person who holds the most power in every office is the administrative assistant or secretary. 

Finding financial allies as an entrepreneur

When I took the leap into entrepreneurship, these conversations ended up being the difference between making or breaking my business. I had one financial ally who connected me with a client that gave me over $10,000 in ongoing business. This opportunity occurred at a moment when I was questioning if I should continue pursuing my entrepreneurship goals.

I had another financial ally who randomly told me about a part-time position that they knew would work with my business model. I ended up getting that position. Not only was it a $22,000 boost to my bottom line, it also included health insurance, which is the holy grail benefit that every entrepreneur is hoping to have subsidized. And having a great health insurance plan is a priceless resource to have during a pandemic. 

Other financial allies have shared helpful contacts for projects, and shared names of individuals who actually make decisions on hiring and how to contact them. I found this type of information to be a huge deal for me as an entrepreneur. 

How I’ve given back as a financial ally

In return, I’ve provided financial allyship by doing a few things:

  • Connecting people with opportunities they might not otherwise know about, including sharing grants, projects, and volunteer opportunities
  • Sharing useful tools, organizations, and products that would be helpful to other entrepreneurs
  • Blogging about my financial mistakes so that other people can avoid making them. I also write and speak on my podcast about my financial wins in the hopes that people can be inspired or energized by my experiences
  • Sharing freelance gigs that pay more, and sharing how to negotiate for more pay
  • Sharing how I found and created opportunities to make more money

Basically, I’ve discovered that anyone can be a financial ally if they are able to be of service to others and open the door to financial opportunities that wouldn’t have been available to someone else. I love when I can do this for others and I hope that you get the opportunity to do the same for someone in your life, too.